News & Information

Homeowners looking for long-standing appeal often turn to gray stone countertops, as they add elegance, durability, and an upscale feel to their kitchens and bathrooms.  The natural, singular quality that gray stone provides gives your home a timeless appearance that will please you for a lifetime.  

Homeowners also tend to need ideas for decoration that will showcase their investment.  If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably looking for a way to make your counters a showpiece in your home.  Continue reading for advice on complementing your counters with a variety of home decoration ideas.  

Gray Stone Counters-The Draw

Your gray stone counters leave nothing to be desired. Stone is durable and traditional and gray is compatible with almost any color palette.  Gray stone counters will continue to serve your home well throughout your life, yet they are able to complement the newest of appliances and fixtures.  

Gray Color Schemes – The Upside

Designing your kitchen or bathroom around your gray counters is an intelligent choice. Again, gray will work with the most modern appliances, but can still be versatile in its range.  Do not think that a gray counter is automatically a dull, lifeless thing. Instead, select from options such as greige, taupe, slate, and gray-green. The possibilities are varied and regardless of your choice, you will be able to change the look of your room without having to update your counters.  

Therefore, once you have chosen the stone and palette, a room can be designed around it. 

How to Complement your Gray Stone Counters

There is a myriad of ways you can design your kitchen around your new Gray Stone Counters.  Below are a few choice options:

  • Cabinets: While a two-tone gray might be popular, white or traditional wood tones make the best contrast that will make your new counters shine.  Remember, choose a color or finish that matches the undertone of your counters. 
  • Appliances: Obviously, you have many choices as almost anything will go with your new gray counters.  Black, white, and gray will all look wonderful and help your counters. Stainless steel is also an option that many choose, which complements the counters well. When you make your selection, decide whether you wish for the appliances to be the star, or if your counters will catch the eye of anyone who enters. 
  • Backsplashes: While gray stone counters are anything but bland, you might be worried about whether the color will bore those around it.  A patterned backsplash can attract the eye and increase the elegance of your room. 
  • Walls: Though it may be tempting to keep to a mono-tone palette, having your walls and your counters gently contrast one another will add to the visual appeal of your room.  White and soft grays pair well, as do dark gray and white with warm tones.    

In the end, you are the one who will be using and living with your counters.  Take your time and make a decision you know you will enjoy for years to come.

In today’s world of DIY, flipping, or design hacks, it’s easy to mistake quality work for that of a wannabe Chip Gaines on a budget! When it comes to your home, you do not want to skimp on quality for aesthetics; YOU LIVE HERE. Trust me when I tell you, at 11 pm when an electrical socket stops working, you’ve cut power to the entire home, and you are pulling that socket out to examine it, the last thing you want to hear is your “custom backsplash” falling off of the wall and crumbling. Here are some tips to ensure your backsplash looks great and stays that way:

Poorly Prepped Walls:

A backsplash update can seem so unassuming; just go, pick out some tiles that make your heart smile, grab a little grout and go! Quick weekend project, right? While it can be, the preparation of the walls is fundamental to the quality and longevity of your work. Adhesive and tiles will not properly stick to walls with grease stains and fingerprints, common demons in the high traffic kitchen area! Before you hit your local hardware store, be sure to give your kitchen a deep clean!

Ugly Grout:

Tile can be a beautiful statement to any room, but if the grout is not spread or treated properly, your project will be unnoticeable under this mistake. Crisp and clean grout lines will keep the tile work looking wonderful, and regular maintenance and cleaning will keep it looking new for years!

Not Accounting for Water and Humidity:

If you are installing tile in an area that water frequently reaches, a waterproof backer board will need to be installed to stop water from seeping into any small cracks. This oversight often leads to warping, or damaged tiles, which can become unsightly!

Proper Measurement for Outlets:

When cutting your tile, or tile sheets, electrical outlets need to be accounted for. Even the most precise measurements can leave small gaps around outlets, so we recommend saving trimmed pieces to fit into those tiny areas to guarantee a professional finish to your project.

Caulk with Caution:

Much like ugly grout, a bad caulk job can totally take away from all of your hard work. Using a caulk that matches your grout, and a dripless caulk gun can make sure that the area is sealed, and seamless!

