Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Quartz vs Granite: Your Choice Will Be Based On A Number of Factors

Black granite against white counters and farm sink in a kitchen by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
Granite counters in "Steel Grey".
People often come into our showroom in West Hartford and ask the question which is better for a countertop selection, granite or quartz?  The answer is not cut and dried; rather it is based upon the characteristics of each material and personal preference. 

The facts are simple, granite is 100% natural stone, mined from the earth in large slabs and cut down for stone fabricators.  Quartz slabs, on the other hand, are manmade.  Pure quartz stone is crushed and mixed with a binding agent then patterned in a factory.  Because granite is totally natural, no two slabs will ever be exactly the same, a plus for those who like a “one of a kind” look, while quartz will have a uniform look and color consistency from piece to piece.
Granite countertops in browns and creams of "River Bourdeaux" in a kitchen by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
Countertops and island are "River
Bordeaux" Granite.

Granite has been a popular choice for many years because of its natural beauty and strength, as well as its cachet for being an upscale, high end material.  Quartz has been catching up to granite in popularity over the last several years.  The number of color choices available, as well as its consistency in look and performance features, have helped to contribute to this material’s increased use, particularly in contemporary and transitional design.  

"Crystal White" quartz countertops and white cabinets in this transitional kitchen by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
Quartz counters in "Crystal White".
A nonporous and nonabsorbent material, Quartz won’t absorb odors, moisture or bacteria from food.  Clean up is simple with mild soap and water, and quartz does not need to be sealed. Quartz may however, discolor over time, and it is not recommended for use outdoors or where there is over exposure to sunlight.  Granite on the other hand will need to be resealed periodically-most recommend annually- and because it is natural, it can absorb odors, moisture and bacteria.  Clean granite with mild soap and water and never use harsh chemicals or let acidic liquids such as citrus juices or wine sit on your granite for an extended period.  These can damage the finish and/or stain the surface. 

Because granite is 100% natural, and no two pieces are alike,
(even the sample of granite you saw in making your choice
Kitchen countertops in "Cambrian Black" granite.  Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
"Cambrian Black" granite.
 will vary somewhat from what is installed in your home),  your installed countertop will not have a uniform look, which appeals to some who like the one of a kind nature of the stone.  Quartz, because it is man made, will be uniform in color and appearance throughout the space which appeals to those who like a simpler aesthetic.  Quartz manufacturers are coming out with new product that is designed to resemble natural stone, however nothing can replicate “Mother Nature”, so even in these there are repeating patterns.  

Master bath countertops in "White Fantasy". Bath designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
"White Fantasy" quartz.
Quartz kitchen countertops in a color called "Serra" in a kitchen designed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
Quartz, "Serra".
Countertops of either granite or quartz can represent a significant portion of your kitchen remodeling budget. Costs for granite or quartz vary depending on a number of factors.  These factors include color, pattern, thickness, the number of cutouts, how the cutouts are finished, the amount of finished edge and the edge detail, as well as, in the case of granite, availability of the material.  Granite that is more abundant in the earth will cost less than granite that is in shorter supply.  We caution people against trying to use a per square foot pricing formula for these materials.  It is often inaccurate because it doesn't take into account the factors listed above.

So you see, the answer to this question-which is a better countertop choice, granite or quartz-is more than just which is better, and ultimately depends on the homeowner's performance criteria, aesthetic preference and budget.

Shown here in this blog post are some examples of both materials from recently completed projects by KBDC.
"Metallicus" granite counters in this kitchen designed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
"Metallicus" granite.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We've Expanded Our Showroom to Show You the Latest Trends

Lorey Cavanaugh, Owner of Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
Lorey Cavanaugh, Owner, Kitchen +
Bath Design + Construction in her 
showroom at 13 Sedgwick Road, West
Hartford, CT.  Photo by Chrissy Racho.
Kitchen island display with copper hood in the KBDC showroom, West Hartford, CT.
One of the kitchen displays in the KBDC showroom at 13
Sedgwick Road, West Hartford, CT.  Photo by Chrissy Racho.
I am so happy to let you know that we have expanded our showroom here at 13 Sedgwick Road, West Hartford, CT. to highlight some of the most current kitchen trends.  The expansion is still in process, but trends on display will include open shelving, glass tile, LED lighting, and cabinet organization accessories.  

These kitchen trends are also featured in a two part interactive seminar titled, Kitchen Planning Guidelines and Trends, I regularly offer through the adult continuing education program in the towns of West Hartford and Farmington.  Through a case study format, as a seminar participant you can experience first-hand today’s popular cabinetry samples, stone, tile and  flooring materials, as well as study images of kitchen projects which incorporate these and other trends.  

New seminar classes will be offered in March 2015; however I am more than willing to offer this seminar outside of these continuing education programs if there is enough interest.  

