Kitchens Archive

modern kitchen remodel with peninsula and open shelving

5 Kitchen Seating Ideas for Welcoming Kitchens

Have you ever wished you didn’t have to ferry dinner plates between your kitchen and your dining room every night? Do you miss out on gossip when hosting dinner parties because your guests are at the table while you’re busy in front of the stove? Does your house not have a dining room?

If you answered yes to any of these questions—or if you’re just looking for a way to rejuvenate your kitchen space—you may want to rethink your kitchen seating arrangement.

The Case for Dine-In Kitchens

There are many reasons a home might feature a dine-in kitchen instead of a separate dining room. If your home has limited space, eating in the kitchen is an easy way to free up another room for alternative use. Eating in the kitchen also means you can transport food and dishes to the table more quickly. 

The Case for Traditional Dining Rooms

As convenient as a dine-in kitchen is, there are still benefits to a traditional dining room. Those with a large family or who like to entertain guests frequently will benefit from a larger, dedicated dining space. If you dislike the sight of dirty dishes, a dining room can also put you more at ease when eating. 

modern kitchen remodel and interior renovations mickleton nj

5 Ideas for Kitchen Seating

There are many ways to seamlessly incorporate seating into your kitchen space. Here are five of the most popular methods: 

1. Eat-In Kitchen

Eat-in kitchens, also known as kitchen dining rooms or dine-in kitchens, are kitchenettes that also feature a small dining area —  a dedicated space for a dining table and chairs. These spaces give the feel of a traditional dining room, scaled down to fit within your kitchen. 

2. Kitchen Island

A kitchen island or peninsula is another great way to incorporate seating into your kitchen. If you already have a kitchen island, all you need are chairs to place around it. Be sure that the chairs are the right height:

  1. Bar height (29 to 32 inches) is preferable if there’s an elevated portion of the island for eating at.
  2. Counter height (23 to 28 inches) is the more comfortable option for standard countertop height (between 35 and 40 inches).

If you don’t have a kitchen island, having one added to your kitchen is a great investment—not only can it be used for kitchen island seating, but as additional food preparation and countertop space as well. 

3. Breakfast Nook

Kitchen nook seating takes advantage of a corner of your kitchen to create a comfortable, cozy dining space. Some kitchens have pre-made breakfast nooks with booth or bench seating, while others might only have a small corner available. Because these spaces are so small, they’re often used for quick, informal meals. 

kitchen breakfast nook

4. Banquette Seating

If you enjoy sitting in booths in restaurants, banquette kitchen seating is the choice for you. These upholstered benches can be built into your kitchen, or be brought in as a movable piece. You can place them by a kitchen island, counter, or small table to create a dining space. Banquettes are highly versatile in terms of design, meaning they can fit into almost any kitchen. 

5. Bench Seating

Similar to banquette seating, benches can be installed or placed almost anywhere in your kitchen to create a dining space. The only difference is that benches don’t have a back, so they tend to be more informal. Built-in benches also have the potential for incorporated storage. 

Revive Your Kitchen with Ayars Home Improvements

If you’re looking to breathe new life into your kitchen with renovated kitchen seating, Ayars has you covered. Our skilled craftsmen have years of experience in kitchen remodels, and our dedication to quality means you won’t receive anything less than our best. Find out if we’re the right fit for your remodel, then contact us today and take the first step towards the kitchen of your dreams. 

marbled slab backsplash in south jersey

How a Slab Backsplash Can Make a Room Pop

Let’s say you’re renovating your kitchen. You’ve gotten a new fridge, finished polishing your new countertop, and picked out the perfect accessories—but something’s still not right. Your kitchen just doesn’t feel complete, no matter how you reorganize your appliances. What’s missing?

When redesigning a room, it’s easy to overlook the walls, especially in a kitchen or bathroom where those walls might be predominantly taken up by cabinets. However, neglecting the spaces in between means you might miss out on a simple but effective way to make the room pop: adding a slab backsplash.

What’s a Slab Backsplash?

A slab backsplash is a continuous slab of material applied to the wall behind a sink, stove, or countertop. While their function is to protect the wall from water, food, or other “splashes”, they’re also very visually striking. They’re also relatively easy to clean due to the fact that they’re formed of a single solid slab. Backsplash slabs are usually made of stone, either natural or engineered, but they can also be made of glass or porcelain.

Slab vs. Tile Backsplash

If you’ve dabbled in interior design and backsplashes before, you may already be familiar with tile backsplashes. Like slab backsplashes, tile backsplashes cover the wall behind the sink, stove, or countertop. The difference between the two is that tile backsplashes are formed from a layer of tiles, as opposed to a solid slab.

There are many benefits to a tile backsplash. Using tile gives you access to a wide variety of colors, patterns, and even textures. If part of the backsplash gets damaged, you can simply replace the affected tiles instead of redoing the entire wall. However, a full slab backsplash is generally easier to clean due to the lack of seams. Dirt can easily accumulate on tile backsplashes, staining the grout and making it look grimy without regular cleanings. Ultimately, the choice between a solid slab backsplash or a tile backsplash comes down to three factors: your budget, the amount of time you can dedicate to maintenance, and personal preference.

How to Utilize a Backsplash

Slab backsplashes are highly versatile due to the variety of colors and materials available. They can be placed behind sinks, stoves, and countertops in almost any kitchen or bathroom, although they work best with sleeker, more modern applications. They also work well in places with an opportunity for material synergy: for example, if your kitchen has granite countertops, a backsplash in the same shade can create a feeling of unity.

marbled slab backsplash in south jersey

This marbled slab backsplash mirrors the kitchen countertop pattern, creating a sense of continuity and breathtaking elegance.

Slab Backsplash Ideas

Looking for ways to make a slab backsplash your own? Here are a few ideas to help set yours apart:

Colored Backsplash

While many people use neutral tones such as white, gray, or beige for their backsplashes, bold colors can have a powerful effect when used properly. Darker colors can be offset with lighter cabinets to provide fun visual contrast. Just be sure to use it in moderation, especially if it’s a dark color—if used in excess, it can make a room feel cramped and gloomy.

Porcelain Slab

Porcelain slabs have gained popularity in the past few years, and are quickly becoming one of the most popular materials for slab backsplashes. They’re lighter and more affordable than marble but can be patterned to look like natural stone. This makes them perfect for those who want the look of a marble backsplash but can’t afford the material.

Glass Slab

Not a fan of stone or porcelain? Try a glass sheet backsplash. These slabs can be painted different colors to match your kitchen’s decor or left clear to provide a glossy protective layer over the kitchen wall.

Adding a Shelf

If you want to spice up a pre-existing backsplash without redoing the whole thing, try adding a shelf. Not only will this break up the backsplash without forcing you to use tiles, it also creates usable storage space.

Add a Splash of Class with Ayars Home Improvements

If you’re interested in a slab backsplash as part of your next kitchen or bathroom remodel, we would love to work with you to complete your vision. Our intake process is as follows:

  1. Tell us about your project via phone or our online form.
  2. Determine if we are the Right Fit for one another, based on timetable, project scope, and shared home remodeling sensibilities — we want to work with people who care as much as we do!
  3. Chat with interior design consultant Sharon Vick or visit our new design showroom to get your inspiration flowing on materials and finishes.
  4. We’ll determine the timeline for your project based on the availability of labor and materials,  and show up on Day 1 ready to apply our craftsman’s touch!

We hope to hear from you soon!

modern kitchen remodel in new jersey featuring white shaker cabinets and open shelves

A Guide to Kitchen Cabinet Options

Any kitchen remodeling consultation should begin with a discussion of your kitchen cabinet options. From floor to ceiling and wall to wall, no other element has quite the same visual impact. And if we’re talking about organization and productivity, nothing sets you up for success like kitchen cabinetry.

That’s why we prefer to take our time to go through kitchen cabinet styles, materials, finishes, and hardware — it’s the best path to realizing your kitchen’s full potential!

Types of Kitchen Cabinets

We can classify the types of kitchen cabinetry several ways.

Cabinet types by customization level

  1. Stock cabinets, aka ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets, are a good kitchen cabinet option for budget-minded homeowners with a bit of DIY know-how. Mass-manufactured and easily attainable from virtually any hardware store, they can be delivered and put together in short order.
  2. Semi-custom cabinets, although still mass-produced, allow for a lot more flexibility on your part. Design features and hardware can be mixed and matched to your liking (within limits), and they can be adjusted on-site during install to assure a better fit.
  3. Custom cabinets can be anything and everything you might imagine, but come at a cost, as they require the services of a skilled craftsman. The cabinetmaker will design and build cabinets to meet your exact specifications, as well as the unique dimensions of your kitchen. Fine-tuning can be expected along the way.

Cabinet types by installation location

  1. Base cabinets form the foundation for your kitchen countertop, resting on the ground. A toe kick covers the area between the bottom of the cabinet box and the floor.
  2. Wall cabinets, as their name suggests, are hung or mounted on the wall. Because they do not have to accommodate a countertop, they allow for more in the way of decorative flourishes, such as crown molding.
  3. Pantry cabinets will span all or most of the height of your kitchen and offer the most storage.

Cabinet types by material

Kitchen cabinets are constructed from natural wood, engineered wood products, or some combination thereof.

