Interview With A Cabinet Maker : Faneuil Kitchen Cabinets

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with both Emily Levitt and Andy Bargende of Faneuil Kitchen Cabinet, designer and manufacturer of fine custom cabinetry. Based in Hingham, Massachusetts, they are as well known for creating kitchens that capture the New England look as they are for their family work ethic. Read what Emily and Andy have to say regarding such hot topics as mixing finishes in the kitchen as well as white kitchen trend. And do stop by their gallery to get better acquainted with their work and to maybe steal a few ideas for your own kitchen redesign!

Deva: I love that this is a family business, as is Horton Brasses. How does that affect the way you do business?

Faneuil Kitchen Cabinet: Most people like to deal with a family business because of a sense of stability and permanence.  You know they have been around for years and will continue on in business because to them it is more than just a job- it’s the family too.  That strong commitment to building a lasting family enterprise with shared and common values provides a stability you don’t always see everywhere.  And that stability and family values threads its way through everything we do.

I see that many of your kitchens have been featured in a variety of high profile New England publications. Do you feel there is a distinctive New England kitchen style and if so, how would you define it?

There is definitely a distinctive New England kitchen style.  Painted white beaded inset cabinets with a recessed door panel is the New England mainstay.  New England style is clean, classic, and tailored.  However, it does not have to be “stuffy.”  A simple painted white cabinet can go from traditional to very contemporary depending on hardware selection, tile, countertop material, lighting fixtures, etc.

Without doubt, your design portfolio is very diverse, running from modern to traditional to transitional and your hardware choices perfectly complement the larger mise en place of the kitchen. What guidelines can you offer readers to make sure the cabinet style and the hardware coordinate?

The most important guideline is not necessarily the hardware style, but the overall look and feel of the kitchen.  Is the client looking to achieve a transitional look, or an authentic period style?  Horton Brasses is a great choice because the polished nickel bin pull can fit perfectly in a transitional kitchen, but there is a wide selection of period hardware as well.  Many of our clients live in antique homes, or simply love that look, so this is very important for us.

The islands in the kitchens you’ve designed truly take the appearance of furniture. Many include turned legs, an expected feature.  Your use of Horton Brasses Hepplewhite Pulls and Rosette Pulls really seem to accentuate that aesthetic, taking it to the next level. These style pulls are not usually seen in the kitchen and create a very distinctive look through an obviously conscious choice. What other small details differentiate your kitchens from the typical?

Every kitchen is different, just like every family and every cook uses the kitchen differently.  I think the hallmark of a Faneuil kitchen is our attention to detail which begins when we measure the space.  The details to me that are most imperceptible, but separate our kitchens from the rest, are symmetry and balance- designing the cabinetry to create frames that attract attention to the beautiful parts of a kitchen like a custom soapstone sink, and draw attention away from the less attractive or interesting aspects, such as the microwave.

Although I noticed a fair amount of nickel hardware on your white cabinets, the look of dark hardware on white painted wood really stands out amongst your kitchens. What are your favorite hardware finishes to work with?

Our favorite is antique brass, although we like Horton Brasses’ new light antique as well.  Polished nickel is very popular at the moment.

Regarding hardware finishes, do you feel all the satin and polished nickel we are seeing right now is an enduring trend or an early 21st century fad?

We really love polished nickel- it can give a kitchen a very glamorous, high-end look.  Many clients are at first drawn to satin nickel because they think it matches their stainless steel appliances.  We usually tell our clients not to worry about matching hardware to their faucet or their oven- hardware is the jewelry of the kitchen and should be selected because the client loves it!

Many of your kitchens mix hardware styles and finishes. Can you give readers some tips on how to do that successfully?

Mixing finishes can be tricky- definitely stick with one hardware finish for each cabinetry finish, i.e. stained wood vs. painted. Choosing different hardware for a furniture-style island helps distinguish the piece from the other cabinetry.  Pay attention to scale. In our showroom we used 1” Sheraton knobs on a bank of small drawers, and went up to 1 ½” knobs on the cabinet doors.

I know I keep asking about the islands you’ve created, but they really are centerpieces. Some are quite enormous. Are they constructed as one singular piece? Has there ever been trouble getting any through the homeowner’s front door?

No, we measure the doorways before we construct the islands- like I said we are very detail-oriented!

Your website shows a wonderful example of a butler’s pantry in quartersawn oak (Hingham). It is quite striking. Do you feel wood is bound to make a comeback against all the white we’ve been seeing?

Wood is very popular right now in islands, hutches and butler’s pantries, and also in wood countertops.  White is always going to be a classic, but we are also seeing a lot of light neutral paint colors such as gray and khaki.

Finally, do you feel there are any hard and fast no-no’s in kitchen design or does everything differ from situation to situation, depending on the house and the family?

