Creating Contrast with Kitchen Cabinets

Your imagination is the limit when it comes to design. As the entertainment and gathering epicenter of every home, the kitchen is an aesthetic focal point where function and “fashion” join forces. Using two-tone kitchen cabinets or mixing and matching materials creates contrast and visual interest. Whatever your personal style preference, from farmhouse to contemporary to modern, choosing complimentary hues makes a statement.

There are a variety of ways in which to mix and match cabinet colors, some of which have definitely fallen into favor among homeowners. One is by having the island a different hue than perimeter cabinetry. This makes the island a focal point of the space, especially when using a complimentary yet different color countertop than the primary counters.

Gaining traction is having upper cabinets a different tonal value than lower cabinets. It could be light and dark grays, differing values of white or blue, or two completely different hues, such as gray and white, black and white, or navy and gray. This concept can also be applied to painting all tall cabinets a distinctive color.

According to Harrell Designer, Sara Jorgensen, one of the hottest trends she is seeing is matte black. “Matte black is on the rise,” says Sara. “It is being used in fixtures, lighting, and hardware. It is simple, clean, and visually dynamic.”

Another way to incorporate the high contrast, rustic chic of matte black is by applying a black glaze on cabinets. “This ties in that black element in a subtle yet very distinct manner,” Sara explains. Using floating shelves in another way to add in contrast. Some or all of the upper cabinets can be replaced with shelves in any style from modern, traditional, or contemporary. Using wood or black hardware makes an impact. Open shelves do require more dusting but the visual punch is well worth it more with many homeowners.

For homeowners who love the look of wood, Sara suggests using open bookcases, banks of drawers, end panels, or other accent pieces, the natural wood making them “pop” against painted cabinets.

“The grain of walnut is very desirable but the cost can be prohibitive for large banks of cabinets,” Sara shares. “Another option is using walnut as a contrasting accent for a wine rack, bookshelf, or for another key element in the kitchen.”

Whatever your preference, mixing and matching cabinet colors and materials should be deliberate and purposeful. From a design perspective, less is always more, and a thoughtful approach will result in a truly stunning kitchen or bathroom.

Woman-founded in 1985 and 100% employee-owned, Harrell Remodeling has been creating distinctive homes for 35 years. If you are considering transforming your space, allow our award-winning Design+Build team help you create the home of your dreams. Reach out to us to set up your design consultation or sign up for one of our frequent and informative educational workshops.

A modern, gray universal design bathroom features a curbless shower and tile details.

Harrell Remodeling Designers Win Multiple NARI META Awards

Two of Harrell Remodeling Inc.’s Designers were honored recently at the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Silicon Valley awards gala. Gloria Carlson and Debra Winston received coveted META Remodeling Awards for multiple projects that transformed the homes of three Harrell Remodeling clients. Both designers have received META honors in the past but, as Gloria shares, “A large part of the award is the fact that we’ve solved very unique problems, making dramatic and often life-changing transformations in our clients’ homes. Clients love to feel that their needs were met but in such a way that their home was acknowledged as an award-winner.”

META, short for metamorphosis, “signifies the transformation process and beautiful results that can be accomplished through a remodeling project.” The Silver, Gold and Platinum awards are categorized by project price point and include everything from interior redesigns of kitchens, baths and living spaces to residential landscape design to entire home remodels.

Designer Debra Winston won multiple META Gold awards for two projects within one residence, which incorporated Universal Design principles to enable the homeowners to age in place. The first project took a small, outdated master bathroom from “Blah to BLING” while the second Gold award winning project transformed the compartmentalized floor plan into a spacious and dramatic interior.

Blah to Bling

Two META Gold awards for Residential Bathroom under $100,000 & Universal Design Bathroom

“This couple isn’t afraid of color or of embracing their unique style and personality in the home,” Debra remarks. “This project definitely proves that Universal Design can be beautiful and functional.”

Dark, dated, and depressing, this original San Jose master bath was small and was not wheelchair-accessible. The corner shower was much too small for assisted bathing and had a high curb that created an entry barrier. Debra reconfigured the area, more than doubling its size by taking space from the hall bathroom. In its place Debra designed a stunning spacious roll-in shower with teak folding bench, grab bars, and a handheld shower to make bathing safe, easy and accessible. The wall-hung Toto Washlet toilet and white high-gloss floating vanity with Silestone quartz white platinum counters are functional and attractive. The “bling” comes from wall, floor, and backsplash tiles with burnished metallic finishes, glittering mosaics, and silver “ribbon candy” pendant lights that add sparkle.

Debra relates, “One of the wife’s guilty pleasures is collecting fragrances and nail polish. To display her collection in style while offering easily accessible storage, we added was a 16-inch X 5-foot Robern medicine cabinet.”

Dark to Dramatic

META Gold Award for Residential Interior $250,001-$500,000

The same homeowners also needed to convert the entry, kitchen and great room of their home to increase functionality and accessibility. The existing 1950’s kitchen was dark, narrow, and closed off from the living space by a 16-foot long wall.

