Custom Kitchen Islands That Look Like Furniture

One item we see on nearly everyone’s kitchen wish list is an island. It’s no wonder – a kitchen island can serve as a workspace, storage, a place to eat, and a place to gather. It gives you more room for cooking and projects, and helps the flow of traffic in one of the most popular rooms in a home. While a kitchen island serves many purposes, there is no reason it has to look utilitarian. Why not make this a focal point of your kitchen where practical meets artistic? A custom kitchen island can make your space unique, without sacrificing functionality. Here are some examples of custom kitchen islands that look like furniture. 

Custom Kitchen Islands That Look Like Furniture

rustic kitchen island

Rustic Charm

These days, so many people are searching for ways to add rustic charm to their homes. A kitchen island utilizing reclaimed wood or shiplap is a great way to achieve this look. Stick to warm stains or white paint to really capture that cozy farmhouse feel.

compact kitchen island

Make it Compact

Just because your kitchen is small, doesn’t mean you have to go without an island. A custom island can be designed specifically to maximize your space. Rather than adding a cafe table, consider pulling stools up to a small island. There is more room to gather when standing is an option, and you’ll be grateful for the height when you need the extra prep space.

Multi-level kitchen island

Use Multiple Levels

A kitchen island with multiple levels can help distinguish its many uses. Your island can include separate areas for cooking, eating, and preparation. Multiple levels might work well in a kitchen that is tight on space, or it can simply be a personal choice to give your kitchen texture and design.

kitchen island

Experiment with Shapes

Who says a kitchen island has to be a rectangle or square? In many homes, the layout of the kitchen may actually be best served with a many-sided island to make the most of your space. A good designer working alongside a carpenter can help you realize what shape fits best with your home to create a unique focal point no other home has!

Modern Appeal

When we think modern, we often think streamlined, clean, simple designs and colors. A kitchen island is a great way to hide storage in a minimalist kitchen. While white, black, or grey are often the go-tos for modern design, a bright and bold colored island can also add an artistic punch to this style. Or choose to add unusual stools to give it an eclectic spin.

painted kitchen island

Add Some Color

Color can be a great way to add personality to your kitchen island and help make it an inviting place to gather. A painted wood island serves as a cozy divider between a kitchen and living room by coordinating the color and design of the living room with the function of the kitchen. Hartley Group performs all masking, priming, painting, and finishing on our own site with a climate-controlled proprietary 10-step process to give your cabinets a durable, long-lasting finish. Hartley Group uses only waterborne products which are VOC-compliant for hard, durable finish for interior wood surfaces. Our products apply seamlessly, resist yellowing, are fast drying, and resist fingerprints.

Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

Don’t Forget the Details

There are many small ways to change your kitchen island from boring to beautiful. Ornate woodworking on the posts or cabinet doors can really lend an artistic flair to your kitchen. Special hardware or lighting adds character and can be a minor way to make a make a major impact on your design.

When it comes time to design a new kitchen island for your home, there are many ways to make it your own. A skilled carpenter can help you design a custom kitchen islands that looks like furniture, while working with the design of your home. At Hartley Group, we use the best combination of materials, processes, craftsmanship, and passion to give each of our customers exactly what they need for their home. When you’re ready to plan your kitchen remodel, contact us to go over your plans and ideas!

Livingroom Shiplap

Shiplap Living Room Accent Wall Ideas

These days, some of the most popular buzzwords for home renovation include “modern rustic” and “farmhouse style”. Because of this, you’ve probably heard the term shiplap at least more than once if you watch home design shows on television. High quality wood paneling is the perfect way to give your home a cozy, rustic feel, even if you live hundreds of miles from an actual farmhouse. So, how do you get this gorgeous woodwork in your living room? We’ll give you some shiplap living room accent wall ideas!

shiplap living room wall

What Exactly Is Shiplap?

You may have heard the term but are still wondering what shiplap actually is. Shiplap is essentially wood panels that have notches or rabbets on each side to allow the boards to fit tightly together. The snug fit of these boards used to help waterproof the sides of ships, which is why we call it shiplap! In addition to its maritime usage, shiplap has been used historically as siding for barns and sheds and has only recently made its way indoors as a design style. Shiplap panels are traditionally cedar or pine, but other types of wood may work in some instances. Shiplap can be painted or stained in a variety of finishes, so it’s easy to customize to your taste and style.