The best advice is to design the kitchen for yourself, and your family.  Listen to what you want, and don’t be pressured by your neighbor, best friend, sister-in-law, etc.  The greatest stress in a kitchen project is all of the voices that become involved.  Listen to yourself, choose what you love, and it will be a successful project.

Meet the Judges! Horton Brasses Hardware Giveaway Contest

Want to know more about the contest? One winner will receive an entire kitchen full of Horton Brasses kitchen hardware. Read more to find out how to enter.

I’m very excited to introduce to you the judges for this life changing contest. We have assembled a virtual onslaught of kitchen powerhouses who have everything covered—from what looks good on the plate to what works well in a design layout.

Who better to judge a kitchen hardware contest than professionals from both the design and cooking fields. These folks know style, function and,quite literally, good taste.

But I’ll shut up now and start introducing. We’ve got a lot of people (and blogs!) for you to mingle with! And don’t forget, you and your friends and family and co-workers and whomever else you recruit on your “vote for me” team can drop a ballot in the box by commenting on our judges blog posts that mention this contest. So do check in regularly at the sites linked!

And the judges are….


Team Atticmag!

Jane Freiman

Jane Freiman is the founder and editor of, a blog dedicated to kitchen and bathroom design and home décor. She has enjoyed a multifaceted career as an interior designer, newspaper and magazine editor and cookbook author.

Jane lives in New York City and created Atticmag after directing the award-winning arts, entertainment, life style and celebrity news coverage at the New York Daily News, the nation’s fifth largest newspaper. Previously, she was New York Newsday’s restaurant critic, a commentator on Bloomberg News Radio, contributing editor and columnist at New York Magazine, and the consulting editor at Cook’s, now Cook’s Illustrated. Jane’s experience as a syndicated food columnist, cookbook author and restaurant critic began at the Chicago Tribune. Prior to that, she had worked as an art dealer in New York and Paris.

In Los Angeles, where Jane was born, she graduated from UCLA with an AB in Art History. She also holds an Interior Design Certification from Parsons School of Design and a diploma in culinary arts from Luberon College in Avignon, France. She is the author of two award-winning cookbooks and an avid collector of Swedish antique furniture, Oriental rugs and great shoes. She and her husband, the journalist and war correspondent Sydney Schanberg, will soon move from New York City to the house they renovated in New York’s Hudson Valley.

Allison Arnett 

It was Allison Arnett’s French Gray Island Kitchen that first caught

Atticmag founder and Editor Jane Freiman’s eye.  Her obvious love of

homes and design led to her position as Shopping Editor.  Allison’s

fondness for furniture and accessories began as a child in her family’s

furniture store.  Although she has no formal training, over the years

she has built on her natural creative instincts.  Allison loves to

frequent local antique shops and is always on the look out for them when

traveling.  She has spent the last five years decorating their new “old”

stone cottage – a recent Atticmag feature was her search for a pair of

French os de mouton chairs.


Food Blogger Greg Henry of Sippitysup

I may not be a design expert. But I am a food blogger and I am in the kitchen a lot. I also survived a monster of a kitchen remodel, and learned something in the process. The biggest design challenge in my remodel was doing a modern kitchen for someone who cooks as much as I do. While still making it look and feel like it belonged in an 85-year-old Italian style house in Hollywood. But I didn’t want an “old fashioned” styled kitchen either. It needed to walk the line between historically appropriate and conveniently modern. Because my kitchen and how it looks and functions is a reflection of my life and my blog.

Sippity Sup-Serious Fun Food is about fresh takes on the familiar. My recipes & wine pairings tend to be simple, modern and colorful, with roots in traditional styles. This philosophy seems to have been embraced by the online food community. I have been a speaker at The FoodBuzz Festival and CampBlogaway. I have led cooking demonstrations in Panama & Costa Rica and developed recipes for major brands. I was even featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Angeleno and Garden Design. These experiences have allowed me to see that why I cook is every bit as important as how I cook. I’m drawn to simple pairings of diverse flavors. I think we should eat healthy, but prefer classic techniques using real ingredients. Including real fats. I think a bold hand and a deft palate allow the simple beauty of food to shine. And though I am serious in my pursuit of these things, I believe food should be fun. Serious Fun.




Designer & Author James Swan



James Swan is head of New Wall Enterprises, LLC a Beverly Hills-based design and lifestyle group focused on delivering smart-design-daily to consumers across the country and around the world.  As a lifestyle leader he has been featured in House & Garden Magazine, House Beautiful and the Los Angeles Times.  He has chronicled a Trends & Shopping column for House & Garden Magazine, as well as his own design blog, The Design Quotient. Adding author (with the new book 101 Things I Hate About Your House) and speaker (NeoCon West) to his accomplishments has further broadened his influence. 


