Confused About Kitchen Countertops? Start Here

Are you confused about where to start while selecting kitchen countertops? You are not alone.
There are so many options, it’s easy to get starry eyed looking at all the beautiful colors and patterns.

When working with my kitchen design clients, I like to discuss functionality first, so that we really select the material that will function best for their new kitchen space.
Deciding on the type of material that would work well for your needs, should be the first decision that you make regarding countertop selection.

A kitchen countertop is going to take a lot of wear and tear and it’s not something you’re going to want to replace again anytime soon.

Is this kitchen going to be used by an active family where meal preparation is constant? Or, will this kitchen be used to prepare meals once a week, or just for entertaining a few times a year.

For an active household, we want a countertops product that is extremely durable, a material will be resistant to staining, and will maintain a really great luxurious look for many years to come, requiring little maintenance.

For some clients, the kitchen is only going to be used to dish out take out and to prepare a meal here and there, so maybe this client can select a material requiring a little more tender loving care, since their kitchen might not be used as heavily.

Also, if we are designing and renovating a compete kitchen space, the weight of new countertop materials must be planned for when using granite, quartz, or concrete. If a client is not starting with new cabinets, the existing cabinets must be able to support the additional weight of these countertop materials.

Lets look at a few of the most popular products that are available :

Quartz countertops are having their moment right now as far as popularity, Quartz countertops are easy to maintain and have the look of real marble and stone. They are a man made product so the design is more consistent than a natural stone or granite, but can be just as beautiful.

Concrete countertops: concrete countertops can give an edgy industrial look to a space. They must be planned for well in advance to set up the cabinetry for concrete countertops. Concrete countertops can be vey durable if fabricated properly and sealed. This is not a do it yourself project.

Then of course granite or natural stone, which is very durable and will perform great in an active kitchen with very little maintenance. Being a natural stone, the varieties and colors are limitless.

If I have a client who is dreaming of a beautiful white countertop for their new kitchen design, a white marble is beautiful, and in a kitchen that is not extremely active, it might preform well. But in an active household, marble, being a very porous stone is very prone to staining. So that dreamy white marble countertop might not look so dreamy in a few months once it is covered with unrepairable stains. A white quartz product that looks like marble, is what I would recommend to this client. The look of marble with very little maintenance and no stains.

The varieties of colors and options can be limitless, but if you narrow down the material selection first, the process will be much smoother, and you won’t fall in love with a countertop that won’t stand the test of time in your kitchen.

What would you choose?


Designs By Gia
Interior Design and Renovation

The Real Value of an Interior Design Consultation

This on-site consultation is the first step in the design process and this is where we start every project.

This appointment takes about an hour or so and has a high value to the planning of any design and renovation project.

First, I walk through of the space with the client, then I will discuss the client’s concerns about the space, listen to their thoughts, ideas, and goals, addressing any problem areas that the client wants to discuss. During this appointment we answer specific design questions, make general suggestions, and offer ideas as to the best way a client can reach their goals. A consultation also allows the client to get a general frame of reference for the cost of the projects that they are thinking about so they can prioritize their needs and determine the best use of their funds and the overall project scope.

For the client that wants our full service design and build/implementation, we will discuss design fees and review the next step in the process, which would be creating a conceptual design.
For the homeowner who wants to do the project themselves (DIY), this consultation with a professional can be very valuable, providing information that will help steer them in the right direction and help them to avoid common pitfalls.

During our consultation, you will walk away with ideas and insights that took me 20 years of experience to develop. From the moment this designer enters your home, I look for ways to help my client avoid many of the common and costly mistakes that homeowners make when undertaking an Interior Design or Renovation project.
I cannot wait to transform your home!


How to know if your kitchen is ready for a renovation.

One of my recent projects.

1. Is your kitchen short on cabinet space? Do you find yourself storing pots, pans, small appliances, serving platters in other rooms because there is not enough cabinet space in the kitchen. Are your cabinets showing the wear and tear of many years of hard use? New cabinets can be designed to address your actual storage needs. A well design cabinetry layout can solve these storage needs sometimes without expanding the actual kitchen footprint.

