Tag Archives: kitchen

Is a Cosmetic Kitchen Remodel Right for You?

cosmetic kitchen remodel

This article was featured in All Things Real Estate Magazine, a great resource for Portland homeowners, buyers, sellers, and anyone interested in real estate. Ready to learn all about cosmetic kitchen remodels? Head over to the digital issue of All Things Real Estate or keep reading:

cosmetic kitchen remodel

If you’re thinking about updating your kitchen, deciding between a cosmetic remodel and a full remodel is one of the first and most important decisions you’ll make because it will inform all your future kitchen decisions.

A cosmetic kitchen remodel can be a great way to give your kitchen a fresh look and feel. When it’s done right, you get beautiful results with less time and money than a full kitchen remodel.

In this post, we’ll go over the timeline for a typical cosmetic kitchen remodel, how to get the most bang for your buck, and common pitfalls to avoid.

How Does a Cosmetic Kitchen Remodel Work?

The timeline for a cosmetic kitchen remodel is 3-6 weeks. Compare that to 10-12 for a full remodel!

A cosmetic remodel might include:

  • Replacing the countertops
  • Changing out plumbing fixtures
  • Painting or re-facing cabinets
  • Installing a new backsplash
  • Adding decorative lighting

It typically does not include:

  • Replacing cabinets
  • Making structural changes
  • Major flooring or electrical work

Think of it like a makeover for your kitchen. If you have a good layout that just needs a few updates, a cosmetic kitchen remodel can work wonders!


5 Cost Saving Tips for a Cosmetic Remodel

My advice is to make decisions about where to splurge based on what’s important to you. Consider these 5 tips for keeping costs down:

  1. Reuse appliances and fixtures if possible. These are fairly easy to replace down the road.
  2. Keep a spreadsheet of all your costs to find areas where you can cut. Anything you can do yourself, such as painting or demolition, will save money.
  3. For a great deal on countertops, look for remnant. Typically, these come in smaller pieces, so even if you can’t do the whole kitchen, consider doing the island or a portion of the kitchen you want to accentuate.
  4. If you currently have stained or damaged wood, you can usually sand it down and refinish it instead of replacing it.
  5. Choose an inexpensive tile like ceramic subway and lay it in an interesting pattern such as a herringbone, vertically stacked, or a third offset (instead of the typical 50% offset).

Cosmetic Remodel Pitfalls to Avoid

The goal of a cosmetic kitchen remodel is a timely and cost-effective kitchen makeover with beautiful results. Getting a good return on investment takes planning. Here’s my advice:

1. Choose Materials Well in Advance

Select and order materials prior to starting your remodel to ensure availability and avoid delays or be forced to choose something in stock. Delays, even on a small remodel, could snowball and affect other trades and run your schedule off the tracks.

2. Match Cabinet Finish and Door Style

If you are adding cabinetry, make sure you get the best possible finish and door style match or it will look “added on.” If you’re adding an entire new island or buffet piece this can be a completely different finish and style to add interest.

3. Hire a Professional Painter for Existing Cabinetry

It’s more expensive, but cabinetry is the workhorse of a kitchen and, if not done properly, the paint can crack, chip, and peel right away.

Tip: If you want existing oak cabinets painted white, your painter will need to add a fill primer coat to eliminate the grain pattern. This can be a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it. Another option for oak is to stain or paint it a dark charcoal or chocolate, which adds a fresh modern vibe.

Is a Cosmetic Kitchen Remodel Your Best Option?

cabinet vignette portland kitchenNow you know how a cosmetic kitchen remodel works, how to keep costs low, and how to keep your project running smoothly. But is it right for your kitchen?

The answer depends on how well your current kitchen is meeting your family’s needs. Your kitchen may be a little old and outdated, but is it still fairly functional? Is the layout working for you? Are you happy with the basic structure? If you answered yes, yes, and yes, a cosmetic kitchen remodel may be perfect for you!

