Interior designer, author, product designer and consultant Kerrie Kelly is creative director for Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in California. Her background in construction and business drives her innovation in interior design. Kelly, who has more than 25 years of experience in the industry, is an adviser to the National Kitchen and Bath Association. Kelly has also written two books: "Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide" and "My Interior Design Kit."
Kelly recently joined the Washington Post's Home Front online chat. Here is an edited excerpt.
Q: Everyone we know is using quartz for their kitchen countertops. We have had granite for more than 30 years, and it has stood the test of time. How durable is quartz in comparison?
A: The beauty of quartz is it's low-maintenance and comes in a variety of colors. You don't have to seal quartz as you do granite. Kitchens that support a family's lifestyle include easy-to-clean surfaces such as quartz, particularly in lighter colors. Another extremely durable product to consider is Cosentino's Dekton; you can literally take a blowtorch to it.
Q: How can we add texture to a white kitchen? Any ideas for replacing knobs and handles?
A: The backsplash is a great place to add interest and texture. Handmade tiles can give a maker-like aesthetic and provide an inviting warmth. Replacing knobs and handles is a quick and inexpensive update with big impact.
Q: Are there any new finishes in appliances? Will white become chic again? I can't imagine that stainless will be the No. 1 choice forever.
A: Appliances now come in an array of finish colors. Although stainless is still very popular and coordinates with many interior styles, brands such as Hestan now offer many colors, allowing homeowners to personalize their indoor and outdoor kitchen spaces.
Q: Do you have suggestions for organizing the under-the-sink cabinet area? I've tried bins, but it still gets cluttered.
A: In my kitchen, we use a combination of products from the Container Store and Rev-A-Shelf.
Q: Are no upper cabinets a passing fad? I love how that look would open up my small, narrow kitchen, but I worry about eventual resale value. I'm not interested in replacing them with open shelving, because I'm too messy for that, plus there's the dust.
A: Although open shelving would definitely open up a space, incorporating that really depends on your lifestyle. If you want easy access to daily items, they're a great solution; however, if you feel as if you're a bit of a "clutter bug," I would stick to closed cabinets that are white to add brightness or incorporate a few glass front uppers for an airy feel.
Q: How do you decide what kind of a sink to get for your kitchen? What are the top choices and their pros and cons?
A: This is a bit of personal preference, but I love an under-mounted sink for its sleek aesthetic and easy cleanup qualities; you can wipe the water right into the sink without dealing with an "up and over" edge. The look of an apron-front sink is also pretty great, depending on your style. A stainless-steel sink provides a modern look and is one of the most popular styles. Stainless steel requires regular cleaning to eliminate water spots, but it's a durable, scratch-resistant material that stands up to the test of time. The classic look of cast iron can be found in multiple colors, with a glossy finish that makes cleanup easy. Cast-iron sinks withstand high heat and are quite durable; however, the enamel may scratch over time, and dropping sharp objects can cause chipping. Also check out sinks that are made of the same material as your countertop-integrated sinks.
Q: I'd like to extend hardwood into our kitchen, but I'm still persuading my husband. Given the depth of hardwood planks, how will that work around features such as existing cabinets and a dishwasher? What do you think?
A: Go for the hardwood. Wide planks, even in small spaces, can create visual spaciousness and flow. If you're concerned with waterproofing and traffic durability, check out some of the latest innovations in luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring. You'll have to get on the ground and touch it to know it isn't real hardwood.
Q: I won't be doing a kitchen remodel anytime soon, but I was thinking about switching from an electric to a gas stove. We have gas heating, so there are gas lines to the house. How big of a job is it to convert to gas cooking? Is it something you should do only in a remodel?
A: Every house is different, and I recommend speaking to a professional or contractor when it comes to the gas lines. What I can say is I think you'll love cooking with gas. The most recent innovations from brands such as Hestan allow for precision cooking and specific temperatures - not just low, medium and high. It will really take your cooking to the next level.