  • Popular natural wood specimens include maple, cherry, hickory, and oak. Real wood is sturdy enough to hold up to abuse and the only candidate for staining.
  • Engineered wood materials are produced by fusing or layering together wood fibers and other byproducts, sometimes blended with man-made plastic resins to achieve more desirable properties. Medium density fiberboard (MDF) and plywood are the most popular in the world of cabinetmaking, as they are relatively resilient and cost-effective without being “cheap” (e.g. particleboard).

Some materials serve better for certain cabinet components or applications than others. For instance, the smooth and non-porous qualities of MDF are ideal for painted cabinets, while plywood is great for areas where structural integrity trumps aesthetics (e.g. interior shelves, sidewalls). Meanwhile, you could still use natural hardwood for the cabinet doors, or something like cabinet veneers (thin slices of wood affixed to an MDF base) to achieve similar visual appeal without the heft.

modern open concept kitchen mickleton nj cabinets

Pantry cabinets and base cabinets rest on the floor, while wall cabinets are hung on the wall and are apt to include more decorative flourishes (such as the glass panels and crown molding seen here).

Styles of Kitchen Cabinets

Framed vs. frameless kitchen cabinets

Before we talk about cabinet doors — the defining feature of our kitchen cabinet styles — let’s talk about framing. Basically, cabinet doors are either hung on a frame or they aren’t.

  • Framed cabinets include an outfacing frame attached to the cabinet box (i.e. the “bones” of the cabinet) to which the door and hinges are affixed. The door can either sit atop the frame (overlay cabinet doors) or nestle inside it (inset cabinet doors) when closed.
  • Frameless cabinets forgo the frames entirely, with the doors hinged from the inside of the cabinet box itself. The resulting look tends to be more modern and minimalist, while offering maximum storage capacity. However, they’re trickier to install and tend to be pricier.

Cabinet door styles

There are three primary cabinet door styles:

  1. Recessed panel: center of panel set slightly inward compared to edges
  2. Raised panel: center of door panel protrudes slightly compared to edges
  3. Flat panel (aka slab): no dimensional variance from edge to edge; sleek and modern.

From there, we can customize the shape of the central panel element (if present):

  • Shaker-style kitchen cabinet doors are a perennial favorite due to their simplicity and versatility. They feature a clean “rectangle inside a rectangle” look with the central panel framed by two rails (running horizontally) and two stiles ( running vertically).
  • For a more traditional aesthetic, you might opt for arches or cathedral arches on your door panel. The cathedral arch adds additional flourish with the arch tapering to a pointed peak.
  • If farmhouse or cottage-core is more your speed, beadboard cabinet doors could be ideal for you. Their distinctive panels are characterized by the vertical grooves (aka beading) spanning their width.
  • Of course, you could also swap out the wood for a glass-fronted cabinet door to display your most prized dishware or family heirlooms.

Cabinet finishes

Perhaps the most important decision you’ll make regarding your kitchen cabinet options is the finish. Again, you could go one of three routes:

  1. Painted: The smoothest of cabinet finishes, with nearly infinite possibilities. The most timeless kitchen designs utilize some shade of white or off-white, but grays have their advocates, and blues and (especially) greens are in vogue right now.
  2. Stained: Only applicable to wood cabinets, stains (ranging from transparent to dark) are used to highlight the natural grain patterns and/or color of the underlying wood species to varying degrees. While wood cabinets can also be painted, stains tend to be a lot more forgiving over time. Trendy white oak kitchen cabinets are a particular favorite in 2023.
  3. Laminate: The most economical of cabinet finishes, these laminate veneers serve as a sort of “temporary tattoo” for more budget-friendly cabinet doors made of MDF or particleboard. While they might convincingly mimic the look of stained cabinets, temperature and humidity changes within the kitchen can cause them to peel away over time.
stained cabinet doors in modern kitchen remodel

Wood stains range from transparent to the darker tones seen here and are a great way to highlight the natural beauty of the material.

Cabinet hardware

When we refer to cabinet hardware, we are talking about the mechanical components that make them function. Internally, we probably only care that our hinges (doors) and sliders (drawers) function properly. Externally, however, cabinet hardware is the “jewelry” that completes your kitchen’s outfit. Oh, and helps you open and close your cabinets too.

  1. Knobs are best for cabinet doors or smaller drawers. They range in shape from round to square to rectangular to novelty.
  2. Pulls are great for tall pantry doors or longer cabinet drawers. They can either be affixed to the front (drop handle) or built into the bottom or side (recessed) — common with slab doors.

Beyond the shape and installation, we can further customize cabinet hardware by determining our finish metal (eg. zinc, copper, or brass) and its luster (i.e. level of shininess).

Cabinet moldings

A hallmark of luxury and high end kitchen cabinetry, decorative molding (aka millwork) employs the carpenter’s craft to the fullest, using various cuts and angles to add dimension and elegance — for example, crown molding applied between the tops of wall cabinets and the ceiling.

Get Inspired with Ayars

As you can see, your kitchen cabinet options are truly limitless, especially once you delve into the worlds of semi-custom or custom kitchen cabinetry. If you’re looking for inspiration, a good place to start is our project portfolio galleries. Whether you’re a good fit for Ayars’ services, partner with a cabinetmaker in your area, or have the know-how or courage to DIY, we hope you find a look you love for a lifetime.

woodworking template

Five 2023 Interior Design Trends to Inspire Your Next Remodel

Self-improvement is at the heart of many New Year’s Resolutions; home improvement is at the center of many others. Although if you ask us, they are one and the same! After all, your home is ultimately a reflection of you — and when you enhance your surroundings, you enhance your mindset.

So, in honor of our new design showroom and the new year, we asked our project design consultant Sharon Vick to define the zeitgeist of home remodeling in the here and now, based on the wishlists of Ayars customers. If you’re resolving to remodel in the months to follow, we hope our top five 2023 interior design trends will set you on the right path.

Oak is in

finished basement bar counter

Oak has long been a favorite of furniture-makers for its resilience (one of the toughest North American hardwoods, as measured by the Janka hardness test), characteristic grain pattern (resembling rays), and versatility (it takes on wood stains very readily).

However, homeowners of the ’90s went a little overboard with the oaken aesthetic, especially as it applies to cabinetry. These golden oak-stained cabinets often showcased wider, more prominent grain patterns, and yellowish tones that were never a great match for more contemporary styles — by so declaratively flaunting their woodiness, they became almost a caricature of woodiness.

It took a couple of decades to come back around, but more and more home remodeling customers are starting to realize oak is okay again. In fact, white oak cabinets are one of the most popular 2023 home design trends. According to Vick, this is because latter-day oak-adopters have rediscovered subtlety: “Whether it be washed white oak or a cleaner rift white oak with closer grains and less yellow/orange tones, the look is now more natural and clean.”

“Oak is back and it’s better than before,” she confidently proclaims.

Stain has staying power

modern kitchen remodel with peninsula and open shelving

It’s not just oak that’s reasserting itself; stained wood kitchens in general are garnering greater acceptance. This 2023 kitchen trend directly mirrors 21st-century lifestyle trends — which continue to be go, go, go.

“The wood and stain combination is more forgiving with everyday wear-and-tear as opposed to painted cabinets, which show miters and separation within the cabinetry,” explains Vick. “Busy families appreciate the forgiveness.”

Not only that, stained wood lends an organic warmth that most of us desire in a kitchen. And as with everything else, there are more options than ever in 2023 — far beyond the glossy reds and browns of yesteryear. You might opt for a lighter or more transparent stain to highlight the wood’s natural color, a dark stain to deepen the warmth, or go with a white, blue, or silvery stain to mesh with more modern and contemporary aesthetics (without hiding the grain pattern).

Choose one stain color or mix it up. Apply it in select areas or everywhere. There are many ways to work it in, and we’re pleased to report that many of them work quite nicely.

Mingling mixed metals

master bathroom west deptform vanity

Mixing metals is an interior design trick that long predates 2023. Regardless, it’s still so widely requested that it warrants discussion. The logic of mixed metals is simple — to play up the visual interest and dynamics of a space. The execution is more nuanced but can make a huge (even if understated) impact.

“Whether it is in the lighting details and cabinet hardware or faucets, it really gives people more flexibility and helps the look last longer and not become dated too quickly,” asserts Vick.

There are two main aspects of metals that can be mixed and matched:

  1. The finish metal: This is the plating that overlies the base metal, whatever it may be (usually zinc, copper, or brass). It’s responsible for the tone and color. For example, brass and bronze are “warmer,” whereas nickel and chrome are “cooler.”
  2. Luster: How shiny the finish metal is — from highly lustrous polished metal to low-luster matte finishes.

However your mixed metals manifest, it’s important to be intentional about it. A good general rule of thumb is to strive for complementary contrast (e.g. warm vs. cool, shiny vs. matte), designating and distributing evenly and judiciously. In the context of 2023 bathroom trends, for instance, you might employ brushed metal vanity cabinet pulls down low while applying polished metal around your vanity mirror’s edge, or vice versa.

We love testing our design mettle (and metal)!

A gentler white

modern kitchen remodel woolwich nj

Echoing the rationale of the stained wood 2023 kitchen trend, today’s homeowners are embracing subtlety — even when it comes to the very model of neutrality, the white kitchen. While it’s unlikely the popularity of the white kitchen will ever wane, recent kitchen remodels have tended to be a little less white.

“I am noticing lately people don’t want that glaringly white kitchen. They are leaning more towards a more neutral, softer white,” reveals Vick. “This is proving very successful with clients whose homes are still very brown and wood focused throughout but still want a brighter, whiter kitchen. This version of ‘white’ keeps the kitchen still very consistent with their homes but gives them a more modern ‘of today’ look.”