If your kitchen has major structural flaws, is too small, or needs a significant amount of remodeling work, you may be better off with a full remodel. At the end of the day, it’s up to you!

If you have questions about cosmetic remodeling, I’d love to help. Get in touch!

How to Design a Beautiful Craftsman Kitchen (Photos)

concrete countertops

Are you someone who values uniqueness and fine craftsmanship? Do you care about style and functionality? Does a simple, elegant kitchen design appeal to you?

You might need a Craftsman kitchen.

There aren’t many styles in American architecture and design that have held up as long as Craftsman. And it’s easy to see why: Craftsman kitchens are handsome, comfortable, and timeless!

To get an idea of what Craftsman kitchens actually look like, take a peek at a few of our favorites that we’ve done:

Now, let’s dig deeper.

What Is Craftsman Style?

The Craftsman movement started during the Industrial Revolution. It was meant to be a rejection of mass-production. It embraced craftsmanship: uniqueness, handiwork, and the value of skilled labor.

It’s not about frills or extravagant features. It’s about simple elegance and the unique details that make your kitchen really feel like yours.

When it comes to Craftsman kitchens, you’re likely to see elements like:

  • Finely crafted woodwork
  • Custom, handmade pieces
  • Elegant cabinets with clean straight lines
  • Warm, natural colors
  • Artistic details, like sconces and corbels
  • Simple lighting (often pendant light fixtures or lanterns)

Note: Bungalow is another popular style that has frequently been adopted by fans of the Craftsman movement. If you hear someone talking about a “Bungalow kitchen” there’s a good chance that kitchen has Craftsmen elements.

Examples of Craftsman Kitchens

The best way to design a beautiful Craftsman kitchen is to look at examples and find elements you love that could work in your own kitchen remodel.

Let’s look at 3 different examples. For each one, I’ll explain:

  • What makes it Craftsman
  • The materials involved
  • The design strategies we used to bring the kitchen to life

1. Classically Craftsman with Rich, Natural Wood

View the Portfolio

Rich colored natural wood is a common Craftsman feature. The dark, earthy colors in this kitchen feel homey and comforting but also sophisticated. Clean, straight lines throughout the design along with dark, simple cabinet details finish the look.

Countertops & Lighting

You might not guess it at first glance, but the countertops in this kitchen are locally installed concrete! Concrete may not normally come to mind when you think of Craftsman design, but these concrete countertops are efficient, beautifully installed, and virtually indestructible. What could be more Craftsman than this perfect balance of form and function?

concrete countertops

The old-worldly pendant lighting is another classic Craftsman feature. These lights are locally sourced from Schoolhouse Electric in Portland, OR.

craftsman lighting


2. Classic Bungalow with Handmade and Custom Elements

View the Portfolio

This soft, natural color scheme is so Craftsman! Family heirlooms and antique furnishings were important in this remodel. The SE Portland family also opted for handmade tile and custom French doors that lead out to the patio.

Corbels & Fine Woodworking

Other Craftsman elements in this kitchen include details like these corbels over the stove…

craftsman corbels

…and the detailing on the island table leg.

classic bungalow kitchen


3. Portland Bungalow with Clean, Straight-Lined Cabinets

View the Portfolio

The key Craftsman elements in this kitchen are:

  • It’s efficient design
  • High-quality craftsmanship
  • Locally sourced materials

The stacked Shaker cabinets were custom painted in a soft off-white. Calacatta, which may just be the most sought after natural stone in the world, is also featured tastefully in this kitchen.

Marble & Locally Sourced Elements

The homeowners opted for a Calacatta herringbone mosaic above the range as well as a Calacatta topped island.

calcatta topped kitchen island

In another nod to the Craftsman movement, we kept things local. Both the Rejuvenation Lighting and the Pratt & Larson subway tile are from local Portland companies!

craftsman style lighting

How to Design Your Own Craftsman Kitchen

Are you sold on the simple sophistication and warmth of Craftsman design? If you’re ready to start planning your new Craftsman kitchen, here are some tips.