A recently launched pre-publication Facebook Business Page features 101 Things I Hate About Your House with inspired interaction from a growing following of Swan’s work.   Swan’s career took off back in Northern California at a noted San Francisco architecture firm, where he managed residential interiors. After that, Los Angeles beckoned, specifically the prestigious firm of Frank K. Pennino & Associates, where as senior designer he managed high-profile projects, and earned a reputation for refined classical design that succinctly reflected his clients’ lives.  In 1999, Swan opened his own firm in Beverly Hills.   Recently he his talents earned him VoxVodka/Out Magazine’s Designer of the Year Award. In 2009 Ballard Designs announced their first collaboration with a nationally known designer, James Swan.  His collection of home furnishings and accessories will debut in 2011.   


From 2005-2009, Swan has been a member of the Executive Board of Directors of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.  His other community commitments include PAWS/LA, which assists with the care of pets for people living with disabilities, and KidSmart, an art education foundation for inner-city youth.  In his free time, Swan may be found indulging his passion for gardening, skiing and travel.  Currently he divides his time between Beverly Hills, Boston and Pemaquid, Maine.

Kitchen Designer, Blogger & Creator of the Bornholm Kitchen—Susan Serra

Susan Serra CKD has over 20 years experience as a kitchen design professional. Her blog, The Kitchen Designer, explores new ways of thinking about kitchen design. There she shares her thoughts on the process of kitchen design, explores fresh ideas, emerging trends, and also redefines (or celebrates!) tradition.

After years at the top of her field, Susan recently released her own line of exquisite Scandinavian cabinetry—the Bornholm Kitchen. A small island off the coast of Denmark, Bornholm, its architecture and its interiors are the epitome of classic Scandinavian style. The landscape and design aesthetic are, at once: rugged, soft, clean, simple, fresh and so very green. Bornholm Kitchen is an expression of Bornholm, the island’s point of view.

Strong and sturdy construction details create the legacy and determine the longevity of a Bornholm Kitchen. Natural, high quality wood species and oil finishes add uncompromising beauty. Bornholm Kitchen is proudly American made.

Bornholm is designed to be a flexible collection of kitchen and bath furniture. It can be customized as required. The collection is seamlessly interpreted in any theme or style, transitioning between open spaces with ease.

A new design line also comes with a new blog. Follow updates and adventures and all things Bornholm at the cleanly styled Simply Bornholm.

Italian-American Food Blogger Vincent Scordo focuses on food, recipes, lifestyle/culture, products, saving money, and how-to advice and tips, all from an Italian-American perspective (click here to read through some of my top articles).

I’m a first generation Italian-American and the son of immigrant parents from Pellegrina (Bagnara Calabra), Calabria in southern Italy.  My parents taught me how to eat well, save money, manage a home, use my hands, and, yes, live like an Italian (which means living a little bit differently than everyone else)!  Papa and Mamma also taught me about perseverance, craftiness, and compassion.  Here’s my view on the Italian-American experience.

I’m not a trained chef, money manager, or regular on This Old House, rather a regular guy from New Jersey who’s been influenced by his southern Italian culture and tradition.

I’ve worked as a research assistant at an Ivy league university, a project manager at an Internet start-up, an interactive media director at an advertising agency, a usability and web marketing manager at a German car company, and as a brand manager at a consumer product testing and advocacy organization.  As a teenager and college student, I worked as a garbage man, janitor, landscaper, travel agent, HTML editor for a climate change think tank, sandwich maker, and as a maintenance man at woman’s clothing shop.  My wife tells me I make sense on occasion, but please challenge my assertions and advice with a comment and email.

Oh, Scordo means both garlic and forgetful and I have both a poor short term memory and a love for garlic (my breath is fine, by the way), so the name must be appropriate!

*Vincent also used Horton Brasses hardware in his own home kitchen remodel. And of course, he blogged about it!

Kitchen Hardware Giveaway!

Exciting news! To celebrate the launch of Horton Brasses new kitchen hardware line, we are holding a contest. The prize? One lucky winner will have their entire kitchen outfitted in their choice of Horton Brasses hardware.

Choose from the new high end cabinet jewelry: The Queslett, Bakes Pull, Beehive Knob, Round Knob, and Crescent Pull. Appliance pulls are part of the winning package! This is quite a contest. Check out the hardware in detail but I warn you, have a drool cloth in hand.

Of course, you may also choose accent pieces from any other pieces of Horton Brasses gorgeous hardware, including the popular cabinet latch, sand casted decorative Victorian bin pulls, and any other knob and pull from the Horton Brasses catalog.



The contest will run from April 11th to June 1st, 2011. All entries for consideration must be submitted by midnight, June 1st, EST.

The winner will be selected by a panel of judges based on which kitchen will best display the Horton Brasses new hardware line.

There must be a minimum of 25 entries for the giveaway.

