Cabinet & Countertop Inspirations

Spring is in the air … one of the most popular times of the year to remodel.  With the snow gone and kids still in school, it is a great time to plan and begin the process.  Here are a few items to consider in your planning:

  • Your home’s architectural style.  Start outside and work your way in. You chose your home because the architectural style appealed to you.  Keep the entire home … outside and inside … cohesive. If you have a cottage style home, your designer can help you choose elements for your remodeling project, such as the cabinet door style, that complement the overall feel of your home.
  • The good, the bad & the ugly. While you are planning, use magazines, Pinterest, Houzz and other design sources to find photos of spaces that appeal to you, fit your style or achieve the desired look. Don’t forget to keep photos of spaces you don’t like! This will help your designer know what direction to avoid.  These pictures can be kept in a folder or electronically.
  • Understand your routine. As you plan your remodel, work to understand how you use the space.  Where does the mail get placed at the end of the day? Where do you charge cell phones and tablets? With this understanding, you can design space into your home to handle these items. Also, keep paper close by to capture any frustrations with your current space or items that must be included in the project (e.g., breakfast bar).

  • Color. Now may be the time to move to another portion of the color wheel.  Pay attention to your surroundings and look for colors that you like or draw you in. Purchase paint samples and try them out on a wall in the “old” space.  This will help you decide and allow you to see the color throughout the different lighting of the day.
  • Heavy metal.  Early in the process, make it a priority to look for appliances.  This should not be an 11-th hour action. Depending on the timing of your last appliance purchase, you may find a significant improvements in technology. Deciding which appliances will be used in your remodeling project is important to ensure the design incorporates their requirements (dimensions, utility needs).

With proper planning, a remodeling project will go smoother, faster, and will avoid costly change orders. Give us a call if you have any questions about planning a kitchen or bathroom remodel.  We would be happy to help answer your questions. 


Choosing a sink is one of many decisions facing a homeowner in a kitchen remodeling project. When picking a sink, it is important to consider style, usage, and budget. A short primer on the most common sinks and the mounting options follows.

Stainless steel sinks are the most popular choice and come in a variety of configurations ... single bowl, double bowl, apron front and different bowl depths/shapes. Stainless steel is affordable, easy to clean, and is more forgiving if a glass is dropped on it. The thickness of stainless steel sinks is denoted by gauge. The lower the gauge, the thicker and more durable the stainless steel.  For example, a 16-gauge sink is thicker than an 18-gauge sink. With regards to style, stainless steel fits nicely with stainless steel appliances and the clean lines of modern kitchens.

There are a few objections to stainless steel, including a "cold" feeling, potential to get dented (mostly for thinner gauge stainless steel), and being noisy. Sound deadening material is applied to most sinks to help absorb sound.


Solid surface sinks seamlessly integrate the sink into the countertop. Without a seam, there are fewer places for kitchen debris to collect, making clean-up easy. Solid surface has a "warmer" feel than stainless steel, but is typically more expensive. Like stainless steel, items are less likely to break when dropped on it. On the downside, these sinks can get scratched and nicked during use, but most of these scratches can be buffed out. You also need to be careful when transferring hot pans directly from the cooktop to the sink, as this can damage solid surface material.


Composite sinks are increasing in popularity. These sinks are made by combining a stone material (granite, quartz, slate) with an acrylic binder. This material makes the sink very hard and resistant to scratching. Unlike stainless steel and solid surface sinks, this material is not forgiving when a glass is dropped on it. Numerous shapes are available, but the color palette is more limited.


Porcelain enamel over cast iron sinks were once the standard in the kitchen. While not as popular as in the past, these sinks still provide great variety in style and colors. A high quality porcelain sink can last 25 - 30 years. Similar to composite sinks, any item dropped in the sink is likely to break, making the usage of a sink mat a good idea. The enamel can get scratched and wear over time, which may not make this sink the best option for hard use. Finally, the cast iron does not retain heat well, making it necessary to replenish hot water when washing dishes.