Removing the entry coat closet and the dividing wall created an open floor plan, allowing ease of movement and linking the great room and kitchen together. The same glossy white cabinets grace the updated kitchen and are accented by vivid glass “wavy” backsplash tiles and matching pendants above the contrasting dark island. The kitchen is illuminated with recessed lighting and a skylight.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring extends into the great room, which had a dated brick fireplace flanked by built-in bookcases with scalloped wood trim, all which had been painted white. The space was transformed by applying concrete over the existing brick for an industrial look, adding metal mesh door panels to the bookcases, and matching the color of the kitchen island. Floating shelves and an edgy wallpaper transform the space into one that is functional, accessible, and captures the homeowner’s distinct style.

“The homeowners aren’t afraid to be bold with color, texture, and design,” Debra explains. “In their previous home, they used a small-run “stealth print” wallcovering and decided to continue this adventurous design aesthetic by incorporating a fanciful skeleton wallpaper as a feature wall in their new great room.”

Last but not least, all interior doors were painted a charcoal gray, and the home’s exterior was modernized, removing the dated scalloped facia and adding horizontal cedar plank siding. The stucco was painted a deep teal and the exterior entry door a bright orange, creating curb appeal with significant WOW factor.

Small to Spacious & Stunning

META Gold Award for Residential Interior Remodel $100,000-$250,000

Harrell Remodeling Senior Designer, Gloria Carlson, was a META award winner for her transformative design on a two-story Menlo Park home. The layout of the client’s home restricted her ability to age in place as there was no bed and bathroom space on the main level that offered the necessary accessibility.

To achieve a functional, accessible, and beautiful master suite, Gloria reconfigured the existing floor plan, which included a barely usable ensuite “micro” bathroom and small closet, with an adjacent sub-standard “bedroom” that was too small to be used as one.

By incorporating the footprint of the second bedroom, Gloria created a luxurious master bathroom and walk-in closet, both 3-1/2 times larger than their original spaces. The once infinitesimal closet was expanded to a walk-in closet, allowing the owner to store all of her clothing in one place whereas before, it was scattered in various closets throughout the home.

A large shower includes accessibility features such as a low curb, folding teak bench and grab bars. The client and Gloria worked together to lay out the shower tiles to mimic hot air balloons floating skyward, reminding the homeowner of one of her favorite getaways.

Gloria interspersed numerous other personal touches reminiscent of vacations including custom cabinet knobs made from stones found near the owner’s beloved mountain cabin on the double vanity and seated make-up area.

“The homeowner is a tall woman and she wanted the bathroom designed to comfortably fit her height,” Gloria explains. “Now she has a master ensuite bath that not only fits her personality but her stature, enabling her to comfortably and safely live in her home for years to come.”

Baker’s Dream Kitchen & Functional Garage

META Gold Award for Residential Interior Remodel $250,001-$500,000

Gloria designed a dream kitchen for another Menlo Park client, a close-knit family that loves to bake. Their adult son is a professional baker while the husband makes 1,000 truffles at a time multiple times a year. Their kitchen was attractive yet the confined space was not conducive to the cooking and baking functionality this family desired.

“This family is very unique and as such, had very specific requirements and challenges to solve in their home remodel,” Gloria states. “Not only were they avid bakers and chefs but they had a menagerie of exotic pets whose needs they also wanted to embrace in their remodeling project.”

Significant changes to the structure were made to create the dream kitchen that fit the family’s lifestyle. A load-bearing wall was removed, and a massive engineered beam inserted into the ceiling framing opened the kitchen and dining areas. It also allowed for a large island with seating for four, a lower counter area for the son’s baking while the husband used the large, higher portion of the island for making his truffles. With so many special baking appliances and accoutrements, storage was at a premium. Appliance “garages” were added for mixers and other large items while overflow storage was added to the home’s garage. The end result is an open, expansive space filled with natural and artificial light, colorful cabinets, plentiful prep space and storage, high-end appliances, and a mosaic backsplash, which is a nod to the family’s Spanish heritage.

The garage itself also underwent a significant METAmorphosis, transforming it into a fully functional space for laundry and overflow kitchen storage. Gloria also designed a secure location to store high-end bicycles in addition to a separate area for storing food for their tortoises, iguanas, snakes and other reptile pets.

Founded in 1985 by Iris Harrell, Employee-Owned Harrell Remodeling, Inc. has been transforming distinctive homes for 35 years in the Bay Area. If you are considering a METAmorphosis of your Silicon Valley or Mid-Peninsula home, Harrell Remodeling’s award-winning Design + Build team can make your residential dreams a reality. Explore our website to see more of our projects, learn about our company or to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Hot Countertop Trends

A stunning countertop is one of the elements that makes for an amazing kitchen or bathroom. Countertops come in a myriad of materials but the latest countertop trends are making headway, edging out former top contenders.