The winner will have 30 days from time of notification to select, install, and submit pictures of hardware to Horton Brasses’s for promotional use. Before shipping, Horton Brasses will need the winner’s credit card information as a security in case winner does not submit pictures of installed hardware.

Please email entries to:



1) Submit up to 5 photos of your kitchen.  We understand that, if you are mid-remodel, the scene may be a little rough. The judges have vision, I assure you. If your cabinets have yet to be installed, you may submit floorplan elevations, pictures of door samples, etc. Feel free to include pics of unique details that will make your kitchen the perfect showplace for this exquisite hardware!

2) Along with pictures, submit a 3 line blurb about your kitchen. Creativity appreciated, haiku loved by me but given no actual preferred weight by judges.

3) Name your entry! Distinguish your kitchen from the start with a unique name. This is not required but will fun-up the contest. Otherwise, you kitchen will be known as “Firstname InitialofLastName’s Kitchen.”



Later in the week we will announce our panel of celebrity judges. We are fortunate to be working with a range of judges spanning the blogosphere. From food to style to kitchen design, we have it covered. These folks know good taste, are full of personality and bring their own perspective to the contest.

Of course, we know our readers also possess these traits so audience participation is also valued. The audience gets a vote! In the event of a tie-breaker, we will defer to the comments tally. There are 4 ways to participate. Take advantage of them all.

1) Leave a comment on the HB blog thread where the entry pictures are displayed.

2) Leave a comment on the HB Facebook page.

3) Tweet your vote! To make your tweet count, format your tweet as follows:

Casting my vote: (insert name of kitchen) #HortonBrassesGiveaway @sabjimata

4) Leave a comment on our celebrity judges’ post about the contest. More on that later. Check back regularly to the Horton Brasses blog for links to these posts!

Kitchen Buzz: The Beehive Knob

With all the white kitchens going in these days, why not differentiate yours from your neighbors’ with remarkable hardware? Even the natural grain and beauty of stained wood cabinets can benefit from the unique details brought in by your choice in cabinet hardware.

Horton Brasses newest line of high-end hardware will take the beauty of your kitchen from the macro scale to the micro, bringing attention to the smallest details. Your kitchen puts your taste on display. Let everyone see that you take good design seriously.

The beehive knob, available in 7 different finishes, compliments a variety of kitchen styles. This knob has been around for centuries, developed during a period of design decadence.

The new beehive knob will make a style statement when used throughout an entire kitchen. However, it speaks loudest when used as accent hardware on islands, hutches and glass cabinetry—any area where you want to draw visual attention. Matching knobs in a smooth finish mounted on the rest of your cabinetry subtly contrast with the reeded grooves of the beehive.

This new knob is smooth and versatile. Use it alone or as a foil to decorative hardware pieces.

Perfect for period influenced remodels, the beehive knob came to style during the ornately decorative British Regency era. Practical as well as visually palatable—the reeded grooves act as tiny treads for your fingers, providing a better grip—the style grew in popularity and is usually thought of in association with the Victorian period. Simple yet styled, the beehive knob looks great with a variety of pulls, including the new Queslett and Horton Brasses sand casted decorative Victorian pulls. And every piece of Horton Brasses kitchen hardware is available in a range of 7 different finishes. Mix and match at will!

Milk glass depression era knobs, here pictured in blue, are typically associated with the beehive design in cabinet hardware. For a less colorful version, purchase Horton Brasses’ timeless beehive knobs in brass or nickel finishes.

A resurgence of popularity for the beehive knob coincided with the production of depression-era glass. Today, the beehive knob is most commonly associated with milk glass and is widely available from specialty hardware retailers in jadeite, blue milk glass, white milk glass and a spectrum of retro colors. The availability of such reproduction hardware really gives you a lot of options for expressing your individuality and branding your kitchen as an emblem of your creativity. Confident remodelers may use the beehive throughout their kitchen, accenting featured cabinetry pieces with standout milk glass beehive knobs.

Hollywood Regency beehive lamps

The beehive style really has true staying power. From wood lathed doorknobs dating back to the Regency era to depression era kitchenware to the blinged out Hollywood Regency style, it is a recognizable form, withstanding the test of time. Incorporate it in your kitchen design and take your place in history amongst one of the most iconic designs that has not gone out of style in centuries.

Below I’ve included pictures of more beautiful vintage objects. Each one shows the enduring elegance of the beehive.

This light shade illustrates the Art Deco take on the classic beehive. Stronger lines reflect the mathematical geometry that defined the movement.

A lustreware vase brings the beehive shape to the MCM crowd.

Hexagon tile is also referred to as a beehive pattern. Looking for a theme to tie your kitchen together without going too obvious? Go beehive!

Choosing Hardware for Wide Drawers

Drawers or Doors?