Sink Mounting Options - There are two predominant methods for mounting a sink.

  • Drop-in/Top-mount is the traditionally used method and entails dropping a self-rimming sink into a cutout in the countertop. This method is the easiest installation and requires limited expertise. Due to the rim on the sink, it will need to be caulked during installation and periodically over the life of the sink. The rim also makes clean-up more difficult.
  • Undermounting sinks is becoming the most popular method.  In this method, the sink is attached from underneath the countertop. This method is more expensive and typically requires a professional installer. The benefit of this type of mounting is very easy clean-up as items can be swept right into the sink for disposal.  

As you embark on updating your kitchen or bathroom cabinets, there are numerous decisions to make ... including the cabinet finish/color. Regardless of the finish selected, the application process includes sanding the wood surfaces, applying the finish (stain, paint), sealing the finish, additional sanding, and the application of a topcoat to protect the finish from chemicals, scratches, and wear/tear.

Stain is the most common finishing option for cabinets. Stains come in an almost endless variety of colors and enhance the wood's color and pattern by penetrating into the grain or remaining on the surface. Stain is applied by spraying, wiping, or brushing it onto the wood's surface. The stain's penetration is dependent on the wood's grain structure. For example, hard maple has a dense, tight grain structure, making it difficult for the stain to penetrate deeply. Conversely, soft maple's grain is less dense and more open, allowing the wood to be stained very easily. Stain color is also impacted by the length of time the stain remains on the wood surface.



A painted finish is also a very popular option. In many kitchen remodeling projects, clients are choosing stained cabinets for the perimeter of the room and painted cabinets for the island. Similar to painted finishes, there are numerous color choices for painted cabinets. When choosing a painted finish, it is important to use tight-grained wood ... birch or maple are preferred ... to prevent the grain from showing through the paint. Enamel is used to help ensure a strong, durable finish for the cabinets. A downside to paint is hairline cracks along the joints become visible as the wood expands and contracts from humidity changes.



Glazes are transparent or semi-transparent stains applied late in the finishing process and are most often a complementary color to the base coat. Glazes are applied to both stained and painted finishes, providing character and depth to the finish. During the finishing process, a glaze is applied to the wood surface and then wiped off. While most of the glaze is removed, a portion remains in the cabinet grooves/molding details and in any natural wood imperfections. Alternatively, the glaze can be applied only in the grooves or corners. 



Distressing artificially ages the wood to creat a look consistent with a period of time. Distressing comes in a variety of forms, including a crackle finish to mimic cracks in painted finishes, dings and dents to simulate wear/tear, rubbing through the finish to create a worn effect, and randomly placed worm holes.



Thermofoil finish is the application of a plastic laminate coating to engineered furniture board. The laminate finish can be applied to a variety of door/drawer shapes and profiles. Thermofoil provides a strong durable finish. However, thermofoil comes in a limited number of color choices and if damaged, is difficult to repair.


Finally, stainless steel can be used to create a very contemporary look. In this situation, stainless steel is applied over wood frames, so the door style choices are more limited. Stainless steel is a very durable and easy to clean finish.



"Sonja and I want to thank you for the great experience that you and your company provided to us throughout the design, manufacture, and installation of our library cabinetry you made for our condo. Our friends and family rave about its quality and appearance. You are all craftsmen and it was a real pleasure watching the project come together during the whole process."
Al & Sonja
"Thanks again for successfully completing our project today. Special kudos to Mike and the other craftsmen at the shop for a job well done. We could not be more pleased with the results. Mike’s attention to small, finer details was very much appreciated. He was patient, pleasant and understanding. It’s all about the “fit & finish” with us and Spiceland Wood Products did not disappoint. We WILL be doing more business together soon – we look forward to it. Given the opportunity, we will highly recommend SWP to everyone. It was a true pleasure working together."
Wayne & Tonia