Wondering how to use shiplap in your next home renovation? Rather than turn an entire room into a shiplap haven, check out these fun tips for shiplap living room accents!

Shiplap Living Room Accent Ideas

Shiplap Accent Wall

Many people create an accent wall in the living room by painting one wall a different shade than the other walls. Rather than using a different color, why not try a different texture? A shiplap wall creates a slight difference that is beautiful enough for minimal decorations or as the backdrop to your television or bookcases. On the other hand, the texture is subtle enough to dress up your accent wall to create a theme. Clean white and navy with maritime accents can create a fun atmosphere without going overboard (pun intended).

Vertical Shiplap Walls

Want to know a secret for making your living room ceilings look higher? Vertical shiplap. Many people may think shiplap needs to be installed horizontally, but vertical shiplap is a great way to make a room appear larger or give it a vintage feel. In order to keep vertical paneling from giving off too much of a 70’s vibe, be sure to use high quality wood and consider a modern finish, such as a dark stain or white paint.

Shiplap Fireplace Mantel

Instead of creating an entire shiplap wall, consider incorporating it into your fireplace and mantel. The panels can be installed either vertically or horizontally and can be a great way to give your mantel a modern touch, while still providing a warm and cozy farmhouse feel. Shiplap can easily be incorporated into contemporary fireplace mantel design ideas.


Shiplap Wainscoting

Wainscoting quickly changes the appearance of a room by adding a different texture to the walls. Shiplap wainscoting is another way to bring the style into your living space without taking the room completely over. Wainscoting also allows for two colors to be used in a room by keeping the shiplap in a simple stain or white and the painted walls in a different color.

Shiplap Barn Door

Another feature making its way indoors is to use a decorative barn door in a living room or family room. A barn door is an attractive way to close off the living area from the kitchen or playroom. Shiplap panels on the door turn this into a visually attractive and functional element.

Livingroom Shiplap

Shiplap is a wonderful way to give your living space warmth, personality, and can be added in many customizable ways. To bring your shiplap ideas to life without creating a headache, you’ll want to work with a provider who has a high level of skill in carpentry. The Hartley Group will work with you to determine what works best for your style and space and then make your dream a reality with the passion and dedication we are known for. We also provide contemporary fireplace mantels, custom cabinetry, refinishing and refacing, and other quality woodwork. Please contact us today to discuss your living room and home renovation needs and ideas.


Contemporary Fireplace Mantel Design Ideas

A hearth is the symbol of one’s home. A thoughtful fireplace mantel will transform the look of your fireplace and truly your entire room. Since fireplaces are an increasingly popular selling point for homeowners and homebuyers, it’s become increasingly important to dress them up with a gorgeous mantel. Aside from adding an economical source of heat to your home, fireplaces are often a key element in creating a cozy or romantic atmosphere. Additionally, the fireplace and mantle tend to become a focal point of the living room or family room, as well as a wonderful opportunity for decorating and design. Fireplace mantels can be made of many different materials and can be customized in plenty of different styles. Fireplaces have changed over the years and an out-of-style mantel can really have an impact on the overall look of your living space. Because of this, refacing your fireplace is an excellent way to give your living room or study a facelift without a major renovation project. Here are some contemporary fireplace mantel design ideas to dress up any room!


Contemporary Fireplace Mantel Design Ideas

contemporary fireplace ideas

Clean Line Mantels

When many people think of “modern” they immediately think of simple, clean lines. However, a simple, clean living room does not have to be sterile, and a fireplace is a great way to add warmth. Custom carpentry in white, wood detail, and clean edge square corners are all designer ways to bring your fireplace mantel into a modern and clean look, while still adding a level of comfort and warmth to a room where family and guests gather.

marble fireplace

Dress Your Mantel Black

Black is very often a color that comes to mind when talking about modern and contemporary. Black is unlikely to ever go out of style and can be incorporated into your fireplace. From black-painted woodwork to black stone or marble inlays, black is a way to make an old boring fireplace look new. Including durable black elements in your hearth will add sophistication to a contemporary living space.


