Product Profile: Natural Soapstone

Natural stones have been mined from the Earth for centuries to be used for decorative purposes. Each natural stone that is formed has unique qualities from every other. That is why you may find certain materials recommended for specific locations or uses. For example, marble is ideal for  pastry-making because of the temperature the material maintains among other reasons. While the common use for Soapstone may not come to mind right away, chances are you have work on a Soapstone surface before. Think back to your Chemistry class or any lab course you may have taken…remember the lab tables?

soapstone_on_islandThose dark green chalky tabletops? There is a very good chance those tops you are picturing  were Soapstone! But why? Many of the same reasons why Soapstone has been used in labs for hundreds of years are why you may want to consider it for your kitchen counters.

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The first reason you see listed we will touch on when we talk about care and maintenance for Soapstone. The second item listed is that Soapstone is a naturally non-porous material. Nothing will absorb into the material itself. This means it is completely stain-resistant! A fantastic quality in any kitchen countertop!

soapstone_on_white_cabinetsBut why is Soapstone so great in a lab? Soapstone is also an inert material. This means that it is impervious to acids, heat, and chemicals. Bottom line, not a thing in your kitchen can change the makeup of this material once it is installed in your home. While Granite and Marble are extremely durable materials to install in your kitchen, you do need to be cautious of some things that can harm them. Read more about this here on our blog. Another interesting characteristic of Soapstone is that it can absorb, store, and even radiate heat. In fact it is still used as a material in some heaters. Native Americans and Vikings used soapstone and shaped it into cooking-vessels because of these characteristics. 

soapstone_maintenanceBut didn’t we mention above that Soapstone “builds character over time”? Soapstone (also known as steatite, or soaprock) is made up mainly of the mineral talc. This is what gives Soapstone the chalky and “soapy” feel and appearance.   While Soapstone is inert and non-porous, it is a soft material. In a kitchen countertop application this means your Soapstone counters will develop surface scratches. These surface scratches and worn areas are what tell the story of your stone once it is in place. If this is not a look you are after, then discuss with your designer at Village Home Stores what materials can give you this same look but in a harder surface. How do you get your Soapstone to have that darker look with less talc? You oil it. Take a look at this image of an un-oiled Soapstone countertop:

beforeIf a more traditional Soapstone patina is what you are after you will want to oil your counters. Note below the same top with an oiled section in the center:

oiled_imageSee the natural patina that comes out of the stone when an oil is applied over the material? Applying mineral oil (NOTE: not mineral spirits) to Soapstone brings the natural beauty out of the material. The mineral oil will not absorb into the top it just enhances the surface of the material. Many times a coat of mineral oil can also conceal the appearance of surface scratches. If you still have surface imperfections on your Soapstone you can remove them by hand with a fine-grit sandpaper before oiling.

clothKeep your mineral oil and a designated cloth for oiling with your other kitchen cleaning supplies. This way you can continue to use the same cloth and not confuse it with others used for food prep. Because the oil will not absorb into the Soapstone, you may have some non-uniform oiled areas on your tops for a few days as your oiled tops “dry”. These can be wiped clean with a dry cloth. This oiling process can be done as often as you would like. Oiling your Soapstone tops is not a mandatory maintenance. It doesn’t have to be done at all, just often enough to maintain whatever patina and look you want your tops to exude. Many customers oil their tops once a month for a year and get the overall look they desire. They then may oil it once a year or never again as it builds its character.

howto_oil_soapstoneWe are so lucky to have a local source for natural stone material right here in the Quad Cities. Epic Stone LLC in Davenport, Iowa is our local source for Soapstone and other natural stone materials. Epic is the warehouse facility where the fabricators used by Village Home Stores will be picking up the material for your project. Read more about what you can expect from a visit to pic here on our blog.  If Soapstone is what you have selected for your project you can pick the specific slabs of material your project will use. Your designer at Village Home Stores can help coordinate an appointment for you to visit Epic to tag your material. Are you considering Soapstone counters for your kitchen or bath project? Make an appointment today to discuss your options with a designer at Village Home Stores. Call or click here to make an appointment. soapstone_counters_quad_cities

Trend Watch: Is Gray Here To Stay?

