Fall Decorating Trends

Fall-Kitchen-0697With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, this is the perfect time to start thinking about easy changes you can make to your home décor. A little fall redecorating can make your home nice and cozy as we gear up for winter and the holidays.

Cozy Up Your Kitchen and Dining Area

Besides baking pumpkin bread and experimenting with your own version of a chai latte, your kitchen can take fall on in the décor department. There’s nothing better than a cozy, fall kitchen, filled with delicious smells and your favorite people. Many choose to serve meals directly in the kitchen, at a small table or bar, instead of the dining room. As nights get longer, perhaps the family will enjoy sitting down to eat a meal together. Use this as an excuse to bring out the fall centerpieces (come on, they have to be good for more than just one Thanksgiving dinner a year!). Swap out your disposable napkins for rust colored cloth ones. Autumn colored curtains are great for those long nights. Instead of bright summer flowers, opt for a vase filled with branches or a fall wreath.

Add Interesting Light Sources

As the nights grow longer, you’re going to need some extra light around your home. Since you’re probably going to be gathering around the fireplace more often as the days grow colder, light up vintage vases with candles to make an eye catching display on your mantle. Now is a great time of year to focus on mantel décor – from string lights in soft autumnal colors, to those glowing pumpkins at Halloween, you’ll enjoy having a little more light in your life. Don’t forget to use the natural light of the sun during the ever shortening days. Open those shutters and blinds to let the light in, or opt for sheer window coverings (especially in the kitchen), that will give you privacy and light at the same time.

Integrate Nature

Our New England habitat is one of foliage, light filtering through the trees, and beautiful fall colors throughout our dense natural places. Chances are you’ll have a bunch of striking fall leaves to use in your decorating. Make a foliage bouquet by arranging your leafy treasures by color and size, and sticking them into a rustic wooden box, wicker basket, or vase. Survey the ground for pinecones and sticks, which can be integrated into your mantel display or into a fall wreath.

Fall Accents

From luxurious, comfortable seating to autumnal artwork, a few little changes can make your home feel warmer for the fall season. Add throw blankets to your living room, pumpkins and gourds to your kitchen and outdoor areas, and some natural fall accents (see above) to your mantel.

Curate A Gallery Look

If you want to add some storage to your living room space (or any room’s space, really), you can opt for an open cabinet display. Wall-mounted storage creates boxes in which to display your favorite things – from family photos and mementos to your fall decorations. Don’t over indulge; be careful to keep your displays sparse in order to achieve a gallery look, instead of a cluttered look.

DIY Projects for Old Cabinets

So much thought goes into a kitchen remodel that you may skip over something equally promising: what to do with those old kitchen cabinets you’re replacing! Homeowners who have a love affair for DIY projects have been incorporating old cabinetry into their space in all kinds of ways, both indoors and out. Recycling and repurposing is good for the environment, and it can be really chic as well. Why have your contractor haul away something you can use? With a little paint and some elbow grease, your old cabinets can live a little longer and add some quirky fun to your home.

Create A Bookshelf – Books need a good home just as much as your plates do! You can reassemble pieces of your kitchen cabinets to use in creating a shelf storage system. Add stain or color to make your shelving uniquely you, and choose to display your items openly, which is great for books, or keep the cabinet door if you want to be able to close off the space. The drawers can also be hung right on the wall to create even more storage spaces.

Make A Play Kitchen For Kids – We all remember playing in mini kitchens filled with plastic food as children; now it’s time to pass that experience on to the kids. Put a few cabinets together, add some laminate to emulate a kitchen counter, and get ready to play! Make sure to add some of your old pots and pans, too.

Use Drawers As Garden Boxes – Next spring, plant your flowers in the pull out drawers from your old kitchen. It’s a great way to organize the garden, and will give your backyard a unique look. Fill the drawers with soil and seed, and watch your flowers grow. If your cabinets are made from treated wood, you may want to avoid vegetables that you’re going to eat.

Create A Chest – Take a cabinet off the wall, flip it onto its back, and you basically have a ready-made chest. Change the color to match the surroundings. Stain it to make it look weathered for an outdoor area or paint it pastel for a baby’s nursery.

Cabinet Door Art – The flat cabinet door makes a great way to frame photos or art. Mount your piece on the door, and shellac the whole thing. Or add a layer of chalk board paint to the door to create a space for your daily doodles, or your to-do list.