Go Bold With Modern Colors

Using an accent color on your mantel is a great way to give your living room a fun upgrade. Especially if you’re otherwise keeping the colors in your room subdued, a painted mantel is a great way to add a pop of your favorite color to your decor. Maybe you’ve always wanted a bright room, but aren’t quite ready to take the plunge! A painted mantel is also fairly easy to change if you’re ready to move on. Gray or blue tones can warm up an all white room without changing the overall look too drastically. In a brightly colored room, consider choosing a different shade from the same family as the walls. Or make it stand out by keeping it a basic white! Be aware that DIY efforts can leave brushstrokes, and paint can peel over time, so it’s always wise to consult a professional carpenter.

Sophisticated Carvings and Designs

As you know, the fireplace will quite frequently be the main focal point of your living or family room. Why not make it truly a work of art by including some sophisticated woodwork? A custom wood fireplace mantel and jamb (vertical pieces on each side of the fireplace opening) can include such decorative touches as crown molding or carvings and done in many different styles to suit your taste, such as shaker and craftsmen styles.

Go Rustic

A classic wood and brick fireplace may be all you need to increase the level of comfort and beauty in your house. Rustic and farmhouse style are all the rage these days and wood hearths come in all shapes and sizes. Incorporating multiple textures like woodwork with stone adds depth and visual interest and helps achieve a homespun feeling. Reclaimed wood can bring next-level coziness to your family room and is easily dressed up if you’re one to change the decor for every holiday! 

Refinished Built-ins

Built in Bookshelves

Possibly the only thing cozier than a fireplace, is a fireplace surrounded by bookshelves. A fireplace with bookshelves on either end can completely change the look of a room. Built in bookshelves blend seamlessly with your fireplace and have plenty of room for personalization.

Whatever your fireplace mantel needs are, consider putting your trust in The Hartley Group. Our passionate team has years of experience in carpentry, which gives us a unique ability to give our customers exactly what they want. Rather than be limited to box solutions, we can create custom wood fireplace mantels exactly to our customers’ specifications. Contact us today so we can come up with the perfect way to upgrade your living room or family room with your own contemporary fireplace mantel design!

How Much Value Does A Kitchen Remodel Add To Your Home?

how much value does a kitchen remodel add to your home

Homeowners tend to have an upgrade wishlist a mile long, so it’s important to know which upgrades add the most value to your home. One of the most common areas homeowners look to upgrade is the kitchen. The kitchen is frequently the hub of most households, serving as a place to eat, socialize, do homework, and make memories with your family. It makes sense that the kitchen would be on the receiving end of your remodel budget and time. Aside from letting you live in your dream home, remodeling can have a major impact on the future resale value of your home. How much value does a kitchen remodel add to your home? We’ve gathered some insight on the return on investment (ROI) of a kitchen remodel, as well as some tips to add value to your house while sticking to your budget.


How Much Value Does a Kitchen Remodel Add to Your Home?

kitchen remodel blueprint


Why Remodel?

Home renovations are key to increasing the value of your home over time and it’s important to understand which kind of upgrades yield the highest return before you dive in. Upgrades to your house can increase its sales potential, save you money by going energy-efficient, and generally improve your life by making your house a happy home. Upgrades can take many forms and the kitchen is the place homeowners start when trying to make a big difference.

Do I Need to Go All Out?

Many homeowners are tempted to think big when it comes to kitchen remodels - ripping out walls, changing the footprint, adding windows, the whole thing. Truthfully, major kitchen remodels can cost anywhere from $60,000 to $120,000 and up. This is a major cost that many homeowners simply don’t have the budget for, to say nothing of the added stress of being without a kitchen for several weeks. Furthermore, at the end of the day, with a complete and total kitchen demo, the cost you can recoup is only about 59%. It’s also important to not overdo it on your kitchen remodel while ignoring major upgrades your house may need, such as a new furnace or roof. 

cabinet refinishing before and after 


Can Other Minor Upgrades Improve the Value of My Home?