1. Function Is Key

The appearance of your kitchen is important, but functionality and usability are equally important. Before you get started, think carefully about the most efficient layout for your kitchen and how you can work with your current plumbing and electrical systems to achieve it. You may also:

  • Add extra appliances that will make life easier (like a second sink or oven)
  • Include plenty of storage — maybe a mix of open shelving and cabinets
  • Select quality materials that are made to last

2. Think about Practical Details

Plan ahead for when you’ll actually be using your kitchen. Ask yourself questions like:

  • How easy will it be for two people to unload the dishwasher at once?
  • Can people easily get to the fridge without getting in the way of someone who’s cooking?
  • Will you need more counter space for preparing big meals?
  • Do you need a lot of shelf and cabinet space?

shelves cabinet space

3. Focus on Quality, Not Quantity

Craftsman design is all about high-quality work, not fancy ornamentation. For example, you’re more likely to see simple, but exquisitely executed woodwork than ornate wood carving. Handcrafted pieces from a skilled artisan are a great choice!

4. Be Natural

Go for materials like natural wood, natural stone, and hardware with a natural patina. Oil-rubbed bronze and soft iron work well.

There’s nothing wrong with stainless steel (in fact it can add some balance to other natural materials) but too many shiny, modern surfaces can take away from the overall Craftsman aesthetic.

5. Incorporate Old World Charm

Don’t be afraid to include a few old-fashioned or rustic pieces, if that’s your style. You might incorporate:

  • Brick
  • Antique furniture or fixtures
  • A big farmhouse-style sink
  • Your favorite modern gadgets or appliances
  • Whatever else your heart desires!

6. Don’t Worry too Much about Rules

The Craftsman design philosophy embraces individuality and uniqueness. It’s about creating a kitchen that works for you. So if you want something that isn’t traditionally “Craftsman,” just go for it!

Is a Craftsman Kitchen Right for You?

Whether you’re already planning your new kitchen or just beginning to explore your options, Craftsman design is a great choice that will be beautiful and relevant for years to come.

If you’re looking for someone to help you bring your vision to life, contact Mosaik Design & Remodeling or look at some more of our past kitchen projects.

How to Decorate Around Windows


Windows let in light and can open up any room. They come in all shapes and sizes, so there’s no one-size-fits-all hack for decorating around windows. The right decor and treatments for your windows depends on their size, shape, and location, as well as your own personal style preferences, of course!

Let’s take a look at a few of the most difficult types of windows to decorate around and my favorite solutions for each.


Full Wall Windows: Focus on the Outside

A full wall of windows lends itself very well to a minimalist aesthetic. I recommend letting the beauty outside be your decoration. If the window wall overlooks your front or back yard, invest some time into landscaping.

The possibilities are endless. You might use potted plants, hanging lights, gravel, or a bird bath. You might even go all out and create your own Japanese rock garden to gaze at through the window when you need some zen.

If the inside just feels too bare without a little decoration, try setting a tall vase or two on the floor or placing a few potted plants indoors.

mediterranean living room

Tall Windows: Choose Tall Curtains

Tall windows that go to the floor (or almost) are often accompanied high ceilings — a beautiful feature that can present some interior design challenges.

In most spaces, tall windows are best showcased with long to-the-floor curtains. They create a sense of balance and elegance. With this window type, it’s OK if the curtains extend below the base of the window. If your windows are rounded on top (like these) you might consider hanging your curtains a little bit below the top of the window.

And, of course, curtains aren’t your only option. You might opt for tall shutters like these, or no window treatment at all if privacy isn’t a concern.


High up Windows: Fill the Space with What you Love

What are you supposed to do with all that space under small windows that are high up off the floor?

I like the idea of filling the space with:

  • One piece of furniture (often a table or desk)
  • One art display

Here’s where you can really get creative! Showcase your favorite painting or hang some family photos — whatever you like! You could even create your own travel-themed gallery wall to showcase your family’s adventures.

