Lighting Your Remodel

Recessed LED lights add light in the kitchen but don’t zap your energy

When you are remodeling your kitchen or bath you you’ll be making many decisions and one that is almost always overlooked is lighting. The kitchen lighting is often regulated by the permit department and LED lights are required in order to help reduce our energy consumption. Now what homeowner would not want to save energy and the environment at the same time? Well that depends on the products that are out there to work with the lighting system you want to include.

  1. Traditional florescent lights are low energy, but not well-loved due to their yellowish cast. Designers hate it but it is the cheapest solution for lighting that meets the low energy requirements a contractor has to prove.
  2. LED lights are available now and offer many solutions for your kitchen. The only thing is that the technology had some flaws over the last two years and some homeowners who put them in for their inspection wanted them removed when they found them to be unreliable and not efficient for their everyday needs. So, there is a lot of misinformation regarding what LEDs can do. If you follow the city’s building codes, you risk hating the look or the way the lights work.  If you push the regulations then you may end up having to remove the lights you select if the building inspector finds them not properly certified.
  3. AV Component Storage

    Audio video and lighting operate from the same remote minimize wall switches required.

    Controlled solutions like Crestron or Lutron set up lighting scenes and are remotely controlled to give you a lot of options for your lights. The benefits are settings that can light up your house or specific areas with the push of one button, depending on your needs. The drawback is that you need to think through your plan and determine what you want in the midst of your remodel, so you may have a hard time visualizing it, especially if you changed the layout.  These lighting systems can also be integrated with your AV system and your computer if you wish, which makes it even more important to think it through in advance. It can  greatly reduce the number of switches and interruptions on your walls including bulky equipment you get from the cable company. So you do have to have some dedicated space for a controller closet or main panel to house all the wiring that powers your remote.

  4. Remember when you are setting up your lighting system you will want to think about how you use your home. You will want lights that cast light on your dinner, your cooking space, your mirrors, your outside space, your art or wherever you want light to be shone in order to become a focal point.  Lighting designers will tell you that even if you do recessed cans that streamline your ceiling and provide a clean look for your general lighting, you may want accent lights or floor lamps to help build a design effect you are trying to communicate.

At the end of the day, your home’s lighting is your decision. My advice is to do your homework and think about your lighting from the beginning, There are some great resources on the internet and local specialty companies that are extremely helpful particularly when you are trying to change out your lighting without having to change out your entire system.

Timarie at the Lighting Zone

Out with the old rusted recessed lights. Timarie at the Lighting Zone saved me time and money with her knowledge.

I highly recommend visiting a lighting specialty store individual to help you since you may have to work with existing lighting and new lighting. We had five ancient recessed lights in our upstairs bathroom that were rusted inside due to the moisture.  I took the monstrosity to our local lighting expert, Timarie, at the Lighting Zone in Redondo Beach. She took one look at it and found the same fixture in her resources. Then she asked me about the rest of the lights in our home, which we had just remodeled to include updated baffles in the recessed lights. She researched and found a system that plugged into the pigtails that were required for our old lighting system and yet trims that worked with it that mimicked the lights in the rest of the house. This saved us a bundle replacing the fixture and the trim.  Specialty shops are worth their weight in gold to save you time and help you save money with their practical experience that is only accumulated over time. Here are some of the many options offered by the Lighting Zone:

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Last-minute Remodeling Surprises

This is part of our ongoing series following a Kitchen Warehouse customer’s kitchen and bath remodel project. See the others here.

There are a lot of last minute items that your contractor will not prepare you for since they do not think about some of the materials until they are installing them, A few of our items were:

  1. Our sink did not come with a basket or garbage disposal drain so we had to run out and get one
  2. Our lighting plates had to change due to the upgrade we did using the Crestron system. In addition there are several colors you can use and the face of the electrical have changed over time so you may find yourself like us feeling the need to change out all your outlets to look more current than having a mixmosh of styles.
  3. Because we picked a hardwood floor throughout, we needed to decide if we wanted a matching grill on the floor or not and then we had to research and find one that looked closet to our wood.
  4. The garbage disposal and dishwasher were put in storage while the garage was being used for the flooring and drywall and machinery so we had to locate those and return them to the jobsite in a hurry.
  5. The delay on some of the items and surprises’ meant asking my landlord if we could stay in the apartment a couple of extra weeks. We picked a place that was month to month for a little more money so we could be flexible when this came up.
  6. We had to agree on where the holes in the countertop would be made for the faucet, disposal button and the overflow valve. Given the sink we determined the choices were more than you would think.
  7. The baseboards on the stairs no longer matched since we took off the rail and enclosed the stairs so we needed to have a skirt and baseboard added that gave the stairs symmetry.
  8. We had to determine where our lighting switches were going to go and how many of them. Lighting fixtures needed to be selected to go with our new look and the new outlets given the LED and traditional lighting combination.
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Our Cabinets Are Here!