Yes! In fact, one of the top 5 upgrade projects for ROI in a home is a minor kitchen upgrade. Quick, affordable updates to give your home a fresh and timeless look will provide you with a strong ROI and reduce the number of days it's on the market waiting for a buyer to fall in love. As of 2018, the estimated cost recouped on minor kitchen upgrades is 81%

So, How Can I Update My Kitchen Without Breaking the Bank?

There are so many ways to give your kitchen a facelift without blasting your budget or rendering you kitchenless for weeks on end. Here are a few of the top projects:

  • Refinish Cabinets - brighten up your kitchen by changing the color or finish of your cabinets. Using a quality service provider, like Hartley Group, will pay off. Buyers notice when renovations look like coverups. They don’t want to have to redo shoddy work and will pass up your home for one who brought quality and value into their updates. Quality vendor work, like using stains and paints that are water-based with low VOC, provides a safer coating for you and your children, as well as the owners to come. This attention to detail gives you selling points for your home that other homes on the market may not be able to! 
  • Reface Cabinets - replace your drawer panels and cabinets to change the style or upgrade the material (click here to find out the difference between refinishing vs. refacing kitchen cabinets).
  • Add functional cabinet accessories buyers find to be exciting. These types of easy upgrades often are the tipping point for buyers weighing the pros and cons of two home kitchens. A hidden trash can and soft-close doors are the top requested customizations. Use a trusted installer and accessories provider like Rev-A-Shelf so that a potential buyer does not have a bad experience viewing the functionality.
  • Update Your Hardware - check out showrooms to find a hardware style that suits your taste. Hartley Group offers appointments for their Cornelius, NC showroom to view hundreds of timeless and classic options to match your taste. Your buyers will notice the details!
  • Add a timeless backsplash - backsplash options are endless and can easily transform the overall look of your kitchen. You might have to set your personal tastes aside to install a focal point that is classic with broad appeal; you certainly don’t want that one feature to polarize a potential buyer. 
  • Change or add light fixtures - overhead lighting adds both functionality and style.
  • Replace appliances with energy-efficient models and modern stainless steel designs. Be on the lookout for regular deals on these models at your local home improvement store. A resource like Consumer Reports can get you started.
  • New countertops - trade out Formica for a sleek marble or slate for a standout kitchen showing. Granite still reigns as the top choice for buyers. An easy tip for countertop materials that need sealing is to go ahead and seal them just before you list your home on the market so that you can use that as a selling point. Some of the smallest projects can seemingly feel daunting to a home buyer.

Most Importantly Choose the Right Service Provider

No matter what route you take with your renovation, the kitchen is likely the most valuable room in your home for so many reasons. If you’re going to invest any money in kitchen upgrades, make sure you take the time to find the right service provider. A company you trust will help you understand how to get the most from your budget and help you realize your kitchen’s full potential before you start! Using the correct, family-safe materials and doing the job right the first time will protect your kitchen investment – whether you’re prepping your home for sale now, or excited to live with your upgrades to sell your home down the road.

Hartley Group Cabinet Refacing and Refinishing Kitchen Remodel


Hartley Group remodels kitchens, specializing in cabinet refacing and refinishing. They are a family-owned business, handling everything with care from start to finish, so you don’t have to worry. One thing that sets Hartley Group apart from the rest is the complete offsite process that keeps you and your home safe and prevents significant downtime in your kitchen. With a complete showroom to find cabinetry and hardware that fits your taste, you get to choose what’s on your kitchen wish list . When it comes to replacing or refacing your cabinets, Hartley Group performs all masking, priming, painting, and finishing away from your home with a climate-controlled, multistep process. Hartley Group’s proprietary 10-step process gives your cabinets a durable, long-lasting finish. They also provide cabinet accessories, installation and more. Click here to view services.

Now that you have the answer to the question, "how much value does a kitchen remodel add to your home?" it's time to discover what's on-trend this year to add to your kitchen wish list. Click here to read the article.

Refinishing VS Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

When your kitchen is in desperate need of a facelift, one of the most impactful ways to take it from outdated to stunning, is to upgrade the cabinets. New custom cabinetry can dramatically change the look and function of your kitchen. But completely replacing your kitchen cabinets can be a huge project, not to mention a massive expense that many homeowners may not have the budget for. Luckily there are other ways to spruce up your kitchen cabinets without breaking the bank and without leaving you kitchenless for weeks or months. Instead of completely replacing their cabinets, many people consider refinishing or refacing them. Read on to find out more about these options and the differences in refinishing versus refacing kitchen cabinets.

