Get a “Load” of This: Top Load Laundry Tips

With all of the industry changes that have been made in the category of top-load washing machines it can be hard to know what is the right model for you and your loads. While a front-load washer can be an excellent choice for cleaning if you have heavily-soiled items, don’t count top-load washers out! Many of our farming and machining customers still select from our HE top-loading models for their toughest loads. These models can still get you great results and save you energy as well. You may have a longer wash time but these models will use less water and spend less time and energy in your dryer. As this article from Consumer Reports states, high-efficiency top-load washers can and be an ideal choice if your laundry is near bedrooms or a family room as they cause less vibration and noise. 

The Whirlpool®, Maytag®, and Amana® top-load laundry options you find at Village Home Stores try to make things simpler on you the customer every time they launch a new model. It can always be difficult to adjust to a new machine and all of it’s functions but after your few few loads you will begin to get more comfortable and start to see the wash results right for your own lifestyle. To get the best results from your high-efficiency washer we recommend you are sure to select the right temperature for your wash, use the correct detergent (and recommended amount of that detergent), and select the best cycle for your load.

wash_timeThere are really just two simple questions you need to answer when selecting your wash cycles on a top-loading machine. What you are washing and how you want your garments to be treated during the wash cycle. Many of our top-load washer models now offer an estimated time display for you to see how your selections effect your wash time. Some of the newest models of top-load washing machines even have an added feature that can remember your recent settings from previous loads to make it even easier on you. 

Image Courtesy of Whirlpool®
Image Courtesy of Whirlpool®

If you haven’t shopped for a washing machine recently you may be surprised when you open the lid and find no agitator in the center. This is due to the water usage regulations and HE standards now put into place as these machines are manufactured. When you stop in to shop for a new washer and dryer from Village Home Stores our staff can show to you and explain how these new HE washer operate and wash your garments. How these machines now wash compared to the “older” methods is a large subject in itself and our staff has been heavily trained on all of these changes. This same staff is just a phonecall away when you are learning how to use your new HE washer from Village Home Stores.

whatThis is where you can select from options like “delicates”, “whites”, and even “bulky” or “sheets” settings on some models. Maytag® offers their award-winning PowerWash® system with the best cleaning in its class to remove everyday tough stains in a single wash using PowerSpray, optimal dispensers and the PowerWash® cycle. This PowerWash® cycle is ideal for farmers and work clothes that may get soiled with oil or grease. 

howThis is where you will select your soil levels, temperature, rinse, spin speeds, and any pre-treatment options for your load. Lower water usage is one of the main goals of these newer models. Because these machines use an impeller to move your garments in the wash basin and not an agitator, a full basin of water doesn’t allow the movement needed for the best wash. Millions of dollars have been invested by Whirlpool®, Maytag®, and Amana® to perfect this new system of washing. Trust us when we say that the testing behind the best fabric care and best cleaning for you has been invested into these washers.

full_laundryThere may be times that you may feel you want more water to be used during your wash cycles and there are ways to achieve this. Adding an extra rinse can of course help achieve this added water but selecting features like a “Deep Water” wash can also be a great choice. When this option is selected, it still uses the load sensing technology built into the machine so the water levels will vary based on what you loaded into the machine. If you want a full tub of water, you can select the “Bulky” Items cycle which will give you more gallons of water in the wash followed by more gallons in the rinse.

presoakSelecting the “Presoak” option is also a great choice when you have a heavily soiled garment. This Presoak option that lets you skip soaking outside of the washer. It works by adding extra time for it in the washer before the wash cycle starts. This is a feature available on even some of the entry-level models of high-efficiency washers. Other options like the ColorLast™ option from Whirlpool® can help you combine your wash selections with the right temperatures to keep your garments looking fresh and not faded.