To learn more about Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, this and other lecture opportunities, please call 860-953-1101, email, or visit


Monday, November 3, 2014

Remember to Plan for Your Pet in Your Remodel

10 Signs You Need to Invest in a Kitchen Remodel

AFTER image of remodeled kitchen island, Shaker door style in "Porcini" stain and Quartz top designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
AFTER: This project was a kitchen,
adjoining mudroom/laundry as well.
as master bath.Our remodel created a
more open and functional space due
to a thorough analysis.
If you’re like most people, you tend to get a little complacent and used to seeing your “stuff” around you every day.  You might even get used to the leaky kitchen faucet, the one knob that keeps falling off of your kitchen cabinet, (and that you keep putting back onto the stripped screw), or your cluttered countertops.

BEFORE image of a white kitchen, part of a larger remodel by West Hartford, CT Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction.
BEFORE: This kitchen felt
cramped and the layout was not
optimized for this family.
That is until one day your neighbor has a sign on their front lawn from a design/build company like Kitchen + Bath Design+ Construction.  You learn they are undertaking a kitchen remodel and suddenly the idiosyncrasy’s and annoyances in your own kitchen begin to irritate you.  So maybe it is time for you take on your own remodel.  Below are 10 signs it might be time for you to invest in a kitchen remodel, (your own list might have many more):

1.     Your cabinets are falling apart and/or the door style and color are out of date. 
2.     Your countertops are damaged, out of date, or not your desired material.
3.     Your kitchen does not have enough lighting or outlets.
4.     The flooring material is worn, not your desired material.
5.     You need all new appliances-they are either not working properly or are old and not efficient.
6.     Your kitchen is too small for your family.
7.     Your kitchen doesn't have enough counter space.
8.     Your kitchen doesn't relate to adjacent rooms or is cut off from the rest of the house.
9.     Your kitchen doesn't work with how your family uses the space.
10.  Your kitchen doesn't have enough cabinet or storage space.

BEFORE image of mudroom, part of a larger remodel taken on by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
BEFORE: The mudroom off of the 
kitchen picured above, felt more 
like an afterthought and didn't 
flow with well with the kitchen.
AFTER image of remodeled mudroom with new cabinetry in Bisque and glazed porcelian tile.  Designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
AFTER: Now this mud/laundry room 
functions with the rest of the house 
offering style and storage that
blends with the rest of the home.
If you see your kitchen in the list above, then it’s time to take the first step and make a call to a qualified remodeling company that specializes in kitchens and baths that can help you articulate your needs and incorporate your wants into a design that is pleasing, workable, and within your budget.  

Keep in mind that a kitchen remodel is more than just new cabinetry and countertops however. Working with a company that employs kitchen and bath design specialists means that your remodel will add value to your home through not only updating materials, but also addressing how your house functions as a whole, and how each room relates to the other.  See our previous blog post, "Your Kitchen Remodel-making additional space work for you and your family"to learn more about making your remodel all it can be.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Weeknight Roast Chicken Recipe

I love the smell of roasting chicken or turkey, and the resulting leftovers are just as delicious, but with my busy schedule, often keeping appointments with clients after hours, it is sometimes difficult to set aside the time during the week to roast a bird. When I came upon this recipe from Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen in my email, I got excited and had to try it.  This recipe is quick, easy, and the chicken came out mouth wateringly moist.  I used salt and pepper on the bird, as well as some other herbs like Tarragon.  It was nice to be able to roast the chicken for 1/2 hour on a higher heat, then turn off the oven letting the heat in the oven cook the bird further.  This allowed me time to prepare sides like a tossed salad and couscous without the worry of over cooking. I was even able to take my dog Clancy out for a short spin while the chicken rested.  Perfect!

Weeknight Roast Chicken

Published September 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated

Serves 4

We prefer to use a 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken for this recipe. If roasting a larger bird, increase the time when the oven is on in step 2 to 35 to 40 minutes. Cooking the chicken in a preheated skillet will ensure that the breast and thigh meat finish cooking at the same time.


  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken, giblets discarded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 recipe pan sauce (optional) (see related recipes)


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, place 12-inch ovensafe skillet on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine salt and pepper in bowl. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub entire surface with oil. Sprinkle evenly all over with salt mixture and rub in mixture with hands to coat evenly. Tie legs together with twine and tuck wing tips behind back.
    2. Transfer chicken, breast side up, to preheated skillet in oven. Roast chicken until breasts register 120 degrees and thighs register 135 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes. Turn off oven and leave chicken in oven until breasts register 160 degrees and thighs register 175 degrees, 25 to 35 minutes.
    3. Transfer chicken to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 20 minutes. While chicken rests, prepare pan sauce, if using. Carve chicken and serve.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October is National Kitchen and Bath Month