Don’t Forget the Clean Up:

Tiling can be tedious work, and after completing your project you are going to want to sit back and admire! But once the grout film has dried, be sure to circle back and diligently clean away any remaining film or debris with a microfiber towel. Failure to finish this step can lead to excess grout drying on the new tiles and creating a filmy or muddy haze that will be impossible to eliminate!

If you cannot consult a local professional to help with tile installation, be sure to follow this guide for the best results! Happy DIY’ing!

The modern-day kitchen is not only a place to prepare our meals but to enjoy quality time with family while making precious memories, to entertain guests with good food and good times, and should be a comforting place in the home that exudes the character and love shared by its inhabitants.  Therefore, the kitchen should not only represent each homes unique style but remain functional and maintain a stress-free cooking environment. Here are some tips to help create a kitchen that is functional, enjoyable, and stress-free.

Make Use of Shelves

Shelves are a simple way to take advantage of the vertical space your kitchen provides. Whether floating on the wall, inside cabinets or an island, make sure they are adjusted properly to most efficiently use the space.

Keep Items You Use Most Often Within Reach

You can hang kitchen utensils for cooking on a rack at eye level, or in something such as a jar or pitcher on the counter next to the stove for easy access. Place items you use less often above or below functional height as you need to retrieve them far less.

Use Racks to Store Plates and Baking Pans

Installing a vertical slat system within a cabinet is an easy way to organize better and store slim items such as plates, baking sheets, trays, and cutting boards.

Straighten Out the Clutter Under the Sink

Make use of stackable organizers, baskets, and hooks for your doors to revamp the mess under your sink and turn it into an easy to access storage space.

Use Labels, Containers, and Jars

Have a designated container with the appropriate label on it to store things like sugar, flour, baking soda, cereal, and other food items that can be more easily stored when stacked and clearly identified.

Consolidate Soaps

Keep your counter and sink area free of clutter and soap scum by using a dish or stand to keep your soaps together and up off your counter surfaces.

Upgrade the Pantry

Overhaul your pantry with shelving and hanging rack systems that are able to use the area on your door and wall space in your pantry to better store food and other kitchen items out of sight and out of your way.

Hang Measuring Tools on Cabinet Door

Hooks on the inside of an upper cabinet door are a great way to store your measuring spoons according to volume and usage.

Drawer Dividers

A simple drawer divider can be slid into place and used to keep larger kitchen utensils organized and maximize drawer storage space.

Pull Out Shelves

Replace fixed shelves in lower cabinets with pull out drawers to easier access and make use of even the back of your cabinets.

Store Appliances You Use Less Frequently

Appliances such as blenders, mixers, can openers, and toasters can be put away so as to have less clutter and more open counter space to make use of for cooking preparation and everyday living.

These ideas are simple yet effective in producing a kitchen that is beautiful as well as practical, furnishing your home with a space of warmth and convenience to take pride in.

The simple answer to this question would be yes, it is possible to dye marble countertops, but the seemingly more difficult question to be answered would be, is it worth it? Although it can be done, the task can be quite difficult and require plenty of practice before obtaining the most ideal results. Most marble installers are willing to leave behind cutout pieces such as the sink drain hole, or their dealers may be willing to part with smaller remnants so that you are able to fine-tune your dyeing skills before applying them to your actual countertops. If you are willing to take on the extensive project, here are some tips to point you in the right dye-rection. 

Finding the Right Dye

Certain marble dyes are sold by retailers, just remember marble is a natural surface, so picking a color closer to the original will assure you the best result. You can also use wood stain to cover imperfections or darken your current tops.

Clean the Surface Area

Clean and prep your countertops of dirt and build up with vinegar or lemon juice. You can use a scraper gently when necessary, keeping in mind to not scratch or damage your surfaces.

Prepare the Dye

Depending on the dye or stain you will be using you will possibly have to mix it with wax, alcohol, lacquer or dilute it with other spirits so that it is properly prepared for the job. The best way to know if the dye or stain needs to be mixed is to read its directions label thoroughly.

