Design 101

Prescott Update :: Solid as a ROCK

Of all the decisions we’ve made while building this house I’m going to have to say that the countertops ranks as the most difficult. I’m such a fan of a classic looking kitchen and I love the simplicity of a space that feels warm and welcoming and inviting. Stone is the opposite of all of those words.

When selecting your surface material there are a few things to keep in mind…


Granite is the hardest and most durable material on the market. My only issue with granite is that everyone has it {and you know how much I “love” that}. I could spend 5 posts talking about all the different types of granite and what I love {or don’t care for} about each. Instead I’m going with the cliff notes on this one…A granite slab will always have a black or dark fleck in it. Some will have more than others but this is the easiest way to identify what you’re looking at. Here is the granite we picked. It’s called “Colonial Ivory”. There is a minimal amount of that dark flecking I’m talking about….and these flecks have more of a burgundy tone to them which I love. The taupe and the blue tones sold me.



Marble is a softer and more porous option to granite. It will be lighter in color and will not have the black fleck I’m referencing above. It’s gorgeous. Every high end, amazing kitchen you see probably has a marble counter top. The maintenance here is much more significant and you are certainly at risk of staining and etching if you go this route.

To start…I didn’t care…I wanted white counters. I even went so far as to tag actual slabs of Carrera Marble and I had convinced myself that I didn’t care that they would ware. When I asked my stone rep if he thought I was nuts and he said, “One party. One guest. One glass of red wine. One drip down the edge of one wine glass and you’ll have one red wine ring stain in your counter.” What? Really? Noooooo! He barely even knows us! {…and has never been to a bevy so clearly has no idea.} Can you imagine? Our house? 90% of the people reading this have been to our house and had a glass of red wine. Yowza! No marble for the Albianis. Let’s just take a moment to imagine how beautiful it would have been shall we…



Quartzite has the look of marble but the durability of granite and has become wildly popular recently. The problem is that you can’t get it! If you see it, grab it! I’ve been hunting for a quartzite slab for the past 5 months and could never find one that fit the bill. Bummer.

Soap Stone

Soapstone is even softer than marble and {in my opinion} even more beautiful. This is an old school, classic look that is just lovely. There is a softness to soapstone that just takes you back in time. I love it. The tricky thing about soapstone is that it scratches. You see the ware and tare pretty quickly. Some people love this {ME!} but others can’t stand it. Certainly personal preference.

Manufactured “Stone”

Silestone is a man made material that is made up of natural pieces. It’s 95% natural quartz which is crushed and mixed with other materials. Since the quartz is crushed it tends to have a speckled appearance to it. It’s extremely hard and durable and certainly rivals granite as the easiest material to maintain.

Corian is a brand name for a solid surface material made of acrylic and other manufactured materials. It is one of the only “solid surface” materials that can be molded into shapes. You’ve probably seen molded sinks made of this material.

Concrete countertops are also starting to surface {surface…ha!}. This countertop option is literally concrete that is formed to the size and shape you desire. It can be used in kitchens and bathrooms and the material can be finished with a smooth or textured surface. I’ve seen concrete counters in every color in the rainbow and I’ve even seen objects set into them. Amazing stuff. Here is a shot from a visit to The Slab Lab that I took with a client awhile back…you can tell by the boarder on this Instagram shot circa 2012 =)


So we purchased our stone through a stone warehouse called CBS Exotic Stones in Winchester. There are a number of warehouses in this area. Others I like are Marble & Granite and Stone Decor Galleria. Each supplier may have the same materials but they will all have different slabs so you can shop around for your favorite.

Once the stone has been selected then your fabricator takes over. We worked withCounter Edge for our installation. The first step will be for them to come to your house to template for the stone once your cabinets have been installed. The template looks something like this…


Then they place the templates on your actual slab. You can move them around to capture the parts of the stone you love the most. I typically suggest clients start with the island so they can really showcase the beauty of the stone. It’s easy to bury sections you’re not as much in love with in the corners.



Counter Edge will then supply you with a digital rendering of your template. {Which is awesome!} This guarantees that everything will be perfect when it is installed and nothing gets lost in translation.


Then they cut the stone off site {including the hole for the sink} and bring everything ready to be installed. We always try to minimize seams {where two pieces of stone come together}. We were lucy enough to only need one seam in our layout. The stone is installed with this machine to be sure it is as tight as possible.

We also had the master bath installed this weekend…which I’m also in love with…


The Kids’ Bath and Powder Room will be installed this week and then the plumbing can be hooked up and the appliances installed and the spaces will be well on their way to being  finished!

