Q+A With Kitchen Crasher Alison Victoria

DIY Network’s Kitchen Crashers host Alison Victoria answers your decorating and remodeling questions in HGTV Magazine.

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Q: What are the most durable countertop surfaces? I always hear granite is the best.Nancy Miller, Eaton, OH

Alison: Don't get me wrong: I think materials such as granite and marble look beautiful, but they can be impractical for some homes. People don't realize granite should be sealed a couple of times a year and marble scratches and stains easily. I have marble at home, and I'm always forcing coasters on my guests! For a high-end look without the maintenance, try engineered quartz countertops. The surface is nonporous, so it easily stands up to hot pots and sauce splatters. Price-wise, quartz typically costs the same as a midrange granite, but it's a smart investment because it's so durable.

How do I figure out the right size for an island?Lisa Ferree, North Tonawanda, NY

Alison: It depends how much of your kitchen you want to sacrifice. If your island will serve as a prep station and have seating, go as big as you can-but make sure to leave at least three feet between the island and the counters. Good space planning is so important. In terms of placement, I like the island to go right in the center of the kitchen. That way it won't interrupt the flow of the paths between the sink, fridge, and stove.

Q: What are some finishes and colors that won't go out of style anytime soon?Ginny Hunt Harvey, Virginia Beach, VA

Alison: On Kitchen Crashers, we use lots of bold colors and patterns, but that's not always the way to go for a timeless look. Most people change their style every 10 years, and wouldn't you like the pricey stuff to last? That's why I'm a big fan of counters in neutral colors like white or gray, or natural-looking shades of blue or green. For cabinets, you can't go wrong with white Shaker-style doors with hardware in a silvery finish, like chrome. I'm also a sucker for stainless steel appliances and sinks. White appliances are making a comeback, but stainless steel's industrial look will never go out of fashion. For backsplashes, classic white subway tile is still a winner, but if you love bright colors, try it there. Switching out a backsplash isn't too hard to do every decade or so.

Q: What's the easiest backsplash material for a DIYer to install?Janine Vyse, Pardeeville, WI

Alison: Tin, hands down, if you like a vintage look. It's a breeze to apply: You can get large sheets that resemble antique ceiling tiles, then cut them to fit your space with tin snips (available at hardware stores) or regular crafts scissors-just wear gloves, because the edges can be sharp. Glue the tin to your wall with a construction adhesive like Liquid Nails. If tin isn't your style, give tile a try. Make sure to get tile that's mounted on mesh sheets, so instead of having to stick them to the wall one at a time, you can do multiple tiles at once. You'll also need premixed mastic (tile adhesive), grout, a trowel to apply the mastic and grout, and a tile cutter to trim any tiles that don't fit perfectly.

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