Heat the Marble/Tile

Heating the surface opens up the pores in the material and better allows it to absorb the dye. This is best done with a heat gun covering smaller sections to sustain the heat while applying the dye.

Applying the Dye/Stain

Using a brush or sponge, apply the product evenly across the surface to produce a uniformed appearance and result. Allow the dye to dry before applying more coats as needed for the desired result.

Seal Countertops

Once you have produced the desired appearance you’ve been looking for, you will want to protect it with a marble or natural stone sealer. You can find these online at your local dealers and simply follow the directions to preserve your hard work.


If you are looking for a more polished and vibrant appearance that really pops, you can buff your tops with a car or counter wax that will bring out a shinier, more glossy finish.


Make sure to remember when cleaning your new surfaces that they are natural stone and should be treated as such. Use only cleaners approved for natural stone and materials that will not scratch or deface your beautiful new countertops.

This DIY task may be very difficult, but it is not completely impossible. It can produce a dramatic effect to completely renew an area of your home at little cost. If you are willing to take on the challenge, the results could be rewarding and satisfactory.

Marble and other stone countertops have been in vogue for years and years. Most stone countertops offer timeless beauty, are durable, appreciate in or maintain their value, provide a very unique variety as every piece is just a little bit different, and are readily available. But unfortunately, some stone and marble, in particular, is relatively soft and very porous, which means that certain substances can be extremely damaging. Vinegar, in particular, can create lasting damage if not treated right away.

Removing Vinegar from Your Marble Or Stone Surfaces

Follow these six steps to remove vinegar from your marble or stone surface.

  • Blot away any vinegar that is lingering on the surface. Be sure to do this immediately after the vinegar has been spilled.
  • Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto the surface.
  • Gently wipe the baking soda into the marble with a soft, damp cloth. Be cautious to ensure you do not scrub too hard, as that can damage the surface.
  • Rinse with water and dry with a soft towel. Be sure to use water and not another surface cleaner. The water will help to neutralize the pH in the vinegar, which can help prevent further damage.
  • Gently wipe away any remaining baking soda. As a reminder, baking soda is a light abrasive and it is also a natural disinfectant. So, be sure to use caution when wiping down the marble surfaces. Make sure you remove all traces of the baking soda so that any that is left doesn’t scratch the surface.

The Benefits of Cleaning Your Marble Surfaces With Baking Soda

Baking soda is an excellent solution for many cleaning needs due to its affordability. Baking soda also serves as an effective sanitizer, stain remover, and deodorizer. Since it does not contain any harsh chemicals, baking soda is less likely to scratch your marble or stone countertop or other surfaces.

With marble, it is crucial to avoid the use of basic household cleaners as they can inadvertently scratch or leave etchings in the surface of the stone. Either use a marble specific cleaner or a baking soda and water mixture. While vinegar is often recommended as a cleaning product, especially for kitchen surfaces, using vinegar on marble is a bad choice. Since vinegar is very acidic, it will furiously react with your beautiful marble and will create dull white marks (often referred to as etch marks) on your marble.

If you did not catch the vinegar stain early enough, and if the sprinkled baking soda and water combination does not remove the stain entirely, there are other more aggressive options. In some cases, a marble poultice will work. A poultice is a liquid chemical cleaner (such as hydrogen peroxide, acetone, ammonia, or a commercial rust remover) that is then mixed with a white absorbent material (such as baking soda, chalk, or powdered talc), which forms a peanut-butter type paste. The poultice is gently wiped over the stained area with a wooden or plastic spatula and is then covered with plastic and left for between 24 and 48 hours. This thick paste-like mixture well then pull the stain out during the time it is left to penetrate.

The best way to avoid vinegar stains is to avoid the use of vinegar products near your marble or stone surface. Ensure that family members, as well as any professional cleaners, know not to use vinegar in your kitchen for cleaning.

If none of these approaches work, Castles Home Service is always here to help! Our Natural Stone Restoration services and marble Anti-Etch treatments with 10-year warranties are extremely effective and will get your countertops looking like new for years to come!