With so many options from all of our brands there is a model just right for you and our expert staff can help you find it. Shop all of our top-load washer selection by stopping in to talk to a member of our expert sales staff about what machine is best for your lifestyle. Laundry_Geneseo

Trend Watch: Black Is The New Black

We’re back again with another in our “Trend Watch” series of blog posts. We have spent so much of the last few weeks showing you why Gray is Here to Stay and how to use it in your own projects. While black may seem like a common color to accent your home with, it is about to begin to make some big waves in the Kitchen and Bath industry within the next 1-3 years. This means it is time for us to start getting comfortable with this more bold architectural accent color.  When we attended the Design Symposium hosted by our friends at Dura Supreme they informed us that using black as an accent color has begun popping up in the European markets and in high-end restaurant interiors. These are two key signs that it is an “emerging” trend and should begin to grow in interest very soon in our own industry.

black_flooringAt Village Home Stores we have a variety of products that each include options in a black finish. While a solid black carpet may not be a highly sought-after item, a combination of colors like this “Black and Tan” Mountain Range carpeting by DreamWeaver (above, left) is so popular we have began to stock it! Hardwoods and Luxury Vinyls are also embracing the Black trend and introducing options like the “Oak Black Pearl” finished flooring you see above on the right. No matter what your comfort level is with embracing a “trend” in your own space, we can help you decide what is perfect for your home.

black_and_white_check_floorAccenting your home interiors with black is not a new concept by any means. The look has been around and successfully executed for ages. Black and white as a pair are the perfect example of a “classic” style in a kitchen or bathroom. The contrast of a light finished or painted cabinet against a dark slab of stone is always a rich look. Accenting your space with black is all about contrast! Picture a cafe table in Paris, a claw-foot tub in a bed and breakfast, or two people seated on chrome stools sharing a milkshake….what are all those things sitting on? Chances are you pictures a black and white octagonal or checkered floor.

A Classic, Revived:

black_diamond_whirlpoolThe appliance industry has seen an added interest in black finishes within the past few years. Just last week we installed out newest front-load laundry set (pictured above) in Whirlpool’s new “Black Diamond” finish. In the kitchen not every customer is interested in the look of Stainless Steel or white. Black kitchen appliances have risen in popularity and gained a very dramatic look. Take a look at the 3 wall ovens shown below all including the same concept:

Wall_Oven_Quad_CitiesWhirlpool launched their “Black Ice” series (above, left) just a few years ago and has continued to add models to it. The newest launch of Maytag products (above, center) has included that same concept: a black finish with Stainless hardware and accents. Our newest product to the Village Appliance department, Viking (above, right) has a number of options in black and combination black finishes. KitchenAid has just announced their new “Black Stainless” finish as well. Shop all of our appliances over on our website or call today for an appointment to see these great options in person!

black_barstoolsA more cautious approach to including Black in your design is to add Black in areas that are less permanent. Like the barstools above, cabinet hardware, painted shelves or lighting are far less permanent of a commitment. For a short-term approach, try this “last layer or accent” look instead of an entire kitchen of Black cabinetry. We always recommend when you are assembling a design concept with a designer at Village Home Stores to think of your accent color as the “accessories” layer of an outfit.  What are the decorative elements that get added to surround the space? Lighting and hardware are two great examples of a more cautious location to add an accent in a Black finish. Lighting can be such a great element to a successful design. Take a look at these examples of a few lights available right now from our lighting department that each include another current trend, the “drum” shade:

black_drum_shadeQuite a range in styles represented but all include the same concept! Our lighting specialists can work with you to help you select the perfect light for your project. Another thing to note here is that Black marries really well with all kinds of metal finishes! Chrome and Stainless look amazing with it and another rising trend of Gold and Brass look incredible as well when paired with Black.

Be Bold With Black:

But if you want to get bold with Black as an accent Village Home Stores is on board to help you with that! It is no surprise that the look achieved with a black accent is dramatic. Our expert staff can help you create an entire design concept with a dramatic result. We have started a “Black Is The New Black” pin board over on our Pinterest page to help get you inspired along with us.

black_pinterest_kitchenLike we mentioned, Black as an accent has been a forecast trend expected to hit BIG in 1-3 years. Think of it as where the gray trend is evolving to include. But don’t count Gray out of the picture! We told you loud and clear it is here to stay. Do take note that Black, White, and Gray color palettes are an amazing direction to go! This combination works so well in kitchens and baths because of the blend of many materials included. A kitchen backsplash is another area that can be perfect surface to include Black as an accent color. Take a look at this series from our Jeffrey Court line:

black_tileEach of those tiles could be placed in a number of kitchen design concepts. Pair them with Stainless, Chrome, Dark Granite or an all white look. It all works.  No matter what your personal style or desired impact, there is a way to embrace this trend for your project with Village Home Stores. Call or click today to set up an appointment to get started. carpeting_quad_cities

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.

soapstone_benefits

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.

gray_backsplash

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