Walk through any kitchen display and take note: base cabinets  with doors are out and drawers are in. Due to ergonomics, this trend surely has staying power. It is so much easier to pull out a drawer and reach in than to open a cabinet door, squat and hunt. Drawers put the contents of your storage on display and give you an aerial view.

As you can see, a rollout shelf is nothing more than a drawer behind a door.

Some people are still caught up in the late 90’s and are talking about rollouts. I see that rollouts are still available from cabinet makers but why bother? You have to open a door to get to what is ostensibly a drawer. Cut out the middle-man and just pull that drawer open! Rollouts and drawers do have one drawback in common. Both do deal in wasted space. You get a few more inches of useable room with a cabinet. So to maximize the storage and minimize waste, you are better off going with larger width drawers.

One Pull or Two?

Wider drawers usually mean two pieces of hardware, be it knobs or pulls, requiring two-handed operation for opening the drawer. Let’s face it, that’s not always practical in the kitchen. Actually, it hardly is ever practical once you get cooking and at least one hand is crumb coated in something messy.

Pulls placed as pairs adorn a wide base cabinet drawer stack. The Antique finish cabinet handles look terrific. But be warned: you should be a conscientious drawer puller and use two hands or make sure you purchase quality built cabinetry like the custom work pictured here.

Instinct has it that you end up pulling the drawer with one hand, putting the drawer at risk of going out of plumb over time. But have you tried shopping for a larger bin pull? I have and there are not a lot of options out there.

As a general rule (oh, how I use the word “rule” with a bitter taste in my mouth), cabinet hardware tends to look good when the pull is 1/3 the width of the drawer front. That’s not difficult to do if you have a 12” drawer—4” pulls are pretty standard. But what do you do when you size up to a 30” or 36” drawer?

Singular Large Pulls


Modern European style bar pulls are widely available in longer lengths, but what’s a kitchen remodeler to do if your style is less…modern European?

Well, a year ago when I was doing my own kitchen, there really was just one place to buy bin pulls in larger sizes. I settled on 8” pulls to keep the price down and because I thought it was a good size to use over a variety of drawer widths. At the time, Horton Brasses did not carry larger sized bin pulls so they custom finished these big pulls I bought elsewhere to match the rest of my hardware.

This kitchen is a favorite of mine. Get the look with Queslett bin pulls in 10” widths.

What a difference a year makes! Now Horton Brasses has 2 pulls available in larger sizes. The Quesletta gorgeous bin pull—comes as large as 10” and in seven different finishes. That’s a lot of options.

This kitchen has a modern yet neutral look. Cabinets outfitted with bistro-style single pulls, mounted vertically and horizontally, create a simple and crisp design. Get the look with 7” Bakes pulls.

And the Bakes Pull doesn’t even go below 6.” Six inches is a pretty good sized pull. Six inches, seven inches, ten inches, fifteen inches. You’ve totally got your drawers and appliance handles covered. Whether your style is modern, vintage or transitional, the Bakes has you covered.

Now, I have that other place’s bin pulls on my cabinets. And they’re a nice bin pull. But I’ve also held the Queslett and Bakes in my hands and I must say, they are some fancy pulls. Seriously. They are heavy. They could totally beat up my pulls.

I’m Pregnant With My General Contractor’s Baby….and Other Things That Can Go Wrong With Your Kitchen Remodel

A year ago this month we began planning our knock-down, tear-out kitchen remodel.  By the end of April, a dust wall was up and there was no turning back. Out with the old, in with the new. On the cusp of improving our quality of life, we soldiered on through hot plate meals and utter disorganization. And I found out, a week into it, that I was pregnant with baby number 3.

Thankfully, our General Contractor was not the father, although he was the first person to whom I broke the news.

Severe morning sickness ensued, making the screech of power tools against cinder block that much lovelier. Decisions and details I swore would matter to me to make this the most perfect kitchen were neglected. The ounter top templater laid out his dixie sticks and I sat nearby watching him until my churning stomach allowed me to stay no longer. I didn’t hover. I didn’t chime in. I didn’t question every measurement.  I planned for the overhang a half inch deeper. I wanted the sink reveal negative. Every small detailed was accounted for in my plans. Except conception. Of mice and men, people.

But I am a roll with it kind of woman. Especially since my kitchen is very near perfect for me and my baby came in December without incident–a wonderful bonus.

Nevertheless, I thought it a great idea to make a list of common problems people face during their remodel so you can plan ahead and avoid these pitfalls.

Follow these tips and get the kitchen you love.

1) General Contractor Woes  Shop around, choose wisely and check references. The start of the relationship with a GC is often hearts and flowers but may deteriorate rapidly if the homeowner makes changes mid-remodel, the job goes longer than planned or other things that cut into the GC’s profit margin come up. Check and double check the materials you are getting and remember, just because you hired a GC doesn’t mean it is going to be an easy ride. You still need to stay on top of things and make sure you get what you are paying for. Read and re-read your contract. Make sure every detail is spelled out so there are no surprises.