Still open to open concepts

modern kitchen remodel with peninsula and open shelving

Our last 2023 interior design trend is another that isn’t exactly “new” — open concept home design has been steadily gaining momentum for decades, even as far back as the groundbreaking American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) or further. His reasoning was that with fewer physical walls, people would feel more connected with one another and their environments, and that still holds today.

“Open design is still one of our clients’ top priorities. Many clients want to feel included in day-to-day family interactions while having open entertaining space as well. Homework stations and meal prep areas have become the family connection,” expresses Vick.

Open-concept home design comes with the expectation of spaces being multipurpose and multifunctional, and that especially holds true for kitchens.

More inspiration

Our business has consistently trended up, and we could not be more grateful to our customers! The Ayars team is booked through 2023, but we encourage you to browse our project portfolios for inspiration and see if we’re a good fit for one another in 2024!

finished basement cubby under stairs

Small Space Ideas for Doing a Lot with a Little

For most, space within the home is at a premium. As such, homeowners are constantly in search of creative ways to make the most of what they have, especially when what they have isn’t a lot.

Even if you do have more square footage to work with, it’s not always clear how to make the best use of it. This month, let’s talk about small space ideas and design — you’ll see that spatial limitations are no match for the imagination.

Conceptualizing small spaces

When you’re dealing with small spaces, design with functionality first in mind.

Sometimes, that function (or those functions) will be obvious — we know what we need to accomplish in a kitchen or bathroom, for instance. So if they’re undersized, our focus needs to be on flexibility and efficiency — how do we conquer clutter and organize that small space so we can achieve our essential tasks less stressfully?

If the small space doesn’t have a pre-assigned role, our first thought should be context. Where is that little awkwardly in-between spot located within the house? Unutilized niche between the kitchen and dining room? Try built-in shelving or storage for wines, spirits, or servingware. That bumpout in the living room for bay windows? Let’s build a bench into that nook to extend seating capacity for guests.

Another way to approach small space design is to play with perception. Here are some ideas to make those small spaces seem bigger. (Without sacrificing their inherent coziness and charm, of course!)


The physical dimensions of a space are defined by their length, width, and height — floors, walls, and ceilings. So how can we make them seem longer, wider, or taller? The most common solution is probably the build-in — a functional component built into the wall so as to conserve floor space. But you might also give yourself more room to stretch out by removing all or part of a wall, or installing a movable wall — aka a sliding “invisible” or pocket door and nestles into a hollowed-out wall pocket

If you have higher or cathedral ceilings, you might consider incorporating a loft or other mid-level living area to make use of the unused vertical space.

Furniture and storage

We already touched on built-ins as an excellent way to add storage without sacrificing floor space. But supposing you’d like some furniture in your space, that can also be cleverly designed to pull double duty — benches or ottomans with under-cushion storage compartments, compact desks or tables that can be folded up or tucked away with slide-out storage baskets or totes.


The interplay of light and shadow has a huge influence on how we perceive a space. We can make tight areas feel more open by distributing multiple light sources along the room’s periphery (e.g. sconces, floor lamps, directed spotlights, recessed/can lights), employing transparent or reflective surfaces (e.g. metal, glass, polished wood), and inviting in as much natural light as we can via a window or skylight .

Color and decor

Light and color also work hand in hand, affecting how we process a space visually. For smaller spaces, our goal is to draw the eyes outward so we are taking everything in as a cohesive whole, rather than in parts. Neutral tones will not call too much attention to themselves, while cooler tones tend to create a sense of distance. Darker or richer paints might serve to accent built-ins and insets, again highlighting elements along the edges rather than in the middle.

built-in angled wine rack

Small space design in action

Small bathroom ideas

Primary bathrooms and primary bathroom suites are among the most coveted remodels annually. But if you’re stuck with a tiny hallway bathroom, do not despair. There is plenty of design wisdom we can employ to squeeze functionality out of every square inch.

Sink and vanity

To fit a full bathroom into a small space, any idea will have to account for a sink/vanity, toilet, shower, and/or tub. To this end, we must design our vanities for efficiency. A floating single vanity or wall-mounted faucet leaves space for an open shelf or storage baskets while giving us the whole floor visually.

Pedestal sinks, by virtue of being slender, are also commonly employed in small bathrooms. If you’re still really tight on space, you might consider a corner sink, or at least rounding the vanity. And do not overestimate the impact of mirrors in creating the illusion of space.


In a hall bath, we’re restricted to a typical shower/tub combo, a standalone shower stall, or a standalone tub — a separate tub and shower aren’t possible, so it’s either pick your favorite or pick the compromise.

For your more standard all-in-one surrounds, shower curtains are tried and true and stay out of the way. If the tub and surround aren’t a single unit, and you have some nice bathroom tiling you’d like to highlight (or to avoid blocking a window), a glass half-wall could make sense. It gives some of the effect of a shower enclosure without the need to install door hardware.

If you are opting for a walk-in shower enclosure, utilize a sliding glass door (versus a hinged), and make your sundries accessible with built-in shower niches.

Cabinets and shelving

A floor-to-ceiling linen closet is probably not a practical idea for your small bathroom, but we can still devise some pretty nifty methods of storing our towels and personal effects. Open shelves are ideal for stacking towels or decor. Also, consider utilizing the vertical space behind the toilet, whether in the form of a ledge or a medicine cabinet.

hall bathroom with hexagonal floor tiles in south jersey

Small kitchen ideas

We ask a lot from our kitchens. We want ample counter space to prepare our meals, and plenty of cabinets and cupboards to store our gadgets and ingredients. And that’s without considering shiny appliances and seating for residents and guests. A small kitchen might not be equal to all of these tasks, but by working smarter and not harder, we can still accomplish much.

Small kitchen layout

As we discussed in a previous blog about kitchen layouts, the primary goal of kitchen design is optimizing the work triangle — the path between refrigerator, stove, and sink (food storage, preparation, and cleanup). Three layouts tend to predominate small kitchens:

  1. The galley kitchen: These kitchens are all business — counters, cabinets, and appliances all in parallel, with the home chef in the middle. Usually impractical for dine-in purposes.
  2. The U-shaped kitchen: Enclosed on three sides with one open end, offers a little more flexibility than a galley kitchen by virtue of the additional of the extra wall.
  3. The G-shaped kitchen: A modified U-shape kitchen with a partial counter extension (peninsula), allowing for bar-style seating.

Small kitchen storage and shelving

Creative storage and shelving solutions are everything in small kitchens. While we want to maximize the places we have to stow away our cookware, dishware, tools, and ingredients, going wall-to-wall and/or floor-to-ceiling with cabinets can leave us feeling boxed in and dampen the lighting and mood.

One of our favorite ways to break things up is open shelving. Open shelves expose more wall area, and if we’ve painted our walls a lighter or neutral color, will allow the room to “breathe” more. Stack or arrange your sightlier kitchen items (or decorations) on these platforms, or in a glass display cabinet.

Small kitchen seating

Try as we might, the smallest kitchens probably can’t accommodate a proper kitchen table. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re consigned to eating our meals standing over the sink. Not only are breakfast bars charming, they can be constructed so that stools can slide in towards the wall, conserving precious floor space (bench seating paired with a narrow table achieves a similar goal).

As mentioned previously, a peninsula with seating located in the adjoining room maintains that connection with the space without crowding it.

kitchen breakfast nook

Big ideas for small spaces

Ayars has long prided itself on making the absolute most of our customer’s spaces, no matter how large or small. Our reputation for clever design and careful craftsmanship has culminated in a long waiting list for our services, but we assure you it’s worth it! In the meantime, browse our project galleries for more examples of how we maximize every project.

open concept kitchen layout L-shaped

The Top 5 Kitchen Trends of 2022

If you’re like most homeowners, a full-scale kitchen remodel only comes around once a decade (or longer) — so how do you reconcile that with kitchen trends that shift on an annual basis? At Ayars, we always advise our clients to be true to themselves — by trusting personal tastes over trends, you’re ultimately going to end up with something you’re satisfied with longer.

That said, personal preferences are far from static, and certain kitchen trends do have staying power. This is why it’s still worthwhile to do your homework on the freshest kitchen design features, materials, and styles. Here are 5 of the top kitchen design trends Ayars has seen so far in 2022.

Black hardware

stainless steel sink basin in white kitchen remodel with black hardware

Sleek, elegant, and modern, black is a hallmark of more contemporary designs. We can apply it in a subtler — but nonetheless striking — manner through our drawer pulls and knobs. Black hardware remains a top kitchen trend in 2022 after seeing a lot of adopters in 2021, suggesting this one could have some longevity. Pair satin or matte black pulls and knobs with lighter-colored cabinets for widely compatible contrast.

Squared or tubular bar-shaped pulls are the most popular manifestation of the black hardware trend (especially with drawers), but for an even more minimalist application, you might install more tab-like edge pulls. For the most minimalist look, you may opt to go without cabinet hardware altogether.

Stained cabinet doors

stained cabinet doors in modern kitchen remodel

Stained cabinet doors — and woodgrain and natural textures in general — are making a comeback. If you’re still imagining them in the context of your parents’ or grandparents’ kitchens, we invite you to reconsider. Stained cabinets tie into transitional kitchen concepts — those that fuse a bit of the old (traditional) and the new (contemporary) — beautifully.