2. Is your kitchen functional? Sometimes a kitchen has adequate space but the design and layout are so poor, that it still does not function well and you frustrated every time you work in your kitchen. Some kitchen layouts could actually be dangerous when small children are in the space, examples: low mounted microwave. A well planned functional design and layout could solve numerous problems with regards to how your kitchen functions.

3. Are you short on countertop space? Do you find yourself balancing and shuffling things around just to have enough space to prepare a meal, bake or entertain? Is it a nightmare to clean your current countertop? Do you have space to work on projects in your kitchen or are you forced to juggle items to get the space that you need? I remember many years ago designing a kitchen in my own former home. I went from just a few feet of countertop to an enormous amount of countertop space. The first few times I cooked in this new space, I found myself cooking and balancing everything within a 2 foot radius, then I realized how much my former kitchen with it’s lack of space was really impacting the way I did things. I quickly adjusted to the new feeling of freedom that I had with more countertop space, and it felt heavenly!

4. Are your appliances outdated? Chances are old appliances are also running up your electric bill. Sometimes updating built in appliances require changes to your cabinetry, so it’s best to look at the plans for the rest of the kitchen before updating and decide what is best for you, your kitchen, your budget, as a whole.

5. Does your kitchen suit your lifestyle? A small, poor functioning space doesn’t lend itself to entertaining. You might try to entertain but find yourself cut off from guests because of your kitchen layout. Are you unable to cook because everyone is jammed into your kitchen? Or perhaps you would love to have a more open space where you could prepare a meal while watching the kids in the living room or have some space at the kitchen counter to oversee kids doing their homework while you prepare dinner. The kitchen is surely the central hub of the home, and a well designed space could ensure that your kitchen is functioning for your lifestyle.

6. Do you like to be in your kitchen? Does it reflect your tastes? Or does your dark dreary kitchen drive you out of the room as quickly as possible. The kitchen should be the heart of the home. It should look and feel good and well as function well. Materials used should combine together to create a cohesive balanced look. All the the materials in your kitchen, flooring, countertop, backsplash should be durable and easy to maintain.

7. Is your current outdated kitchen de-valuing your home? So often clients come to me ready to finally renovate their kitchen because they are getting ready to sell their home, this is usually after years of thinking about a kitchen renovation. They are now ready to sell and finding that their old kitchen is bringing down the value of their home. Most clients wish that they had done a renovation sooner so they had the opportunity to enjoy the renovated space while they were living in the home.

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of designing and renovating kitchens for countless clients. Many times I am invited back to to the home a few months, or even years later, usually for a new project. This presents an opportunity for me to actually get to see how my client and their family is functioning in their redesigned kitchen. I observe how the space is being used now in comparison to what I observed on my first initial visit, remembering how disconnected the kitchen was from the family’s needs. It is always amazing to see how a well designed space can improve the function and lifestyle of my clients.


3 Tips for Choosing Flooring

Choosing the right flooring can be a very difficult task. Whether we are creating a new space for a client or renovating and existing room, flooring has a major impact on how the room looks, feels and functions.

There are so many great flooring products to consider, wood flooring, tile, laminate flooring, just to name a few. It is easy for homeowners to get overwhelmed when trying to select these items on their own.

Recently, I visited one of my local flooring vendors to select some flooring for a project, tag along with me to see which flooring we selected for this project…

Here are three things to consider when selecting flooring:

What are you trying to achieve in the area of style, pattern and color? Which products will be able to get you the desired results? What type of flooring is on the floors in ajoining rooms? How with this affect your flooring choice? For instance, if there are several ajoining rooms with wood flooring, you might consider wood for continuity.

How much activity goes on in this room, is this a high traffic area? Do you have pets in your home? Do you have small children? In a room like a bathroom, moisture might limit your flooring selections to tile or a product that is water resistant. It is important to consider the care requirements of the flooring product selected as well .

Installation/ Underlayment
Before selecting flooring for a renovation we must first investigate to see what is under the existing floor, the sub floor or underlayment. This is an important step because if your new flooring is in need of new underlayment or the current subfloor is in need of replacement, it could considerably change the flooring heights affecting other things in the room and could considerably change the the cost of your flooring project. It is always best to investigate as much as you can as this might affect the final flooring selection that you make.