Refinishing Vs Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Slide the center line left or right to see before & after transformation.

Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

If your wish is to update your cabinets to the latest trendy color, or simply brighten up your kitchen from a dated dark wood finish to a sleek modern white or gray, refinishing can be a great solution. Refinishing means that you are simply changing the color or finish of the cabinets while keeping all of the same components and style of your existing cabinets. Cabinet boxes are masked, or sanded and stripped of the existing finish and then refinished with your choice of paint or stain. Doors and drawer fronts are best finished in a climate-controlled environment. Hartley Group’s onsite workshop in Cornelius, NC maintains the optimum temperature of 77°f. Fun Fact: Your kitchen cabinetry contractor should change the temperature in your home when work is being done properly.

Refinishing is generally the most affordable option when it comes to updating your kitchen. Unfortunately, refinishing is not an option for everyone. If your cabinets are damaged or worn, a new finish will unlikely cover more than minor issues. If your cabinets are made of laminate or medium-density fiberboard (or MDF), these materials cannot be sanded down or stained, and it’s difficult to make the paint adhere to these surfaces.

Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Refacing, which can also be called resurfacing, involves removing your existing cabinet doors and drawer faces and replacing them with completely new materials. It’s an excellent option when you’re looking to change the style of the cabinets, or replace damaged cabinet doors and drawer faces. Refacing offers you endless styles, colors, and options. The best part is it doesn’t matter what condition your doors are in because they will be completely replaced.

While more affordable than replacing your cabinets, refacing can be more costly than refinishing and still limits the changes you can make to your kitchen because the cabinet holds will remain the same. Refacing takes a bit longer than refinishing because custom cabinet doors and drawer faces need to be ordered.


Which To Choose? Refinishing Vs. Refacing Kitchen Cabinets

Choosing the best option, whether skillfully painting vs. refacing kitchen cabinets, is up to you and your preference and budget. It depends on whether you want to change the shape and material of the cabinet doors and drawers or whether a new stain or paint will be enough to improve the look of your kitchen.


The Process

Even if you’re not having your cabinets replaced, refacing and refinishing can take several days or more. Cabinet refacing generally involves a contractor taking up space in your kitchen, yard, or garage. Refinishing cabinets yourself can be labor-intensive, and DIY kits can leave unsightly brush strokes. With refinishing, the paint removal process can be toxic and may require you to leave your home for a day or more depending on the materials your contractor uses. Cabinet painters often use solvent-based paint, which is dangerous to you and your family.

Hartley Group does things differently. We have a complete showroom to help you pick out a new style for your cabinets if we are helping you reface. Hartley Group performs all masking, priming, painting, and finishing on our own site with a climate-controlled, multistep process. We use a proprietary 10-step process to give your cabinets a durable, long-lasting finish. Hartley Group uses only waterborne products which are VOC-compliant for hard, durable finish for interior wood surfaces. Our products apply seamlessly, resist yellowing, are fast drying, and resist fingerprints.


How to Update Your Kitchen Cabinets Without Painting Them

refinishing vs refacing kitchen cabinets

Are you looking for an easy way to update kitchen cabinets without painting or refinishing? Or are you about to put your home on the market and want to compete for buyers to get top dollar?

  • Simply replacing the hardware with more modern or sleek door knobs is a quick way to make a noticeable difference. Hartley Group has a showroom in Cornelius, NC with hundreds of knob and pull options in all finishes.
  • Adding shelf inserts or a lazy susan can help maximize your cabinet space, without a major construction process.

Contact us here for more information on how the Hartley Group team can help you easily get the kitchen upgrade you’ve always wanted!


Now that you know more about refinishing vs. refacing kitchen cabinets, find out how much value does a kitchen remodel add to your home.

