Customize Your Countertops

Today the surfaces in your home can be customized to the size, shape, material and style of your liking. Whether your house is modern, traditional, contemporary or transitional, there are always opportunities to put your personality into your space. Manufacturers are finding new materials for every surface of your home, including the countertops. From sheet metal and refurbished wood to granite and limestone, there is an endless amount of materials you can choose from. 

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Consider the Ideal Use of Your Kitchen in Addition to Decor

family in kitchenOnce you decide to remodel the heart of the home, be sure to consider the optimization of you and your family’s needs in addition to the aesthetics. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Americans whip up meals faster than residents of any other country: 30 minutes total.  The actual design of your dream kitchen can help you make the most of those minutes.

Each family is different.  By answering the following questions, you’ll ensure that your particular family’s needs are met and your kitchen dreams come true:

How will your family members use the new kitchen?  While today’s open concept designs are sleek and streamlined, many contain open shelving which could prove disastrous if you have young children at home.  Shelves are certainly ideal for displaying your favorite things: photos, vases, cookbooks, etc. However they should be high so that a new walker or toddler cannot climb them and risk falling- or getting into things you wish they would not.  If you or your spouse works from home, considering hiding electrical outlets inside of cabinets or selecting drawers vs. shelved cabinets in which to store file folders.  There are many options available to provide flexible work spaces within the kitchen and to keep counter-tops clutter free.

Is there anything you wish to hide?  If you love using your blender, convection toaster oven, food processor and Espresso machine, but are not fond of looking at them, have garage doors installed.  Appliances remain plugged in and out-of-sight until you actually need to use them.  When preparing meals, simply lift the garage door, pull the appliance out and get to work!  If it annoys you to see your family’s mobile phone chargers, iPad, hand blender, etc. plugged into the wall, have the electrical outlets installed within the actual cabinet.  No worries; they’ll still get charged behind closed doors and you won’t have to stare at nests of cords.

How will you use your kitchen to entertain?  Many people are opting for larger, eat-in kitchens vs. a separate formal dining room to combine smaller, separate spaces or simply because the open-flow concept has become so popular.  If you like to serve your meals to guests buffet-style, consider if you would prefer to arrange the meal on an island or a separate buffet, away from the main workspace.  It may seem awkward to serve food on an island if the stove or sink is built into it because of messes which occur during food preparation.  You may want to store and display wine and cocktail glass in cabinets with glass doors if you tend to tell guests to ‘help themselves’ vs. making them open every cabinet door searching for the right glass.

No matter what, your kitchen renovation should be the result of your very own family’s needs!   By considering these questions, you’ll ensure that your new kitchen will be a dream come true vs. a dangerous or cluttered nightmare.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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Simple Ways to Save for the Kitchen of Your Dreams

Have you documented your 2012 goals?  If not, fear not: Statistics show that only 2% of Americans actually document their goals.  They do not realize that goals not written down are just dreams! If your goal is to remodel your kitchen in the New Year, here are some easy tips to cut spending so you can reallocate saved dollars and build the kitchen of your dreams.  These are just a few of many money-saving secrets I’ll reveal over the next few weeks:

Brown Bag It

You can cut your food budget by taking your lunch to work.  Instead, pack leftovers or buy pre-packaged meals in bulk at your warehouse club of choice.  The same goes for snacks: prepare them at home for as little as $.25 a serving instead of wasting a full dollar or more in the vending machine at your place of employment.

BONUS- You’ll cut calories too by selecting healthier ingredients when preparing your lunches.  If you choose to buy pre-packaged or prepared foods, you can easily see the nutritional information to select the healthiest option.  You’ll also save money by staying onsite, especially since gasoline prices are higher than ever.

If you truly value the socialization aspects of dining out for lunch with friends, colleagues, etc. consider a food-prepare and share program.  I’ve done this in the past and found that it’s best to:

  1. Select four friends or colleagues you enjoying catching up with.
  2. Once they’ve agreed to the program, determine each person’s preferred day to bring lunch each week.
  3. Set a date, preferably a Monday, on which to kick-start the new program.
  4. Gather at a community area at work or dine al fresco at a park convenient to everyone.
  5. Bon appetito!

You’ll save at least $3,000 annually- more than likely even more!  Here’s how: the average cost of a lunch meal is $10 - $15 including tax and tip while a brown-bagged lunch costs a couple of dollars.  By saving $12 every weekday for 52 weeks each year, you’ll save $3,120 per year!  Save even more with the food-prepare and share program since you’ll save by buying larger quantities only once per week.

Note: As long as none of the participating people have dietary restrictions- for health or religious reasons, this is a great way to save money and time because you’ll only have to prepare one large meal, one night, per week.

The same logic applies to your children’s lunches unless you receive assistance and/or the school’s cafeteria meals are subsidized.

Extra BONUS- If you deposit the average monthly savings of $240 for twelve months  into an interest bearing account  (assuming a 6.5% interest rate compounded daily), you’ll have almost $10,000 by the end of three years!

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.


To Renovate or Not to Renovate?

Spring is often the best time of year for a home renovation due to pleasant weather.  If you are trying to decide whether or not to begin a home renovation project, consider the ROI (return on investment) for the room(s) you are considering renovating. For example, remodeling a kitchen tends to yield the greatest return without having to add square footage to your home.  The average ROI on a kitchen remodel is 80-100% so it’s an ideal room to renovate as you and your family can enjoy it in the short-term and you’ll realize the ROI in the long-term when you are ready to sell your home.

According to, the number one home update is a minor bathroom remodel. By updating a few, key elements such as the tub, tile areas, floor, vanity and fixtures, you will earn an average of 102% on your investment.   This is based on an average cost of $10,500 to replace the tub, tile surround, floor, toilet, sink, vanity and fixtures.

The primary reason that kitchens and bathrooms have higher rates of return than other areas of the home is because of the time and expense required to renovate them.  When prospective buyers tour an open house and see an outdated kitchen or bathroom, all they see is red: the money they’ll need to bring those rooms up to their standards.  When they walk through a home and love the kitchen and bathrooms, it’s easier for them to picture themselves living and enjoying those rooms with their families.  There is a compelling emotion to buy based on the perceived comfort and the fact that they won’t have to invest additional expenses beyond the costs of buying a new home and moving.

Many people assume that the replacement of a roof, siding or windows will garner great returns, however home buyers expect that all of them will be in decent shape without any need for repair or replacement.  The average ROI for these projects range from 40-50%.

If your overall goal is to increase the value of your home, consider a renovation of your kitchen and bathroom first, if needed, and then evaluate whether or not other rooms truly need to be remodeled.  If you decide that a kitchen renovation is necessary, consider exquisite cabinetry from Berloni America.   Their U.S. Customer Service and Distribution Center make the buying of Italian kitchens and furniture more affordable and accessible through a network of quality dealers around the country.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.