Create A Cool Back Porch – A rustic backyard storage area is a must, and your old cabinets can be the backbone of your outdoor entertainment space. Stain or paint the cabinets to your liking, mount them on the wall of your patio, and store gardening tools, toys, barbecue tools, or towels. Put them lower to the ground to create a mini bar for your outdoor parties.

Donate Them – If you don’t possibly have time to complete one of these fun projects, give your local creative re-use store a call. Some other crafty homeowner will probably love to use them.

Five Creative Storage Solutions

When you want to add some more space and a little style to your kitchen without necessarily remodeling the entire thing, you need to be creative. If you rent your home, or aren’t ready to undertake major renovations, adding some accents that work as storage can help make your kitchen a better place. After all, you can’t remodel every year, so keep your kitchen fresh by adding in some fun yet functional storage pieces. These can also act as accent pieces that draw attention, show off your creativity and individuality, and of course, help keep your kitchen organized. Here are some easy to accomplish storage solutions.

  • Repurposed Island – if you already have an island, chances are it has plenty of space for you to work with. But many people forget about their island’s storage space for one simple reason: you can’t always see it. Bring that storage out in the open for everyone to see by removing the doors. With free, open space, you can store more items! Show off the good china, your special occasion crystal, or even your bigger cooking pots and pans. Because islands are in the middle of the kitchen, they are in a convenient location and can be made into an attractive accent.
  • Use Overhead Space – overhead space is a hot commodity, though you may not realize it yet. If you’re running out of room in your cabinets, make use of this space by hanging items. Repurpose an old chandelier by adding a few hooks or install a hanging system to hang anything you want – make a coffee mug mobile, or a dedicated space for your cookware. Glass racks are available at home improvement stores and come in many styles; choose one to hang from the ceiling and show off your wine or pint glasses can give your kitchen some vineyard style, and clear out room in your cupboards for other items. Make sure your system is hanging low enough to reach, but high enough that you won’t be bumping into it every time you reach for a glass.
  • Add Pull-Out Trays To Base Cabinets – Deep, low cabinets have ample storage but can also become inconvenient resting places for all your cookware that you don’t use that often. If you hate trying to dig in the cabinets to find the one item you’re looking for (here’s looking at you, mini skillet) you may want to consider installing a pull-out tray system to allow for better organization. Hang cleaning supplies under the sink, or matched cookware with lids, or just about anything – and pull them out into full view instead of frantically searching for them in the depths. Installing pull out trays certainly won’t cost near as much as a full renovation, but will give your kitchen an organization boost. Best of all, NorthWoods can custom size pullouts to fit your existing cupboards.
  • Use Wall Space To Hang Items – if you have the DIY spirit, you can use a portion of pegboard and some hooks from your home improvement or hardware store to create a wall space to hang utensils, mugs, or anything you want to get off the counter. You’ll need to mount this in your kitchen, so make sure you know what tools and supplies you’ll need (screws, anchors, etc.). Paint the pegboard a bright color (or whichever color that matches your kitchen) to give it more style.
  • Give Lids Their Own Home – if you have a lot of pots, you probably have a lot of corresponding lids. You probably also have spent a lot of time looking through these pots and lids. If you install a towel bar on the cabinet doors, you can slide pot lids into it and give the lids their own home. This will allow you to stack pots, saving you space and organizing the contents of your cabinets at the same time! Depending on the lids’ size and the placement of the bars, you can fit two to four pot lids along the towel racks.

Five Trendy Backsplash Ideas For Your Kitchen

Your backsplash can be the centerpiece of your kitchen, and a fresh, clean backsplash can go a long way towards making your cabinets and countertop look their best. Tile isn’t the one trick pony it used to be, and there are plenty of other materials you can choose from for a decorative backsplash. These days, do it yourselfers can find easy to install backsplash patterns at many home improvement stores. All you need is a free weekend and the will to take on a DIY project that will liven up your kitchen. Here are some trendy ideas for your new backsplash design.

Eco-Friendly – There are many choices for people who want to show off their style and their love of the environment. Recycled tile is a fun way to go when you are changing up your backsplash style. You can opt for either post-consumer products, which come from products such as recycled bottles and or repurposed counters, or pre-consumer products, which are made from unused but still in good condition materials that never made it to the end of the line. Choosing these recycled and repurposed materials is good for the environment.