2) Cabinets Dis-Order  You specifically told your kitchen designer you wanted all plywood boxes, easy close drawers and no stile in the middle. What you got was MDF boxes, drawers that slam shut when you look at them and a mix of double door cabinets with and without stiles. Now you are on the phone cursing and crying, trying to get what you paid for. First, check your contract to make sure that all these details are spelled out in black and white. Avoid agreeing to terms like “standard” without researching what the cabinet line considers standard. Buying cabinets is a lot like closing on a house. The contract is long and there are a lot of boring details, but you really need to know what you are getting ahead of time. Don’t neglect the details such as what style and size crown molding you are getting. Throw the word “standard” out the window because unless you are purchasing stock cabinetry, nothing is standard. Order door samples, look at them in the natural light of your kitchen space. Be aware that some woods, like cherry and exotics, darken as they age. The more you educate yourself on the details of your materials, the less surprised you will be when the packaging comes off your cabinet boxes.

3) Tile Trouble  Most of the problems that arise with tile are related to installation. Make sure the person doing your install is comfortable working with your specific tile choice. Not all tile is created equal. There are a varieties of thicknesses that contribute to the ease or difficulty of installation. If you have a specific pattern in mind, lay it out on graph paper for your installer. Using natural or handmade tile? Specify that you want the installer to alternate boxes when choosing tiles so the lots are properly mixed. Your tile setter should begin from the center of the wall to assure symmetry at the edges. And don’t forget to seal your tile and grout as part of the installation.

4) Counter Top Crisises  The number one complaint I see people bemoan is the placement of seams. First of all, be realistic. If you have a monster sized island and pick a stone that requires multiple slabs, you are going to have a seam. So much hullabaloo about not having seams has been made and I want you to know this: having a seam or two is not a sign of kitchen design failure. A good fabricator will closely match the color of the stone with epoxy when joining the seam. Since stone slabs are cut like a loaf of bread, the movement or design of the stone can be bookended to create symmetry and continuity. That being said, if a poor seam is done with mis-matching epoxy, do know that the epoxy can be dug out and the seam re-done. This is easiest to do when the epoxy is wet so don’t be afraid to speak up.  Another big issue with stone counters is placement and cutouts. Make sure you go to the stone yard with your design and have them blue tape the template onto the slab so you can see exactly where the cuts are going. Once the cuts are made, it is impossible to change.

5) Hardware Horrors  Placement of cabinet pulls and knobs can really make a homeowner take up drinking. So much money spent on cabinets and this final detail–the jewelry of the kitchen–can really make it or break the look. Decide ahead of time if you want the hardware centered or a bit towards the top of the drawer. Have a preference for where your knobs go? Speak up before the drill bit gets spinning. Don’t assume the installer will know what you want if you don’t speak up. While errors on wood door fronts can be puttied and stained, painted cabinets will show the damage of a misplaced pull. Better to get this right the first time.

6) Fireclay Flubs and Plumbing Pitfalls  You’ve fantasized for years about your white fireclay apron front sink and now it is finally here. The custom cabinet has been carefully cut. The heavy sink hoisted into place with a few creaks and groans but both the sink and cabinet survived. All that’s left is the installation of your garbage disposal, a no-brainer for your plumber who’s been in the business for decades. Okay. Stop right there. Does your plumber have experience installing garbage disposals on fireclay sinks?  Seriously. Go ask him now. This is not a typical installation. If he over-tightens the flange your warranty is null and void an you will be staring at a web of hairline carcks every time you wash at your high end sink. If you must have a garbage disposal on your fireclay sink, make sure the plumber does not over-tighten the flange. Hover. Nag. Repeat. Don’t worry if he rolls his eyes, talks about you on his cellphone in his truck or simply tells you flat out that you are the biggest pain in the ass. There are other plumbers out there. But this sink…once installed, it’s yours. You will have to take your countertops off to get it out. Fixing this one is a big expense that you will be on your own with so make sure it goes right the first time. The flange should be tight but just tight enough.

7) Domestic Disputes  You’ve both been looking forward to this remodel for years. You are happily married, in love and now you are about to complete the dream by getting a new kitchen. You’re having a blast shopping together, discussing details. And then one of you starts to fatigue. And then the credit card bills start arriving. And you’re both hungry. And your house is a mess. Be warned: you will fight. There is hardly a marriage that can make it through a major remodel without a down and dirty spat. Just know it is the spackle speaking. Get out of the house, get yourself a decent meal and for crying out loud, talk about something other than switch plate finishes.