Complete Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Wish List Must Haves of 2019

One of the best ways to upgrade your home is by a kitchen redesign. Kitchens are the jewel of the home. Because design options are endless, it’s easy to get carried away with ideas when making your plans. Make it easier on yourself by creating a kitchen wish list and clearly designate which things you must have and the things you would like to have. Once you have an idea of the functionality and fun you want to have in your kitchen, a skilled resource like Hartley Group can help you figure out what works for your space and your budget. Here are some things you’ll want to include on your perfect kitchen wish list.

Kitchen Wish List Must Haves of 2019

Kitchen Wish List Must Haves

Custom Cabinetry: Go Two-Toned

two-toned kitchen cabinets - kitchen wish listQuality cabinets are the bread and butter of kitchen design. Kitchen cabinets are most often made from wood or laminate, but the designs can still vary greatly. The best way to determine the cabinet design that is right for you is by visiting a showroom. A kitchen showroom will let you see the different styles of cabinetry available, as well as help you choose from many different finishes and paint colors. As custom cabinets can be one of the most expensive elements of kitchen design, you want to choose a style that will hold up for years or even decades using proprietary multi-step processes like Hartley Group does for a durable, long-lasting factory finish. White cabinets are popular now because they can brighten up a room and create an illusion of more space.

Tired of your old wood cabinets but you don’t want to replace them? Old wood cabinets can be updated by custom refacing or refinishing. If you’re wondering how to make oak kitchen cabinets look more modern and change with the trends, you can choose to refinish or reface, instead of doing an entire kitchen overhaul.

Another area homeowners often overlook is that the cabinetry in place may not be optimized for their space. Take a look around your kitchen. Are there areas that could use additional cabinetry for more storage, or is the configuration not perfect for the way you cook in your kitchen? Every kitchen is unique and yours might have nonstandard corners and gaps where custom-built cabinetry could maximize and make you say, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?!” A cabinet carpenter builds cabinets to your specifications, so there is no wasted space or uneven corners. Skilled experts can also make suggestions for maximum storage and prep space, including a mix of traditional cabinets, deep drawers, and shelving.

Are you wanting something other than white kitchen cabinets? This year feel free to go bold with color or mix and match with two-tone cabinets. While classic white is still a staple, you can have some fun when choosing your cabinet colors. Choose one color on top and one color on the bottom. Open shelves are also on this year’s kitchen wish list of must-haves.


Hardware: Go Chunky

chunky kitchen hardwareHardware is a small but important way to customize your dream kitchen. Options for drawer pulls and door knobs are abundant, and a perfect way to add your own special flair to your kitchen. Keep in mind when selecting your hardware, the style should coordinate with other elements of your kitchen. For example, you may not like the look of shiny brass drawer handles when paired with all stainless appliances. Make sure to check out kitchen hardware when visiting a showroom and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.

This year the trend is to go big and chunky with hardware. Make a statement with large champagne gold or matte black finishes.


Cabinet Accessories: What Suits Your Needs?

There are endless innovative options for cabinet accessories such as lazy Susans, spice racks, pull-outs, soft close doors and so much more. The top requested cabinet accessory project is for the trash can. If you want to move a sink’s location or add a farmhouse style apron sink, cabinetry will need to be altered to accommodate. Use a trusted accessories provider like Rev-A-Shelf.

Countertops: Stone Still Reigns Supreme

Choosing your countertops is another key piece of kitchen redesign. Countertops come in several different materials and thousands of colors, from granite to quartz to concrete. Take the time to research the pros and cons of each material before you decide what to go with. Showrooms can be extremely helpful in choosing your countertop because you can get an idea of what they’ll look like in your space and how they feel. Countertops can be expensive, but if they are installed correctly and taken care of, they can last a long time.

Stone countertops, like granite, marble, and quartz, are still top of the list when it comes to kitchen must-haves, but the stone has gone beyond the countertops this year. Make your backsplash a natural stone in a variety of patterns to bring nature into the kitchen.

Floor: Add Comfort With Wood

Where do most people congregate during a party? In the kitchen, of course! When choosing your floor, you want something stylish, but strong enough to stand up to a lot of traffic and inevitable messes that are easy to clean and maintain. Kitchen floors are frequently made of wood, laminate, linoleum, or tile, but there are several materials you can choose from. Ideally, your kitchen floor should be easy to clean, stain-resistant, and nonslip. If you spend many hours in your kitchen, you may want to consider that some materials, such as wood, may be more comfortable to stand on versus a harder surface like tile. Plus, it’s trendy to bring nature into your kitchen this year and wood brings a relaxing finish to your kitchen.