Quartz continues to be a favorite among homeowners who are remodeling both kitchens and baths. According to Harrell Remodeling’s award-winning senior designer, Sara Jorgensen, nine out of ten Harrell clients choose quartz for their countertop materials. There are many “pros” to quartz including its durability, low-to-no maintenance, and the incredible variety it provides, with marble look-a-likes being the most popular.

“Besides the wide selection and low maintenance, quartz can be manufactured in jumbo slabs, which makes it ideal for expansive islands,” Sara says. “This means our clients can have a perfectly seamless and truly gorgeous countertop.”

The “newest kid on the block” when it comes to countertop trends, Sara explains, is epoxy. Epoxy is often used to resurface old countertops but can also be applied over wood. It must be created on-site versus typical counter materials which are fabricated offsite and installed at the residence.

Epoxy counters offer limitless variety in design including colors and patterns. It can be created to look like marble, granite, concrete, stone, or something completely unique and custom. These counters can be metallic or matte and are always seamless with a luminous high gloss, which protects the color beneath. Epoxy is food safe, durable, heat resistant, and easy to clean.

“Epoxy countertops are really exciting from a design perspective,” says Sara. “I love their versatility and how the product can be used to achieve such amazingly realistic patterns mimicking marble and other popular countertop materials at a fraction of the cost. I really think this trend will be gaining momentum in kitchen remodels.”

Epoxy countertops can be professionally installed or, for those feeling adventurous, created as a DIY project. It can be applied over tile, laminate, wood, concrete, and other surfaces. If you want a specific pattern and a countertop that is top quality, Sara recommends foregoing the DIY option and leaving it to the pros.

Last on Sara’s list of trending countertop materials is porcelain. Once primarily used in tiles on kitchen and bathroom counters, this man-made material is fabricated in large slabs, which are then installed much like quartz or granite. Porcelain is durable and resists just about everything including stains, heat, scratches, chemicals, and UV light. It comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns, many of which look like marble or natural stone. Porcelain typically doesn’t require sealing and is an environmentally friendly option as it’s made from 100% natural clay-based materials and is completely recyclable, should you ever choose to change your counters in the future.

Sara explains, “Porcelain can be fabricated in extra large slabs and, because it is so thin, it can be applied directly over existing counters, if needed.”

When it comes to countertop trends and color, typically, whatever countertop material is chosen, Sara says her clients continue to prefer a high contrast between cabinets and counters.

When the time comes to reimagine your kitchen or bath, allow Harrell Remodeling’s design team to help you discover the possibilities. We offer numerous free inspirational and educational workshops and are always available to meet with you for a design consultation.

Sara Jorgensen, one of Harrell Remodeling’s award-winning designers, artfully executes her clients’ design desires coupled with their functional needs. Sara’s creative passion, authenticity, and open style of communication, enabling her to provide an innate understanding of client needs to the Harrell Remodeling Design + Build team. “Some clients know their style. Others need inspiration. Through the design exercises in which my clients’ partake, we come easily to an understanding of their preferences. The ultimate goal is to create a beautiful, timeless, on-budget, and functional project,” says Sara. Sara works from a holistic viewpoint to the smallest of details that create the design’s ‘wow’ factor. Her designs have won awards from the NKBA, NARI and National CotY and encompass a wide variety of projects from Wine cellars, Yoga rooms, Master Suites, Kitchens, and Decks to whole house remodels. A Bay Area native, Sara holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Interior Design from San Jose State University. Sara is a California state Certified Interior Designer (CID) and a Certified Green Building Professional (CGBP). Outside of work, Sara enjoys kayaking, San Jose Sharks hockey, snowboarding, cycling, snowman building, spending time with family and relaxing outdoors. She is a proud committee member of the Santa Clara Valley Model T Ford Club and enjoys driving her Model T around California on various club tours.

Universal Design and Kitchen Remodels

Genie Nowicki is one of Harrell Remodeling’s Universal Design experts. Passionate about creating living spaces that are functional, accessible, and beautiful, she explains how Universal Design can be incorporated into a kitchen “in small bites without major design changes.” Or, if a homeowner is undergoing a full kitchen remodel, more comprehensive changes can be integrated into the overall design.

“I fully believe that homeowners should take advantage of making their home accessible whenever the opportunity presents itself,” says Genie. “Many people think that Universal Design products will make their home look and feel like a hospital but in reality, they are beautiful. When a space is properly designed, you’d never realize it was created to be accessible. And accessibility can benefit the entire household.”

The Small Bite Approach

Even if you don’t plan to undertake a major kitchen remodel, there are still Universal Design principles that can easily be applied. Cabinet hardware and faucets can easily be changed, appliances can be upgraded to those allowing easier access, and existing cabinets can be modified using special storage solutions, drawers, and unique shelving units that extend outward.

