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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Choosing between Granite and Engineered Stone

Thinking about a new countertop in your kitchen or bathroom? A new countertop in your kitchen or bathroom can transform the look of your room. There are many options, but two popular choices for countertops today are natural granite and engineered stone.

Giallo Fiorito Granite
Granite is a naturally-occurring type of igneous rock that is mined from a quarry to produce countertops and tile. The pyramids in Egypt were constructed of granite blocks in the 26th century BC. It comes in a range of colors ranging from pinks and whites through black. Granite has a strong, porous surface that needs to be sealed yearly to provide extra protection from staining. No two slabs of granite are exactly alike and, for that reason, it cannot be replicated. It is important to visit the granite supplier to choose your stone, as each piece could contain a variety of colors and patterns. Your Morris Black designer can help with advice and recommendations.
Forest Fern Ice-stone
Engineered stone is a man-made product composed of ground-up stone in an epoxy resin which is made into countertops. It has tough, non-porous surface that will not stain and resists chipping. It does not need to be sealed and can accept hot pans directly off the stove (up to 450 degrees). Even though engineered stone comes in a variety of colors and pattern, it can not replicate the beauty of natural granite stone. Examples of engineered stone include Silestone, Caesarstone, Icestone, Cambria and DuPont Zodiaq.

Many people are now opting for engineered stone over natural granite because it is considered an “eco-friendly” product. Engineered stone manufacturers are using recycled products in their stone products to protect the earth’s natural resources.

Research reported in Consumer Reports (2010) magazine reveals virtually no difference in performance between quartz products and sealed granite. The Morris Black designers can help you decide which is best for you. Whatever product you decide on, a new countertop is sure to enhance your home for years to come.

by Elizabeth Kerkusz, AKBD

Friday, May 18, 2012

Brand New Display At The Lehigh Valley Showroom: Casual Chic!

See the Latest in Kitchen Design

Features "Cashmere" Painted Cabinetry, Heated Floor, Lighted Display and Floating Shelves

Love stainless steel appliances, painted cabinetry, and metallic surfaces? Check out our brand new "Casual Chic" kitchen display!

Set the mood with programmable lighting in the glass display cabinets flanking the stainless steel vent. Yes, you can change colors to match your mood! The light filters through the glass shelves, washing the wall in color. There's more shine in the glass tile in "Mocha" installed behind the vent hood. The stainless steel Whirlpool range features double ovens.

The Zodiac countertop in "Nutmeg" is repeated in the peninsula, which has an overhang for seating and a microwave drawer. The pantry wall features tons of shallow shelves - much easier to locate items in than deep shelves! The pantry wall has a lighted display niche with a mirrored back wall and floating shelves. Below the display niche is a clever feature: a pet feeding station. No longer will you trip over the dog's dishes. Cut-outs at baseboard height hold both water and food dishes, and the cabinet above can be used for pet food storage.

Uniting the whole space are floating shelves (no visible supports) of Formica laminate in "Natural Cane." The cabinetry is by Quality in Maple with a "Cashmere" painted finish. Under it all is a heated floor, covered in porcelain tile in "Metallica" finish. Think of the warmth! You can walk this floor in your socks in the depths of winter and still be cozy.

Stop by to see this brand new display and bring your friends - you'll see the very latest in kitchen design ideas at both the Lehigh Valley and Pocono Morris Black showrooms!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Try Before You Buy: Think "Goldilocks" for Chair Heights

What do Goldilocks and kitchen seating have in common? Well, just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you’ll want to try the small, medium and big versions of seating as you design your new kitchen. If you are planning a kitchen snack bar – and that’s one of the most popular features Morris Black does - you need to consider the counter and seat height options. First, think purpose. Most countertop seating is for in-kitchen casual dining or relaxing, like reading the morning paper or browsing cookbooks. Typically, you will be choosing from three standard snack bar or table heights: 30”, 36” or 42”

The normal table height is 30” high, with chair height of 18”. If you opt to have an extended kitchen counter top as your snack bar, it will be 36” high. Since the bar height is 6” more than table height, you should increase the seat height 6” to 24” high. Similarly, if the bar is 42” high, you should have seats 30” high.

Who will be using these seats? For small children and the elderly, 30” high seats may not only be uncomfortable, but unsafe as well. At that height, most adult feet will not touch the floor, so you probably want seats with a foot ring or a foot rail on the bar itself.

24” high seats are easier to get on and off of than 30” high, of course. But some people find even this height uncomfortable. 18” table height seats are easiest to use and probably the most comfortable. I find that most clients, however, will not want a table height snack bar in the kitchen if it is in close proximity to a kitchen table of the same height. Varied seating heights are visually more interesting.

Like most design decisions, seat height is a matter of preference. Examples of each are at our Lehigh Valley or Pocono showrooms. Like Goldilocks, try all three heights, and see what you and your family like best.

Dan Lenner, CMKBD

Friday, March 2, 2012

Work Triangles: The Good, The Sad, and The Ugly

One of the first things that Morris Black designers learn while studying kitchen design (yes, there is a college course leading to a Certified Kitchen Designer degree) is the work triangle. The kitchen work triangle is the path between work surfaces; food preparation, refrigeration, and cooking surfaces. You can have a gorgeous kitchen but if it is designed inefficiently it can make your time spent in the kitchen a nightmare.