If you need some advice for beautifully incorporating art into your home or places to find great local art for less, check out my guide to making art part of your home.


Big Window Sills: Nix the Curtains

Big window sills can feel like a hassle, and can make hanging curtains extremely challenging! Here’s my advice:

If it fits with the style of your room, forget curtains and choose a nice window shade instead. Window shades can fit comfortably within the window frame without disrupting anything you place on the sill. Plus, that makes it easier to see and admire all the lovely plants, photos, or other knick knacks you display there.

front door window

Door Windows: Privacy Meets Beauty

Front doors with windows can be great, but not everyone wants porch visitors to be able to see inside the house before you’ve even opened the door.

The most permanent option is to replace the plain glass with a good quality privacy glass that still lets some light through but also protects your privacy.

An easier option is to install curtains, blinds, or a shade that’s held at both the top and bottom (so that it holds still when the door opens and closes).

The budget option is window film. It’s generally not as durable as the alternatives, but it’s quick, easy, and provides plenty of privacy. You can even find fun patterns, like this etched lace design from Target.

small bathroom window

Weird Bathroom Windows: Maximize Cleanliness and Airflow

It’s not uncommon for bathrooms in Portland to have small or weirdly shaped windows that can be tricky to decorate around.

In bathrooms, privacy is often a concern, so shutters can be a great choice. They’re easy to open and close, and they provide air flow (if the window can be opened).

When dealing with a small bathroom, I often like to keep decorations minimal with the goal of creating a serene, clean-looking environment. However, if you have a window ledge, it can be a nice place to display small potted plants, which are great for purifying the air.

My Biggest Window Tip

Just have fun! Don’t worry too much about the rules. Choose window treatments and decorations you love, and your windows will look great.

If you’re looking for that extra polished, professional touch, our interior design team would love to help!

Contact us online or give us a call at (503) 406-6179 to learn more about how we can help you beautify your space.

How to Organize Your Home Room by Room

Bath towels of different colors in wicker basket on light background

Ugh, stuff. No matter how much you clean, tidy, and declutter, it seems to creep back in. Clutter messes with your peace of mind and overall aesthetic. According to the age old design philosophy Feng Shui, our home and therefore clutter is an extension of ourselves. By taking control of the clutter and releasing it we are then able to move ahead more freely in our lives. In this post, I’ll walk you through how to organize your home room by room so you’ll have a place for everything and a way to keep things organized.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to organize your entire home in one day. Try tackling one room at a time. If you take on too much, you’ll just get exhausted and frustrated. Let’s break this down into small tasks so it’s not overwhelming. Ready?

How to Organize Your Kitchen

What to get rid of: expired food, never-used appliances, extra water bottles, chipped mugs or bowls, anything badly stained.


Photo: Ramsey Beyer

Home organization starts with decluttering. Take out everything inside your cabinets, put it in the middle of your kitchen, and only put back what you love or use. What can you give away? What can go in storage? Throw away anything you can’t donate.

When you’re ready to start putting things back, think about what you use most often. Things you use a lot should be in arm’s reach; everything else can go up higher or farther back. A good suggestion from Better Homes & Gardens is to group things by activity — so put all of your baking things together (mixer, bowls, baking sheets), and so forth.


Photo: Pottery Barn

To organize the rest of your kitchen, make things as easy to reach as possible. Put a lazy susan inside cabinets. Use your vertical space: Hang pots, pans, lids, and potholders. Add storage inside your fridge — you can also put a lazy susan in there to make condiments easier to grab, or try little bins or racks to organize food.


Photo: Crate & Barrel

I’ve seen several clever ways to organize spices, from magnetic spice containers on the fridge to racks inside cabinets. Dividers can help separate utensils in drawers and baking sheets in cabinets. A magnetic knife strip will free up counter space. And try putting your trash and recycling bins on slide-out tracks for easy access.