Simple Universal Design Solutions

  • Cabinet hardware: install pulls instead of knobs
  • Faucets: Install a single lever faucet to the side of the sink to allow for easier reach
  • Drawers: use full extension for increased accessibility
  • Base Cabinets: Use roll-outs and drawers versus shelves
  • Upper Cabinets: Forego a backsplash and have cabinets come all the way down to the counters
  • Storage Accessories: Installed inside cabinets, these make items easier to reach
  • Dishwashers: Choose an appliance manufacturer, like Fisher Paykel, that offers dishwasher drawers rather than doors.
  • Refrigerator: Choose a unit with the freezer drawer on the bottom
  • Wall Ovens: Install at a comfortable, reachable height. A better choice than a one-piece range
  • Microwave: Install at a level accessible to those seated or standing

Genie explains, “One of the most ingenious Universal Design products I’ve discovered is made by Hafele, a company that offers a variety of kitchen storage solutions as well as cabinet hinges. They have a hinge mechanism that allows upper shelves to pull out and drop down to a lower level, making them fully accessible to someone who is seated or has any issue with reaching high places.”

Incorporating Universal Design Into a Kitchen Remodel

Updating your kitchen is the perfect opportunity to maximize accessibility. It allows a design to be achieved that creates ample space and reachability alongside function and beauty.

Comprehensive Universal Design Solutions

In addition to those accessibility features listed above, the following solutions can be included when a kitchen is being fully redesigned.

  • Ample aisle space: A minimum of 48 inches between counters and one 60-inch diameter open space to allow a wheelchair to turn around
  • Counter heights: Standard counters are 36 inches but to achieve the best accessibility, 33 inches is ideal. Having counters at both heights creates multiple useable workspaces, with the lower counter also serving as an accessible space for young children or as a baking center.
  • Flooring: Smooth, non-skid surfaces with seamless transitions ensure durable, easy to maintain floors that virtually eliminate tripping hazards and allow for mobility devices to move easily in the space. Hardwood, luxury vinyl tile, engineered wood, porcelain tile with machined edges, linoleum, and sheet vinyl are all viable options.
  • Cooktops: Induction units are responsive and easy to clean. These electric appliances only heat the cookware; the surface itself never get hot, virtually eliminating the risk of fire or injury.
  • Stove hoods: Choose an appliance with a remote-control unit that can be mounted on the side of a reachable cabinet.
  • Outlets and switches: Place on the face of cabinets or at levels that are easily reachable by those in seated positions.
  • Lighting: Use of natural light sources in addition to LED fixtures create ample light. Recessed or surface mounted fixtures are ideal for overall illumination while under-cabinet task lighting should be installed at the front underside of cabinets. Decorative pendant lights over islands are also popular.
  • Counters: Polished black granite or quartz is a very reflective surface. This can cause a lot of glare making it uncomfortable to sensitive eyes when lighting bounces off.
  • Pull out breadboards: Create an instant, functional “roll under” work area.
  • Rolling carts or butcher blocks: These allow for easy transport of ingredients, dishware, or other kitchen items for those using mobility devices.
  • Appliance lifts: These mechanisms are installed inside cabinets and eliminate having to lift and move heavy appliances such as mixers. The appliance is securely placed on the lift which easily pulls up and locks into place. These mechanisms require a larger, 18-inch cabinet.
  • Roll-under sink and cooktops: By designing an open space beneath cooktops and sinks, individuals using wheelchair are able to get close enough to wash dishes and prepare meals. Drains and garbage disposals should be located toward the back of a shallow sink.

Genie explains that an additional level of thoughtful design is required when applying Universal Design, especially in kitchen spaces. The initial interview process is critical in understanding how the homeowners use their space, allowing a designer to problem-solve, often creating a functional solution that didn’t previously exist. Things like plumbing and electrical along with counters, storage, and creating ample space all need to be planned in advance.

“The kitchen is a very personal space and there are numerous ways to integrate UD products and principles, many of which depend upon the homeowners, their lifestyle and how they use the space,” Genie offers. “There is a unique motorized solution for sinks or cooktops. With the push of a button, the counter raises or lowers up to six inches. This product takes preplanning but adds an amazing level of accessibility.”

Incorporating Universal Design doesn’t require a significant kitchen remodel. There are many aspects that can be applied without major design changes. But if you are contemplating a kitchen remodel, integrating accessibility features is something to seriously consider, especially if this will be your forever home.

Schedule a complimentary consultation with one of Harrell Remodeling Inc.’s designers to learn more about Universal Design and how it can increase the functionality, accessibility, and beauty of your Silicon Valley or San Francisco Bay Area residence.

Premier senior designer, Genie Nowicki, is certified in numerous forms of design and the recipient of multiple awards. Genie joined the Harrell Remodeling team after years of running her own successful design business. Beginning her career in the world of income tax planning, she made a career leap in 1990 to the equally “detail and code-filled world” of kitchen and bath design. Genie obtained her Certification in Professional Kitchen and Bath Design in 1992 and achieved her Certified Kitchen Designer (CID) and Certified Bath Designer (CBD) status in 1996. After passing another rigorous examination, she became a Certified Interior Designer (CID) in the State of California in 2002 and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) in 2006. Her experience has included residential interior design, kitchen and bath design, barrier free/Universal Design, lighting design, and participation in numerous showcase houses in the Bay area, as well as several commercial projects. Genie prides herself on listening to her clients and providing timeless design work that is appropriate to her clients, their lifestyles, and their homes. Her excellence in design has been recognized with awards, projects published in local and national magazines, and a Sunset design book, and an article she wrote was featured in the Fine Homebuilding Kitchen and Bath Annual Issue.