We’re in the home stretch for sure!

Prescott Update :: The Heart of the Home

The kitchen is considered the “Heart of the Home” for many reasons. It’s not only the place where a family eats together but it’s where everyone gathers when you have a house full of people…no matter what size house you live in. When we start working with a new family at KMID we always start with the kitchen. Where is it located, what is the style and how does it FEEL when you’re standing in it. To me you can tell a lot about a house {and a family} by how the kitchen “feels”.

As soon as Mike & I knew the footprint of the kitchen it was time to get to work on the design. Cabinets always have a long lead time so the sooner you can get them ordered in your project the better. The plan will be tweaked and changed a million times before you’re finished so it takes some time to get everything exactly the way you want it. You know the expression, “hurry up and wait”…ya…that’s how a kitchen cabinet order will feel.

We chose Craig Brisbois from CJB Group Kitchens to help us with our cabinetry. We had the space, the function, the vibe and budget to contend with and that’s quite a combination. Craig helped us tweak the design until it was perfect for what we needed for OUR family in OUR home.

I’ve designed countless kitchens and every single one of them is unique. Every cabinet line has their own offerings so my first piece of advise is to work with a kitchen shop that will share their experiences and be willing to share some ideas with you as well. Here are a few key design details that were NOT obvious from the start but I’m thrilled we incorporated…


I don’t typically get involved with appliance selection for my clients so this was actually a new category for me. A few tips to share here.

Refrigerators :: It’s obvious that these can be purchased in a number of different sizes and a number of different dimensions. What is NOT obvious {to me anyway} was the decision about what depth to purchase. You can either purchase a “standard depth” refrigerator {which averages around 30″-35″ deep} or you can select a “counter depth” refrigerator {which averages 25″ around deep}. The trade off is that the counter depth doesn’t stick too far beyond your cabinetry, while the standard depth gives you much more storage.

Our solution here was to take space from the hallway behind {I was planning for a pantry cabinet} and sink the fridge back into the wall. this was the best of both worlds. I ended up with a standard refrigerator that doesn’t come too close to my island. Success!

Stoves :: Your first choice here is for gas or electric. It’s personal preference in my opinion but I’m just use to cooking on a gas stove so that’s what we went with. Stoves can also be purchased as “integrated” or “free standing”. The integrated is gorgeous and certainly my first choice. Unfortunately the budget prevailed here because you can buy a drop in stove for about half the price. Here is a visual for you…


Integrated Stove Image by KMID  || Free Standing Stove Image by Sears

Stove Hood :: The other tip Craig offered was to put a wider stove hood above our stove.  We have a 30″ stove and a 36″ stove hood. This widens the wall just enough to help you feel like you have a little breathing room while working at your stove. You can also put your microwave above the stove but I opted to keep that tucked around the corner since the stove is so centrally located in my kitchen.

Little Extras :: I added sponge storage to the drawer under my sink. My parents had this growing up and it’s an easy way to keep those sponges tucked out of sight. Love it.


Sponge Storage Image

Lastly, {and this idea goes to my Mom for sure} is a pair of roll out drawers above the refrigerator. This cabinet is always wasted space so this solution was a must for us. My parents have stored cereal in one and booze in the other. {I get such a kick out of that.} We intend to do the same!! Ha!


Progress Report




1st Cabinets are installed. Check!

2nd Stone template is done {they will need the stove, sink and faucet on site for this}. Check!

3rd Stone is installed. Next Week!

4th Appliances are installed. Also Next Week!

5th Back-splash is installed last. Looking at the week of 9/26 for this! Just around the corner!

The painting has started on the third floor so I’ll have to share our paint color selects with you next. September is here so the pressure is on. Time to book the movers! Yikes!

Prescott Update :: Splish Splash

We’ll have three and a half baths at Prescott when we’re all said and done. The layouts of each bath were decided early on {during framing} and the plumbing fixtures also had to be one of the first things to be selected.

A small note about that…The trim you see in your shower is tied to what’s called “rough plumbing”. The brand of the trim has to match the brand of the rough. Therefore you have to decide on a brand pretty early in the process. You can decide on the trim and finish a little later but this is why contractors will ask about your plumbing fixtures earlier than you think they need the info. Anyway…back to the post…

Here is a look back at two of our baths and where we are today.

Kids Bath

The “before” layout on the left and the new layout on the right…


The progress in this space to date…


Generally speaking, when designing bathrooms I do like to keep the permanent elements extremely simple and timeless. It’s a lot easier to swap out a paint color, shower curtain and artwork than it is to swap out your tile. That being said, why not have a little fun with the decorative stuff!

