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posted: 2/1/2014 12:33 AM

Kitchens, baths are always evolving

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  • DreamMaker Kitchen and Bath has a 1,500-square-foot showroom in Schaumburg.

    DreamMaker Kitchen and Bath has a 1,500-square-foot showroom in Schaumburg.
    Photos courtesy of DreamMaker Kitchen and Bath

  • Bathroom vanity heights have changed as more people are aware of aging in place.

    Bathroom vanity heights have changed as more people are aware of aging in place.
    Courtesy of DreamMaker Kitchen and Bath

By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent

Ask Mark Mazza of DreamMaker Kitchen and Bath in Schaumburg about industry trends and he can quickly tick them off for you.

•Quartz countertops that look like granite but require less maintenance.

•Solid color, painted-look cabinets, capped by crown molding.

•Wood flooring for warmth.

•Backsplash tiles that extend all the way to the countertop.

•Larger showers with seats and body sprays replacing tubs in bathrooms.

•Framed mirrors and grab bars that look like towel bars.

He should know. Mazza and his wife, Mary Jo, started their own remodeling business, Top to Bottom Remodeling Inc., 30 years ago. Then, 12 years ago, they added DreamMaker Kitchen and Bath and have run both companies ever since. In fact, their son, Matthew, has now joined them, too.

"We are a family-operated business and we have our own employees doing the work. Some have been with us 20 years. We do not use subcontractors," Mazza said. "In addition, we are very careful to walk each project all the way through with our customers, even going with them to choose slabs of granite. And since most of them aren't home when we are doing their work, we have a job board on site where we can leave them notes and they can leave us questions or requests.

"We do a lot of multiple projects for the same customers. We do one project and they ask us back to do something else. So, we get lots of repeat business. That says something about our work," he said.

Mazza said lately the emphasis on and preference for American-made products has led many of his customers to choose quartz countertops that are made domestically by Cambria, over granite that is mined in the far corners of the world. The fact that granite requires maintenance is also a big factor in that choice, he said.

Cambria also now offers integral acrylic sinks for a seamless look that is popular with those who do not like stainless steel sinks, he added.

When it comes to kitchen cabinetry, Showplace brand cabinets, made in South Dakota, are hot sellers for Mazza. Many homeowners are choosing painted, solid color cabinets that come in 15 standard Sherwin-Williams colors, as well as in custom-mixed colors.

Most of the cabinets are being installed to come within a few inches of the ceiling and then are capped with a piece of matching or contrasting crown molding. Some homeowners are even choosing to have low-volt LED lighting installed in the small space between the cabinet top and the ceiling for an accent, Mazza said.

Stainless steel appliances are still popular with many, but others are choosing bisque or white appliances to get the look they want in their new kitchen.

"We recommend vendors for our customers to talk to about appliances. But, we do produce a computer-generated design so that they can see how different colored appliances will look with their cabinet and countertop choices," Mazza said.

Using accent cabinets and countertops is still quite popular in kitchens.

"We just did one kitchen where they chose a mixture of soft cream and espresso cabinets. The perimeter cabinets are soft cream with an espresso crown molding and a dark beige, black and silver Cambria countertop. The island, on the other hand, features espresso cabinets with a lighter beige, gray and black countertop," he said.

"If the kitchen is large enough, you can do things like that," Mazza continued, adding that many of their customers today are opening up walls between the kitchen and older, seldom-used dining rooms and adding that space to make a larger kitchen.

Other kitchen trends include the predominant use of wood on the floors for a warm feel on the feet, and tile backsplashes that extend all the way to the countertop. An edge consisting of a 3- or 4-inch piece of granite extending up from the countertop to meet the backsplash is disappearing.

As for bathrooms, Mazza said that at DreamMaker Kitchen and Bath they are remodeling lots of bathrooms by removing unused tubs and replacing them with walk-in showers that feature seats and body sprays.

"Few people today have time to take a bath, and showers also better allow people to age in place," he said. In fact, Mazza is an "aging in place" specialist. As such, he finds himself recommending decorative grab bars that look like towel bars but are well anchored to prevent painful falls.

Customers are also opting for 35-inch-high vanities to minimize bending and to gain more drawers for storage in those vanities. Homeowners are also opting for smaller, framed mirrors and bright wall paint that makes their decorative tile "pop."

Radiant heat in the floors and even in the towel bars is also becoming quite popular, Mazza added.

DreamMaker Kitchen and Bath's 1,500-square-foot showroom is located at 1941 Wright Blvd., Schaumburg. For more information, call (847) 592-5550 or visit