8) This Old House  Remodeling an old house is both fun and rewarding–a project that definitely appeals to those of us with an inherent love for old things. However, once those ancient walls get opened up, be prepared for the unexpected. Chimneys, dumbwaiters, plumbing, dead bodies–you never know what you are going to find once the horse hair plaster is broken up and hauled away. You may discover a threatening mouse infestation that prompts you to spend money on a pest control contract as well as new wiring. Appliances may need to be relocated due to structural elements that cannot be worked around without a considerable upcharge.

9) Seasons Change  Your GC told you it was a 4 week job. That was 6 weeks ago and the walls still need to be mudded. Plan for the remodel to take longer than you could possibly imagine. Don’t plan to have Thanksgiving dinner at your house if your remodel is scheduled to start end of October.  It’s a possibility that things will go smoothly and you will have a sink and stove to cook at, but it is also a possibility that your stove is on backorder and your relatives’ plane tickets are non-refundable. Our remodel began in April. My daughter’s birthday was in June. We ended up holding her birthday party in  September. Just saying.

10) Money Matters  You are a master at the spreadsheet and think you’ve got your costs under control. Great. Still, add on an extra 10 to 20% because you will go over budge. Don’t argue with me. It is a given. Have that money on hand or at least access to it through a line of credit because the work will take longer than planned, you will be eating out longer than expected and sometimes the very thing you think is going to save you money will end up costing you. For example, that sand and finish wood floor that cost dollars less than the pre-finished is going to cost you double to install.

Think of this list as a prophylactic against unplanned…events. You can avoid costly errors that will be with you for the lifetime of the kitchen or however long you are in your house.  You may move. You may remodel again once your kitchen turns 18. But what you do during construction definitely influences the outcome of the kitchen. Everyone wants a smart, beautiful kitchen. Pay attention to the above details, eat well, get plenty of rest and exercise and you will have a healthy remodel.

What’s new

Well, after several months of preparation we are finally ready to introduce our new line of hardware.  Attached is a PDF of our new brochure.  Please take a look.  If you are interested in placing a pre-order please call me (Orion) at 800-754-9127.  Our full stock will be arriving in 4-6 weeks.  Pre-orders should arrive a little quicker.

Kitchen & Bath: Should the Hardware Match?

Matching finishes or mixing finishes–this is a question that drives a lot of traffic to our blog. Ultimately, mixing or matching is a matter of personal taste. We do know, however, that when executed purposefully, mixing finishes on hardware, lighting, faucets and appliances can add interest to a simple design, create a focal point, or define work spaces. 

For homes with a strong unified design style, matching is the way to go. Be it the pared down look of a modern dwelling or the decorative flourishes of Victorian steampunk, there is a strong argument for matching. But is it ever too much? Do you feel there are certain rooms that should and shouldn’t match?

The bathroom and kitchen share similarities. Cabinets, faucets, tile, counter tops. In shops and online, kitchens and bathrooms go hand in hand. But what about in your own house? Did you repeat the same cabinets and tile in your bathroom that you used in your kitchen?

Now, some people find a product and love it so much they want to use it in as many places as they can. They buy their faucets all from one line, use the same hardware in the same finish and even request that the powder room vanity top be cut from the same slab adorning the kitchen island. And then there are people who want to keep the two rooms as separate as can be, drawing as little association between the kitchen and bathroom as possible. Because they don’t want to be reminded of what they do in the bathroom while in the kitchen. To them, there is an ick factor.

But is there a middle ground?

Both the kitchen and bath in the above pictures feature a traditional look, using a 5-piece raised panel cherry door topped with giallo ornamental granite. Sinks, faucets and counter edges differ. Are these looks too similar for your taste or not similar enough?

There are homeowners who find great solace in using a single finish throughout their house. If everything is, say, satin nickel, then it is a real no-brainer when shopping for door knobs, bookends, salad tongs, faucets, lamps, etc. Satin nickel it is. This approach streamlines the decision process but still allows for variety. The kitchen cabinets may display satin nickel bin pulls while the bathroom cabinets only use satin nickel knobs. There is unity in design, but the actual hardware shape does not repeat. As a result, no direct association is made between the bathroom and the kitchen but the elements still flow.

Another option is to use the same exact hardware but in a different finish. For example, polished nickel pulls mounted on white painted cabinets in the kitchen will take on a completely different look when the same style pull appears in an antique finish on a quarter sawn oak bathroom vanity. 

Ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference. So, what do you prefer? Do you match your finishes throughout your house or do you like to mix it up? Are your bathrooms and kitchen coordinated or did you purposefully design them to look unrelated? Leave a comment letting us know.

Hiding the Kitchen in Plain Sight

The Wall Street Journal’s Anjali Athavaley article, Kitchens Play Hide and Sleek, highlights the move away from in-your-face status appliances to a subtler, more covert aesthetic. Instead of placing that $10,000 fridge on display for all to see like a pair of Jordache jeans circa 1983, Athavaley reports, people are requesting panel-ready appliances that mask their appearance and blend into the cabinetry.

