kitchen cabinet design

Kitchen Cabinet Design

One of the many benefits to building a new home is that, if you choose to, you can really customize the layout and overall use of your kitchen cabinet design. After all, the kitchen is the heart of the home so why not make it fit your family and lifestyle?

We’ve separated the kitchen cabinet design ideas into 3 sections – The Layout, The Look and The Function. Read on to see some examples on popular upgrades in these 3 categories. 

Standard Cypress Kitchen

Modified Cypress Kitchen

The Layout

When building a new home with a Qualico Builder, you will always start off with a standard kitchen layout for each model. This layout is essentially the footprint of the kitchen, showing where the cabinets and appliances will be located. 

But what if you want extend the island by 2′? Or maybe you have your heart set on a cooktop range and built in oven? All of these changes and more are all possible with our Cabinetry Design team from Gem Cabinets! 

Popular Layout Changes

Cooktop Range

Adding a cooktop range to your kitchen gives you more storage space and a sleeker look. 

If doing a cooktop though you will need to also have a built in oven and microwave cabinet too!

Built in Oven & Microwave

You don’t need to have both of these built in, but you can! Most times our clients will opt for a built in microwave in either a perimeter cabinet or even in the island. If you are doing a cooktop range though, the Trinity showhome in McConachie shows you how that layout could look!

Tall Pantry Cabinet

If your floorplan doesn’t come with it’s own separate pantry, then you may want to add in a pantry cabinet to your kitchen. 

This cabinet in the Virginia Showhome in Secord has a large inside area to hide all your soup cans and more.

The Look

You don’t always need to make a big layout change to make a big impact to your kitchen. 

Often times our clients choose to do 1 or 2 small changes to their kitchen that still provide a stunning end result that you will want to show off. 

Popular Kitchen Upgrades

Wood Hood

A ‘Wood Hood’ is essentially a custom wood cover made to fit overtop of, and conceal, a hoodfan.

There are numerous styles of wood hoods available, but we love this custom slatted design done in one of our recent Pacesetter showhomes, the Cypress in Griesbach

Furniture Style Island

Re-designing your kitchen island to resemble a piece of furniture is a great option to add a focal point to the space. 

The freestanding island in the Cypress Showhome in Griesbach still offers an eating bar, as well as extra storage.  

kitchen cabinet design

Glass Cabinet Doors

Adding a few glass cabinet doors to your kitchen gives the space a bit of sophistication and elegance, and can really help to open up a smaller space. 

StreetSide Developments Abbey Showhome in Tamarack.

Open Shelves

Another great option for your cabinets is to convert the bottom half of a normal cabinet into an open shelf, as seen here in the StreetSide Developments Harley showhome in Cy Becker

This allows you to still have enclosed storage, but also a bit of display area as well.

kitchen cabinet design

Built In Wine Rack

There are so many different versions of built in wine racks that are available, but we love this one in the Calypso showhome in Jensen Lakes. It sits behind glass cabinet doors, and as plenty of space for plenty of wine 😉 

The Function

While it’s true our kitchens need to look good, they also need to function well! These types of upgrades are often hidden from plain sight, but remember it’s what’s inside that counts.. 

Check out these popular functionable upgrades that you can add to your kitchen!

Pot & Pan Drawers

Adding pot & pan drawers is a must. If you’ve ever had a home with them, you know you can’t go back. These pull out drawers are ideal for larger items such as, well pots & pans! 

The Calypso showhome in Keswick Landing.

Spice Pull Outs

Now this is something we can get behind! Spice pull outs can be added to upper or lower cabinetry, and they work great close to the range for easy reach while cooking! 

Double Garbage Pull Outs

Hate having garbage bins out in the open? Why not upgrade a base cabinet to house them! Not only can you contain your garbage to it’s own area, but you can easily separate your trash and recyclables. 

Slide Out Trays

Have you ever tried to reach for something way in the back of a cupboard, and end up knocking over half of the other items? The solution – slide out trays! Replace a base cabinet or add these to a tall pantry cabinet. They provide easily accessible drawers tucked away within the cabinet itself. 