Some of Ayars’ more recent kitchen remodels reflect this 2022 design trend to a tee, with a medium to dark stained cabinet or floor providing a balancing warmth to stainless steel appliances or a bright white countertop or backsplash. Generally speaking, darker stains help make bigger spaces look cozier and lighter stains help confined spaces appear more open.

Custom storage and accessories

modern kitchen remodel with peninsula and open shelving

Where to put everything? It’s one of the more timeless kitchen conundrums, and today’s designers are getting craftier and craftier about customized storage solutions and accessories. Integration is a major buzzword here, with organization tools built right into cabinet drawers and cupboards. These may include pull-out or slide-out shelving, drawer inserts and dividers, and more.

We also encourage customers to think vertically when we’re designing a space — we want to be purposeful from the floor all the way to the ceiling, fitting storage neatly and seamlessly around fixtures and appliances. Don’t neglect the bare walls opposite the action either — floating shelving can give you a place to showcase your most prized dishware or cookware (or just serve as a nice platform for decor).

Quartz slab counters

countertop and picket backsplash new jersey kitchen remodel

As one of the most expensive items to replace, durability is maybe the most important thing to look for in a kitchen countertop. Quartz slab countertops rank highly in this department, and they’re available in a wide spectrum of colors and styles to mesh with virtually any aesthetic, while convincingly mimicking natural stone.

That’s right — despite their name, quartz countertops aren’t actually quartz, at least not in their entirety. Instead, they’re produced by binding crushed minerals (this will often include quartz, of course, but sometimes other materials such as granite, marble, ceramics, glass, and/or metal filings) with polymer resins. For this reason, they’re often referred to in the industry as engineered stone countertops.

The polymeric (i.e. plastic) component makes them nonporous and thus antimicrobial, inhibiting the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew — unlike wood or natural stone, they’re low-maintenance and will never need to be sealed. The resins also allow for more design flexibility in terms of shape and size — fabricators can fashion cleaner cuts and even curves with minimal disruption (another 2022 kitchen trend, by the way).

Full slab backsplashes

full slab backsplash

Continuing on the continuity trend, full slab (or solid slab) backsplashes are finding favor among an increasing number of homeowners in 2022. Why? Well take the appeal of a natural stone or quartz slab countertop and flip it on its y-axis. There is a sense of luxury created with a single, unbroken plane of natural or engineered stone that is tough to beat — because it’s on the wall, the eyes cannot help but gravitate toward it.

The slab need not necessarily follow along the entire length of the counter to have an impact — even applied to a small area (e.g. behind the range or sink), it will easily become a focal point. This 2022 kitchen backsplash trend is another that looks poised to stick around.

Kitchen remodeling with Ayars

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and it’s close to our hearts at Ayars, too. If you’re looking for the forever kitchen to match your forever home, look no further.

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Achieving a Timeless Kitchen Design

Kitchen design trends come and go (do wallpaper, linoleum floors, and pastel-colored appliances make you feel any sort of way?), but there are a handful of principles we can abide by to ensure a truly timeless kitchen design. Having the benefit of centuries worth of hindsight, we can much more readily identify the biggest hits and misses — there’s a reason certain things disappear while others stick around. Because it’s 2021, your kitchen remodeling options are wide open — and ultimately, it’s about what you like. But if it’s staying power you’re after, read on. 

Distinguishing features of kitchen design

In the broadest strokes, today’s kitchen designs fall into one of four major categories — and although the distinctions between them can be vague, they can give us a general sense of where a customer’s head is at. 

Traditional kitchen design

When we talk about traditional kitchen design, we are generally referring to those that reference Old World and American colonial traditions, pre-dating the 20th century. These kitchens are marked by ornate detailing and natural materials such as wood and stone — after all, the technology to create the man-made materials did not exist before then. 

Although the term “traditional” or “classic kitchen” is a little ambiguous and not fully reflective of the diversity of architectural and cultural sensibilities here, you can generally expect things like raised cabinet panels, decorative mouldings, warm kitchen lighting from chandeliers, pendants, and sconces, stone backsplashes, and kitchen countertops made of marble, soapstone, or limestone. Because modern appliances were also not invented yet in these kitchens’ heyday, the oven was the focal point. 

Modern vs. contemporary kitchen design

The term “modern kitchen design” is often used interchangeably with “contemporary kitchen design,” but the two are not one and the same. Modern kitchen design harkens back to a particular span of the 20th century, from approximately the 1920s into the 1970s. Encompassed within that are several design movements, including Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern. The latter has enjoyed a comeback in recent years, embracing an earthy color palette, flat paneled cabinet doors (painted or woodgrain), and furniture with curved or rounded edges.

Contemporary kitchen design, on the other hand, is about the aesthetic sensibilities of the here and now. In the 21st century, it’s most often associated with cleaner, more simplified lines and total composition. Colors are generally still neutral, but designers may judiciously incorporate a brighter color somewhere for visual interest — perhaps an accent wall or a backsplash. Glass and stainless steel have become increasingly popular materials. Recessed and track lighting have taken precedence. 

Transitional kitchen design

Transitional kitchen design seeks to blend traditional and contemporary details in seamless fashion — white or off-white is the most popular color scheme, but blues, grays, greens, and beiges can also work beautifully. Natural and manmade materials are equally valid options with a transitional approach — it’s all about the right mix and balance, and whether the client wants to lean more traditional or contemporary. Cabinets (usually Shaker style, but painted or stained?) and countertops (marble, quartz, or solid surface?) are key to this. Whatever the design decision, it’s all about looking crisp and clean. 

modern open concept kitchen mickleton nj cabinets

So what makes a timeless kitchen design?

Timeless kitchen design is concerned with what will always look good and function well, independent of trends or fads. A few best practices:

  1. Favor neutrality over flash in your color scheme — white cabinets or countertops may sound boring to some, but they’re extremely popular now, have been historically popular, and will likely continue to be popular in the future.
  2. Use high quality, natural materials whenever possible. Not only will they hold up better, they’ll create a more organic sense of space.
  3. Simplicity and cleanliness of lines —  think Shaker style cabinets, subway tiles, etc. Transitional kitchen design has been in vogue in recent years because it does embrace these “timeless” qualities
  4. Lighting to tastefully illuminate work spaces and entertaining areas. 
  5. A kitchen layout that works with you and not against you.

Timeless kitchen design in action

This recent kitchen remodel in Mickleton, NJ pulls together both traditional and contemporary elements for a look that’s both transitional and timeless. White Shaker style cabinets surround the perimeter of the workspace, with natural wood cabinets composing the center island. Soft, neutral colors are present in the stone flooring and ceramic subway tile backsplashes. Recessed lighting generally illuminates the space, while pendants accent the dining area and island. 

At Ayars Complete Home Improvements, it is our hope that every project stands the test of time, bringing together craftsmanship, expertise, and communication to achieve the best possible result. Let’s cook up something special together.

modern kitchen countertop detail mullica hill nj

Kitchen Countertop Ideas You Can Count On

Homeowners these days are overflowing with kitchen countertop ideas, and that’s because the palette of options is broader than ever. The types of materials available to build kitchen countertops are constantly being added to and evolving, and the conscientious ways we are using them to define spaces are changing with the times too. The kitchen countertop is a design tone-setter, combining with backsplashes, cabinets, and flooring to create a cohesive identity. 

There is a lot you can do with a kitchen countertop — perhaps beyond the scope of one blog post — but let’s take you through some basics and current trends so you can conceptualize for your next remodel. 

Popular kitchen countertop materials

What are kitchen countertops made from? Anymore, the answer is just about anything and everything, running the gamut from totally natural to entirely manmade. Your choice of kitchen countertop material can either greatly limit (not always a bad thing) or expand the overall vibe and style your kitchen will have.

Popular natural materials

Although some homeowners favoring a farmhouse/rustic look still turn to wood (aka “butcher block”), natural stone is far more prevalent and versatile — and in most cases more easily maintained. 


Perhaps the most coveted variety of natural stone countertop, granite slab is desirable because of its unique looks, durability, and relative seamlessness. Granite countertops can also be purchased in smaller slabs fitted together (modular granite) or in tile form, although these are often seen as compromises that diminish the benefits discussed above.


In terms of sheer aesthetics, marble is the belle of the ball. But while striking and luxuriously beautiful, marble countertops are fragile compared to other types of natural stone. Their softness makes them more susceptible to scratches, and their porousness makes stains a serious threat unless sealed. 


Soapstone, a type of metamorphic rock containing a high concentration of talc, has been used in architecture for centuries. It is not as soft as marble, but not as hard as granite. Colors range from white to various shades of gray, and it is easy to clean and naturally stain-resistant.


Slate countertops are the more practical foil to marble, with much better wear characteristics at a lower price point. However, it lacks the smoothness and color options of some of the other types of natural stone. 

Popular manmade materials

Engineered quartz

Engineered quartz, which consists of crushed stone bonded and reinforced by resins, has become the preeminent engineered countertop material. It very convincingly mimics the characteristics of natural stone, including patterns and veining, and is more than capable of standing up to the abuses of a busy kitchen. Kitchen countertop ideas are truly limitless with this material.

Solid surface

Solid surface has taken a backseat to engineered quartz in recent years, but is still a respectable mid-tier option. This manmade material is formed from acrylics and polyester bound together with resins, sometimes with a bit of natural stone dust sprinkled in for character. It’s more affordable than quartz and also hugely versatile in style, but not as rugged and will scorch and scratch (so use cutting boards and insulate from hot pots and pans). 