This is part of our ongoing series following a Kitchen Warehouse customer’s kitchen and bath remodel project. See the others here.

So we are down to the last couple of weeks on our kitchen and bath remodel. Our new floor is in and our cabinets have arrived.

The cabinets arrived and it was a bounty of activity in my living room putting them together. We had to carefully make sure that the new hardwood floors were protected from the machinery and worker traffic going in and out of the home. We also needed to bring in appliances so it was key for us that the supervisor let all the subcontractors know to protect our floors.

The layout is finally taking shape and you can see how nice these light cabinets are going to improve our home. Here is a photo of the cabinets in the living room being put together. Another photo shows the cabinets being installed on the walls.

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Getting Edgy with Your Countertops—Choose Your Cut!

When choosing your countertop there are many materials to choose from and we have already covered how to shop for those items. However one key element is how you want the countertop finished on the sides and front of the counter. You also have the option of deciding if you want a 3” or 6” backsplash of the countertop material or if you are going to use a complementary product like a wall tile. The key here is the look you want and also how much water is likely to spill onto the walls.

One important element is the finish of the countertop edge. There are several cuts that you can use on granite, for example, and depending on the look you want (modern versus traditional) you will want to select it carefully as it can completely change the overall look. Here are some examples of popular edge details:

Pencil or Standard countertop edge cut

Pencil or Standard

half bullnose countertop edge

Half Bullnose



dupont countertop edge cut


cove countertop edge cut




quarter-inch bevel countertop edge cut

1/4-inch Bevel

1/2-inch Bevel



ogee countertop edge cut











For example, the edge can be doubled to give the counter a deeper look, or it can be miter cut to give it a more modern, lower impact look. When you shop for you countertop materials, make sure you ask the supplier the choices they provide. Keep in mind that the fabrication is the most expensive part of the countertop, so ask them for any additional charges you will incur when you select one cut over another. Also keep in mind that some companies charge more for a square sink cut versus a round one and the charge is per sink, so you will want to keep that in your budget.



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Choosing the bathroom tile layout

This is part of our ongoing series following a Kitchen Warehouse customer’s kitchen and bath remodel project. See the others here.

On the tile work in the bathroom, we were asked to pick the tiles. However on the installation day, the contractor asked us about the layout of the tiles. laying out tilesHere is an example of the lining up they wanted to do which is a staggered patter. However, given that we really wanted to do a modern kitchen and bath, I really wanted to do a linear patter (straight up and down). The contractor at first suggested we not do that since most walls are not even and you can end up with unusual corners. However he went the extra mile and measured our walls and agreed it would probably be okay since the walls of the bathroom were newly made.

In addition he asked me about grout color. The key here is that there are a million choices but you want to be sure the grout you choose goes with all the tiles you are integrating. In our case, since I wanted a linear design, a darker or lighter tile would have created another set of lines that would make the room look smaller. We opted for a grout that minimized the effect and a thin grout to keep from having it look as broken up.

bathroom with tilesHere is a photo of our layout in the shower. I think we made some good choices. Note that we used a different floor material on the shower than the rest of the floor. This added a bit of depth to the shower which again made the room look bigger than it is.

Continue watching our blog for more entries to keep you up to date on the progress.

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More Bathroom Remodeling Issues

This is part of our ongoing series following a Kitchen Warehouse customer’s kitchen and bath remodel project. See the others here.

We discussed the size of the bathroom – which was very, very postage-sized small. Add to the problem that we moved the door out to fit the vanity inside the new bathroom and we took out a 6’ vanity next to the toilet to accommodate the step in shower. We thought we would use the same cabinets and countertop as in the kitchen but that did not really work due to the fact that the countertop from the kitchen was only available in one piece.

I added a stainless steel medicine cabinet and stainless steel faucet and a white sink with a granite counter. The entire room was designed to let my boys shower in the downstairs bathroom so we needed storage and a fan and lighting that would make the space feel bigger than it was. We also created a large shelf for over sized shampoo and wide enough to hold the kids personal items without making the shower look messy.