Appliances: Matte Black, Stainless Steel & Tech

Do your research when deciding which appliances you want for your kitchen. Style-wise, do you want your appliances to stand out like a contrasting stainless steel? Or blend into white cabinetry with white? If you want to go trendy this year, matte black appliances are all the rage. Appliances now have more options than ever before and It’s important to balance functionality with expense when considering what would truly make your kitchen versus what would just be nice to have. Do you want a dishwasher with drawers so you can run a small load every day? Gas or electric stove? Do you need a separate countertop range, or can you settle for a traditional stove and oven combination?

As kitchens grow more and more techy your choices are virtually endless! Are you dreaming of wifi-enabled espresso machines to make your cappuccino before you get out of bed? A seamless hood that looks integrated with the cabinetry? A temperature-controlled wine fridge? Or maybe you’re looking at smart refrigerators like Samsung’s Family Hub with cameras, wifi and touch screen to help you see inside while you’re out grocery shopping, search recipes right from the fridge, and leave notes for family members. High tech is on trend and there’s nothing like adding more convenience to your kitchen!

Lighting: Backlights and Pendants

Kitchens require a lot of lighting, especially if you tend to spend a lot of time cooking and entertaining. When designing your kitchen, keep in mind how natural light plays in, and then talk to your contractor about a combination of lighting styles that can transform your kitchen from a workspace to an entertaining space. Overhead task lighting on the ceiling and over the sink and stove are vital to a functional kitchen. Stylish pendant lights and under-cabinet lights can help set the mood for a cozy dinner or chat over a glass of wine. This year add luxury with mid-century Italian pendants to be on-trend.


Be Realistic About Your Space

Experienced contractors know the importance of kitchen space and can share tips to maximize storage and prep areas. Contractors can’t make space where none exists though, and this may require you to temper your expectations. Can you consider taking out a wall and merging into the dining or living room? This may add significant expense to your construction costs, but you may be able to offset that with more moderate appliances and fixtures. If expanding is not an option, you’ll need to be realistic about your expectations and adjust your kitchen wish list as necessary. Creating a functional kitchen means managing both your counter space and the space you have to walk around counters and appliances.



We’ve gone over most of the building blocks of functional design, but what wish list is complete without those extras that will take your kitchen to the next level. Think about how your kitchen will be primarily used, and then consider adding in some of these more luxury items.

  • Wine or beverage fridge. If you’re an avid wine collector or wine drinker, a wine fridge is definitely worth considering. These can generally be installed under your counters to free up more space in your refrigerator.
  • Double oven, convection, or warming oven. If baking is your thing, or you’re accustomed to hosting large family gatherings, a second oven or a warming drawer can significantly ease time management situations.
  • If stovetop cooking is at the top of your priorities, consider investing in a 6-burner range, instead of the standard 4. This will give you much more space and flexibility when you’re stir-frying for a crowd.
  • Extra prep sink. If you tend to have multiple cooks in the kitchen, an extra prep sink can be invaluable. Consider also adding a hands-free faucet to help you out if you work with a lot of meat or baked goods.
  • Double-wide fridge or freezer. If you entertain a lot, extra fridge and freezer space may frequently come in handy. Just make sure you have the space for it!
  • Lots of outlets - these days, extra outlets are almost more of a necessity than a luxury. Home chefs are relying on more and more appliances, and most families are likely to have at least two people charging devices at any given time!


A new kitchen design is a project that can quickly get overwhelming with all of the options available. Make your life easier by doing some research, creating your ideal kitchen wish list, visiting kitchen showrooms, and working with designers and contractors you trust to make the most out of your space.

Hartley Group is a unique kitchen carpentry contractor in the Lake Norman area of NC creating custom kitchen cabinets homeowners dream about. Design-minded homeowners who are ready to make their kitchen on-trend can contact us here.


Want to know the difference between refinishing vs. refacing kitchen cabinets? Click here.

How much value does a kitchen remodel add to your home? Click here to find out.