Classic Subway – Even though it’s classic, the subway style backsplash is still something that many people enjoy. Perhaps it is because you can go in so many directions with it. Place the tiles side by side, or get funky and choose to use a diagonal or perpendicular/corner pattern. From standard black and white, to more interesting colors like forest green or salmon – as long as those little tiles are rectangular you’ve got yourself a subway pattern that is sure to look great for years.

Eye Catching Patterns – Get artsy. Make spirals or chevrons out of different colors. You don’t even have to make your own patterns, anymore. Some home improvement stores offer sheets of tile in already-beautiful patterns that you can simply purchase and install. Make sure your choice will mesh well with your existing cabinets, fixtures, and counters – and then go wild.

Create Your Own Art – If the pre-fabricated sheets of backsplash tile seem like they are the easy way out, you can always create your own piece of kitchen art. Mosaics are a great way to show your individuality while adding a functional backsplash to your kitchen. You can even use recycled material to mix and match tiles to create your perfect backsplash art.

Non-Tile Backsplashes – If tile isn’t your favorite material, there are plenty of other options. From recycled granite, rustic stone, treated reclaimed wood – as long as you can protect it from water (this is a kitchen, after all), you can create a unique backsplash for your home. Fabric covered in clear vinyl can give you a ton of color and pattern options, as can a mixture of reclaimed bottoms of glass bottles, and brightly colored acrylic sheets. It’s your kitchen, so let your imagination go wild.

Whether you are doing a full scale remodel with cabinets and counters, or just want a weekend project to change up the look of your kitchen, a backsplash that shows your individuality is a great idea. Take your time, and choose your materials wisely – then feel free to go wild with a trendy, eye-catching backsplash.

Have a great backsplash that you are really proud of? E-mail us a picture at bill@northwoodsmanufacturing.com We would love to share your success as inspiration for others!

Choosing a Contractor

Remodeling is a big deal! The process can take lots of time, money, and mental energy – so it’s normal to be a little skittish before you enter into renovation territory. One of the things that takes the most amount of the thought is picking out the contractor you are entrusting your kitchen vision to. Here’s the person who will be orchestrating your remodel, who you need to count on in order to get your dream kitchen. This is not exactly a decision to be made lightly! Here are a few things to consider when you are choosing a contractor.

Take Your Time

You do not want to rush into any major decision, especially when it comes to your kitchen. The kitchen is where a lot of the magic happens in any home: it’s where family calendars are hung and where we feed the people we care about most. You’re going  to live with your remodel for a while, so of course you want it to turn out amazing. Kitchen remodels are a great way to add to your home’s overall value, so treading carefully while picking a contractor is a must. Take your time, talk to more than just one contractor. Do your research. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Talk To Your Friends

Chances are, you know a few people who have already gone through the kitchen remodeling process. Talk to them. Ask them what they loved about their contractor, and if they’d use the same one again. Ask what they’d do differently. Ask what surprised them during the kitchen renovation. You’ll probably come away with a list of contractors that have been vetted by people you trust, which is a good place to start when it comes to picking a contractor.

Discuss Budgets

Nobody likes to talk money, but you need to see if your contractor has the ability to make your vision come true with the budget you have in mind. It’s a good way to gauge personality as well – you want to work with a contractor that you don’t dread calling if you have a question or have noticed a problem. Ask your contractor for a written estimate, this provides a great way to compare your choices.

Ask For References

While you are researching your potential contractor, ask for references. You definitely want a contractor who not only does good work, but also maintains good relationships with clients. If you’ve found your pool of contractors via your family and friends, it’s still a good idea to ask for references from people you do not know.

Follow Up On References

Call homeowners and ask about their experience with the contractor you are vetting. If you can, visit a previous kitchen remodel that your contractor has worked on. This is easy if you have received references from people you know.

Once you’ve found the contractor you are going to trust with your kitchen renovation, make sure to keep the lines of communication open so you can align your schedules. If you have any information you want your contractor to know, tell them up front. This could be anything from budget concerns to specific design elements you want to address. Try to meet with your contractor once a week for a quick conversation – just to make sure you both are on the same page with the project. Good communication will make for a successful partnership!

Spruce Up Your Kitchen Without Breaking The Bank

Spring is approaching, and that often sends homeowners into a flurry of cleaning, rearranging, or daydreaming of a remodel. Since we spend so much time in our kitchens, it’s only natural that we start thinking of ways we could improve our kitchen experience. But if you’re not ready to take on a full kitchen makeover, here are a few ways you can spruce up the heart of your home without investing too much cash.