Laminate countertops have a reputation as the “cheap” option, but technology has come a ways since their heyday to create a better-looking and better-performing product. It’s easy to install and available in a ton of colors and patterns. However, there is a reason it is economical — that thin plastic laminate layer can peel and burn if you’re not careful, exposing the underlying particle board.

Concrete and stainless steel

Concrete and stainless steel countertops have been in vogue lately, especially in industrial designs. 

Concrete can be poured into any form, and color and texture treatments can lend these countertops a greater variety of looks and finishes than you’d initially think. It is among the heaviest of kitchen countertop materials and can be a bear to install, so it is best left to professional craftsmen.

Stainless steel, while typically thought of in the context of commercial settings, has become more common in the home.

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Kitchen countertop trends

Now that we’ve touched on some of the more popular materials, let’s get an idea of kitchen countertop trends. 

Mixing materials and finishes

Switching up surfaces and materials has become a trend in modern kitchens, adding both contrast and functionality — for example, a section of butcher block on an otherwise natural stone or engineered quartz countertop. 


Homeowners as a whole are becoming more environmentally conscious, which has led to the development of countertop materials derived from recycled content (e.g. glass, aluminum, even paper composite) or from more sustainable sources. Some of these are not widely available yet but keep an eye out for them in the future.

Shaping and edges

We are living on the edge of kitchen countertop design — as of late quite literally.  Flush countertops trim away the excess (evened up with the underlying cabinetry) for a sleek look, while waterfall countertops make the edge the focal point, with extended outcroppings of countertop material creating additional legroom and storage space along the lengths of peninsulas and islands.

What’s your kitchen countertop idea?

Do you have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a kitchen countertop yet? If you’re still having trouble, it might help to think of your overall vision for the space and how you’re using it — if you’re a dedicated home chef, it may make the most sense to have a stainless steel countertop; if you’re more interested in entertaining and wowing guests, a marble countertop may be worth the expense.  

If you’re still stumped, schedule a consultation with the experienced craftsmen at Ayars Complete Home Improvements and we’ll happily figure it out together. 

front porch and siding remodel

How to Increase Home Value in 2021

People often fantasize about finding their “forever home,” but what they should be daydreaming about is ways to increase home value — particularly those with a high return on investment (ROI). A National Association of Realtors study showed that the median time span between a home purchase and a home sale was around 9 years — far short of “forever.” 

How you approach a remodel or renovation depends on your long-term goals — do you plan on sticking around a while (5 years or more), or is your current residence just a stop along the way? It doesn’t make sense to delve into a highly involved, low-ROI project if you won’t be around to enjoy the fruits of that labor (and recoup those costs yourself). Conversely, a simpler, high ROI project will yield greater dividends over a shorter period of time — consistent with a seller’s mentality.

The Cost vs. Value Report for Home Remodeling Projects

So what are the best ways to increase home value then? The answer can vary from year to year and region to region, which can make it hard to know where to start. Thankfully, the Cost vs. Value report published annually by Remodeling magazine helps keep things straight. The report compares the average cost of 22 popular remodeling projects with the value they retain at resale across 101 U.S. markets — in our case the Middle Atlantic and more specifically Philadelphia (right across the Delaware River). 

Compared to 2019, the costs of nearly all project types went up while the perceived value dipped. It’s important to note, however, that there are many factors that figure into the numbers — such as the condition of the rest of the house wherein the project is taking place, the economic health of the surrounding region and home values within the neighborhood, and the fact that many projects come with some sort of tradeoff. A solution you’re creating for yourself may actually be problematic for a prospective buyer. 

For instance, say you absorb the walk-in closet or spare bedroom beside your master bedroom to create a luxury master bath. Yes, certain buyers may appreciate the beauty and indulgence of that reimagined space, but the loss of an additional bedroom may be a dealbreaker for buyers with growing families. This is why we see such variances from region to region (e.g. a population heavy with single young professionals vs. families) 

Three popular remodeling projects (and their ROIs)

In South Jersey and across America, kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects were among the most coveted in 2020. Home Advisor’s annual State of Home Spending Report polled 5,000 Americans about their home improvement spending habits, and kitchens (22.6% of respondents) and bathrooms (30.9%) both ranked within the top 5 most popular. On average, people spent $745 more than the previous year on home improvement — a byproduct of higher prices and a lot more time spent at home due to the pandemic. All that stress had some Ayars customers wanting to retreat into a beautifully appointed new master suite.

Kitchen remodeling projects

kitchen remodel south jersey

Midrange minor kitchen remodel

The midrange minor kitchen remodel mentioned in the Cost vs. Value Report assumes a “functional but dated 200-square-foot kitchen,” the project calls for replacing cabinet fronts with shaker-style wood panels and drawer fronts with new hardware, as well as upgrading the range and refrigerator with new energy-efficient models. Laminate countertops, sink, faucet, and flooring all receive mid-priced replacements. The walls, trim, and ceilings get a new coat of paint.

Major kitchen remodels

A midrange major kitchen remodel takes all that but ups the ante with a more functional layout, including 30 linear feet of semi-custom wood cabinets and a 3×5 foot island. An upscale major kitchen remodel spares no expense: fully customized cabinets, stone countertops, imported tile backsplash, commercial-grade cooktop and wall oven, designer faucets and filtration system, upgraded general and task lighting. 

Return on investment

The midrange minor kitchen remodel had the highest ROI, with 73.2% of costs recouped at resale. The midrange major kitchen remodel still saw South Jersey homeowners recover over half (54.0%) of their investment, while the upscale remodel yielded the lowest return of the three.

Bathroom projects

mullica hill master bath herringbone floor and vanity

Bathroom remodels

The Cost vs. Value Report bases its midrange bath remodel (5×7 bathroom) on updates to all fixtures with quality but affordable materials (porcelain-on-steel tub, ceramic tile surround, solid surface vanity top), with features you’d expect in a modern bathroom (single-lever temperature and pressure control in the shower). Its upscale bath remodel template greatly builds on that, not only in size (100 sq. ft. vs. 35 sq. ft.) but in luxuries (recessed shower caddy, body sprayers, freestanding soaker tub, electric in-floor heating, etc.). 

Additional bathrooms

The Cost vs. Value Report’s baseline bathroom addition projects call for very similar features and functionality as the remodeling projects mentioned above, but with the added preliminary steps of framing walls and extending HVAC, wiring, and plumbing. 

Return on investment

Generally speaking, bathroom projects had some of the lower ROIs listed in this year’s Cost vs. Value report, with remodels (45.1% to 54.9%) faring better than additions (41.9% to 43.1%) — running new plumbing and wiring is not a cheap date. That said, an extra half bath adds about 10% to a home’s value, while converting a half bath to a full bath adds about 9%. By extension, a brand new full bath would increase home value by 19% (National Association of Home Builders).

Master suite additions

clarksboro nj master bathroom renovation


The midrange master suite addition involves 24’x16’ of new space, with a carpeted master bathroom with a walk-in closet and dressing area, and a master bathroom with a double-bowl vanity (his and hers), freestanding soaker tub, and 3’x4’ ceramic tile shower


The upscale master bedroom suite addition is an even classier affair, with 32’x20’ of additional space with a lounge area, custom millwork, a high-end gas fireplace with a stone hearth, fully functional wet bar, custom lighting controls, master bathroom with a dual shower, freestanding tub, and separate custom vanities, and a whole lot more. 

Return on investment

A new master suite is worth the investment if you’re looking to spoil/pamper yourself for years to come, but maybe not so much if you’re on your way out. The midrange project had an ROI of 44.1%, while the upscale project had an ROI of 37.3%.

High ROI vs. Low ROI remodeling projects

The top 5 ROI remodeling projects in South Jersey (i.e. Philadelphia area) favored exterior home improvements: manufactured stone veneers (94.1%), garage door replacement (70.0%), wooden deck addition (66.6%), and vinyl siding replacement (64.0%); midrange minor kitchen remodel (73.2%) ranked second. 

Across the board, more “luxury” and “upscale” remodeling and renovations projects tended to not increase home value as much as one might hope. So is it worth it to add an upscale bathroom, totally reimagine a kitchen with state-of-the-art features and materials, or build on a gorgeous new master suite? 

Again, it depends on your long-term plans and your willingness to spend. If you’re ready to settle down and have the budget, there’s no question that significantly upgrading and beautifying your home will seriously enhance your enjoyment of the space, and in turn, your quality of life. If you’re planning on selling soon, think more surface level. But if you’re planning on staying for the long haul, think deeper about what you want and what would make you happy. 

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Kitchen Layout Designs: Possibilities and Limitations

If you were to poll people about what they love (or hate) most about their kitchens, it would almost certainly come down to their kitchen layout design. No matter how easy on the eyes a kitchen is, if it is difficult to navigate and use, you might as well have thrown your remodeling budget down the garbage disposal. The kitchen is the heartbeat of the home, pulsing with the life of family and friends, meals and memories. Do not bypass the fundamentals. 

What your kitchen layout needs to accomplish

The key to a successful kitchen layout design is an uninterrupted work triangle. The work triangle is the path between the refrigerator, stove, and sink — or where food is stored, prepared, and washed away. These work areas should not be too far away from one another, nor should there be any obstacles in between. It should allow for appliances, tools, and utensils to be stored or placed within easy reach and, if no dining room is present, residents or guests to be seated comfortably. 