Well, I don’t know exactly how new a trend it is, but I have definitely seen an uptick in panel-ready appliances available even at  the mid-range level from retailers such as Sears. Apparently, this has been going on for years in Europe, dating back to the very un-fashionable 1970’s. While Americans were busy scaling up, clearing square footage for the biggest and most industrial looking stainless steel appliances they could get their fingerprints on, the quietly understated Europeans were discreetly camouflaging their dishwashers. Tastes evolve and now Americans are also trying to minimize the presence of big appliances. Especially today, at a time when the open floor plan dominates, people don’t necessarily want to stare at their fridge while casually dining with friends. Instead, the focus is on more furniture-like cabinetry that blends with the decor of the house. “Minimalist” and “streamlining” were the kind of words Athavaley used to describe this new aesthetic.

Chicago based designer and master of the kitchen, Mick  de Giulio states that “every great kitchen has a hook,” referring to a feature of visual interest that centers the space. There are different elements that can draw a person’s interest to a room, such as a great sink, a bold work of art or a antique piece of furniture are examples of this. Visual statements that define a space are important. But concomitantly, hiding appliances behind cabinet-like fronts is also important. This creates serenity in the living space by extending the living and dining area into the kitchen by eliminating the usual visual clues–refrigerator, dishwasher, etc. 

The Bakes Pull is a stylistically versatile hardware line, available in a range of sizes. Compatible across design genres, the Bakes Pull transcends time. A new classic is born


Whether or not this is a new trend, Horton Brasses is happy to help out by expanding our line of kitchen appliance pulls. Previously we carried just two appliance handles: AD-4000 and AD-4020, 14″ and 8-3/4″ brass handles as well as AD-4060, our 14″ Macintosh appliance handles. Available for pre-order, however, is our new line of kitchen hardware, including the 14″ Bakes Pull, perfect for appliances, as well as our large Queslett Pull. Like our original appliance pulls, the Bakes and Queslett are part of a larger series of hardware, providing a continuos suited look throughout your entire kitchen. Classic design and exception quality, the Bakes and the Queslett are certainly poised to become the new standard in luxury kitchens.

Prior to the Queslett, there was only one manufacturer of larger sized bin pulls available in America. Not anymore. The Queslett raises the stakes with superior craftsmanship, sublime details and a tactile beauty unavailable elsewhere. Use the largest pull on a paneled appliance and forget that you are even in the kitchen. Until someone asks for help washing up the pots.

Interested in the Bakes or Queslett lines? Give Orion a call to pre-order for your new kitchen.

Hoosier Cabinets & Baker’s Tables

Whether you are remodeling an early 20th century home or just aspire for the warm look of an unfitted kitchen, incorporating antique pieces such as Hoosier cabinets and baker’s tables into your design will help move you closer to your design goals. Antique pieces often need a bit of TLC, but after much sand paper and paint, your find will look not only functional but beautiful.

Hoosier cabinets were multi-functional work stations and the doors, countertops, bins and accessories reflected their utility. Most likely you will need to replace the butterfly hinges, cabinet latches and simple knobs and pulls on a flea market find. After spending ample time refinishing your Hoosier cabinet, don’t forget that the smallest details often make the biggest impact. Horton Brasses has period appropriate hardware, in a variety of finishes, to complete your project.

Like Hoosier cabinets, bakers tables were common in early American kitchens and some also featured rounded flour bin drawers and open shelving. Often topped with a zinc work surface, an antique baker’s table is a beautiful find. Some people replace the counter material with stone or butcher block while others embrace the patinated living finish of the zinc. 

Antique baker’s tables have their place in modern kitchens by adding a breath of timelessness. Position them against a wall to replace a cabinet run or in the middle of the kitchen in place of an island. This offers flexibility unique to the baker’s table because it can be moved, if need be.

Unable to find one of these unique pieces in good condition? You can still create a kitchen that is reminiscent of these iconic pieces through traditional cabinetry. If you are using custom cabinets, reclaimed wood will give your new cabinet instant history. Even remodelers working with semi-custom or stock cabinetry can evoke the mood of early Americana farmhouse kitchens with smart choices. By choosing the right hardware, hutches and freestanding islands can be fashioned out if stock cabinets and simple table frames.

Horton Brasses expanding line of hardware enables you to finish your project with beautiful embellishments that are absolute classics. And the fact that Horton Brasses kitchen hardware is available in all 7 finishes allows you to mix hardware without headache.




Certain top sellers remain, but a project like this is a great time to consider our new Bakes pulls and Queslett bin pulls. Both are solid brass, available in a variety of sizes and finishes, reflecting the topmost quality and craftsmanship found in today’s hardware.

Recently we spoke with Robert Bakes, the designer of the Bakes pull. The Queslett is also of British pedigree and fulfills the need for  multi-sized bin pulls in one continuous design series.