Unfortunately the price tag was bigger than we thought. Then the contractor let us know that while he had estimated the shower and the floor of the shower to have tile he had not included wainscoting and that would be an additional installation fee. So we went back to MJ of Cal Tile and asked her to give us another solution. She sharpened her pencil and changed out our wall tile from porcelain to ceramic and felt this would help us achieve the same look without the heavy price tag.

We loved the look but we still had a long way to get to its installation. One thing we learned is that the countertop must be on the vanity before the tile team could tie in the wainscoting with the backsplash tile and accent and that meant that we needed three weeks to get the top fabricated. We would have been okay but we waited too long before we picked the counter top since we thought we would be able to get the top cut out of the same piece as the kitchen.

My contractor was able to help us out by working with his own fabricator to get the top cut from the same piece due to the fact that the piece was so small. In the end he saved us from having to buy another granite top at about $850 with fabrication, and we paid him for the fabrication instead of having to wait for the other company.

We still had the problem of the upstairs countertop which was cracked and got tossed during the attempt to fix the faucet. It had a crack before but due to the fact that it was a faux stone, it could not be saved. That left me with quite a dilemma: what to do with my existing cabinet that was an unusual size (59 1/2” wide) but had a dark oak cathedral door. We could paint the cabinet white but the doors were a dead giveaway that it was old and out of date.

I contacted The Kitchen Warehouse to see if they could help. Our Kitchen Designer, Glen, said he had a source.

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Remodeling the Downstairs Bathroom

This is part of our ongoing series following a Kitchen Warehouse customer’s kitchen and bath remodel project. See the others here.

We decided to upgrade our downstairs ½-bath to be a full bath with a stand up shower, and to add a tiny area for a sink base in order to keep the room from feeling too small. After arranging for the layout with our kitchen and bathroom designer Glen at The Kitchen Warehouse, we spoke with our contractor Denny, who asked us to go and pick out our tiles and floors. Since we did not know a whole lot about the process we went to Cal Tile in Torrance. They offered a lot of choices so we decided to ask someone for help. They suggested we come back the next day and speak with MJ.

mj at cal tile centerWe met with MJ and explained to her that we had a tiny little bathroom off the kitchen but since the bathroom is right off the busiest room in the house, we wanted it to be a bit eye-popping to keep people passing by from focusing on the toilet, which unfortunately is in the center view. We also wanted something modern since we are going with a modern kitchen.

MJ was able to show us a ton of choices. She clued in pretty soon that I was going in one direction and my husband was going in another. We ended up selecting a horizontal tile pattern that would make the room look longer than it was with an eye popping red glass band that has a wave type pattern on it. We also added a band of a darker tile to pattern the back of the shower.

Here is a sketch that MJ did to show us how the room would look with the pattern and tiles we selected. Although this is not to scale, It gives you a good idea of the look we are going to try to accomplish.Bathroom remodel sketch


When remodeling your bathroom, it is important for you to note which elements you would want to decide upon: the type of tiles (porcelain, ceramic, other), wainscoting if you are going to do any, and floor tiles in the shower as well as whether or not you want to have your shower wall tile go to the ceiling. The glass doors we selected are put on at the end and, given the size of our bathroom, will probably be sliders since there is no room to open any doors. Other factors to consider are if you want a seat in the shower and how you want to treat your shampoo shelf or any other custom cutouts. Those decisions need to be made prior to applying drywall to the room. Also keep in mind that since this a wet room, everything needs to be waterproofed inside the walls to be sure you will not have any complications later.

Here are photos of the before room and the work in progress. The installation is in progress so finished photos to follow. Post your questions at the end of this post and I will be happy to reply with answers.

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Countertop Options

This is part of our ongoing series following a Kitchen Warehouse customer’s kitchen and bath remodel project. See the others here.

When planning your new kitchen, it is important to consider which product is best to top your new cabinets. Since the countertops are where all the action takes place, consider the pros and cons of the materials you have to choose from when designing your new kitchen. We recently talked about the selection process – but what are you selecting from?

Our professional kitchen designers can help you achieve the look you want and maximize your kitchen’s functionality for your family. They are also excellent at matching your cabinet choice with an appropriate countertop surface. Here are some countertop options you may want to consider:

Granite CountertopsGranite is the top choice of countertop materials. It is beautiful and makes even the most modest kitchen appear elegant. While pricey, it is becoming more affordable over time.
Pros: It will last a lifetime and has the second-highest hardness rating after diamonds. 3,000 colors available. Almost maintenance-free.
Cons: The cost is higher than alternatives. Surface is subject to stains & cracks if stressed. May also dull knives.