Creative Options for Island End Caps

With islands becoming more of a standard kitchen feature, more imaginative ideas are emerging for how to use island end caps. Depending upon whether the homeowner prefers them to be a focal point or simply to blend in plays a role in the ultimate design.

“Understanding the client’s needs along with the overall design aesthetic helps me to guide them with end cap options,” shares senior Harrell designer, Sara Jorgensen. “During our in-depth planning meetings, I ask a lot of questions: Do they prefer clean, simple lines? Do they need more storage or want a place to showcase special kitchen platters or décor? Do they want a special spot for their kitty or pup?”

Creative ways to use island end caps include:

Open bookcase: End caps offer an ideal location to house and display favorite culinary tomes.

Storage: Most homeowners can use more rather than less storage. End caps offer perfect locations to visually highlight key display pieces facing the living space. This could be open storage or a cabinet with beautiful glass doors and interior illumination. For hidden storage that is easily accessed, adding in drawers or doors on the opposite side allows frequently used item to be tucked away. This is a perfect place to store homework items, entertainment ware, beverage items, microwaves, and more.

Pet-friendly niche: Many people have pets and the kitchen is the primary location for food and water bowls. A special niche can be designed into an end cap, typically on the side facing into the kitchen, where bowls can be recessed and tucked out of the path of (human) travel. They can even be elevated for larger pets.

Wine rack: For wine lovers, incorporating a custom wine rack into their island end cap allows them to display their collection as well as have favorites close at hand.

Waterfall edge: For those who love the crisp, clean look of a continuous countertop, a waterfall edge is a stunning use of end caps. The counter material continues vertically all the way to the floor, creating a simple, uninterrupted line. Alternately, a waterfall edge can be created using a contrasting material such as natural wood.

Decorative element: As an alternative to a waterfall edge, end caps can be used to create a decorative element that offers visual appeal. This design can then be repeated in other areas throughout the kitchen. These elements can be traditional, classic, modern, farmhouse, or contemporary and as ornate or simple as desired.

“Determining which option works best is a very personal decision based on lifestyle, function, and personal preference,” Sara confirms. “But there are a lot of resourceful options to put island end caps to great use.”

If a kitchen, bath, or even a whole home remodel is something you would like to explore, we invite you to set up a consultation with a member of the Harrell Design Team. We also encourage you to visit our online project gallery to see our extensive kitchen, bath, and even whole-house remodels.

Sara Jorgensen, one of Harrell Remodeling’s award-winning designers, artfully executes her clients’ design desires coupled with their functional needs. Sara’s creative passion, authenticity, and open style of communication, enabling her to provide an innate understanding of client needs to the Harrell Remodeling Design + Build team. “Some clients know their style. Others need inspiration. Through the design exercises in which my clients’ partake, we come easily to an understanding of their preferences. The ultimate goal is to create a beautiful, timeless, on-budget, and functional project,” says Sara. Sara works from a holistic viewpoint to the smallest of details that create the design’s ‘wow’ factor. Her designs have won awards from the NKBA, NARI and National CotY and encompass a wide variety of projects from Wine cellars, Yoga rooms, Master Suites, Kitchens, and Decks to whole house remodels. A Bay Area native, Sara holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Interior Design from San Jose State University. Sara is a California state Certified Interior Designer (CID) and a Certified Green Building Professional (CGBP). Outside of work, Sara enjoys kayaking, San Jose Sharks hockey, snowboarding, cycling, snowman building, spending time with family and relaxing outdoors. She is a proud committee member of the Santa Clara Valley Model T Ford Club and enjoys driving her Model T around California on various club tours.

HarrellCARE: Small Projects and Kitchen & Bathroom Refreshes

In Silicon Valley, it can be challenging to find professionals who have the time or even want to take on smaller home improvement or maintenance projects. This often leaves homeowners with some less than appealing options: hiring an under-qualified person, taking on the projects themselves, or deferring needed home maintenance.

Project Manager, Marshall Parker, works exclusively on HarrellCARE projects. “This unique program was created because we kept getting requests from clients who needed work done but couldn’t find anyone qualified to complete it,” Marshall explains.

That’s where HarrellCARE comes in. A unique and separate service from Harrell’s Design + Build format, it provides the utmost in quality, exceptional customer service, and attention to detail for which Harrell Remodeling is known while focusing solely on the often-overlooked small project niche.

HarrellCARE is designed to fulfill the needs of two specific areas:

  1. Remove & Replace
  2. Small Projects

HarrellCARE Remove & Replace Division

This high efficiency, streamlined segment of HarrellCARE is specifically for kitchen and bathroom “refreshes” that update these spaces aesthetically within the room’s existing footprint.