Below is my concept image for this bath {far left} and a few of the finishes we’re planning to give this bath a fun and quickly spirit. There will be touches of modern elements throughout the house but these sconces take the cake.

We’re going with 4″x4″ white field tiles here and a grey grout color to give it a vintage twist. I’ll also be mixing finishes and going with chrome plumbing, antique brass door hardware and brass sconces with black shades. I love how eclectic this room is shaping up to be!


Concept Image {Sara Gilbane} || Shower Curtain {Serena & Lily} || Artwork {Matt Albiani}

Master Bath

Here we took the two rooms in the back of the house and reconfigured them to create a master suite. Here are the before and after floor plans…


The progress on this space to date…


For each of our bathrooms we went with white wall tile in the showers but still wanted them each to have their own flavor. In the master I wanted it to have some charming qualities to match the spirit of the house. Here we stuck with the existing wood floor {which I’m in LOVE with} and went for a clean black and white theme on the tile. These subways have a raised profile to them and they are a little oversized at 4″x8″ which I also love. Add the traditional wood vanity and Carrara Marble details and it’s turning out exactly as I imagined it in my head.

I’ve had this inspiration image tagged on Pinterest for a very very long time. When I came across it while designing this bathroom I knew it was exactly the look and feel we were going for…

 Concept Image || Vanity || Sconces

So we’re cooking right along {hint hint to my next post}. Which means the packing has also begun on High Street. Crazy! In only a few short weeks we’ll be MOVING!!!

Prescott Update :: We have walls!

The building process is long. There are more decisions than you can prepare for and it just seems to be endless when you’re in the thick of it. Then a crew comes along and gives you some walls and you’re instantly rejuvenated. Hallelujah!!

Our insulation, board and plaster crews seemed to work like a well oiled machine. It’s amazing to think of where these rooms started and how AWESOME things are starting to look. Here’s a look back at the progress in a few spots…


kmid prescott walls kitchen

Living Room into Dining Room

kmid prescott walls 1st floor

{Those boxes have our Kitchen cabinets in them. OH YA!}

Second Floor Hall

kmid prescott walls 2nd floor

3rd Floor

{Look at little E in her bucket…smooch!}

kmid prescott walls 3rd floorThe bathroom tile is next. I’m keeping things simple, old school and timeless.

Stay tuned!

love kate

Prescott Update :: Exterior Update

Things are starting to get pretty real over at Prescott. As soon as the windows started going in and the calendar turned to August I’m feeling like this little dream project is actually becoming reality.

While Mike has been working on the “guts” of the house for the past few months I guess you could say I’ve been working to design the “skin”. Although we both have certain aspects that we’re scoped into there is one decision that we both knew immediately…the windows. Before we even owned the house Mike mentioned how cool black windows would look and I looked at him in awe because I had the same vision. In that moment I knew this house would be a perfect blend of his traditional style and my {what should we call it?} quirk. I cannot wait to reveal all the finishes as they are installed in the coming weeks! The windows are going in and we couldn’t be more excited! These four windows run across the back of the house and will flood our kitchen with beautiful sunshine!

kmid prescott exterior black windows

The bottom picture is the view from inside. Our sink will be along this run as well so we can look out to our {huge} deck and beautiful yard. Eeeek!

I honestly thought I had a little more time to decide on the exterior color of our house but when Dan asked us for a decking color I realized we had to decide on house color first. The back deck and front porch have to be completely rebuilt and before we knew it they were gone and the rebuilding had begun…

kmid prescott exterior

We decided on this grey Trex Decking. It’s a composite material so it will be easy to maintain and their grey colorway seemed to be the most neutral tone to us.

Plus there is no risk of splinters which is a plus for this little nugget and all her little friends…

kmid on the deck

Now onto the toughest decision of them all the HOUSE COLOR! Yikes! We’ve been texting photos back and forth to each other for weeks. Here are a few of our favorites…

kmid black windows

In the end we’re looking for a green/grey/warm tone but we’re still working on getting it just right. So far everything we’ve tried has been too light and the color just gets lost.

Today I’ll be painting three more DARKER colors up to get us a little closer: “Tate Olive” {More green for Mike}, “Crownsville Gray” {A warmer tone for me} and “Devonshire Green” {Somewhere in between}.

kmid paint color options

{I have to laugh at how similar they look here!}

Check out the results on Instagram later today and weigh in with your vote!!

love kate