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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.

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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.