Click here to check out all our cabinetry options that are available to client’s of designQ. As always, if you have any questions drop a comment below! 

kitchen countertop

Kitchen Countertop Comparison

The countertop is probably one of the most under appreciated things in your home. Aside from your flooring, it’s a surface that gets used quite often for a variety of things. You want your countertop to be able to hold up to the rigors of everyday life from cooking, baking to seeing all manner of spills and stains. Before selecting your countertop, read below to find out the pro’s and con’s between the 3 main types offered at designQ – Granite, Quartz & Butcher Block. 

granite countertops
Granite Countertops
quartz countertops
Quartz Countertops
butcher block counters
Butcher Block Countertops

Granite Countertops

Granite is a natural stone mined from quarries all around the world, then polished and finished to shine. Each slab brings unique characteristics, colors and movement. 

Granite Countertops have a natural beauty and aesthetic to them that will help your kitchen really stand out, and will last many years. However, as with most natural materials, there are some drawbacks to think about as well. 


  • Granite is a very hard material and is not easily scratched, marked or dented. In fact, it can often dull knife blades if used to cut items on. 
  • Granite is extremely heat resistant, although it’s not recommend to place a hot pot or pan on it for too long. While it can take the heat without being damaged or weakened you still want to use caution as it may mark the surface. 
  • Granite can be resistant to stains and won’t absorb liquids when properly sealed. Sealing your granite countertops is easy to do yourself and should be done once a year. 
  • Granite Countertops offer 5 different edge profiles to choose from, giving your countertops an even more unique look if desired!


  • Granite is a porous material. Which means if it is not sealed correctly, or not regularly re-sealed, if can start to absorb liquids producing a stain that may be impossible to remove. It’s important to re-seal your granite countertops on a yearly basis.
  • A poorly sealed countertop can also harbor bacteria in it’s pores.
  • Because Granite is a natural material the colors and movement pattern is all natural. You will not be able to accurately predict the exact pattern that will be installed in your home, and it will be similar but not an exact match to the sample seen when you picked it out. 
  • Granite can be on the more expensive side, and only comes in 1 thickness – 1 1/4″. 
Photo: Pacesetter Homes Cypress Showhome in Griesbach
Island: Terra White Granite
Perimeter: Antique Brown Granite

Quartz Countertops

Quartz Countertops are a man-made, non porous stone made up of natural ground quartz and a small percentage of polymer resins to make it very durable.

One thing to know about Quartz Countertops is the quartz part is a natural mineral, and is considered to be the most abundant material on Earth. The man made part comes in on how the countertops are manufactured. Read below for the pro’s and con’s of a quartz countertop.


  • Quartz Countertops are extremely durable and will not easily crack, scratch or chip with normal everyday use.
  • Quartz Countertops are non-porous so no liquid will be absorbed. 
  • Unlike Granite, you do not need to seal quartz countertops! They are easily maintained with just soap & water!
  • Quartz countertops are stain resistant, although not stain proof. It’s still important to clean up spills as soon as possible to avoid permanent damage.
  • Quartz Countertops will have a more uniform, clean, sleek look to them.
  • Some quartz countertops come in 2 different thicknesses! So if you want to save a bit of money, a 3/4″ thickness may be just right for you. It still has all the same pro’s to it, just costs a little less! 3/4″ thick quartz can still accommodate an undermount sink as well.


  • Even though we mentioned a more uniform look as a Pro, it can also be a con if you want your home to have a more unique look to it. Because Quartz Countertops are man-made there is not a lot of uniqueness to them, and will look similar to every other quartz countertop on the block. 
  • Seams can tend to be a bit more noticeable than Granite, because of the lack of movement and texture in the material.
  • The resin & polymer fillers in Quartz are not heat resistant. Exposing quartz countertops to hot cookware could melt the resins and cause permanent discoloration and damage. 
  • UV Light will fade the pigments in Quartz countertops, so ensure you have window coverings installed. Because of this, Quartz countertops are not recommended for outdoor use. 
Photo: Sterling Homes Thomas Showhome in Kinglet Gardens
Countertop: Winterburn 3/4″ Quartz

Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher Block Countertops are made right here in Edmonton, Alberta using North American hardwoods. These countertops are ideal for both residential and commercial applications, and they really give a beautiful and unique accent to any kitchen. 