Recapping the kitchen shapes

Kitchen layout types are classified into five basic shapes, often influenced by the amount of space available or the overall floor plan design. As much as we’d like to have every option at fingertips, sometimes a certain layout just will not be compatible with your home. In that case, it’s a matter of making the most of what you have (or building an addition to give you what you don’t).

white single wall kitchen

Single wall kitchen

What it is: Everything — cabinets, appliances, and workstations — along a single wall, effectively flattening the work triangle into a straight line.

Who it’s for: People for whom space is at an absolute premium, such as those who live in a small apartment or condo.

Pros: Conservation of space elsewhere — the kitchen in this instance is part of a multifunctional room.

Cons: Finding a place to put everything — smart storage solutions and organizational efficiency are a must.

Will it island?: Yes, and in fact it’s becoming rarer to find single wall kitchens without one. Adding a kitchen island parallel to the wall creates a more open version of our next major kitchen shape, the galley. 

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Galley kitchen

What it is: Counters, cabinets, and appliances arranged parallel along two facing walls, creating a corridor in which the cook can work.

Who it’s for: Seafarers, or those who’d prefer to use their kitchen for cooking.

Pros: Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency — there’s a reason this is the preferred kitchen layout design of many professional chefs. Moving from task to task is as easy as taking a few steps to the side and/or spinning around. And of course, two full walls for storage is better than one.

Cons: Depending on the width of the corridor, galleys can feel a bit claustrophobic. Also if they are closed off by a wall at either end, they’re not ideal for socializing while you’re at work.

Will it island?: Sort of. In a traditional galley with two full walls, a kitchen island would very much be in the way. However, islands can be used to create a galley-like workflow in a more open environment — by either knocking out a wall, or by installing two islands parallel to one another. 

west deptford nj kitchen renovation

L-shaped kitchen

What it is: In the L-shaped kitchen, two runs of countertop meet perpendicularly in a corner.

Who it’s for: Nearly anyone! The L-shaped kitchen is perhaps the world’s most popular because of its versatility and natural compatibility with open-concept designs.

Pros: Great for teamwork, as two chefs can work together at their own stretch of counter simultaneously without bumping into one another. Also excellent for entertaining and socializing as the dining area — or family or living room in open concepts — is often opposite the working area.

Cons: Susceptible to wasted space or disruptions in workflow, especially in the corners — plan ahead when slotting in your major appliances.

Will it island?: Absolutely — so long as the room is big enough. Just make sure you don’t accidentally disrupt the work triangle if you’re allocating one or more workstations to the kitchen island. 

kitchen remodel hardwood floor

U-shaped kitchen

What it is: Also called a horseshoe kitchen, the U-shape surrounds the chef with work space and storage on three sides with another end open (typically to a separate dining room).

Who it’s for: Home cooks with a lot of dishware and/or gadgets, as there can be plenty of cabinetry and shelving to accommodate all of them.

Pros: The horseshoe kitchen is another fine choice for the serious chef, as it tends to be used predominantly for cooking and provides ample storage.

Cons: Can create a potential safety hazard if there is a traffic trying to pass through — such as with an entry door. The temptation to overload with wall cabinets can result in a bland and boxy aesthetic. Save a wall or two for open shelving, focal tile, or another form of visual interest.

Will it island?: Yes, if your horseshoe is adequately sized, a kitchen island could function terrifically. In fact, by adding an island you could potentially create two or even three work triangles for the ultimate mealtime tag team effort. 

Woolwich, New Jersey Kitchen Remodel

G-shaped kitchen

What it is: The G-shaped kitchen is also sometimes referred to as a peninsula kitchen for its defining detail, a partial wall jutting out from the corner on one of its four sides, resulting in a sort of sit-down bar.

Who it’s for: People who want an island but do not have the space for one.

Pros: Enjoy the utility of a U-shaped kitchen while adding some of the entertaining potential of an L-shaped kitchen.

Cons: Prepare for traffic jams in the narrow entryway formed at the end of the peninsula.

Will it island?: No, the appeal of the G-shaped kitchen is in its hybrid quality — it’s a sort of compromise, but often a very compelling one!

What kitchen type is best for me?

By now, you should have a fairly good idea of what kitchen layout design is best suited for your home. But how to execute it to its fullest potential? Leave that to the kitchen professionals at Ayars Complete Home Improvements. We take great pride in the process of crafting quality cooking, dining, and entertaining spaces from beginning to end. Wherever you’re at in your relationship with your kitchen, it’s time to either start loving it or start loving it a little more. 

modern kitchen open concept view from living room mullica hill nj

Getting Started on Home Interior Renovations: Form Follows Function

Residential interior design is so much more than wall paintings, vases, and area rugs (i.e. interior decorating) — it’s a philosophy. Specifically, it seeks to question how our indoor living spaces work for us, how they make us feel

Consider your day-to-day life and the rooms where you spend most of your time — are they laid out in a fashion that frustrates, or in a way that facilitates? That should always be the starting point when contemplating home interior renovations. The finer details of colors, styles, and textures are the icing on the cake!

Floor plan designs

One of the core tenets of residential interior design is the floor plan. Do your home’s rooms flow together in a way that makes sense? Are its shared spaces accessible from more than one direction? Are rooms with similar functions adjacent to one another (kitchen and dining room, for instance)? How easy is it to get to the nearest bathroom? 

While it’s important to ask yourself these things prior to buying a house, deficiencies aren’t always apparent from the outset. But before you change your floor plan, think about how you might make better use of the existing layout. For example, you might shuffle the kids’ bedrooms around or finally get around to finishing that basement

Knocking down and/or reconfiguring walls can get complicated quickly, and might become more than you bargained for if structural engineers, plumbers, or electricians need to get involved. If your home’s layout just isn’t working for your or your family’s lifestyle at all, you may be better off looking for a new house altogether.  

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Functional living spaces

In residential interior design, form always follows function. Having a beautiful space is secondary to having a usable space, although it’s certainly desirable to have both! 

Open and inviting kitchens

Consider the example of a kitchen. Of course, a kitchen’s most important function is the preparation and cooking of food. If there are obstructions between the sink and fridge and oven (the work triangle), that’s a problem. If there is inadequate counter space to prepare food, that’s another problem. If it’s a struggle to store or locate food, utensils, appliances, or cookware, you’re going to be tempted to order out more frequently than dine in. 

But for most people, kitchens serve another essential purpose — gathering, socializing, and entertaining. That is why open concept kitchens are among homebuyers’ most coveted items. Without walls between the kitchen and dining area (and possibly living room), communication is free and easy. People are pleased to be in one another’s presence as opposed to in one another’s way. 

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Rounding home interiors into form

Once you’ve arrived at a floor plan design you’re pleased with, then you can turn your attention to surrounding yourself with the features, fixtures, and decor that reinforce or support a room’s intended function. For instance, you might choose kitchen lighting that helps illuminate workstations and a color palette that is warm and inviting.

Secluded and peaceful home offices

Now consider something like a home office — focus and privacy now become paramount. You’ll want it located in an area of the house that is more isolated or removed from the action. You might tab a socially distanced corner of your upper story (with a nice view of the backyard or nature) or the basement so you can focus on work and not get distracted by play. You might invest in soundproofing to muffle foot traffic and commotion overhead (basement) or a skylight to add more natural light (upper story). 

home office south jersey

Find the heart and soul of your home’s interior

Residential interior design has too much impact on daily mood and quality of life to ignore. Whether you’re shopping for your dream home or mulling over home interior renovations, it’s important to honestly assess how each part functions — both independently and in relation to others. Find a floor plan that fits your lifestyle, then maximize its potential. 

Don’t know where to start? Ayars Complete Home Improvements has been helping South Jersey homeowners through this process for decades. 

south jersey kitchen remodeling contractor ayars

Planning and Focusing Your Kitchen Lighting Layout

As the home’s cooking, communication, and entertaining hub, it’s really not all that difficult to spend too much time in the kitchen. It’s the place where we most often eat and socialize, and as such perhaps the most “human” room in the house. Because kitchens play such an integral role in day-to-day life, they’re also frequently cited among homeowners’ greatest sources of frustration.

Lighting may not be first in our hierarchy of kitchen needs, but it definitely should not be forgotten about. After establishing how you want to use your kitchen, where in the kitchen those functions will be allocated, and what furnishings, fixtures, and appliances will slot into those areas, then you can begin to conceptualize the kitchen lighting layout. Ideally, the lighting plan will harmonize with the floor plan in general, ensuring that your kitchen is both easy to work in and delightful to be in.

The Three Levels of Kitchen Lighting

Within the kitchen (and any room for that matter) there are three major ways lighting can be applied:

As ambient lighting. This refers to general lighting that is meant to illuminate the entirety of the space (e.g. “Turn on the lights, I can’t see.”)

As task lighting. The kitchen has three or more primary work stations — one for preparing food, one for cooking (or baking), and one for storage. Kitchen task lighting shines brighter on these areas so you can be absolutely assured that you can see what you are doing — very important when handling hot pans or sharp objects.

As accent lighting. After you take care of business with your kitchen lighting layout, you can attend to highlighting the room’s aesthetics. Is there a piece of artwork or architecture that stands out? A passage to an attached deck or patio or dining room? Try accenting it.

kitchen remodel island countertop wine bottle

Kitchen Lighting Types (And Where To Use Them)

There is an overwhelming number of kitchen lighting styles on the market — but some are definitely better suited to certain areas than others. Here are some of the more popular.