Let In More Light
One of the biggest and easiest changes you can make will be to let more light into your kitchen. This can be done by changing your existing window treatments to something that looks great and functions well. A sheer shade, venetian blind, shutters – it’s really up to your personal sense of style. Simply remembering to open your existing window coverings can also help brighten your kitchen. If you have a little more time and money to spend, you can even experiment with new light fixtures. And now is also the perfect time to replace the burned-out bulbs in your kitchen lights (not to mention clean out any dust that’s accumulated there) – get out your step ladder and go to work.

Change Some Of Your Cabinet Accents
Your cabinets help define your kitchen. And if you can’t justify a full scale remodel of your cabinetry, you can always change the little things to make a big difference. New hardware can make your cabinets look refreshed – and it’s an easy task to do on your own. Just take a count of the knobs and handles you might need for your cabinet doors and drawers, and pick up some new fashions at your local hardware store. There will be plenty to choose from, but take one of your existing handles with you to make sure it is the right fit (different pieces can have different drilling patterns). You’ll be able bring your cabinets into this century, or you can even add some ornate details if you’re feeling adventurous.

Add Some Color
There are many ways to add color to your kitchen. You can paint your walls, refinish and paint your cabinets, or even add patterned wall-paper to a section of your kitchen. If you’re sick of your subway tile backsplash, there are many pre-fabricated eye-catching backsplash patterns available now that can be simply applied to your kitchen. A little color will go a long way towards changing your entire kitchen’s look and feeling.

Devise Eye-Catching Counter Organization
Organization is vital to making the most of your kitchen’s space. If you’re sick of searching for oft-used cooking tools deep within the drawers of your kitchen, you can try making your own countertop organization system. Jars with fancy labels, a magnetic strip attached to your wall, or a hook system can all help keep your tools out in the open and give your kitchen a new look.

Give Your Wall Some Life
A green wall, a set-up of planters or pots where you can grow fresh produce, is an easy way to add some new life to your kitchen. Fresh greens, increased oxygen, and a unique look – you can have all these things by installing a green wall in your kitchen. There are many ways to do this, depending on the space you have: hang baskets from your pantry door, buy a pre-made wall planter, or, if you don’t have a lot of space, you can just line your window sill with edible plants. Keep it watered, and you’ll have plenty of salad and fresh herbs to choose from.

Even a busy kitchen can be quiet – with Blum Soft Close

Every home cook knows how noisy a kitchen can get amid the bustle of cooking a meal, baking, or just fixing snacks for the kids. Groceries are dropped onto the counter to free up a hand to open a cupboard and put things away. Dishes rattle as the dishwasher is unloaded. Drawers clatter closed and cabinets slam shut.

Blum® Soft Close drawers and hinges bring a bit of quiet to the kitchen. With a range of high quality Soft Close slides and hinges, Blum® has taken the clatter out of the kitchen – leaving only exceptional function, beautiful design, and a blissfully peaceful kitchen!

Soft Close drawers run smoothly even when they hold lots of weight. Mechanical and electric opening support systems allow convenient, hands-free access to kitchen storage – or the trash drawer when your hands are full!

Northwoods Manufacturing offers a range of Blum® Soft Close hardware. We invite our customers to visit the shop and try out the Soft Close drawers and doors to see (and hear) how quiet they really are – and to find the right style for your new kitchen.

Our Northwoods customers agree that Soft Close hardware helps create a fabulous kitchen atmosphere. One customer, who works nights and catches up on rest during the day, was continually awakened by the slamming of kitchen drawers and doors. Once they installed Soft Close hardware, the whole family was happier – and well rested.

At Northwoods, we joke that the only drawback to using Soft Close hardware in the kitchen is that you can’t vent your frustrations by slamming doors – or drawers!

We are so proud to carry Blum® hardware that we’re offering a free upgrade to Soft Close hardware for any customer who orders a custom kitchen from us through April 30.

Visit our Northwoods website or call 877-788-5532 to learn more.

Kitchen Design from a Chef’s Perspective

Have you ever walked into a friend’s kitchen and admired special features like double wall ovens, or a perfectly placed island with loads of convenient storage space or a kitchen energy that just feels smooth and easy?

Some of that great kitchen design may be pure good luck, but chances are much of it results from a kitchen designer who understands the flow of a superior kitchen layout. And if you can find a kitchen designer who is also a great cook, you’ll win the kitchen design lottery!