Available in 7 different wood species, these countertops are food safe, waterproof and maintenance free. The supplier used by designQ has the following pro’s and con’s about their butcher block countertops:


  • The butcher block countertop is finished with a proprietary technology that gives you a food safe, waterproof and maintenance free countertop
  • Butcher Block countertops are very versatile! They can be used for countertops, benches, desks, mantles and so on! 
  • For every countertop sold, a tree is planted in partnership with OneTreePlanted.
  • These countertops are locally made by artisan woodworkers right here in Edmonton! 
  • Only North American hardwoods are used as they hold up to our ever changing climate far more than exotic woods can. 


  • Even though it is water resistant, wood is still a naturally porous product, no matter how well it’s finished. Try to avoid prolonged contact with water. If you see a spill, clean it up right away to avoid damage to the wood. 
  • Butcher Block countertops can tend to run on the more pricey side of things. Which is why adding a small accent to an island, or workspace is best. 
  • Butcher Block is essentially a giant cutting board, and it reacts the same when you cut on it. Over time, it will start to show cut marks if used as such. 
  • It may not be as durable as a stone, such as granite or quartz. Avoid excessive impact as the wood may compact under pressure. 
  • Be careful to keep out of direct sunlight or heat for prolonged periods of time as it will alter the appearance of the woodwork.
Photo: StreetSide Developments Fremont Showhome in Crystallina
Main Countertop: Winterburn 3/4″ Quartz
Butcher Block:
kitchen design

5 Steps to a Stunning Kitchen Design

The kitchen is the heart of the home. So it can feel like a big task to design your dream kitchen. But it doesn’t have to be! At designQ, you not only get an interior designer to help walk you through the process, but you also get a dedicated cabinetry designer from Gem Cabinets. With a power team like that helping you out, you will be confident in your kitchen design. 

Our designers have put together 5 steps to follow for a spectacular kitchen design. Read on to see how easy it is! 

kitchen cabinet design

Step 1: Appliances

Always start any kitchen design or redesign with picking your appliances. Most appliances come in a standard size, and most kitchen layouts are set up to accommodate those sizes. However, if you are wanting to do some more custom items in your kitchen, then it’ best to get them picked out so you can make changes to your cabinet layout. 

Some common custom appliance changes include:

  • Wider range or cooktop
  • Built in ovens or microwaves
  • Chimney or wood hoodfans
  • Larger fridges

So step 1 – head to the appliance store! You can get the dimensions of your chosen appliances, which you should bring with you to any kitchen design consultation. 

Step 2: Cabinets

Now that you know the size of appliances that will be in your kitchen, you can move on to the fun stuff! 

When it comes to selecting your kitchen cabinets there are many different options to consider. Our designers recommend starting with the material of cabinet you would like. Once you have that selected, then you can move onto color and door style. Below we have laid out the 4 most common materials our client’s select at designQ. Click here to learn more about each cabinetry material!





Step 3: Cabinet Hardware & Upgrades

Once you’ve determined the color and style of your cabinetry, you can easily select cabinet hardware that will coordinate with the overall look you are going for.

At designQ we offer numerous different types and finishes of hardware. Typically most clients will choose to go with a single style, such as a handle or a knob, but you can also decide to mix and match for a more custom and unique look. 

Additionally, we also offer cup pulls, leather handles as well as touchless. The choice is yours!  

Don’t forget about…

At this time, you may also want to consider any additional cabinetry options you would like to add. A few of the most popular options right now are items such as pot & pan drawers, pull out garbage cabinets and spice drawers (or even a full spice kitchen!). There are so many amazing ideas our cabinetry designers can help you with to make your kitchen really suite your families needs. 

