"The Kitchen Experts" 

Open Floor Plans • Structural Engineering • Innovative Design

Kitchen Essentials


Dear Perry Michael,

We have an older Farm Ranch and would like to do a wood floor in our kitchen but we are concerned about it looking poorly in a few years, tile or wood?

Ann R. Syosset, NY


Dear Ann,

One of the things that really help us decide on that question is “How much traffic is in your home?” Sometimes a wood floor can give a really good continuity between rooms and a nice warm feel to the kitchen but when there are younger kids or your home is “the place to hang,” I usually recommend something more durable like tile. There is a lot of great wood-looking tiles today and if the installer does a “random” pattern you can really get the best of both worlds. If you decide to go with an unfinished wood floor I always recommend a few things:

1. Pre-finishing under the cabinets.

2. Adding drainage holes behind the dishwasher and any water source (icemaker, sink, etc.)

3. Adding inexpensive leak detection sensors ($15 at Home Depot).

4. You can always use a handscrapped floor to hide future scuffs.


Dear Perry Michael,

We are planning to change our appliances and we have been looking at some high-end brands like Viking and Sub-Zero. Why are we always hearing about so many service issues with the expensive brands?

Marilyn S. Huntington, NY


Dear Marilyn,

I think the first thing to remember is all mechanical items will require service calls, hence warranties. From my experience, all levels of appliances have their issues. I think that when people spend three or four times on a high-end appliance, they might voice their complaints that much more when something goes wrong. What high-end appliances do offer besides the nametag are better quality components, more features, nicer designs and superior integration. I always assimilate it to shopping for a car – make sure you fit the car with the driver, because it might cost as much, lol!

Outdoor Living


Dear Perry Michael,

We are planning to install an outdoor kitchen and would like to know the best natural looking material for the countertop area? It will be exposed to the elements and we would like to use larger pieces with little or no seams.

Margie S, Flower Hill, NY


Dear Margie,

This is actually a great question. First, if in direct sun, this top can become very hot so if that is the case, then look for a lighter color. Alternatively, under trees will have a tendency to always have dirt and falling leaves that can stain so darker would be better. As far as conventional outdoor stones are concerned (e.g. Bluestone, Crab Orchard, Limestone, etc) they are great looking, but very porous and will stain especially with grease from grilling. Marble can be used, especially if you want a special patina feel because they will dull out quickly. If honed, it will need sealing often. Granite is probably the best natural stone choice, but some of the lighter choices will be more porous and need to be sealed often. Granite will also lose some of its shine over time. Quartz countertop materials, (e.g. Silestone, Cambria, Ceaserstone, etc.) unless UV protected, cannot be used outdoors. There is a newer man-made product which is my favorite choice today for an outdoor kitchen; Denton. It is a completely impervious material, super hard, will not stain and is very durable. Currently it only comes in 2cm thick and about a dozen colors. All in all, try to pick a material that suits your style and surroundings and has a pattern or swirl that might show less dirt because even the morning dew will add dirt marks.

This And That


Dear Perry Michael,

We would like to install a range in front of the window in our kitchen and wanted to know if this is a bad idea.

Frank G, Smithtown, NY


Dear Frank,

In one word, YES. I don’t believe there would be any code restricting except for the flammability of the trim or frame, but codes vary from town to town. The other issues that could be of concern would be: Does the window open? If it does, the air movement could cause safety issues with carbon monoxide, blowing out a flame or even causing a fire flare up if it becomes windy. There will be condensation and grease build up on the glass when cooking. And if placed too close, a very hot pot next to cold glass can cause the glass to crack. If you decide to do this, I would check with your local jurisdiction on codes and a hydrophobic glass coating would be great to apply to window glass to help keep clean (e.g.. Diamon Fusion).


Dear Perry Michael,

We are planning to add a pool house to our property and not sure how big we should make it.

Susan B, Dix Hills, NY


Dear Susan,

First you will need to check with your local building department as to your zoning for size, height and setback (distance from property lines) restrictions and, if you’re planning to have a bathroom and/or kitchen, what septic requirements you will have. That aside, I would then look at how you will be using the space. Do you want enough space to have an eating area or maybe couches and television? I usually like to make a space like this “convertible;” the shape and size are practical for different uses so it can be altered as life changes. I also like to have a large opening leading out to the pool that, when left open, it feels like an open-air resort. And finally, I would always recommend a little larger than your original thoughts because the most common regret is, “The space could have been bigger.” I know I didn’t give you an actual size, but I hope these ideas help.


Dear Perry Michael,

We are planning a new master bathroom and we are unsure about what tile we should use. We love the look of marble but were told it is hard to maintain. What are your thoughts?

Alyssa R, Port Washington, NY


Dear Alyssa,
I think a marble look, whether Crema Marfil, Carrera or others, is a great timeless look. The real question here is not how it is maintained, but are you – and whoever else will be using this room – able to be a bit more careful. Marble scratches easily and can stain if abused (something with heavy dyes not cleaned up immediately). It also can stay beautiful for a long time, is not as fragile as it’s made out to be and can be repolished easily. Today there are some really great marble-look porcelain tiles that, when installed, you cannot tell the difference. But this will also require creative designing and possible use of real marbles for the bull noses, pencils and other edge finishes because most porcelain tiles will not have exposable edges. This being said, if you can find the look you want in a good porcelain tile, I would probably recommend this first, but don’t be afraid of using marbles in a lower traffic space.

Answering questions by an experienced contractor


Dear Perry Michael,

I wanted to ask about a driveway melting system. We are getting older and are very concerned about falling during the winter months. What is the best type of melting system? Do some last longer than others? Cost to run? Is there an approximate cost for the different types?

John J, Huntington, NY


Dear John,

Driveway melting systems have definitely become more popular in the last few years. There are really just two types, hydronic and electric. The hydronic system uses a hot water and glycol mixture and a heat source – usually a boiler. These systems run the best as far as the ability to melt and their energy consumption. Initially, it is also more costly to install, sometimes 2-3 times the electric system. The electric system is an easier install as well as cost and depending on the driveway size, might have to be run in smaller sections and cycled using an automatic switching system so the house electric system is not overloaded. Either system will usually need to be run enough to not only melt the snow and ice, but to keep it melted so you don’t end up having a black ice condition. I don’t think either one has a longer life span, I just would always recommend using the best components and an experienced contractor for the job. With the high cost of jobs of this nature, it seems it might be too costly to fix down the road. But once you experience having this type of system, you’ll never want to pick up a snow shovel again.


Dear Perry Michael,

My husband and I are in the process of remodeling our kitchen and are disagreeing on the style of the island seating. He wants it to be two-level with a raised area for the seating; I would like it to be one-level using counter height stools. What are today’s trends or just your thoughts on this?

Alexa H, Baldwin, NY


Dear Alexa,

Most of the kitchen design that I do and teach is that good design comes from the people it is being designed for. You and your husband probably have good reasons for wanting either choice, so I’ll just give you some general rules I use to help guide my customers:

1. What are the heights of the users?

2. Will cooking (hot surfaces) be located on the island?

3. Will the space be used for food preparation?

4. Will you lay out buffet-style food on special occasions?

5. Does anyone who might use the surface have ailments that could limit them?

6. Do you have a dog that can steal food from your counters?

These are just a few questions to ask yourselves that might help guide you to your best layout. As for my two cents, most times a single level island is a more user-friendly set up in general. It offers larger uninterrupted space, easier for kids and seems to allow everyone to use all four sides better. You need to work with a good designer that listens to the needs of their customer and helps guide them.

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