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.
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?
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.
How can we add texture to a white kitchen?
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.
Are there any new finishes in appliances? I can’t imagine that stainless will be the No. 1 choice forever.
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.
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.
If you want easy access to daily items, shelves are 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.
What are the top choices for kitchen sinks and their pros and cons?
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.
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?
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.
I want to sell my 1992 townhouse. I painted the oak cabinets white years ago, and I still have the original Formica countertops. How should I update the countertops, or will most buyers wait to update it?
I think 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.
I had a real estate agent tell me that to sell my Colonial, I had to paint my beautiful cherry cabinets white! What do you think?
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?
How are you navigating delays for items such as Kohler faucets? Should we select from what’s on hand?
If your faucet is still functioning, I say be patient. It will be worth the wait to have a high-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.