Nicole Balch

Get the Look: A Happy Transitional Kitchen

TREND: All-neutral kitchens in a transitional style, but with happy hits of color and whimsy.

With so many kitchens these days sporting white cabinets, wooden floors, and stainless steel appliances, we tend to turn to artwork and accessories to bring color and personality in. The kitchen above is a great example of how adding just a few whimsical elements and colorful pieces can elevate a space and make it feel lived in. If you like the look and want to introduce similar elements into your home, you can do so with the items below!

  1. Rope and Clear Cylinder Glass Pendant Light, Shades of Light
  2. Small Lacquer Tray, West Elm
  3. Andalusia Wool Dhurrie, West Elm
  4. Fish Pitcher (used as vase), GurglePot
  5. Nine-O™ Barstool in Green, Emeco
  6. Happy Bird Print, Studio Mela


– Nicole Balch, Making it Lovely

BHG Guest Blogger

Beyond the Kitchen: Living Areas to Love


The BHG Innovation Kitchen, created for the May 2014 issue, is filled with fresh ideas and cool products. Here, senior editor Kit Selzer highlights a few of our favorites.


The ideal kitchen is much more than just a place to cook; it’s where people really live day to day. That’s why we incorporated places to eat, watch TV, do homework, catch up on household paperwork, and catch up with family in our Innovation Kitchen. And, like the kitchen itself, these adjoining spaces were designed to be equal parts pretty and practical. Here’s a look at how we put the fun in functional.




The dining room connected to our Innovation Kitchen works extra hard, serving as a home office when it’s not hosting a meal. But what really makes this spot special is how it veers from conventional dining room design. Instead of a long table and matching chairs, we chose a table that expands from a cozy 6 feet to more than 8 welcoming feet. Seating is a combo of vivid blue chairs and a built-in storage bench topped with a colorful cushion and pillows. Instead of a china hutch we used a tall cabinet in a lively green (SW 6432 Garden Spot from Sherwin-Williams) and filled it with books and accessories. Even the lighting offers a fresh take: Good-bye, formal chandelier; hello, playful pendant!



The dining room hutch is a storage workhorse without feeling like an office supply store. Decorative bins, boxes, and caddies get the credit by holding pens, pencils, pads of paper, and even an iPad. Pretty accessories make getting down to business a lot more fun.



In the nearby family room, the fireplace wall gets an unexpected treatment. Painted 1-foot-high stripes could be overpowering, but because they’re neutral and limited to a small area, they pack just the right amount of punch. Notice the other twist? There’s no mantel above the electric, wall-mount fireplace. Instead, two antique wooden beams are mounted to the adjacent wall. They’re useful shelves, but they also team up with the TV to create one large decorative display.



Here’s one of my favorite features: a large message board for back-door convenience. It’s made from a piece of glass so you can write a note using a dry-erase marker and just wipe it off later. So practical! Painting the back of the glass (it’s the same green as the dining room cabinet) and framing it to look like a window—well, that’s what makes practical perfect.


Have a little fun with your next project!


See more of the BHG Innovation Kitchen we created in collaboration with designers Jen Ziemer and Andrea Dixon of Fiddlehead Design Group

BHG Guest Blogger

3 Tips for Pairing Cabinetry + Countertops




The BHG Innovation Kitchen, created for the May 2014 issue, is filled with fresh ideas and cool products. Here, senior editor Kit Selzer highlights a few of our favorites.






Salt and pepper. Vinegar and oil. Bread and butter. Compiling a list of kitchen pairings can make a fun party game, but what’s the most important combo when designing a kitchen? We say it’s cabinetry and countertops. Together, they set the overall style of the space and have the biggest impact.


Whether you’re updating your existing cabinetry with paint or creating a kitchen from scratch, as we did, a few rules of thumb will help you get a polished look.