Step 4: Countertops

Selecting the right countertop is crucial to an effective kitchen design. You really want to balance style with the overall use of the space. If you love to cook, or have kids then you may want to consider something a little bit more durable and with more movement in the pattern to hide the occasional scruffs and scratches. If you really want your kitchen to shine, and don’t use it all that much then maybe you want to go with something brighter and more simple. See below the 3 main types of countertops at designQ.



butcher block countertops

Butcher Block

Step 5: Kitchen Plumbing

One of the last things to add for your kitchen design is the plumbing. These can include items such as:

  • Kitchen Sinks
  • Kitchen Faucets
  • Pot Fillers
  • Soap Dispensers
  • Bar or Prep Faucet

Now that you have your kitchen style, colors and additions done, choosing your plumbing is easy peasy. There are of course numerous different options to pick from in all of the categories. Check out below to see the top 3 options our clients choose.

Align | Matte Black
Horizon U Double Bowl | Anthracite

Kitchen Sinks

Stainless Steel
Top Mount or Undermount

Top Mount or Undermount

Apron Front

Kitchen Faucets

Main Faucets

Bar / Prep Faucets

Pot Fillers

We hope this guide has helped you understand the overall steps to designing your dream kitchen! Be sure to check out our website to view all of the options you can pick for your kitchen, as well as some really useful FAQ’s. 

vinyl plank flooring

Vinyl Plank Flooring – The Facts

Vinyl Plank Flooring has been around for a few years now and we don’t see it leaving anytime soon. A versatile and attractive flooring option, vinyl plank is a far superior product then it’s ancestor – sheet vinyl.

So what makes vinyl plank so good? Read on to discover the differences between vinyl products, what specifications mean what, and why you should choose this product for your home. 

Types of Vinyl Floors

Before we get into the specifics on vinyl planks, it’s important that you understand the different types of vinyl flooring overall, and how they differ from each other. 

Luxury Vinyl Plank

LVP is a luxury vinyl flooring that mimics the look of real wood planks in everything from color to wood species. The plank sizes can also vary in width and length, and can in some cases be installed in different patterns giving you a real wood floor look at half the price (and problems!)

Luxury Vinyl Tile

LVT refers to luxury vinyl products that look like stone or ceramic tile. They can mimic the look, color and different size variations of ceramic tile but are typically warmer underfoot than a tile would be. 

sheet vinyl

Sheet Vinyl

When most people think about sheet vinyl flooring, they think 1970’s beige “tile” flooring. But sheet vinyl flooring has really come a long way in looks since then. Sheet Vinyl is glued directly to the subfloor, and, unlike LVP, there is typically no texture or dimension added to it. 

Vinyl Floor Materials

Vinyl Flooring is essentially made up of layers, much like the earth. If you cut a piece of vinyl in half you would see the different materials used to create it. Below we will explain what the purpose of each layer is, and the good & bad materials that are used. 

5. The Underlay

The first layer is the underlay. Most vinyl plank and tiles on the market today have some sort of underlayment attached to each plank, or tile. The type and features of underlay can differ by manufacturer, but the overall purpose of an underlay is to add comfort underfoot and noise reduction.

Some manufacturers will also add a layer of antibacterial protection to the underlay. Torlys flooring, for example, adds Microban technology as explained below:

“Microban® technology is built-in antimicrobial protection that gives products an added level of protection against the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew on household products, keeping your home cleaner and reducing odors.”

4. The Core

When you research what vinyl plank is made of, you have undoubtedly come across 2 words – WPC and SPC. Those are the 2 materials that make up the core of vinyl flooring. But what do they mean? 

WPC Core

Wood Plastic Composite is a composition of wood and plastic materials pressed together to make a solid core. It is very durable, water resistant and typically it is softer than SPC.  

WPC is less dense than SPC therefore it will retain more warmth and it is slightly more expensive than a floor with an SPC core in it.

SPC Core

Stone Plastic Composite is a composition of stone and plastic materials pressed together to make a solid core. It is very durable, water resistant and is more dense and rigid, meaning it will get colder than a WPC core would. 