Outdoor kitchens are becoming more and more popular for homeowners. In some cases, homeowners are forgoing the more traditional wooden deck instead of stone patios, complete with built-in kitchens and outdoor ovens. These outdoor kitchens used to be common for the rich and famous, but are now making their way into more modest backyards as well. Most homeowners that opt for these outdoor spaces view the indoor kitchen as just another room in the home, but the outdoor kitchen is one that provides an array of experiences for family and friends.

Today’s outdoor kitchens boast pizza ovens, stoves, built-in grills, sinks with running water, and fireplaces or fire pits for roasting marshmallows. In addition to all of these fun features to help with food preparation, these outdoor spaces are often outfitted with canopies, overhead lighting, refrigeration, bar space, and much more. But as more and more people look to design these kitchens, also important is the countertop surface that much of the food preparation takes place on.

What Surfaces Are Best for Outdoor Kitchen Counters?

When outside, today’s backyard chefs want all of the comfort and convenience that they have in their indoor kitchen. And in many cases, they want their outdoor cooking space to be above and beyond what they have inside. For that reason, the countertop material that is used is especially important to ensure both functionality as well as pleasing aesthetics. Thus, most homeowners select one of the following surface materials for their outdoor kitchen countertop.

Granite is the most popular choice for these unique outdoor spaces. This durable stone can hold its own even in the most extreme of elements, and homeowners can select from a wide range of colors to match the look that they are going for. Granite can withstand heat, and when it is sealed properly, it can also resist mold, mildew, and a plethora of stains.

Soapstone is also a popular choice. As it is a dense material, soapstone doesn’t need to be sealed and it does not fade over time. However, soapstone counters should be treated on occasion with mineral oil to enhance the natural darkening process that the stone will experience.

Tile is trendy for outdoor kitchens in climates that are warmer year-round. Porcelain and granite tiles are less likely to fade than ceramic tile. But grout can easily stain, so a darker grout color is best, especially for use outdoors.

Concrete does an excellent job of withstanding the elements, but these counter surfaces need to be sealed regularly to prevent staining. It is also recommended that concrete be installed by a professional to prevent cracking.

While quartz and Formica are very popular for indoor kitchens, they are not as effective in exterior environments. Quartz can fade with prolonged exposure to the sun, and Formica is not designed to handle moisture and humidity. If the home is in a humid climate, the Formica countertop will likely warp and quickly deteriorate.

When designing an outdoor kitchen, it is essential to take time to research the surfaces that will work best based on the geography of your home. As these outdoor cooking spaces are often created as backyard focal points and are intended to create special experiences, it is crucial that the right materials and countertop surfaces are used during initial construction. This will help homeowners to avoid costly repair and replacement later on.

Your kitchen is often the room in your home where you spend the most time (other than your bedroom) and is often a place where people congregate when guests are visiting. Having a comfortable and inviting kitchen space is the dream and desire of many homeowners. When looking to renovate your kitchen, you will likely be focusing on an update to the cabinetry and countertops, as these are main focal points within the room and serve a critical role in storage and food preparation.

So if you are a do-it-yourselfer, then it is critical that you get the proper measurements the first time so that you don’t end up frustrated and out hundreds if not thousands of dollars when your mid-sized cabinets arrive. To begin the process of measuring your cabinets, make sure you have a tape measure, pencil, and grid-lined paper available.

You may wish to start by drawing a floor plan of the kitchen space so that you can ensure the proper size of cabinetry, leaving room for the other critical items such as appliances, doorways, windows, and anything else that you need to work around. The grid-lined paper will serve you well here, as you can leverage each cube within the space to represent a unit of measurement (centimeters, inches, or feet, depending on the size of the space you are working with). Inches are recommended.

Once you have drafted the space, inclusive of the items mentioned above that will take up a specific space within the room, you are ready to start taking horizontal and vertical measurements within the space. To measure the full height of a wall, start from one corner and work your way clockwise. Know that standard base kitchen cabinets are 24 inches deep and 36 inches high. Usually, they sit directly on the floor or occasionally rest upon a toe kick riser, which is 4 inches. So, be sure to measure from one edge of the wall to the other, then label the walls (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) on your paper.

Once you have made note of the wall lengths, measure smaller segments of the walls, such as from a corner to the adjacent window, or to the space where your refrigerator will go. As you did with the walls, be sure to number or label each opening so that you can make reference later and prevent confusion.