1. Don’t be afraid to use more than one color of cabinetry. In our Innovation Kitchen project, we used four: light gray in the main part of the kitchen, dark gray in the adjoining multipurpose pantry, white for a few select pieces, and a fresh green for a tall built-in the dining area. This combination of cabinets from Decora helps define zones, creates more interest than a single hue would, and sets the basic palette. Variation in cabinet color makes a kitchen feel more personal, less like it’s straight off the showroom floor.

2. Show restraint with countertops. When you use different cabinet colors, you’ll likely be happiest using the same countertop choice throughout. We love this quartz-surfacing countertop from Cambria, which, with its gray veining, resembles marble but is more durable and easier to care for. It looks great with all of our cabinet colors and gives the entire space continuity. Bringing in a second pattern would have created a busy look.

3. Cabinetry and countertops in similar tones gives the effect of furniture. Generally, it’s best to choose countertops that coordinate with but don’t match cabinetry for greater contrast. However, you can use near-matches for effect. Take this hutch, for example. It’s made from a glass-front cabinet placed on top of two slightly deeper sets of drawers with a slab of the kitchen’s quartz-surfacing countertop placed in between. Together they look like a single unit. Another idea: Match a countertop to a low, wide cabinet to create the look of a freestanding buffet.


Now you’re ready to create your own perfect pairings.


See more of the BHG Innovation Kitchen we created in collaboration with designers Jen Ziemer and Andrea Dixon of Fiddlehead Design Group

BHG Guest Blogger

Everyday Convenience


The BHG Innovation Kitchen, created for the May 2014 issue, is filled with fresh ideas and cool products. Here, senior editor Kit Selzer highlights a few of our favorites.


Picture this: Your son’s uniform needs to be washed in time for today’s game, and you know you’ll be cutting it close. You put it in the washer, set the appropriate cycle, then jump to other tasks around the house. You can check the time left in the cycle on your smartphone, and, when it’s done, you get a message so you can immediately move the load to the dryer. When the clothes are dry, you’re alerted again. His uniform is ready, and you haven’t wasted a minute or a step. It’s enough to make you love laundry day!



Smart kitchen and laundry appliances, which feature automatic functions and computerized control, are all about making life a little easier. That’s at the heart of our Innovation Kitchen, and a set of Internet-connected appliances from Whirlpoolplay a key role. They let you check on and change cycles, adjust settings, and track energy use on your phone or tablet. Monitoring and controlling the washer, dryer, refrigerator, and dishwasher with your fingertips is easy, convenient, and just plain fun.



We took the same approach to convenience with the windows in our kitchen. This awning window from Andersen operates by remote control. What’s really cool: If it starts raining, this window will close automatically. Talk about stress-free!



We love these innovative double-hung windows: They let you know when you’ve left the sash open, or even when the window has been left unlocked. It’s a great feature for security and energy efficiency. Motorized roller shades from Hunter Douglas operate on batteries so they’re easy to add to a window. An app lets you raise all the shades in a room at once or one at a time.


And how about a kitchen faucet that not only takes care of messes, it avoids them? This automatic Kohler faucet saves you from touching it or anything else with messy hands. It’s activated by a sensor under the spout’s arc so it turns on only when you want it too, like when you hold a pot under it or wave your hands. It also has a pull-down spray head for ease in cleaning the sink.


How about a little convenience in your kitchen?


See more of the BHG Innovation Kitchen we created in collaboration with designers Jen Ziemer and Andrea Dixon of Fiddlehead Design Group

BHG Guest Blogger

4 Kitchen Trends + How to Use Them




Better Homes and Gardens teamed with designers Jen Ziemer and Andrea Dixon of Minneapolis-based Fiddlehead Design Group to create the BHG Innovation Kitchen for the May 2014 issue. Here’s a peek at the kitchen and their take on kitchen trends.





As interior designers, we are constantly asked about current trends.  While we love incorporating these ideas where we can, when it comes to kitchen design, function comes first.  At Fiddlehead, however, we think it’s always trendy to be functional!  Here are some ways you can include current kitchen trends in your space.