Beautiful white and gray kitchen designed and installed by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
A beautiful study in white and soft grays, this kitchen has
tons of storage.  To see more, visit us on Houzz.
The National Kitchen & Bath Association has named October as National Kitchen and Bath month. As a design/build firm, where kitchens and baths are our bread and butter, every month is kitchen and bath month.  But in keeping with the celebration, our popular kitchen and bathroom planning seminars have been scheduled through the continuing education departments of West Hartford and Farmington, and are filling up fast.  We just held a Bathroom Planning seminar on Tuesday, September 30th and the two part kitchen seminar will be held on Tuesdays, October 14th and October 21st.  Each seminar, held in our West Hartford, CT showroom on 13 Sedgwick Road, is a two hour exploration of the design process, design guidelines and trends for these often complicated projects. Participants enjoy learning about and seeing examples of materials as well as hearing about the remodeling process from me, a 30 year veteran of the kitchen and bath field.  I enjoy leading these seminars and talking about my passion, designing kitchens and baths.  It's a fun and interactive evening for everyone.  Celebrate in your own way-buy yourself a new kitchen gadget, new set of bath towels, or contemplate a kitchen or bath remodel and make an appointment with a kitchen/bath design specialist to discuss your project.  If you're in the greater Hartford, CT area, why not give us a call?  We'd love to hear from you. Happy kitchen and bath month!

A master bathroom featurning separate watercloset room and steam shower by Kitchen + Bath Design + Construction, West Hartford, CT.
A spacious and contemporary master bathroom 
which features many trending materials including
slate, 'wood grain' tile and a steam shower.  To learn
more visit us on Houzz.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

America's Test Kitchen Recipe: Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

O.k., the weather is getting cooler, days are growing shorter, apples and pumpkins are coming into season.  It's that time of year when we start to crave comfort food, the type of food that makes you think of home.  What better way to experience comfort on a chilly morning than with a hot cup of coffee and a slab of this tasty treat, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.  See the recipe below from Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen.  I just might have to create this yummy treat this weekend!  Happy Friday!

From Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen:  Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Why this recipe works:

This brunch staple is fraught with pitfalls—from dry, bland cake to lackluster fillings that sink to the bottom as they cook. We wanted a rich, moist cake with a texture that could support a tangy swirl of cream cheese filling.

We assembled a batter of flour, granulated sugar, salt, butter, eggs, whole milk, and baking powder and settled on a straightforward creaming method: Beat softened butter with sugar, then add the eggs, milk, and dry ingredients. The resulting cake was full of flavor and capable of supporting our cheese filling—but it was also a bit dry. To add moisture, we replaced the milk with rich sour cream, added baking soda, and upped the amount of butter. Our cake now had a lush texture as well as subtle acidity—a perfect backdrop for the cheese filling.

For the filling, we settled on a base mixture of softened cream cheese and sugar and added lemon juice to cut the richness and a hint of vanilla extract for depth of flavor. To prevent graininess, we incorporated some of the cake batter into the cheese. The filling not only stayed creamy, but it fused to the cake during baking, eliminating gaps that had afflicted our earlier tests. For a topping, we decided upon a crisp yet delicate coating of sliced almonds, sugar, and lemon zest. As it baked, the topping formed a glistening, crackly crust on our now-perfect coffee cake.

Makes one 10-inch cake, serving 12 to 16

Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap. For optimal texture, allow the cake to return to room temperature before serving.


  • Lemon Sugar-Almond Topping
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • Cake
  • 2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 cup plus 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated zest plus 4 teaspoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened


  1. 1. FOR THE TOPPING: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined and sugar is moistened. Stir in almonds; set aside.
    2. FOR THE CAKE: Spray 10-inch tube pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, about 20 seconds, and scraping down beater and sides of bowl as necessary. Add 4 teaspoons vanilla and mix to combine. Reduce speed to low and add one-third flour mixture, followed by half of sour cream, mixing until incorporated after each addition, 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat, using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining sour cream. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.
    3. Reserve 1¼ cups batter and set aside. Spoon remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Return now-empty bowl to mixer and beat cream cheese, remaining 5 tablespoons sugar, lemon juice, and remaining teaspoon vanilla on medium speed until smooth and slightly lightened, about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup reserved batter and mix until incorporated. Spoon cheese filling mixture evenly over batter, keeping filling about 1 inch from edges of pan; smooth top. Spread remaining cup reserved batter over filling and smooth top. With butter knife or offset spatula, gently swirl filling into batter using figure-8 motion, being careful to not drag filling to bottom or edges of pan. Firmly tap pan on counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any bubbles. Sprinkle lemon sugar-almond topping evenly over batter and gently press into batter to adhere.
    4. Bake until top is golden and just firm, and long skewer inserted into cake comes out clean (skewer will be wet if inserted into cheese filling), 45 to 50 minutes. Remove pan from oven and firmly tap on counter 2 or 3 times (top of cake may sink slightly). Cool cake in pan on wire rack 1 hour. Gently invert cake onto rimmed baking sheet (cake will be topping-side down); remove tube pan, place wire rack on top of cake, and invert cake sugar-side up. Cool to room temperature, about 1½ hours. Cut into slices and serve.
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