Q: I want to sell my 1992 townhouse. I painted the oak cabinets white years ago, and I still have the original Formica countertops. I also put in pine floors. How should I update the countertops, or will most buyers wait to update it? I thought about painting the bottom cabinets a dark blue or gray, and I don't like the idea of putting in a granite or other countertop that someone might throw out.
A: I believe most homeowners will want to update the countertops themselves. The good news is that your countertops are white; light, bright and clean are always preferred and help to resell.
Q: We're planning to redo our 1980 kitchen with new cabinets, a quartz countertop, backsplash and maybe wood floors. I don't like white or gray cabinets, but that's all I see. The kitchen is about 10 by 11 feet, and we have a small window that gives us afternoon sun. There's no room for an island. We want a light-colored countertop, and we like wood and light for an airy feel.
A: You're in luck: We're seeing warmer colors come back. Your love for wood can incorporate a more organic feel for cabinetry and let the sun shine in that window, connecting your indoor and outdoor areas. Choose a medium-toned wood and something like Nolita from Silestone. Add in a warm, handmade backsplash tile, and enjoy your fresh space.
Q: I like the cohesive look of wood floors, especially with an open floor plan. What is the best way to maintain wood floors in the kitchen? Mine have taken a beating.
A: Be sure to give your hardwood floors some love. Sweep or vacuum the floors regularly to keep them free of dirt and grit, which can scratch the wood and wear away the finish. As a general rule, it's best to mop wood floors only occasionally and to do so with a slightly dampened mop or towel.
Q: What are some cool technology trends in the kitchen?
A: If you enjoy a glass of wine, my latest favorite technology comes from Plum Wine (plum.wine). It's basically a virtual sommelier. Load in two bottles of your favorite wine, and Plum preserves the wine for 90 days at the temperature the winemaker intended. The motorized needle pierces the foil and closure, preserving your wine with argon gas. It automatically identifies the vintage, varietal, region and winery, displaying the label on the touch screen to create a virtual tasting room to explore.
Q: I had a real estate agent tell me that to sell my Colonial, I had to paint my beautiful cherry cabinets white! My husband is totally against this, and I'm skeptical. We aren't selling yet. What do you think?
A: Oh dear! I did just what you are describing in my own kitchen. Although I think potential homeowners respond to a white kitchen, I would still maintain a wood element in the island (if you have one) to bring in that organic feel. Before you paint the cabinets, step back and consider the domino effect this may create. Will the countertops work? Will the splash look right?
Q: I hope to expand my kitchen next year to accommodate a larger refrigerator and a work island. This means the adjacent areas will be reduced. What if my kitchen isn't square? Is it difficult to plan a kitchen with a diagonal wall?
A: It can be difficult to plan a kitchen with a diagonal wall. If you can't move the wall, you may consider putting refrigerator drawers into your island. This is a great way to create zones for making morning smoothies and corralling after-school treats and evening cocktail ingredients. There are also microwave drawers that may help with your layout.
Q: How are you navigating delays for items such as Kohler faucets? Should we select from what's on hand?
A: If your faucet is still functioning, I say be patient. It will be worth the wait to have a quality product for a fixture you use every day. It may be worth it to see whether your local retailer is willing to sell you the Kohler faucet off the floor.
Q: My kitchen has a 4-inch granite backsplash and painted walls. I want to add a full backsplash of some kind, but several areas don't have a stopping point; the counters and cabinets end, but the walls keep going. What do you recommend as the best way to stop the backsplash at the edges? Is it possible to remove granite to do a new, full backsplash?
A: If you have a good installer, you can remove the 4-inch backsplash and replace it with a tile splash, no problem. Always align your stopping points with another element. Although I love having the splash "die" into a corner or wall, when you can't, stop it at the cabinet end. This way, your eye will have a spot to "land," versus trying to visually complete multiple termination points.