Recessed kitchen lighting: The most popular choice for ambient lighting, each lighting “can” is directly embedded into your ceiling. They come in both standard and wafer depths, which determines how deep the recess is. Unobtrusive and modern, they seamlessly integrate into the scene.

Flush and semi-flush mount kitchen lighting: The more traditional option for ambient lighting, these fixtures are either flush (directly mounted to the ceiling) or semi-flush (the housing hangs slightly below where it is mounted to the ceiling).

Pendant kitchen lighting: Like a pendant or medallion hung around one’s neck, these fixtures dangle from the ceiling. They can be simple or ornate, rustic or contemporary. They can serve as either task or accent lighting — for instance, over a kitchen island. A kitchen island is both a central design feature and an area where food preparation or entertaining might occur.

Under-cabinet kitchen lighting: The go-to for most task lighting applications, these lighting pucks or strips are applied to the underside of cabinets above the countertop, shining a spotlight on your abilities as a home cook. Take care to limit glare with shinier or more reflective countertop surfaces.

Track lights: Exceptional as an accent over a bar or dining area or even as a task light over the sink/dishwashing area, track lights are a series of lights laid along a fixed straight or curved path.

Additional kitchen lighting tips

Your kitchen renovation specialist may recommend assigning a dimmer switch to all lighting — helping you modulate the intensity of artificial light according to the time of day (especially if you receive a lot of natural light through a window or skylight) and the mood. Decorative switch and outlet covers ensure that even the lighting controls are in sync with your overall kitchen concept.

But first thing’s first — a gorgeous, durable kitchen design that fulfills all your needs. Bring your ideas to the Ayars Complete Home Improvements team, and we’ll ensure your kitchen radiates beauty from the floor to the ceiling.

custom millwork fireplace

4 Good Reasons to Save Interior Home Remodeling Projects for the Winter

Preparing for hibernation this winter? A little R&R is fine — and probably well-deserved — but if you sleep through the whole thing, you might miss the best time for interior home remodeling projects. Whether you’re in the market for minor touch-ups or a more major undertaking, winter can actually be quite kind to the opportunistic homeowner. Here’s why.

You have more downtime

During the spring, the outdoors demand our attention as we prepare for a busy summer. When the warm weather finally arrives, it can be a struggle to go everywhere, see everyone, and do everything we want to. Autumn is a scramble with back-to-school shopping quickly giving way to a string of holidays. When things finally settle down for the winter, the quiet can seem downright eerie. Interior home improvement can be the perfect way to fill the void. Consider what’s working for your space and what isn’t, and use that as a springboard to plan your remodeling projects.

Remodeling contractors have less volume

Quality remodeling contractors are busy year-round — repeated successes build trust, and a good reputation breeds more opportunities. However, warm weather means longer work days and more projects. That means if you wait until the spring or summer to schedule your kitchen or bathroom remodel, it make take longer for your contractor to get around to your project. Therefore, winter is the ideal time for interior renovations — your contractor will appreciate being kept out of the elements, and you’ll appreciate additional insight during the process, including the scoop on available and forthcoming specialty products that can elevate your project to the next level. 

kitchen remodel hardwood floor

Home improvement material prices increase in spring

The leaves may have fallen, but the laws of supply and demand are evergreen. Manufacturers leverage the fact that more home renovation projects occur in the spring and summer and adjust prices accordingly. On average, material costs increase 2.5 to 5 percent at the start of the spring season. Beat the rush by slating your home improvement project for the winter and reap the savings. 

Winter remodeling is a good excuse to travel

Interior remodels can be disruptive. Although most professional contractors will try to minimize their footprint as much as they can, there’s just no getting around it. Fortunately, however, the colder months often coincide with vacations and holiday getaways. South Jersey winters can be harsh at times, which is the perfect excuse for an escape. Meanwhile, your contractor will enjoy unimpeded access to an otherwise crowded workspace. This can alleviate much of the stress that a bathroom or kitchen remodel can impose on some families. When you return, much of — if not all— the work may very well be done. And you’ll be much happier and may even have a sun tan. 

Best interior home remodeling projects for the winter

  • Walls: Cooler, drier air conditions are ideal for painting. Interior crown molding and wainscoting add a refined touch to any room, especially dining rooms, living rooms, and master bedrooms. Tiled backsplashes can add a pop of color to a bathroom or kitchen while protecting walls from moisture and water damage. 
  • Floors: New carpeting, tiling, or hardwood flooring can help refresh the look and character of any room. Exposed hardwood floors have especially gained popularity with modern homeowners for their timeless appearance and ease of cleanup. 
  • Basements: A finished basement or home entertainment center is not only a great place to huddle together during the winter, but it’s also a great place to escape the heat in the summer. It’s also a terrific boost for home resale value. 
  • Kitchens and bathrooms: Build the kitchen or bathroom you’ve always dreamt about with stylish lighting, fixtures, and decor.
  • Custom Millwork: Installing new cabinets or shelving systems can both reduce clutter and uplift a room’s aesthetic.

Whatever your winter upgrade plans are, Ayars Complete Home Improvements has the staffing and experience to help you make the most of the season. Contact us for a free estimate today.

kitchen backsplash range

Kitchen Backsplash Ideas: Design You Can Get Behind

Many homeowners consider their kitchen the heart and soul of their homes — a place for friends and family to gather, for meals and hospitality to be shared. Given its importance in both entertaining and day-to-day living, it is one of the more eligible and popular candidates for a remodel. Much attention and care are applied to choosing flooring, countertops, appliances, and cabinetry — and for good reason — all undeniably have a significant impact on the look and feel of the space. However, there is one crucial aspect that you should not overlook during your kitchen remodeling project.

Functionally, a kitchen backsplash protects walls from moisture and grease. Aesthetically, it might be your kitchen’s single most defining design element, establishing an overall personality and tying everything else together. Here are some kitchen backsplash ideas and tips to consider before you get started.

kitchen remodel backsplash countertop

Backsplash coverage

How much area do you need your kitchen backsplash to cover? At the minimum, you should consider installing it behind the sink and/or stove, as these walls are most vulnerable to deterioration and discoloration from liquids and steam. Many backsplashes span the entire workspace, from one end of the counter to the other, providing an all-around barrier from all-too-often messy meal prep.

Vertically, the backsplash usually occupies the space between the countertop and the cabinets — the expanse between your waist and your chin. However, it can be made even more of a focal point of the room by extending it all the way to the ceiling. Determine whether your needs are more practical or more aesthetic. 

Best backsplash materials

Kitchen backsplash materials are really limited more by imagination than budget. Wallpaper (including chalkboard wallpaper that can be drawn on), glass (decorative and mirrored), metal (bronze, copper, tin, stainless steel, etc.), stone, and even reclaimed wood and other recycled materials having been successfully applied by creative kitchen remodelers. 

The best backsplash material by far, however, is ceramic or porcelain tile. Not only is it generally more economical, but it is also more versatile. Today’s manufacturers are able to successfully mimic colors, patterns, and textures of more expensive materials — innovations that empower modern homeowners and kitchen remodelers alike.

south jersey kitchen remodeling contractor ayars

Kitchen backsplash design

Tiles can be cut and arranged in a boundless array of configurations, from the elegantly conservative to wildly and whimsically abstract. Rectangular subway tiles are arranged horizontally for a simple and modern look. Diamond, herringbone, and circular tile arrangements up the ante in terms of visual interest, while custom mosaics can literally turn your kitchen backsplash design into a work of art.

Consider how the backsplash design will fit in with the rest of the kitchen (for example, color coordination with painted walls, cabinets, and countertops), the personality you want to exude, your budget, and your skill level (if self-installing).

Get started on a beautiful kitchen renovation with Ayars

Ayars Complete Home Improvements has decades of experience in helping homeowners identify what they want from their home’s identity. For a glimpse of the beautiful kitchens we’ve designed for our customers in South Jersey or for more kitchen backsplash ideas, visit our kitchen remodeling gallery. Or get started on your own — we’re just a phone call or form submission away. 

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Increase Your Home Value with 8 Home Remodeling Ideas

Increase Your Home Value with 8 Home Remodeling Ideas

Did any of your home upgrades pay off when it came time to sell?  There are many things you can change and remodel in your home, but these 7 key home improvements are guaranteed to increase the value of your home.

  1. Remodeling the Kitchen

The kitchen is usually the first room in the house that needs updating.  After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home.  I’m not sure about you guys, but the hang out spot at my house is usually the kitchen.  Remodeling continues to have the highest budget allocation.


For many families (mine included), this room is where everyone gathers around or entertains their guests.  Holidays, birthdays, a little family get together; this room is definitely utilized the most in a home.  For this reason, you can expect to recoup 60%-120% of investments from remodeling a kitchen, as long as you stay within your budget.


  1. Adding a Bathroom

You can never go wrong with having more than one restroom in your home. This is why you can recoup 80%-130% of investments from adding another bathroom. Most homebuyers will use any room with underutilized space or take an extra room to upgrade it into a master bathroom.


  1. Reinventing a Room

This home improvement can be the most expensive upgrade to a house. Adding more square footage to your home can easily accumulate costs but it can bring you a 50%-83% return on investment.