It should come as no surprise that gray has officially caught fire as a trendy color to include in your home interiors. All you need to do it take a look at your Pinterest feed or even the covers of the magazines at the grocery checkout. Gray has found its place in the home and the kitchen. We recently had the opportunity to attend a Design Symposium hosted by our friends over at Dura Supreme Cabinetry. We spent the good deal of the day learning about current trends as well as trends forecasted to hit the industry soon.  We can’t wait to share with you what we learned from industry leaders and we thought addressing this common question is a great place to start. Weekly, (sometimes even daily) our designers get asked by our clients “Gray?! Isn’t that a trendy color to use on such a permanent project?” The short answer is yes… but allow us to present the strong case for why you should still consider it.

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What used to be a fun accent color has now taken over the entire palette of color choices. When companies like Formica, Dura Supreme, and Cambria invest a large amount of money into research and development of new materials and selections for our customers it is your first clue that this “trend” is not dissolving anytime soon!

gray_kitchen_Village_Home_stores

So how much longer will gray remain “a thing”? About 5-8 more years. So if you have been holding off on gray, you still have time! Just like any color you shop for in an outfit or while furnishing a room in your home, do what you are comfortable with. If a gray kitchen from floor-to-ceiling is not your thing there are so many options on how to include gray into your space no matter what your comfort level.

classicWhat is the “Classic” approach to including gray in your kitchen? Consider one of the very first materials used in ornament and decoration… marble! You can’t get a more classic look than gray veining in a slab of natural marble. This continues to be a popular choice for kitchen countertops and Formica has even taken steps to improve options if you budget doesn’t allow for true marble to be installed. Take a look at the “Calacatta Marble” and “Bianca Luna” designs available from the Formica 180fx® series.  Larger patterns and a more realistic texture get you as close as possible for a fraction of the price. Take a look at this Rock Island kitchen we remodeled that includes a more classical look. The Koch “Oyster” paint is a subtle gray color in place of a painted white. The marble tile in the backsplash is another classic choice.

cautiousEven though gray is predicted to continue to popular for at least the next 5-8 years, you may want to take a more cautious approach to including it. If that is where your comfort-level is with the trend you still have a lot of options.

gray_paint3Think of the non-permanent surfaces of your space that you may want to revisit in the next 5-8 years. Paint is a great example. Keeping the more permanent materials like cabinets, flooring, and countertops neutral leaves the door open to  change out the wall color a few years later and get an entirely refreshed look. Other places can be in your kitchen accessories like barstools and linens.

oh heyBut what if you want to really go for it? How can you dive into the gray kitchen trend? You and your designer at Village Home Stores have so many options! There are now gray colors available in every surface for your kitchen and bath project.  Of course you can install an entire kitchen of gray and we can help you find the right balance and design for that. Accenting with gray can also make a huge impact. Here are a few ways you can accent your kitchen with gray:

gray_kitchen_accentsGray kitchen islands have been so popular in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas. We have installed many in remodeled spaces like this Moline kitchen but dozens and dozens into new homes as well.

weathered barnwood garayAnother great idea for a way to accent your kitchen with gray is to include gray floating shelves or even finish the back of an open cabinet with a gray panel. The barnwood shelves in this remodeled kitchen from Village Home Stores also displays another great accent item, teh hood. Take a look at our “Gray Is Here To Stay”  Pinterest board to see tons of great examples of gray accents in action.

gray_kitchen_islandGray has always been an option for kitchen materials but the past few years and predicted years to come, it is a force to be reckoned with!  We just installed this new gray weathered Cherry island in the showroom (shown above) from Dura Supreme and it was quite the conversation-starter at our Q.C.B.R. booth this year ( and don’t worry there is a full tour of this new display hitting the blog soon).