Engineered Stone is composed of 93% quartz particles and offers a wide variety of colors. Its nonporous surface is resistant to scratches. It does not require annual sealing, making it easier to maintain than natural stone.
Pros: Easy to care for and resistant to stain and acid.
Cons: Can be expensive.

ceramic tile countertopsCeramic Tile is durable and easy to clean. It is inexpensive and a great choice for the average home. Installed a section at a time, it enables the homeowner to install it themselves without making costly errors.
Pros: Ceramic tile is fired, so it takes heat and is easy to clean. Unlimited colors and textures – design your own custom patterns.
Cons: The counter surface can be uneven, which can affect its functionality. Tiles can easily chip or crack and the grout lines will become stained with time. Custom-designed tiles can be expensive.

Laminate CountertopsLaminate counters are made of plastic-coated synthetics with an easy-to-clean, smooth surface. The pieces are cut to size with finished ends.
Pros: It’s colorful, easy to maintain, durable and inexpensive.
Cons: Requires pricey decorative edges to hide the seams. Scratches and chips are almost impossible to repair.

wood countertopsWood countertops are available in a wide variety of wood species (oak, maple, pine), Beautiful, warm, with unlimited colors and finishes.
Pros: Easy to clean and repair with sanding and resealing when needed.
Cons: Wood is at risk for water damage. Stains require maintenance, scratches must be oiled or sealed.

stainless steel countertopsStainless steel counters are a great way to add a contemporary and industrial look to your kitchen. They provide a seamless countertop that’s resistant to heat, durable, and customized to your specifications.
Pros: Easy care, easy cleaning, a surface that takes the heat.
Cons: Fabrication can be expensive. It is noisier and can dent.

soapstone countertopsSoapstone is used as both a countertop and a sink material. It is generally dark gray in color with a smooth feel.
Pros: Smooth texture and deep, rich color. Semi stain-resistant.
Cons: May crack/darken even with mineral oil applications.


At The Kitchen Warehouse, we offer hundreds of choices for your cabinets and countertops. Make an appointment with one of our professionals to discuss your options and the many materials you can choose to achieve a beautiful and functional new kitchen. To help you prepare, check out our planning guide and checklist.

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Selecting our Granite Countertops

This is part of our ongoing series following a Kitchen Warehouse customer’s kitchen and bath remodel project. See the others here.
One of the main elements of your new kitchen is a countertop material. There are all kinds of choices of materials for your countertop.

We wanted something that was easy to clean but that made a statement and worked with our light cabinets and red tinted hardwood floors. We also wanted to select the top ourselves. So our contractor sent us to Anaheim to pick out a slab at Marmol USA where we met with David. He showed us their yard with many types of stones that were stacked in bundles in sizes from 60+ square feet. As you walk the yard there are so many kinds of amazing stones the choices are endless.

Once we reviewed the choices in the yard, we went inside the warehouse and found a stone that we loved. It was a black counter with specks of blue iridescent stones. The slab looked grey from one side and black from the other. We loved the transition of the stone and could picture the lighting in the kitchen highlighting the colorful specks and splashes of the red-stained hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances.

Once we selected the stone we asked them to bring it out to the sunlight since it was in the warehouse. They carefully pulled the slab from the rack and picked it up with a forklift and hung it gingerly with a carefully padded clip. Once the slab turned the corner we could see an entirely different side to it. So we put our cabinet and floor samples next to it in that light and it still looked amazing.

The whole point of picking your own countertops is to see the slab and check it for imperfections. The fact is that no slab is clear of these. Some imperfections seem to bother some people more than others. Seeing the slab in bright light, you can see any veins or naps that come out in the light and you are free to select another slab if the first one has elements that you do not want to look at day after day.

After we approved the slab, it was carefully placed back into the rack and marked for us. Securing the slab, we left the rest to our contractor who has a fabricator who will cut out our sink and cut the corners in the style we selected a 45 degree miter edge. But that will not take place until the cabinets are in and the fabricator can measure the counter top around the installed cabinets for a perfect fit.

Of course you can choose from a lot more choices than granite for your countertop: wood, tile, laminate and more. Check back next week for a thorough description about the pros and cons of each kind of countertop. Can’t wait that long? Give The Kitchen Warehouse a call: 888-248-3678 or schedule an appointment.


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