Next, you will need to measure vertically, by measuring from the floor to the windowsill, And then from the windowsill to the top of the window, and then from the top of the window to the ceiling. Then, measure from the floor to the ceiling in multiple spots throughout the kitchen (three or four) as some ceiling heights can vary, especially in older homes.

Throughout the measurement process, make a note of any obstructions such as pipe location, outlets, radiators, vents, and anything else that can not be moved. Finally, be sure to double check the measurements when you’re done to ensure accuracy.

Now, you are ready to think through the types of cabinets that will work best in your space. . Keep in mind these final tips, as it is critical to select the correct height for your wall cabinets specific to your space, taking into account any crown molding or other obstructions that you must work around:

  • For kitchens with an 8’ ceiling and a 12” soffit remaining, or an 8’ ceiling and a desire for cabinets that do not stretch all the way to the ceiling, 30” wall height cabinets are suggested.
  • For an 8’ ceiling and when you want to install crown molding finished to the ceiling, 36” wall height cabinets are suggested.
  • If you have a 9’ ceiling, then 42” wall height cabinets are recommended. Generally, any wall cabinets with a height more than 42”, will need to be custom-made.

As always, if you need help with tile or natural stone countertop installation and restoration, we’re always here to help! Contact Castles Home Service today with any questions.

If you love your home but have a small kitchen, and moving or a pricy renovation aren’t an option, don’t fret. There are a variety of easy strategies that you can adapt to help your tiny kitchen feel bigger, practically growing overnight. Check out these methods below, and you’ll be well on your way to that perceived roomier kitchen of your dreams.

Backsplash & Color

If you’re tight on space, consider using a white natural stone or tile backsplash and repainting cabinets and other woodwork to a white or very light and neutral color. The white in these materials, especially when combined with natural light and overhead lighting, will brighten the room, creating a sense of space.

Natural Light

Let that light in. A kitchen is not the best place for heavy window coverings. Rather, a simple set of horizontal blinds or perhaps just a valance if privacy isn’t necessary, is more than adequate. In fact, the horizontal lines from the blinds can actually create a perception of increased size. Most importantly here is to make use of the natural light coming in through the window, and seeing that when the window is open, it actually makes your kitchen feel bigger.

Open It Up

Replace some or all of your cabinet doors with a mullion or accent design. While this does create a need to keep your dishes tidy and neat behind those doors, that tidy look will actually help create a sense of order, further enhanced by the glass panels which create a look of depth and add a lovely focal point to the kitchen space. Most homeowners choose these accent doors to display precious heirlooms passed down from earlier generations such as China or other precious dinnerware.

Lose The Clutter

Along the lines of the tidy look we mentioned above, it is important to reduce if not lose the clutter altogether. If you have a corner space, consider installing a corner appliance cupboard where toasters, electric can openers, coffee makers, and other small appliances can hide vs. displaying out in the open.

Accent Lighting

Add accent lighting underneath and above your cabinetry. If your cabinets do not stretch all the way to the ceiling, adding lighting above the cabinets will help cast a gentle illumination, as well as mounting lighting underneath the cabinetry.

Negative Space

Avoid filling all of your floor space. If you have a small kitchen with limited cabinetry or counter space, you may be tempted to add a portable center island space or to tuck some other rolling shelving system into a corner. But often times, the addition of these mechanisms can make a room feel crowded; and while they may provide what you believe to be more workspace if you can’t move freely around the room or feel cramped, this additional workspace is likely counterproductive (pun intended). To that end, if you have an eat-in kitchen, consider a table that has folding leaves so that you can drop down a side or two of the table when it is not in use.

Stainless Appliances

If buying new appliances now or when the time comes for replacement, look for stainless steel which can create reflections, making additional use of that light in the room. Shiny surfaces help the light to bound through the room and amplify the space.

Try these tips to open up your kitchen, and let us know how they worked for you!

Your fireplace is the primary focal point in the room. It creates balance, and when designed correctly, it becomes that part of the room that draws you and welcomes you to stay. And today’s trendy home builders and homeowners alike continue to be drawn to reclaimed wood, brick, and stone fireplaces that help create that warm and cozy feeling.