Something that really stuck with us when we attended the Design Symposium was a statement from Karen Wistrom ASID, Vice President of Marketing at Dura Supreme Cabinetry who said gray is “not just for prison walls and cloudy days” anymore. We agree and can’t wait to help you get started on your own project.

Contact us today with a click or a call and let’s get started!cabinets_Geneseo

Product Profile: Is L.V.T. For Me?

What is L.V.T. ? L.V.T. is short for “Luxury Vinyl Tile” and it has become a very sought-after material since it’s arrival into the floorcovering scene many years ago. The first L.V.T. began production in the late 70’s but it wasn’t until the last 5 years that Luxury Vinyls have began to take their place among the top choices for material in both remodel and new construction projects.

vinyl_tilesWhy is L.V.T. such a great material for your project? The first reason many of our customer love their L.V.T. are the qualities the tiles themselves. Compared to other harder surfaces, Luxury Vinyls are warmer underfoot and more comfortable to stand on for longer periods of time. Advancements in the industry in the last few years have also played a part in the rise of L.V.T.’s popularity. These tiles can have a photo realistic replication to true natural products at a fraction of the cost.

LVT_installationLuxury Vinyls can be installed to have the look and feel of ceramic, natural stones, and even hardwoods. As with all materials we sell here at Village Home Stores, we offer expert installation for your project by crews local to you and your home. Luxury Vinyls require a specific installation method and materials (see grout portion of this post) so your best result will be to hire a professionals to install. If you are wanting to install your material yourself, there will be some preparation to the space needed.

Village_flooringDiscuss your existing subfloor with your salesperson and find out what needs to be done before installing your new floors. An underlayment may be needed as well so be sure to review your material options with your salesperson.

Vinyl_tile_groutL.V.T. can be installed grouted or without grout. If a true ceramic tile look is desired, a grouted application is recommended. However, L.V.T. can be installed without any grout for a very clean look. photo-replicated wood L.V.T. flooring will look most realistic if installed without grout. The grout used for installation of Luxury Vinyls is a specially formulated acrylic that it will not scratch the tiles. The grout used for ceramic tile is cement based and should NEVER be used with luxury vinyl tiles.

LVT_informationBecause the grout used for L.V.T. installations is acrylic based, it will not absorb stains like a cement based grout will. The grout itself is stain-resistant because of the makeup of the product. Cleanup is also very easy for L.V.T. materials. Simple damp mopping is recommended.

LVT_pricesWhat is the price for this category of flooring? There are obviously many products and styles under the category of “Luxury Vinyls” but we can offer some perspective where L.V.T.s fall into the bigger picture. L.V.T. can vary in price.  Entry level pricing is comparable to entry level sheet vinyl and at the high end it is comparable to a mid-range hardwood.  With pricing everywhere in between depending on product line and brand.

Village_floor_companyWe have multiple brands of Luxury Vinyls on display and also installed in our Geneseo showroom. Call today or contact us via our website to schedule a consultation with a flooring expert at Village Home Store. Let us help you decide if L.V.T. is right for your project. flooring_Quad_cities_phone

Pantone Releases 2015 Color Of The Year: Marsala

Marsala In Your KitchenWith last year’s choice of Radiant Orchid being so bright and bold, we were glad to see the 2015 choice by Pantone was a bit more universal. Because of this color and it’s appeal to warm more tastes overall, we expect to see it make a bigger impact in the Kitchen industry. Not many of our customers were racing in to see how they could include Radiant Orchid into their material choices during their 2014 projects but we anticipate Marsala to be a bit more “appetizing” for an accent. Read more about why Marsala was selected here on the Pantone site.

pantone_color_announcementWith kitchen materials being a very permanent choice we do recommend including Marsala in subtle ways.  Keep your main surface element neutral and timeless. Wood tones pair well of course because of the warmth of the color from the natural wood and grain. In this case we selected a painted finish to allow our accents to stand out.