In a good kitchen layout, we try to ensure no more than twenty-six feet total between your refrigerator, food preparation area, and cooking surface, with not less than four feet between these areas. If you have less than four feet between each the space will feel cramped – especially when there is more than one cook in the kitchen. The furthest distance between work areas should not be more than nine feet.

While designing a kitchen for two cooks working together, we recommend a design with two separate work triangles. Neither path should intersect one another when sharing work stations.

Correcting Bad Kitchens
We’ve had clients come to us where oven doors opened onto dishwasher doors, where no one could exit the room when the refrigerator door was open, and, saddest of all, where it was impossible for the husband and wife to cook at the same time.

As design professionals, Morris Black designers have created kitchens in basic shapes such as L-shape, U-Shape, galley, G-shape, double L, even one wall kitchens. We even designed a kitchen for an octagon-shaped geodesic dome home. If your current kitchen design feels crowded or is difficult to work with a second person, call Morris Black Designs. We can recommend an alternate kitchen layout- using the principle of the work triangle- that will be a joy to use.

Elizabeth A Kerkusz, AKBD

Friday, February 10, 2012

Making the Most of a Tiny Space

A small kitchen can be as beautiful, functional and efficient as its bigger neighbor. And the designers at Morris Black have a myriad of options to choose from to make your kitchen feel bright and airy while putting every inch to use.

Start by considering smaller and more compact appliances. Counter-depth refrigerators are 24” deep, instead of 30”deep, therefore do not extend into the room beyond the countertops. Microwaves can be built into the cabinetry or hung below wall cabinets, saving precious counter space. A micro-hood combination can serve both as a cooking appliance and the source of ventilation for your kitchen. Hardly ever use the dishwasher? Opt for a single dishwasher drawer.

Our designers know how to optimize storage for efficiency. Islands, peninsulas, and banquettes with built-in seating can add much needed storage. Consider built-in plate racks or pot-and-pan racks. Interior accessories such as cutlery dividers, knife blocks, pantry pull-outs, and rollout shelves, organize the many different items stored in a kitchen. The tiny kitchen shown in the photo includes a corner cabinet with a lazy susan and tall wall cabinets to maximize storage.

Opening the kitchen into adjacent rooms by removing all or part of a wall can also give the illusion of more space. Skylights or larger windows allow more light to enter the kitchen, making the space feel bigger. A window at the sink could be bumped out and brought down to the countertop for a deeper counter while also creating a focal point. A niche in the backsplash could be built to store spices and oils used at the range.

Come in to the showroom with your wish list, and let the Morris Black designers apply some of these ideas to your kitchen design - and give you a kitchen that’s just the right size for the way you cook!

Susan E. Steuer, CKD

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Color is Your New Kitchen?

Color plays a major role in your kitchen design. Every aspect of your kitchen involves making a color choice – cabinets, counter top, backsplash, lighting fixtures, hardware, flooring, walls — and the list goes on. Its part of the process: color selections need to be made when you are designing a kitchen. Here’s your chance to choose the deep rich hues of cherry wood or the cool sophistication of natural maple, the cool grays and whites of a marble counter top or the endless colors of granite. Every choice enables you to add the stamp of your personality to the room. Think about what you like. When you are shopping for clothing do you gravitate toward neutrals or are you more apt to pick a colorful pattern?

There are pros and cons to each style when remodeling: Subtle choices are safe and flexible, but may lack overall pop and bore an extrovert. Bold choices are dramatic and fun, but can be risky and become dated in a short amount of time and may scare an introvert. Ask yourself: Am I remodeling for a potential resale or to please myself?

Nervous? Don’t worry. The designers at Morris Black have created bold vibrant kitchens and subtle soothing kitchens – we can guide you through the color choices. We can make suggestions, or let you decide – we’re here to help! We also have tools that can help you visualize what the colors will look like in a room design. Our latest showroom toy is a computer generated system that lets you choose the door style, finish, hardware, countertops, wall color and flooring – then saves and prints the results. What fun!

No matter your choice, you can feel good about it knowing that it reflects your own unique style! Decide what works for best for you and let’s get started!

By Christine Shorr, AKBD

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Homeowner's Thank You Poem

We think of what we do as an art, but for one customer, our work inspired poetry. The most unique appreciation letter we’ve ever received is reprinted below, with the homeowners permission.

Joy each time we sit at the exquisite granite countertop
soaking in the morning light
eating breakfast
watching birds outside
cats napping at the window
fingers tracing mineral veins

A great space where once there was none;
clean lines of cabinets
maple, walnut
light, dark
contrast, smooth throughout
handles, knobs elegant
beautiful proportions of the doors
are we in a new house?

Skilled Donny and Shawn who made it happen;
immense care and obvious pride
superb craftsmen both
wonderful senses of humor
thoughtful and respectful of our home
your work here speaks for you

Light now where it was dark
thanks to Jeff and Mark
Water flows from stylish faucets to elegant vessels, not too shabby
from the plumbers Abbey

Hovering above it all, Oscar and Liz
you listen
you draw
you interpret
you search for what is just right
you have created a magnificent work of art

But where is the noise of dishes getting washed?

Thanks again to this homeowner for including in her epic the designer Oscar Acevedo and his assistant Liz Kerkusz, and also the installers, plumbers and electricians. Let us inspire the poet in you!