  1. Adding Energy-Efficient Windows

Energy-efficient home improvements not only recoups 60%-90% of investments cost, but it can also reduce energy taxes as well!  When you replace your windows or doors with energy efficient models, you can receive a tax credit and 10% of costs, up to $200.00 per window.


  1. Adding a Deck

Outdoor living spaces, otherwise known as staycations, can significantly increase the value of your home.  As more homeowners are adding decks and patios to their backyards, it instantly becomes more appealing to prospective buyers when the house is for sale.


  1. Energy-Efficient Insulation

It’s about that time everyone has basic insulation installed, otherwise the cost to live in and maintain an unmodified home can be a burden.  Most potential buyers make sure to include this home improvement into their reports.


*One way to ensure your house is well insulated is with the right masonry.


  1. Basic Updates

Making basic updates to your home is a no-brainer.  Making small improvements such as fixing a leaking roof, replacing rotting wood and keeping paint fresh will always add the most value to your home.  A solid and safe home is always appealing to homebuyers.


So if you plan to remodel or make improvements to your home, remember that even the smallest of projects can make a big difference to the value of your home.  Also, focus on making your home safe and energy-efficient because it guarantees lower energy costs in the future.


  1. Flooring

Take a look at your home’s soft flooring. Are your carpets and area rugs stained or worn? Ideally, you may want to replace them all, but if a limited budget puts a snag in that plan, start by replacing the carpet in the room that shows the most wear and tear and replace the others as your finances allow.  Hardwood flooring is also an upsell.  Visually it’s beautiful, and gives such a natural feel to your home.

Top Tips To Maintain Your New Kitchen Design

Top Tips to Maintain your New Kitchen Design


The kitchen is the epicenter of the home, particularly with today’s open plan kitchens and multi-functional spaces.  This busy room sees more traffic and is subjected to more dirt and grease than most rooms.  If you just completed a kitchen remodeling project, how to clean and maintain the room may not top your list of priorities.  It should!  Understand how to keep on top of dirt and maintain the new surfaces in your kitchen is critical to keeping it looking good as new.

Here are a few of our top tips for properly maintaining your new kitchen:

  • Keep the clutter at bay
    • When your kitchen renovation is just completed, look at the new room before you move all of your small appliances, pots and pans, and cookbooks back into the space. It looks perfectly clean and neat, right?  While adding your personal touches really complete the room, too many items left out on countertops or shelves look messy and make it harder to clean surfaces.  Use the specialized storage you added to your kitchen cabinets to keep the clutter to a minimum.  Storage accessories allow you to better utilize all of your available space and make sure that every item in your kitchen has a home.  This way you keep countertops and other spaces free to use as work surfaces and make regular cleaning an easier task.
  • Be surface wise
    • There are so many options available for countertops, floors, and backsplashes for today’s kitchens. You probably spent hours researching just the look you wanted, checking out pictures online, and discussing options with your kitchen design expert.  You picked a look and color scheme that best represent your tastes and lifestyle.  Now you need to understand that a granite countertop may require different care than the laminate countertop you used to have.  The wood floors you chose have a different maintenance routine to the tile floor in your old kitchen.  Make sure you know how to maintain the new surfaces to keep them looking good as new for as long as possible.

For example, most countertops can be cleaned with a warmsoapy water mixture and then rinsed thoroughly, through an antibacterial cleaner can be used when required.  Stick to non-abrasive cleaners and a soft cloth or sponge, particularly for surfaces like a stainless steel countertop that can be prone to scratching.  Some surfaces may be able to stand up to occasional, gentle scrubbing or a mild bleach solution to remove dirt and stains, while other surfaces may not be compatible with bleach solutions as it can affect the color or even damage the surface.

Re-sealing is required on occasion for maintenance of some surfaces and to prevent stains, while others do not need re-sealing.  Tile countertops are typically exempt from re-sealing but the grout lines require regular re-application of a grout sealer.  The same principles apply to your backsplash, floor, and cabinet surfaces.

Understanding the new surfaces in your kitchen will help you properly maintain them from day one, and keep them stain and scratch free as long as possible.  Consult manufacturer’s guidelines or, better yet, talk to your kitchen renovation professional to get the best insights into your new kitchen surfaces.

  • Go Natural
    • There are many natural solutions that serve as excellent alternatives for regular cleaning of kitchen surfaces. These standard household products can achieve the same result as harsher chemicals but are much better for your kitchen surfaces, your family, and the environment.  Baking soda combined with water or white vinegar with water are very effective at removing residue, stains, and dirt on many surfaces, including countertops, floors, and backsplashes.

Make sure your new kitchen stays in prime shape by learning about your new surfaces and products.  Proper maintenance from day one and regular cleaning routine using suitable products will keep your kitchen clean and the finish and color of your surfaces looking good as new.

2016 Kitchen Trends

2016 Kitchen Trends

Houzz just dropped their 2016 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study.  It’s a must read for designers, builders, and homeowners who are planning a remodel.  The study uncovers the trends that define today’s kitchen, including the emergence of the “super kitchen.”  This room serves multiple purposes, blurring the lines between the room and other living spaces, and incorporates features, functions and décor typically associated with other rooms.

Other takeaways include:

  • Kitchens are the hub of the home:

A majority of homeowners spend more than three hours per day in their kitchens.  Other than cooking and baking, top activities are eating and dining (69%), entertaining (49%) and socializing (43%).

  • Kitchen walls coming down:

48% of renovating homeowners are making their kitchens more open to other living spaces and 46% of renovated kitchens are completely open to other interior spaces.  18% are more open to the outdoors.

  • New kitchens mean new style:

76% of renovating homeowners change the style of their kitchen during the project.  Top styles are transitional (21%), contemporary (19%), and modern (12%).

  • Borrowed from the Living/Dining Room:

Many homeowners are adding features such a dining tables (25%), chandeliers (23%), TVs (14%) and desks/workspaces (7%) to their updated kitchens.  Customized features that support entertaining are also popular, including wine refrigerators (11%) and built-in stations for coffee/tea (10%).

  • Pro help key:

87% of homeowners are enlisting professional help for their kitchen renovation project.  General contractors top the list (54%), followed by design professionals such as kitchen designers (27%), interior designers (14%) and architects (11%).

Kitchen Jewelry

Jewelry for your Kitchen Design: A Guide to Selecting Cabinet Hardware


Just like picking the right jewelry completes a special outfit, kitchen hardware puts the finishing touches on a kitchen design.  A kitchen renovation involves making decisions on items such as kitchen cabinets, countertops, and flooring that are typically a significant investment and must stand the test of time.  The kitchen hardware you select complements these items by pulling together the colors and style of your room.  Hardware selections also allow you to bring out your personality in a way that enhances your design, but also can be more easily swapped as tastes change.

In the same way that selecting simple gold earrings gives an outfit a different feel than adding diamond drop earrings, our choice of kitchen hardware can greatly influence the tone and style of your design.  There are endless arrays of options available in a wide range of prices, so how do you go about selecting the right hardware styles to bring out the best in your design?  Here are some of the key things you must know about hardware when making this selection.


Typically one of the last things to be considered in a kitchen remodeling project, hardware allows you to easily open your cabinet doors and drawers.  The only exceptions to this are cabinets specially designed to open without hardware, like those using recessed channels or cutouts.

Decorative hardware fits generally into two main categories: knobs and pulls.   Knobs are attached to the door or drawer with a single screw, while pulls can be either cabinet handles or drawer pulls and usually attach with two or more screws.  Some hardware comes with a decorative back plate that lies flat against the door.


Most cabinets today do not have exposed hinges, but if your cabinets do then the hardware should match the cabinet hinge.  Other than this, there are no fixed rules to selecting cabinet hardware so let your senses be your guide and add a bit of personality to your design.  Hardware selections should complement other elements of your design, such as the cabinetry, sink and faucet, light fixtures, and appliances, but by no means do they need to exactly match the finish of these items.  You could also select something completely different like glass of crystal to bring a glamorous shine to your kitchen, or painted ceramic knobs to add a vintage look to your cabinetry.

  • A simple cabinet style will lend itself to a wider range of options for selecting hardware.
  • Traditional cabinetry usually suits a more ornate or classic style hardware, while contemporary designs typically fit better with streamlined hardware like tubular or rectangular pulls.
  • You can also mix and match different materials and styles to achieve your desired effect, particularly where you have main cabinets and island cabinetry in different finishes. The primary factor in determining your hardware choice should be how it fits your style and personality, and that it is pleasing both to look at and touch. 


With all the styles to choose from, it can be difficult to make a selection.  Your kitchen renovation professional can help you navigate the choices and usually has displays available to help you find the best option.

knobsKnobs are available in a variety of shapes including round, square, rectangular, novelty, and more.  The sizes vary though they are typically smaller and intended for opening cabinet doors or smaller drawers.  Knobs come in an array of materials and finishes, including brass, stainless steel, glass, stone, ceramic, or even unusual materials like re-purposed buttons or rope.

pullPulls come in a range of options including bar, cup, ring, and bail pulls.  Drop handle pulls give cabinets a more furniture like look and recessed pulls are built into the door facing to give a sleeker appearance.  Like knobs, pulls are available in many different materials and colors.

Your kitchen design professional is a knowledgeable expert who can guide you through this maze with an understanding of your space, the other elements of your design, and your person style.  A design professional can also help with technical considerations like the appropriate size of pulls for your drawers of exactly where on your cabinet doors and knobs should be positioned.