This painted finish is called “Moonstone” and is available from our Dura Supreme line of cabinetry. This warm gray color can be styled a number of ways and matches really any existing wood trim and furniture.  If you are considering beautiful new wood floors for your kitchen, a painted cabinet can help draw attention to that flooring.

pantone_color_of_the_year_kitchenDura Supreme offers an option to include aluminum-framed doors with decorative inserts onto some of your accent cabinets. Their “Oxide Red” insert is a pretty close match to the warm and rich shades found in Marsala. Consider adding a top-lifting cabinet into your design or even a bi-fold style with this aluminum-frame option. Marsala is the perfect shade of red to be included in a wet bar or sideboard area where you may be storing or serving wine. Many times we include glass-door cabinets above a wine rack or stemware holder and these would also become great locations for the “Oxide Red” or similar inserts to be included. Accent door inserts can be added to any prepared door. If the look of the aluminum frame is too modern for you, your cabinet door style can be used instead.

pantone_kitchenThe best way to tie any overall look together is to find an element that can include your accent color with your main finish choices all in one design. A kitchen counter top finds itself located in the center of your light-of-sight. This makes it the most likely candidate to help an entire project “come together” when selecting your materials. The “Westminster” design available from Cambria Quartz is a great example of this. This design is a subtle way to include Marsala and also allows you to go many directions with flooring, backsplash, and even cabinet selections. With black and grays included in the design, either Stainless Steel or Black kitchen appliances would work well. Or consider the new look of Maytag that offers Black appliances with Stainless hardware.

Dramatic and rich, this red-brown color is nothing new to the Kitchen & Bath industry but we can see why Pantone has selected it for the 2015 Color Of The Year. It will be interesting to see how the many design industries around the world begin to include Marsala in their products and work moving forward. If you have any questions about what you have read here or of 2015 is the year you want to take on your project reach out to us. Contact us to start the conversation or call today to make an appointment. 309 944 1344

The Electric (and Gas) Slide: Whirlpool’s New Full-Depth Ranges

Last week we blogged about our recent trip to the Whirlpool facilities in Amana, Iowa. New product launches were on site for us to get added training and first looks at some products still set to launch later this year. We are excited to announce after many years of development Whirlpool has launched their new slide-in range models!

new whirlpool slide in rangeWe actually already have the new style on display for you to see up in our new showroom space. In the picture above you see a comparison of the old slide-in style of range and the new full-depth premium front-control model. That’s right FULL-DEPTH!

whirlpool slide in range newWhat’s the difference between an old slide-in range and these new “Premium Front Control” models? It means that these new ranges can fit into any existing opening for a freestanding range, even on the end of a run of cabinets! No more “bridge” of counter top along the back edge means the back of the unit butts right up against the back wall.

whirlpool fit systemJust like the wall ovens from Whirlpool these new models come with a Fit System Guarantee to fit your existing freestanding range cutout space. There is even a labor reimbursement program in place until 3/2015 for current slide-in counter tops still installed with the back “bridge” of counter to be modified and removed.  This means current standard-depth freestanding ranges can be upgraded to a premium look without the installation hassle and replacing an existing slide-in unit with a new model is more affordable as well.

You might have notice the sticker on the front of our display model shown above that reads “skip preheating for frozen favorites” Yeah, that is our favorite new feature as part of this product launch!  This means that for 5 types of frozen foods you can skip preheating all together!

skip preheatingPreset “Frozen Bake’ settings for Lasagna, Pizza, Chicken Nuggets, Fries, and Pies allow for your oven to adjust its temperatures to bake while it preheats. This technology has been developed to save you time and get you consistent baking results. When we asked a Whirlpool rep they said items baked with these preset temperatures actually came out better (i.e. pizza crust was the perfect amount of crispy without burning the top).

The new design’s look has been upgraded as well and now includes full-width grates and current Whirlpool controls and handles. As we previously mentioned we already have one of these new models on our showroom floor. These models are available in gas or electric models in a variety of finishes. Don’t hesitate to stop by and see it in person. As always, you can call our knowledgeable and friendly appliance sales staff at 309 944 1344