Real Estate

Home Front: How to Select a Backsplash

The devil is in the details. That certainly is true of selecting a kitchen backsplash – there are almost an unlimited number of factors to consider. This column provides guidance to help assure you select the right materials for your backsplash to achieve the look and feel you want in your kitchen.

Color scheme of the kitchen is a major factor in determining the type of backsplash. The color should complement the other design aspects of the kitchen.

For some projects, a dash of bold color helps the backsplash become a focal point in the kitchen. Other clients that want a calmer feeling for their kitchens may opt for a white or light gray color scheme.

Material is as important as color. Backsplashes can be used to make a dramatic personal design statement with mixed materials, wood, brick, tile, stone or almost anything that the imagination desires.

A third consideration is the amount and type of cooking that will take place in your kitchen. For our clients who are avid cooks, we suggest a stainless steel or painted glass backsplash because they are easy to clean, plus glass and stainless steel can help round out the design of other components of the kitchen.

The height of the backsplash is another factor that most do-it- yourselfers and non-professionals often don't account for.Cabinet placement typically dictates the height of the backsplash.

Some clients prefer having the backsplash end at the bottom of cabinets. Others like the backsplash material to come to the first shelf in an open or glass front cabinet.

Some of our clients have extended the backsplash to the ceiling in areas where there are no cabinets to make the backsplash a focal point in the kitchen.

The shape and patterns of materials used for backsplash are additional considerations.

If you plan to stay in your home for a long time period, we suggest that the shapes, colors and materials complement the other kitchen components, and also other decor in your home.

However, if your time in your home is relatively short, you may want to make sure that the material and design are timeless and will serve as an asset in the future sale of your home. A subway tile backsplash is one example of a timeless material and design.

Backsplashes should also complement and coordinate with countertop materials and colors. If you desire a patterned granite countertop, the backsplash that generally works best is one with a neutral color scheme. If you opt for a solid color quartz countertop, the backsplash can be more colorful.

How much should you budget for your backsplash? The cost depends on the amount and type of materials that you want. Subway tile is a cost-effective material but may not achieve the look of a stone backsplash or intricate tile. Custom colors are more costly than traditional off-the-shelf products.

Mixing and matching materials is an effective way to stretch budget dollars.


Home Front: Island Fever

Kitchen islands are wildly popular and have become the centerpiece of many kitchens. For nearly 40 years, kitchen islands have withstood the test of time.

In fact, they are largely responsible for making open-concept designs work, but not all islands are created equal. We work with customers to specify islands that maximize space and storage, compliment style and enhance design.

To help determine if an island will work in your new kitchen and identify the type that delivers the most benefit, make a list of all of the tasks that you and your family would perform at the island. These may include dining, meal preparation, homework, laundry, folding, entertaining, relaxing and so on.

Extra counter top space is an obvious benefit of an island. If you placed your cooktop in the island, that would allow cooking from both sides, would that enhance dinner parties and entertaining? Would you like to have a second sink? If you don't have a lot of wall space, could your island be home to your microwave, steam oven or other small built in appliances?

We've designed islands with beverage refrigerators, wine storage and dishwashers underneath the counter top. For other clients we've incorporated open shelves where they could store cookbooks or display everything from knickknacks to family heirlooms. Almost every island we design includes electrical and USB outlets.

We also find creative ways to illuminate islands with overhead lighting, in cabinet lighting and under cabinet lighting. Form follows functionality when it comes to designing an island that will exceed your expectations.

We present our clients with different shapes and sizes depending on needs and preferences. We work with our clients to determine the edges and number of surfaces that they want.

Because islands typically are the centerpiece of the kitchen, we make sure there is sufficient storage to help prevent clutter that might distract from the look and feel that our clients want to achieve with their new kitchen.

The style of the island should match the decor of your home, regardless if it is traditional, transitional or modern. We often carry the color scheme from adjoining or adjacent rooms to provide consistency of image throughout the home.

If the island will serve both as the focal point and primary workstation of the kitchen, opting for high quality, durable and beautiful materials is an investment that pays dividends year after year. Quartz has gained in popularity in recent years because it is easy to maintain and three times harder than granite.

Quartz is also one of the most durable materials used for islands, having the highest resistance to scratching, staining and heat damage. Granite and marble need to be sealed, polished and reconditioned over time. Quartz does not. It also is nonporous, nonabsorbent and offers zero emissions of volatile organic compounds or other emissions.

Island size depends on available space and also usage. If you incorporate a cooktop into the island, we also need to factor in ventilation. If the island sink is the primary one used in the kitchen, it typically makes sense to incorporate the dishwasher into the island.

Length of the island is based on the amount of available space in the kitchen. At a minimum, there should be at least four feet long by two to three feet wide.

If space is available, we've designed islands that are seven to eight feet in length. Our rule of thumb is to leave at least 36 inches of floor space between the end of the island and cabinets or a dishwasher.

We make sure that all doors and drawers will open comfortably and it's easy to load and unload.

We also make sure that the island can seat our clients and their families comfortably without the need to watch knees when they sit. This is accomplished by specifying a 10 to 15-inch overhang in seating areas.

The height depends on seating preferences and capabilities. If our client prefers bar stools for the island, we specify islands that are 40 inches high. If our client wants counter stools, the height is around 34 inches.

If you would like to know the type of island that would work best in your kitchen space, give us a call at (603) 356-5766 or visit our showroom at 95 East Conway Road, Center Conway.

Your island is the centerpiece of the most important and used room in your home. It should be beautiful, functional and make you smile every time you walk into your kitchen.

For more information, you can also email Country Cabinets Etc. at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or go the website,

April home sales were cooler than expected, according to new report

By Jesse Darland
CTW Features

Home-selling season started with a bang in 2017, but that quick pace has since cooled, according to a report out this month.

The RE/MAX National Housing Report, which draws on listing data from 53 metro areas, showed that April home sales dropped 4.1 percent below March's sales and 4.5 percent below sales in April 2016.

To explain this change, the report's authors point to two trends that have dogged the real estate market recently: tight inventory combined with high prices. April's median sales price was $226,000, the highest price for any April and the 13th consecutive month of year-over-year price increased.