Harrell Designer, Debra Winston UDCP, works with all HarrellCARE Remove & Replace clients to help them choose new materials, fixtures, cabinetry, flooring, and the like to update the look of their kitchen and/or baths.

“Homeowners that work well within the HarrellCARE Remove & Replace scope are those who can make decisions quickly and who don’t want a fully customized kitchen or bathroom,” shared Debra. “It is a great way to achieve an updated look with some custom details without undertaking a major remodel project.”

Any design aesthetic can be achieved, resulting in a beautiful, functional and efficient space without moving walls, plumbing, gas or waste lines. Debra explains, “We can easily relocate electrical appliances in a kitchen, change a shower-tub combination into a full shower, bring the electrical or plumbing up to code, and use cabinetry to maximize space planning. Universal Design concepts can even be implemented in a kitchen or bath refresh.”

Debra encourages clients to create Houzz Idea Boards, sharing them with her so she understands what they like and what they don’t. She then curates materials, finishes, and fixtures from items in the Harrell Remodeling showroom as well as from Harrell suppliers that meet their design preferences. Though these refreshes aren’t completely customized remodels, there is a lot of tailored design that can be integrated including cabinet sizing, layout and tile designs.

All necessary permits will be obtained, and any needed code upgrades will be performed. Often times owners are unaware or don’t think they need a permit when they regularly do. It can be surprising for them to find out their small project fits that requirement. The HarrellCARE team arranges all the necessary trades and communicates with the homeowners, ensuring they are aware of what work is scheduled and when. If any issues, such as termites or structural damage, are discovered during demo, these will be also be properly addressed and resolved.

A typical kitchen project takes from 10 to 12 weeks and a bathroom refresh project takes from 5 to 7 weeks and involves two distinct phases: the design phase and the construction phase. Both have defined pricing and focus on quick turn-around with top-quality work. Clients get access to a designer to help them achieve the design they desire while the build team schedules all the necessary trades to keep the project on track, on budget, and on time.

HarrellCARE Small Project Division

The Small Project segment is a catch-all of sorts, a broad service that tackles that never-ending honey-do list that the majority of large companies or contractors won’t even consider. Homeowners often hire handymen but even they often don’t have the bandwidth, desire, or the ability to complete many of these small jobs.

“One of the things I hear most from HarrellCARE clients is that they’ve called dozens of businesses but Harrell is the only company that has called them back,” says Marshall.

Marshall clarifies the HarrellCARE Small Projects service as having one primary criteria: all jobs must require “zero to minimal designer involvement,” he explains. “Other than that, it can entail almost anything, from touch-up painting, installing new light fixtures, replacing a window, weather stripping doors, rebuilding decks, installing a shower door, a bathroom vanity, or even hanging Christmas lights. You name it, and odds are, it falls within the HarrellCARE Small Projects scope.”

Many small projects involve multiple trades such as electricians, plumbers, structural engineers, and painters as well as required code upgrades and permitting. Marshall’s dedicated HarrellCARE team handles it all to minimize homeowner headaches while completing each project in a timely manner and on budget.

Depending upon the type of project, a homeowner will pay either Time & Materials or, if the work can be defined, a Fixed Price will be agreed upon in advance. “We may also draw up a pre-construction services agreement if the job is fairly complex, entailing a lengthy timeframe due to structural work and permitting requirements,” says Marshall.

If you have a kitchen or bath that has a few decades under its belt and could use a refresh, or a honey-do list that simply never gets done, the HarrellCARE team has got your back. To learn more about HarrellCARE, give us a call. Marshall promises: he will call you back. To see photos of some of our Remove & Replace spaces, visit our HarrellCARE webpage.

Warming Drawers, Convection Ovens & Induction Cooktops

Good food and a warm kitchen are what makes a house a home. Warming drawers, convection ovens and induction cooktops are a popular choice in kitchens where cooking, entertaining or family gatherings are a focus.

Choosing the proper appliances to meet your culinary requirements is one of the many decisions a homeowner must consider during a kitchen remodel. Harrell Certified Kitchen Designer, Debra Winston advises her clients to consider how they cook, entertain, and their overall lifestyle when considering cooking units.

Debra explains, “Appliances for kitchens continue to evolve with more pre-programed settings to make cooking more pleasurable and more precise. There are many finish options now, available in suites such as matte black, shiny black, slate, rose gold, and the classic stainless steel. Look for smudge, scratch, and fingerprint resistant finishes. Also, newly popular is bright white in either a gloss or matte. Made with a powder coated finish, these whites won’t turn yellow with age. Bright pops of color such as orange or French blue can become an exciting focal point of the kitchen.”

Warming Drawers

These units are an entertainer’s must-have, perfect for warming food as well as keeping dinner hot for a family member who comes home late. It can also be used to warm plates and cups and is a champ at heating damp finger towels to the ideal temperature. They can also be used to proof bread and other yeasted doughs, make homemade yogurts or ferment foods. Warming drawers are typically 30 inches wide by 10 inches high and can be located below a wall oven or cooktop.