Chris Rentz of NorthWoods Manufacuring started out designing commercial office projects for Northwoods, but was soon recruited to jump into designing residential kitchens. The reason? Chris loves to cook, and he’s good at it, too! Whether he’s cooking for one or for a hungry crowd, Chris knows his way around the kitchen.

And he knows what it takes to design a great kitchen space, too!

Here’s what Chris has to say about designing kitchens from a home chef’s point of view:

I’ve cooked forever. I cooked with my dad as a kid and worked in restaurants through high school, then started dabbling in more traditional gourmet fare as an adult. I designed my own kitchen years ago, so designing kitchens for our customers is really fun.

I look at kitchen design from a cook’s point of view. When I’m designing a kitchen for a customer, I consider what I myself would look for as far as conveniences and layout. Because of my cooking experience, I have a good sense of where things should be located for the most convenience.

I really enjoy meeting with customers and finding out how they use their kitchen space, then coming up with unique design ideas to make their kitchens suit their cooking needs and personalities. I’m constantly learning new tricks to making kitchens awesome, functional, and personal for our customers.

Ready to design your perfect kitchen? Give Chris a call at Northwoods to get started!

Get Organized! Rev-A-Shelf Can Help Erase Kitchen Clutter

Even the most beautifully designed and built kitchen – and the most orderly home cook – sometimes needs a bit of help organizing all the items a kitchen holds. That’s where the ultra-organizing tools from Rev-A-Shelf become a life saver!

Imagine reaching into any drawer in your kitchen and being able to put your hand on the exact tool or utensil you need. Or opening your cabinet and finding the right spice container without having to rifle through a clutter of jars. Or being able to find the lid that matches the pot you’re using to cook dinner – without any clanging or clattering!

From tip-out sink fronts that conveniently store sponges and trash pull-outs that make clean up a breeze to lazy Susans and cutlery trays, Rev-A-Shelf offers a handy array of kitchen-organizing accessories that will banish cluttered drawers and cabinet mayhem.

Peg boards designed to fit into the bottom of kitchen drawers may be arranged in a variety of configurations to neatly organize plates and mugs or pots, pans, and covers. Drawer and cabinet inserts and trays designed to hold spices and canned items will keep your storage areas ultra-organized. A variety of knife holders, cutting boards, and cutlery separators allow you to arrange drawers to suit your specific cooking, dining, and entertaining needs.

Bread drawers, under-sink towel racks, under-cabinet wine and stemware racks, pull-out filing systems for holding recipes, mail, or the kids’ school papers… well, the opportunities for getting your kitchen organized really are endless with Rev-A-Shelf!

At Northwoods, we’re so excited about Rev-A-Shelf that we’re giving customers $1,000 in Rev-A-Shelf products with the purchase of a new kitchen through the end of 2014. Ready, set, organize!

Healthy Kitchen Choices

There’s more to planning a great kitchen than selecting appliances and designing cabinets. You strive to create healthy meals in your kitchen…and there are ways to make healthy choices in the design of your new kitchen as well.

Here are a few factors to consider for environmental health – both in your home and beyond – when it comes to your kitchen:

Wood type and origin: In a global economy, you may not know where the wood for your new kitchen cabinets originated. Check with your kitchen cabinet designer to find out. Many local cabinetry companies use hardwoods from the northeastern United States and Canada. And they should be able to tell you whether your cabinets are constructed from FSC-certified wood, too.

FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council, an independent international organization committed to fostering responsible forest management. FSC-certified wood products are harvested from sustainably managed forests with an eye to protecting water quality and old growth forests and preventing the use of hazardous chemicals. Find out more about the benefits of FSC-certified products at us.fsc.org.

Potential pollutants

Formaldehyde, which is routinely used as an additive in plywood adhesives, can pose health threats. There are alternative products available, including the use of soy-based glue in place of formaldehyde. Your cabinet maker should be able to tell you whether their products contain formaldehyde and other potential pollutants.

Certain wood finishes off gas more than others, releasing harmful vapors. Look for Low-VOC finishes to reduce the level of harmful gasses into your home. Low-VOC finishes are available in both water-based and solvent-based options, so you can select a finish that suits your taste, will look great, last well, and keep your home the safe environment you want it to be.

The staff at NorthWoods is well-versed in all things kitchen. We’re happy to discuss the options with you, and we take great pride in both our craftsmanship and our part in being good stewards of the environment – both in your home and in our local and regional forests.