5 Tips To Refresh Your Home In January

5 Tips To Refresh Your Home In January

After the holidays, it always seems a little sad to see all the holiday lights and decorations disappear from your home.
Even though as a design professional, I have been installing holiday decorations since October, I still don’t like seeing the Holiday colors and lights fade from my own home.
I’ve found that it is really helpful to have a few small ideas ready to infuse some color and texture into a home this time of year.

1- Re-arrange your furniture – this is a great time to re-arrange some of your existing furnishings, giving your room a whole new look. Start with your largest piece of furniture and place it differently in the space, then re-arrange the smaller pieces, until the perfect arrangement falls into place. Maybe it is time to pull that sofa out from the wall, depending on your space and the size of your furniture, this could work to create a more inviting arrangement. Some simple changes could be very affordable and could really improve your furniture arrangement.

2- Add Fresh flowers- I love using fresh flower this time of year. I try to bring highly fragrant varieties of flowers into my home, a single bloom can look very modern and sculptural. A beautiful winter flower arrangement made with a mix of flowers and greens could last for a few weeks and will give your home a beautiful splash of color during the cold first few weeks of the new year.

3- New accent pillows – this is a great time to try out a new color combination. Bright bold colors with highly textured fabrics can add a warm feel to your space for the remainder of the long winter months. Another option is is try a variety of highly textured neutral pillows. The texture creates a warm and inviting feel for your room.

4- New accessories- If you packed up and stored some of your accessories while displaying your Christmas decorations, then unpack and use these accessories in a different location. Create some new groupings mixing in a few, well chosen, new accessories with existing pieces. This can give your accessories a whole new look.

5- Add Lighting- This is a great time to add some ambiance with lighting. New table lamps can be a great design element while providing additional lighting. As an example I have a great collection of candle holders and decorative lanterns that I group together and create interesting displays to enjoy during the winter months. This is a great time to enjoy the glow of candle light in your home.

I hope these tips help you to refresh your homes decor!


Happy Thanksgiving! Holiday Table Decor

Hi Everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving from Designs By Gia

I just wanted to take a moment to share this year’s Thanksgiving table setting! This year, the color scheme for the table is cobalt blue and white. I added lots of metallic silver with small touches of gold. Velvet pumpkins line the center of the table, mixed with hydrangeas in various shades of blue. My china in a mix of various vintage pieces and some newer pieces, all blue and white. I added silver mercury glass and cobalt blue glassware, and of course lots of sparkle. After Thanksgiving, a few changes will transform this table to coordinate with the Christmas decor in this room this year.
Explore the blog for some tips on decorating your holiday table, and check back for some Christmas decorating tips.

Wishing a very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
I am so thankful to my family, friends, my crew, my wonderful team of contractors and craftsmen, and of course our many clients!


Fireplace Update- One of Our Recent Design and Renovation Projects

In this renovation project, we also updated the existing fireplace. The fireplace had a brick surround and hearth and needed an update to take it’s place as the focal point in the new dining room design. After repair and painting of the existing woodwork, we added beautiful black and white marble tile. This looked great in this older home and coordinated well with the updated entry where we used a black and white mosaic on the floor. Take a look at the before and after of this dining room fireplace.

Dining Room Design

This dining room design was part of one of our recent kitchen renovation projects. While the former dining room was incorporated into the new kitchen space, it was evident that this adjacent and seldom used formal living room space was the perfect space for the new dining room area. As we reframed and opened up the doorway entering from the new kitchen space, this new dining room extends the feeling of the entire renovated space. The original brick lined fireplace was tiled with a black and white marble tile, which reflected the original architecture of this beautiful older home. By carrying colors and textures from the kitchen design, and adding furnishings, and fabrics that invite the eye to travel into the new functional and beautiful dining room, this room becomes a natural place for gathering for a family meal.



In this kitchen renovation project, I designed this side of the kitchen to function as an entertaining area. I included a wine refrigerator, wine storage, storage for glassware, serving platters and china, Deep drawers for silverware and bowls, and additional trash storage
In this area we also added a large television which can be viewed from the entire kitchen. The long extended countertop creates additional areas for serving and workspace. Custom window treatments frame the new windows, but allow the light to flow through the space. Additional seating allows for this side of the kitchen to be used as a great entertaining area for friends and family to gather, while not in the middle of the central cooking area.

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