How to Organize Your Living Room

What to get rid of: old magazines (unless you regularly use them for arts and crafts projects), as well as board games, DVDs, books, and video games you don’t use anymore.


Photo: Land of Nod

What clutter does your living room attract? See if you can sort it into categories like mail, knitting stuff, kids’ toys, remotes, cat toys, and so forth. Just like with the kitchen, get rid of things in poor condition or that you haven’t used recently. Organize what’s left based on where you need it — dog leashes by the front door, remotes near the couch.


Photo: Wicker Paradise

If you ever read the blog The Inspired Room, you know the author (Melissa) loves baskets. Whether you prefer wicker or wire, baskets are an easy way to transform a mess into something classy. A small wicker basket by your couch can hold those remotes and knitting supplies. A big wire basket by the front door can hold umbrellas and slip-on shoes for walking the dog. If you have shelving by your front door, a labeled basket above eye level can house hats, scarves, and gloves.

Make use of the space under your coffee table — you can slip boxes or baskets of DVDs under there, too. Or as lifestyle blogger JaMonkey suggests, hide your DVDs in this binder that looks like an old book.


Photo: World Market

And I can’t discuss how to organize your living room without mentioning the ever-popular launch pad concept. Even if all you have room for is a tiny console table, having a flat surface and some wall-mounted storage by the front door will give you a place for your keys, mail, and purse. It makes grabbing everything as you breeze out the door so much easier.


Photo: Pottery Barn

How to Organize Your Bedroom

What to get rid of: Clothes and shoes you never wear, anything that doesn’t fit, sheets you don’t like, books you have read or will never read.

Organizing the bedroom is fairly straightforward. Store sheets under the bed in slim bins, pick a nightstand with some storage (like a tiny dresser), and keep clutter off of surfaces by using cute bowls.


Photo: Pottery Barn

How to organize the closet is the tricky part. Start by getting slim no-slip hangers to free up room. Consider adding a closet organizer and/or shelf dividers to maximize your space. Just like in the kitchen, think up, and use the vertical space (especially above eye level). Since it’s hard to reach, keep out-of-season clothes in clear containers up high, and swap them out when the seasons change.


Organize your shoes with a simple, attractive shoe rack or even small bookshelf to display your heels and handbags. If they’re pretty, why hide them in the closet?



How to Organize Your Bathroom

What to get rid of: old makeup and nail polish, expired medicine, stained towels, tiny bath and body samples you’ve never used or dislike the scent of.

Organizing the bathroom is important, as it’s usually one of the smaller rooms. I love this tip from Better Homes & Gardens: Add an outlet inside your cabinets. That way you don’t have to drag out your hairdryer, flatiron or electric razor every time you use it; you can leave it where it is. Another bathroom hack is to use a magnetic strip — the kind you’d use for kitchen knives — to hold your tweezers, nail file, and bobby pins.


Photo: Houzz

A few more tips on how to organize your bathroom: Keep your everyday makeup or toiletries in one place, and tuck special occasion supplies out of sight in a separate bag. Roll up towels so they’re easier to grab and prettier to look at. Things like cotton swabs and Q-tips are more attractive and handy in small containers, like a mercury glass candle holder:


Photo: World Market

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but use your vertical space! Add a shelf above the bathroom door or several above the toilet. Add pull-out racks under your sink, or try a lazy susan there, like we did in the kitchen.


Photo: Houzz

There’s your basic primer on how to organize your home room by room. If you’re the checklist type, House Mix Blog has a great room-by-room guide you can print or download here. Maybe in the future I’ll do a follow-up post with tips on how to organize your laundry room, garage, and office — what do you think?

For more home design tips, check out my posts on what’s in for 2015, how to make your kitchen feel bigger, how to clean fast, and how to pick interior paint colors.


Company’s Coming! How to Clean House Fast

how to clean house fast woman messy room

Did your in-laws text and say they’re only 15 minutes away? Are your relatives paying you a surprise visit? Breathe. You can do this.