Convection Ovens

These ovens use a fan to uniformly circulate hot air, which results in faster cooking at lower temperatures. Convection units create an even, golden brown for baked goods and a toothsome crispy texture for baked poultry. Though available in gas and electric, the latter is preferred for baking. Convection ovens come in a variety of sizes as well as freestanding and wall units, ensuring you can choose the appliance that best fits your new kitchen design.

Induction Cooktops

Cooking with induction is safe, fast, and much more energy efficient than gas or electric. These cutting-edge cooktops and ranges use electromagnetic coils under a glass surface to create heat directly into cast iron, carbon steel, or magnetic stainless-steel cookware. (Aluminum, copper, and glass won’t conduct heat on an induction cooktop.) Since the heat is transferred directly to the cooking vessel, cooking is accelerated while the cooktop itself remains cool. This effective, innovative and easy-to-clean design is ideal for households with young children and also works well as a Universal Design feature. Believe it or not, this technology has been around for quite a while, and prices have come down significantly. (One note of caution; if someone with an implanted pacemaker is very close to the cooktop for an extended period of time, there may be some interference from the magnetic field).

Harrell Remodeling’s premier design team is here to help you create the kitchen of your dreams, including offering insights into the brands and types of appliances to fit your lifestyle and budget. Contact us to set up a complimentary meeting at our Palo Alto showroom with one of our award-winning designers to explore your kitchen remodel.

Debra has been with Harrell Remodeling Design + Build for five years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, is an accomplished painter and quilt artist, and spent 13 years working for Ralph Lauren in New York City as a fashion designer before moving to California. She studied Interior Design at Cañada College, where she specialized in Kitchen and Bath Design. She worked as an Interior Designer prior to joining the Harrell Team in April 2014. Debra has received numerous awards for her designs, her specialty being Kitchen and Bath redesign, as well as color consultation. She is a passionate Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP), and also works on whole-house remodels and room additions.

Designing Beautiful and Functional Baking Stations

When designing a functional baking space in a kitchen, Gloria Carlson always asks clients, “What are you baking?” There is no prescribed layout or single answer that fits every homeowner who loves to bake so it’s important to get to know each client’s lifestyle and how their current kitchen space works or falls short.

“I had a client who wanted a baking station designed into her kitchen. Her adult son was a professional baker and would often come to her home to bake,” Gloria shares. “Additionally, a few times a year, her husband would make 1,000 chocolate truffles, which meant he needed quite a bit of counter space for the creation of his desserts. There were very distinct baking needs required by this client, and yet keeping the kitchen aesthetically pleasing and generally functional on a daily basis were crucial too.”

For a client who enjoys baking, setting up their kitchen to function efficiently for this purpose, as well as meet the everyday demands of a typical kitchen and even an entertaining space, entails defining specific zones. Typically, there are four primary components to consider for a baking zone.

  1. Large, smooth counter surfaces
    Having a spacious counter allows the baker to comfortably spread out and have areas for each phase of the process. Using a smooth, durable surface such as quartz or natural stone ensures easy clean up. (Gloria advises against tile, which has grout lines). Bakers generally prefer a lower than standard counter height for kneading or rolling dough. This 30-inch counter can be in a separate but nearby location within the kitchen or can be stair-stepped off the main, 36-inch countertop.
  2. Appliances
    Electric ovens are preferred by most bakers, so many will select an electric wall oven or opt for a duel-fuel range, with an electric oven and a gas cooktop, providing the best of both worlds in one appliance. Having a secondary combi-speed oven (a combination microwave and convection oven) or a combi-steam oven (a convection oven with steam) provides an overflow baking source, especially if the kitchen isn’t large enough for two full ovens or a double wall oven. These multi-function combi-ovens are available in a variety of brands including Miele and Bosch.
    “Specific features in an appliance can make all the difference to an individual baker’s needs,” says Gloria. “If you bake bread, a steam oven offers major perks, and if you bake pies or cookies, you’ll want to use convection, but generally speaking, an electric oven will provide more even heat for baking than a gas oven.”
  3. Efficient, Ample Storage
    Divided drawers for baking utensils such as measuring cups and spoons, larger cabinets for mixing bowls, hand mixers, and tall cabinets for storing baking trays, should all be considered. Often, carefully planned inserts in drawers and specialized pull-outs in their cabinets ensure the homeowner has a well-organized and accessible location for their utensils. Baking ingredients should also be stored in a single area for maximal convenience. Using a Lazy Susan with bins for flour, sugar, and all other baking accoutrements or a pantry cabinet near the baking center can be very convenient. Placement for frequently used baking items and ingredients should be in close proximity to the primary workspace.
  4. Appliance Garage
    These cabinets are designed specifically for hiding away countertop appliances such as stand mixers and food processors when not in use. They should be located near the primary baking workspace to allow for easy set up and clean up. Mixer lifts within cabinets can also be used but do require an 18-inch cabinet for storage. This option can be convenient when a baking zone is at an island where you don’t want to leave the stand mixer out and don’t want to lift or move it.