It is also typically less expensive than WPC.

3. The Print

Above the core rest the luxury print, or in essence the high definition “picture” of the flooring. As mentioned above, luxury vinyl flooring can be produced in almost any color, species and style. So getting a flooring that looks like real wood is no problem. In fact, most vinyl plank floorings these days are so realistic it’s almost impossible to tell them apart from hardwood. 

2. The Wear Layer

The top, and usually the last, layer is the wear layer. It is usually a clear, urethane based coating to protect the other layers, and prevents against wear of the flooring.

The wear layer can come in varying thicknesses, typically between 6 – 22 mils thick. The thicker the wear layer, the tougher the flooring will be. Most 20 mil thicken wear layers are commercially rated, meaning they can stand up to high traffic areas, such as foyers or mud rooms. 

1. Bonus! Top Coat

Some manufacturers will add a top coat on top of the wear layer for even more added protection and durability. SHAW flooring, for example, adds their patented ArmourBead high performance finish to their Floorte Pro Series of products. ArmourBead is a quartz enhanced urethane finish for enhanced wear resistance and uncompromising durability. 

Why Choose Vinyl Flooring?

There are numerous benefits to selecting a vinyl plank or tile flooring for your home. Each manufacturer will have some different additions to their flooring, good or bad, but generally speaking a vinyl flooring product is an all around good choice. Here are the top 5 reasons we think a vinyl plank is a good option.

  1. You can install vinyl flooring in pretty much any room in your home. Because vinyl flooring is water resistant, you can have that wood look in rooms you wouldn’t be able to with an actual wood floor such as bathrooms or laundry rooms. 
  2. Don’t just think floors either. Vinyl products can be installed on a wall or ceiling for a statement feature in any room. Our designers like to add vinyl planks to fireplace boxouts and walls too. 
  3. It is durable. If you have pets and/or children, then vinyl plank is the way to go. Because of the material used to make vinyl flooring, it is significantly harder to dent or chip. And when you spill a glass of wine on it, you only have to cry over the wasted wine and not the ruined floor too. Just wipe clean, and carry on!
  4. If you do happen to wreck a piece of vinyl flooring, simply pop it out and replace it with another piece. It’s very easy to fix, and won’t cost you a fortune either. In most cases you can do it yourself!
  5. It can be installed over any surface, without requiring a sub floor. If you are re doing your basement for example, you don’t need to add anything between the concrete floor and the vinyl. Simply click the pieces together, and presto! Man cave done. 
vinyl plank flooring
vinyl plank flooring

We hope this blog has helped you learn a little bit more about vinyl plank and tile flooring. 

For even more information about vinyl plank flooring I encourage you to check out SHAW floorings YouTube channel. It has a ton of useful information and demonstrations for all flooring types. 

To search the vinyl plank products that we offer at designQ click here!


Will Your Silgranit Sink Stain or Scratch?

Silgranit sinks are extremely popular right now. They are super durable, they look great and they come in a variety of styles. 

But a question we get asked a lot from our clients is “It looks great, but does it scratch easily?” or, “The lighter color is beautiful but I’m sure it will stain, right?”.

So we decided to put it to the test! Watch the video below as a 3 day old stain comes right out, and scratches disappear like they were never there! 

Want to learn more about Silgranit? Check out our blog where we talk about the best kitchen sink materials, and the differences between Silgranit and Stainless Steel. 


Best Kitchen Sink Materials

Choosing the right kitchen sink for your new home can be a very important decision. Think about it – you will literally use it every day. From washing the dishes and hands, scrubbing your veggies clean, draining boiling hot pasta water – your kitchen sink will have a significant impact on your day to day life. 

Food prep, washing and even cutting are important tasks that can be very efficient, and even enjoyable, with the right kitchen sink. 

There are 2 materials that are more mainstream and available at designQ – Stainless Steel and Silgranit. But how do you know which material is right for you and your family? Read below as we explore the most important factors you should look at when deciding between the two.