The kitchen table may be covered in wrapping paper, and cat fur might blanket the stairs, but all is not lost. These people won’t be doing a white-glove inspection. You just need a few pointers on how to clean house fast. These 8 tips will help you get the house into shape in record time.


1. Determine Your Priorities

Close the doors to bedrooms, closets, laundry room, and anywhere else you can (that’s where you’ll stash stuff until everyone has left). What’s left is probably the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and maybe guest rooms. Maybe a hallway or entryway too. What do visitors see first? Start there.

When focusing on how to clean house fast, remember to only clean what people will see and use. This means floors and tables in the living room, and the sink and toilet in the bathroom. Skip the shower unless people will be staying overnight.


2. Make It Smell Fresh

I know it’s freezing out, but crack open a few windows to get rid of any musty smells, and turn on the bathroom fan. Light candles in various rooms to make the place start smelling nice while you clean. To banish kitchen odors, run warm water and half a cup of baking soda down the disposal. If you have time, throw a pot of water on the stove with a few drops of an essential oil, like lemon or lavender. If you don’t have essential oils, throw a sliced-up lemon and some cloves and cinnamon sticks in the water. The fresh aroma will fool guests into thinking it’s always clean at your house.

candles living room cleaning

Source: Adrienne DeRosa


3. Hunt and Gather

Armed with a trash bag or empty laundry basket, speed through the high-priority areas and collect clutter. Tidy books and magazines into stacks, or better yet, toss remote controls and similar items into a classy wicker basket. Things like shoes, kids’ toys, and other clutter goes into the basket to be tucked out of sight. And obviously part of how to clean house fast is throwing trash away as you go.

cleaning house fast baskets

Source: Enviable Designs


4. Clean Top to Bottom

Professional maids clean top to bottom, left to right. So before you vacuum, give the coffee table and couches a quick sweep to get all the crumbs onto the floor. And if you have time to dust, sweep any cobwebs in the corners first. Going top to bottom will prevent you from getting mad at yourself when dirty toilet water splashes onto the clean bathroom floor.


5. Speed-Clean the Bathroom

Squirt some toilet cleaner in the bowl and let it sit while you give the sink a quick scrub. (How to clean house fast: multitask.) Good Housekeeping advises quickly running a paper towel with rubbing alcohol on it over your mirror, sink, and faucets. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, a half-water, half-vinegar solution works well too. (Glass cleaner will also make your faucets gleam.) Grab a different paper towel with rubbing alcohol and swab down the toilet seat and rim. Swap in a clean hand towel, and voila!

clean bathroom zen bathtub

Source: Laidlaw Schultz Architects


6. Tackle the Kitchen

Give the kitchen counters a quick swipe with a sponge and some baking soda. Hide counter clutter in the cabinets or drawers. (This is how to clean house fast, not do a deep clean.) If you have a bunch of dirty dishes, stack them in the sink, or put them all in the dishwasher if possible. Toss out anything spoiled or smelly in the fridge, and finish with a quick sweep of the kitchen floor. You probably don’t have time to mop, but use a wet paper towel to clean up any spills. If you have big oven spills that will create smoke while you cook, use this guide to quickly clean your oven without doing the multi-hour self-clean cycle.

clean white kitchen mod design

Source: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design


7. Tidy the Guest Room

Clean sheets and a made bed go a long way. After that, make sure side tables are clean. Open the blinds to let light in and make it look inviting. Put out a clean set of towels. Finish with the vacuum. Flowers, a fun magazine, or a nice candle make a sweet accent on the bedside table if you have them on hand. Take heart: You’re almost done!



8. Collect Yourself

Your guests are coming to see you, after all, not inspect the tops of your picture frames. Give yourself a quick spritz of your favorite perfume, apply some fresh deodorant, or dust on some loose powder to freshen up after your cleaning frenzy. Pat yourself on the back for figuring out how to clean house fast. Now take a deep breath and smile. Is that the doorbell?

What are your secrets for tidying up in a hurry?