If stone is the material you select, it is important to consider the different options available to you, and what stone will best suit the personality of your home. This list below provides insight into the stone categories that you will need to choose from.

  • Manufactured or natural – This really comes down to personal preference as today’s manufactured stones have a natural or “real” appearance to them, and one might not realize that the stone isn’t real until approaching closely. Even then, it is often difficult to tell them apart. And the cost isn’t all that far apart nowadays either, though you will likely find the manufactured stone is priced just a bit less than its real counterpart. So, it really comes down to durability. As a manufactured stone is usually tinted with a paint color to achieve the desired look, it is more likely that these stones will begin to fade or discolor over time, whereas a natural stone fireplace will hold its original look. Manufactured stone, on the other hand, is much lighter in weight and is, therefore, easier to install.
  • Cut and color – With stone fireplaces, and anything made out of stone, there are a variety of cuts to consider. Really, this is about the look you are trying to achieve. Are you looking for an elegant and formal look, or maybe a rustic look for your lake home, or maybe a very clean look to go with your modern décor; again, this is all about your personal preference. In this case, you will want to consider the furniture in the room, and the carpet that you will be installing (or that is already in place).

Very much tied to design as we outline below, is ensuring you are familiar with the common cuts that many people select from today. You’ll see terms such as stacked stone, mountain ledge, rough cut, country rubble, and more. These are all various cuts that your stone fireplace can be designed with.

  • Design – This will often be driven by the type of space that you are working with, as well as the type of home (colonial, arts & crafts, etc.) that you have. You will also need to consider the style of the mantel that will accompany your fireplace, as this may work better with some stones and cuts over others. A key factor for your mantel design will be the clearance above the fireplace, which is often driven by the fireplace manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions. Floating mantels are becoming more and more popular and can be made from most materials to match the overall look that you are going for.
  • Hearth – Some homeowners are electing to forego the traditional hearth, which is the bench-style structure set just underneath the fireplace mechanism. Again, this may be driven by the space you are working with, and more likely by the safety precautions and guidelines provided by the manufacturer.

If you have any questions about restoring your stone fireplace or other stonework in your home, contact us today!

Whether new tile can be matched to old tile is a common dilemma among homeowners, especially when a tile becomes damaged or is broken. The answer to whether you can match new tile or not is yes. It was more common for older tiles to be 12- by 12- inches instead of the 16- and 20- inch tiles that have become popular today. Even if your old tile is broken or has been damaged in other ways, you can replace it with a new one that will blend in with the original floor plan. Here are five ways to match new tile flooring in your home.

Hunt for the Original Tiles

Do your research because you never know if you might find the same tile as the original one. Visit stores in person, check out websites, and take advantage of the filtering system that has been designed to make sure you find exactly what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a tile in a certain shape and color, enter those factors into the filtering system. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll get to where you want to be.

Find a Close Match

What if you can’t find a match to your original tile no matter how hard you researched? That’s okay because you’ll at least be able to find a close match that will not only solve your problems but will also look great. Take a piece of your tile with you to a local store and hold it next to other tiles until you find the tile that looks closest to it. Don’t be afraid to ask an employee for help. Online retailers will also accept pictures of your tile being emailed to them so that they can better assist you as well.

Avoid the New Combined With Old Look

A common mistake among homeowners is matching new tile based on what’s trendy and fresh on the market. As stated previously, newer tiles aren’t the same as older tiles, and what’s trendy has a different meaning in today’s age versus the 1900s. When matching your tile, consider the time frame your house was built in. You don’t want to put trendy tiles from 2019 into a bathroom with a 50’s style bathtub, sink, and toilet. You will hate it.

Use Care When Designing

Matching tile is an art, and it’s easy to mess up and create a piece that just doesn’t look good. So when you’re shopping, don’t throw colors and designs together. Take every piece into consideration. Pair patterns with plain tiles and make sure to limit your color palette. A rule of thumb when matching tile is to vary in shapes, not color.

Be Consistent

If one area is going to look a certain way, then so should the rest of the room. Match the tiles the exact same way for each square foot. You can use different sizes and colors but keep the shapes and design the same for the entire area.