Trend #1:  Consistent Island Height

We chose to keep the island in the BHG kitchen a consistent 36″ standard countertop height.  Gone are the days of the multi-level island with raised bar seating for the kids.  Not only are those bar stools hard to maneuver, but the higher countertop section breaks up what could be a larger prep space, buffet top and/or homework station.  Height consistency at the island allows for a more practical and multi-functional centerpiece for what is typically the hub of the home.


Trend #2:  Open Shelving

A kitchen-ful of cabinetry can become overwhelming.  We decided to use open shelving in lieu of upper cabinets in the BHG kitchen in order to create a lighter, more decorative look.  Our clients are really embracing this trend as it can be both functional and attractive.  A bonus is that it’s also less expensive than using traditional upper cabinets.  So go ahead, buy those new dishes you’ve been eyeing!  Open shelves are also a great place to show off your personality and add some pops of color to what can be a very utilitarian space.


 Trend #3:  Cabinet Drawer Bases

Like most kitchens we are designing, we decided to incorporate base drawers instead of doors.  Not only do we love how the drawers line up with one another, but they serve a functional purpose as well.  Instead of opening a cabinet door and bending down to look inside or pulling out a roll-out shelf, you can gain access to the cabinet in one, simple motion.  You are also able to utilize more of the cabinet interior without having roll-out hardware that takes up valuable space.  There are so many wonderful, after market products, that allow you to customize the drawers to hold dinner plates, bowls, etc.


Trend #4:  Multi-Purpose Pantry Space

For the BHG kitchen we were fortunate to have enough square footage to create a large, multi-functional pantry area.  A lot is happening in this back room; laundry, folding, gardening, storage, list-making, etc.  We designed it to be directly adjacent to the kitchen and incorporated an interior window that unifies the two spaces and allows natural light to flow.  We included another popular trend, the sliding barn-door, for those times when you need to close off the mess.  Not only is this functional, but also allows you to pop a fun color!


And That’s So Fiddlehead!  Serious about Style, fanatic about Function!

Jen Jones

Organize This: The Kitchen Island!

TREND:  Going Bold in the Kitchen.

Bold kitchens are hot right now, in more ways than one!  Everything from graphic wallpaper to intricate tiles to bold center islands; it pays to get playful with kitchen design.  Not only do I crush on colorful center islands because of the instant drama they add, I also love the amount of functionality and storage they bring to the kitchen as well!


Add Open Storage:

Pairing both concealed and open storage within your center island offers up versatile solutions for organizing kitchen gadgets and cookware.  Open shelves keep everything within quick reach, while also offering area to display some of your daily favorites.  Pair beautiful baskets with table linens and utensils to allow for easy transportation to the nearby dinner table.


Maximize Concealed Storage:

A kitchen island instantly expands storage in various ways, however, a little extra creative planning will allow you to seek out clever solutions designed specifically for handling awkwardly shaped kitchen items.  Deep drawers are ideal for pots, pans and lids, pull out organizers can be retrofitted to hold trash and recycle bins and drawers can be designed to hold knife blocks and cutting boards.


Add a Nook for Books:

Keep your cookbooks away from spills and splatters by creating a decorative storage display area within your center island.  Not only will it extend the life of the books, but it will also provide beautiful visual interest in the kitchen.


Maximize the Surface Area:

The walls of your island are the perfect place to really expand the amount of storage your kitchen offers.  By adding a variety of hooks, towel bars, baskets and holders, you not only give yourself instant access to the items you use daily, you also free up valuable counter and drawer space as well!

To make the most of the counter surface, consider adding a second roll-out option which can come out to play during kitchen and baking prep yet tuck away during the high traffic times of the day.


Get Creative:

Even if your kitchen wasn’t designed with an island in mind, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find alternative solutions to add in the additional storage and surface area.  There are many wonderful off-the-shelf versions on the market, which can act as a stand-in solution.  You may also find that by simply adding casters to a piece of furniture, such as a cabinet, dresser or console table, that a DIY version just became a simple alternative using items you already have on hand or can find inexpensively at a thrift store.


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