Harrell Remodeling’s slogan is, “We never forget it’s your home.” Part of living up to this statement is sitting down with clients to learn what they want and need, how they live, discover their passions and hobbies. This helps guide the design, be it a baking station or an entire home remodel.

Do you live to create cakes, cinnamon rolls, or cookies? Do you bake baguettes, revel in dinner rolls, or make a mean banana bread? We bet you would love to have a baking station designed for how you cook. Our award-winning design team can make that happen! Get in touch, set up a complimentary consultation, and let’s whip up something wonderful together!

Harrell Remodeling premier designer, Gloria Carlson, has two degrees from Stanford University. She began her career in Speech Technology, but left to raise two children. After remodeling her home in 2001, she realized that design was her passion. She went to work for her contractor and returned to school to study Interior Design at Cañada College, where she specialized in Kitchen and Bath Design and Green/Sustainable Design. Gloria quickly realized that the kitchen was her favorite room to design, and decided to focus her years of training on this specialty, including multiple examinations from the National Kitchen and Bath Association, and earned the title of Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). Before joining Harrell Remodeling, Gloria worked as a Designer in a Kitchen and Bath showroom, and now she enjoys designing projects of all sizes, from a small bathroom update to whole house interior and exterior remodels and additions.

Gloria prides herself on listening to her clients and providing designs that are appropriate to their lifestyles and their homes. She possesses a practical approach to her projects, creative style, and responsiveness to her client’s needs. She also is very attentive to both budget and detail. “Remodeling one’s home can be stressful, so I try to make the process as fun as possible,” says Gloria. “I listen carefully to the homeowner’s desires, whether functional, aesthetic or budgetary, and come up with a plan that will work for them. Then, throughout the project, they know they can count on me to respond quickly to questions and help with decisions.”

Gloria has won multiple awards for her designs from the local chapters of NKBA, NARI, ASID and IFDA. Outside of work, Gloria loves to play tennis, and being a “foodie”, enjoys everything epicurean.

Cabinet Lighting Trends

Cabinets are a key feature for both function and aesthetics in every home, especially in the kitchen. There are numerous ways in which to illuminate cabinets to showcase special décor, provide focused task lighting, and even automatically light up blind or corner cabinets when opened.

Under-Cabinet Lighting

According to Harrell Remodeling designer Debra Winston, under-cabinet lighting is the most important source of illumination in the whole kitchen. It offers concentrated, no-glare task lighting that is ideal for chopping, fine mincing, measuring, or reading recipes from the cookbook. Under-cabinet lighting is cleverly hidden from sight by adding a 1 1/2-inch light-rail mounted on the bottom front edge of the cabinet.

Accent Lighting

Lighting in glass display cabinets highlights special dishware or objets d’art. A single puck light can be built into the inside top of the cabinet or LED light strips can be recessed down the interior sides of the cabinet. With the single light option, Debra recommends having glass shelves so light shines down throughout the cabinet and brightens the entire display. Inset LED strips provide an equal amount of light from top to the bottom allowing the use of wooden shelves, and illuminating the entire cabinet evenly.


To create general ambient lighting with a subtle glow, up-lights can be installed on the tops of wall cabinets that do not go all the way up to the ceiling. They reflect off the ceiling and provide an attractive atmospheric effect. As with under-cabinet lighting, low profile up-lights can easily be hidden from view behind the cabinet crown molding. This can be a nice solution to an Eichler home where no attic means recessed cans cannot be installed.

Corner or “Blind” Cabinet Lighting

Corner or blind cabinets tend to be deep and homeowners often can’t easily see inside. Installing lights that turn on when the cabinet door is opened provides much-needed visibility, especially for blind base cabinets.

Night Lighting

A Universal design feature, installing dimmable strip lighting beneath the cabinet toe-kick functions as a night light, providing subtle illumination near the floors. This feature is especially useful in bathrooms as well as in kitchens.

“There are numerous ways to incorporate lighting in your cabinets, whether they are in the kitchen or are built-ins located in Great Rooms or Master Suites. Efficient, long-lasting LED lighting can even be connected to smart home systems, allowing the homeowner to control their entire house from one panel or remotely via a phone app,” shares Debra.

Could your home use a little illumination? Harrell Remodeling has been designing and remodeling distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985. We invite you to schedule a complementary consultation with one of our talented designers to discover the possibilities for your home.

Debra has been with Harrell Remodeling Design + Build for five years. She has a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts, is an accomplished painter and quilt artist, and spent 13 years working for Ralph Lauren in New York City as a fashion designer before moving to California. She studied Interior Design at Cañada College, where she specialized in Kitchen and Bath Design. Debra worked as an Interior Designer prior to joining the Harrell Team in April 2014. Debra has received numerous awards for her designs, her specialty being Kitchen and Bath redesign as well as color consultations. Debra is a passionate Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP), and also works on whole-house remodels and room additions.