Material & Durability

The kitchen sink is an item that gets used ALL the time in a home. So it makes sense that you would want it to be durable and long lasting.  

Stainless Steel

Made from a premium quality stainless steel that features 18 gauge steel and an 18/10 chrome-nickel combination.

Stainless Steel sinks are resistant to heat, rust and calcium deposits. 

What does a “chrome-nickel” content mean? It refers to the percentage of chrome & nickel in the sink’s stainless steel. Chrome gives Stainless Steel it’s luster & durability, while nickel provides hardness & strength. All Blanco sinks contain 18% chrome and 10% nickel, offering superior durability and corrosive resistance.

Horizon Double Bowl | White


Silgranit is a patented granite composite material made up to 80% natural granite. This finely ground granite is blended with a high-quality source of acrylic, and then blended with specially selected pigments. The pigments colour the material all the way through so your sink color will not fade. 

Silgranit is extremely strong, making it impact & scratch resistant. If you scratch a fork or knife on the surface of a Silgranit sink, the sink will actually grind down the metal of the utensil. See below for how to easily remove any scratches!

Also check out our vlog where we put it to the test!

Maintenance & Cleaning

Adding yet another item to the cleaning checklist probably isn’t your idea of fun. 

‘ain’t nobody got time for that. Am I right? So how easy is it to clean and maintain these kitchen sink materials?

Essential U 1.5 Bowl | Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

The surface is non-porous, which prevents dirt, bacteria and microorganisms from accumulation. It also has a natural resistance to common household acids, marks and stains. 

While stainless steel sinks do NOT rust, they could appear to. Rust stains are not a sign of sink deterioration, they are just simple deposits on the surface of the sink. 

Scrub the stains out with a mild cleanser or metal cleaner. Be sure to clean in the same direction as the grain lines in the finish!

Vision U 1.5 | Metallic Gray


With a non-porous, smooth stone surface, the silgranit sink will repel water and liquids making it stain resistant and easy to clean.

Blanco’s patented Hygienic+Plus surface protection formula reduces bacteria growth by an average of 98%, making it safe for contact with food.

Low maintenance, easy to clean with water, a sponge, baking soda and a bit of elbow grease!

Additional Benefits

Each material has it’s own unique set of benefits too. Not all sinks are created equal!


Stainless Steel

An additional benefit to stainless steel is that each sink has a sound deadening pad applied. The material is also heat resistant. 

All Blanco stainless steel sinks are manufactured in Germany to exacting standards of precision. 

Metra 8 S | Anthracite


An additional benefit to Silgranit sinks is that they are heat resistant! They will not burn up to 280 C / 536 F, exceeding common boiling or baking temperatures. 

All Blanco Silgranit sinks are proudly made in Canada.

Styles & Colors

While this section is not really related to the best kitchen sink material, it’s still important to know what the options are when it comes to looks, right? I mean yes it needs to be durable but it also needs to be PRETTY and FUNCTIONAL. So let’s look at the options. 

While stainless steel sinks are available in only 1 color – steel, there are multiple style options to choose from.

Adding colour to your sink space can have a surprising impact on your kitchen. Silgranit sinks come in 9 timeless colors. 

They also come in a variety of styles:

Bonus Material - Ceramic Fireclay

I wanted to tell you about another awesome material you can get for your kitchen sink.

Ceramic Fireclay. 

This type of material is only available in 1 style – an apron front, farmhouse sink. But it’s so worth mentioning because it is STUNNING. It adds an old world charm, but in a modern way. 

Hand finishing techniques and high firing temperatures used during the production result in a smooth, glossy surface. This makes it beautiful and easy to clean. 

For everyday dirt and grime you can use mild dish soap with warm water & a soft cloth. For harder to clean stains it’s recommended to use a 50/50 water & bleach solution or non-abrasive cleaner. 

Now What?

Now that you have learned about the differences between Stainless Steel and Silgranit, click here to check out the available options at designQ. 

Have questions? Excellent! Send us an email or comment below and we would be happy to answer them for you.