Natural vs Man Made Stone.....which is best?

Its the burning question when thinking about tile or countertops, what is best?? Natural or man made??  Well I can't answer that question generically, so I will get into detail to help you understand the difference and what may be the best stone for you!

In this post, we are talking about tile, not countertops, so first things first, what is a natural stone?  

Natural Stone:

It can be anything from Travertine, Marble, Slate, or Quartzite!  A natural stone is for the lover the variation, because it comes from a mountain, its not something that can be altered.  It is what it is and it will always look different from one stone tile to the next!  To show you examples of what I mean, I have some images below that help depict each.

Marble: (Typically gray and white in color)


Travertine: (Typically brown and yellows)


Quartzite: (Can be any tone)

Slate: (Typically in the browns and golds as well as black)

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So that's most of your natural stones.  As you see they can vary in color and tone depending on the product.  So what else do you need to know about it?  We for starters, you should always use a sealant on the stone once it is installed.  The sealant will help protect the stone from stains, water marks, etc.  It will help keep it looking fresh for longer.  Especially if you have a marble tile as your backsplash and you like to cook a lot!  This helps against the splatter, but you should always wipe down your backsplash if you have splatter as anything can always stain if left on long enough.


Now for the other stones, the man made.  These are typically Porcelain or Ceramic when talking about a tile, but now a days there are soooo many more amazing tiles as well!  These include concrete, Glass, and Metal.  These stones typically look very much alike when talking about tone, meaning if its a colored glass tile, they are typically all the same color, so no variation in them.  These tiles are perfect for the person that is happy with a low maintenance stone and doesn't like the variated tones.  They can sometimes be cheaper than a natural stone too!  (added benefit).  Porcelain and Ceramic tiles are typically a ton of styles, colors, and looks.  You can have them look like wood, stone, marble, just about anything these days.  Metal tiles are just that, metal, so they will be shiny and easy to wipe down.  You can get them with texture look or smooth and in a variety of sizes.  These also add a nice wow factor to a space due to their sheen.  Glass tiles are typically back painted a color.  Again, these can come in a variety of sizes and shapes.  These are also very easy to keep clean and wipe down.  Concrete tiles are my new favorite addition to the tile family.  Okay, maybe they're not new, but people are really starting to like them.  These can be just about anything you can imagine.  The newest trend of these is to have a pattern to them.  If you want to see an example, go to our portfolio and check out our Newtown Square Bath! We used a concrete tile on the floor and a white porcelain tile on the shower walls!  They are both easy to clean and will withstand the heavy usage of being in a bathroom!


So, now that you know the difference between a natural stone and man made stone, you should know which is right for you!  And as always if you don't know and you need help, be sure to reach out to us!  We would love to help you with your projects!  And make sure you follow along to catch the latest and greatest that we are working on!

When renovating your kitchen, what is the first step?

Hello everyone!  Its been a little while.....babies tend to get in the way:)  Anyway, I am back and excited to share with you how to start your kitchen projects since these are always the hardest and the most expensive projects to take on!  Many people ask me, whats first?  Well, here is my input on what I think you should do and the way you should do them!

1) Think about what you want in your dream kitchen!  Lets be honest, everyone has their dream kitchen in the back of their heads, and at the same time, most think they can't afford it, well, I am here to tell you that you are WRONG!  You can afford it!  maybe you can't afford ALL of the bells and whistles, but I can assure you that you can afford it (if you have a realistic budget in mind).  Keep that in mind for step 2.  Make your list of must haves and your list of can live without.  Because believe me, if your must haves is a Sub Zero fridge that is paneled, then your step 2 will make more sense.  If you just want a fridge that looks nice and keeps your food cold, then you're in luck!  Because then you can splurge on another must have on your list.  

2) So now that you have your list's done, budget is the next BIG thing.  If I have ever had a million dollar question, its just that.  What do kitchens cost?  Well, they can cost anywhere from $15,000-$300,000, it just depends on what you want to spend and how you want to spend it.  The big ticket items in your new kitchen will consist of the following, Cabinets (Most important), Appliances, (hello its time to get rid of that gross 30" fridge thats white), Countertops, Plumbing, backsplash, hardware, lighting, and renovations!  Now, if you need new floors, then you better count that in as well, but that may come into the renovations category as most contractors do them for you.  So, now that you have your budget in hand along with your list, you're moving onto step 3!


3) Hire a Kitchen & Bath designer.  I am telling you from experience, you want and need a designer that is specialized in Kitchen's and Baths!  They know what size things are, they know how to work your layout, they know how to bring it all together and most importantly give you functioning kitchen when you are all done.  Let's be honest, you can hire just about anyone, but once the project is done you don't want to think about, where is this pasta pot going to live, or darn it, I forgot about where I was going to store my cookie sheets.  You NEED to spend the extra money and hire a kitchen and bath designer, you will thank me in the long run!  Don't have or know one?  Well, of course you do!  Call or email me and I can help you design the kitchen of your dreams!

4) The next step is to take your drawings that your amazing kitchen and bathroom designer gave you and shop around for everything.  That list in number two I gave you, yea go shop for that!  Cabinetry and Appliances first, then the rest, that way you can set the plan for everything you need.  These two things will help you get an idea of your budget (Step 2).  If your cabinetry pricing comes back too high, you just may need to think of getting some additional quotes.  It's always important to know what is included in your cost of cabinetry as well.  Some include trim, accessories, others don't, so weigh out your options.  If you appliances come back higher than you thought, maybe its time to look into less expensive brands that do the same thing!  After your done with step 4, you should have a realistic number as far as cost is concerned for materials.  And I am going to be completely honest so that you don't get sticker shock once you're done with your kitchen design, always add 10% to your total cost, then that should be your final highest number.  Let's be honest, something always comes up when you deal with renovations.


5) Now that you have that all down, its time to call some contractors to bid your job.  Hiring the right contractor thats right for your size project is key.  You don't want to hire a Joe Shmo that does handy work if you're gutting your kitchen down.  You want a licensed, experienced contractor to do the work.  You want to put the final details into your contractors hands and rest assured that everything will be up to code and done correctly.  Remember, the cheapest number isn't always the best number!!  So be weary of a quote that comes in a lot less then the others.  My rule of thumb is to always get 3 quotes so that you can see what they are including and what they are not.  If you aren't sure about this, make sure you ask them!   You are spending a lot of your hard earned money, and the last thing you want to do is go in blind.  

6) Deposits......this is where things get stressful and fun.  Stressful because you're going to start spending the hard earned money and fun because now your dreams are going to become a reality.  Deposits are what start to get the process rolling.  It's what gets you into schedules and allows you to start seeing what is going to be soon a reality!  Most places require about 10% deposit to get the project started, into their system, and working with you.  (PS, this is something you should ask all of your trades before they start.  What do they require for payments and when do they require them).

7) After you have everything rolling into the start, the rest should be fairly easy.  If you have hired a Kitchen & Bath designer, they may be helping guide you through the entire process and then you are in GREAT hands.  If you decided to do this on your own after you have received the drawings, your stress level may be tested until your project is done, so good luck to you and our hats are off to you!!  The rest of the process should come naturally from your contractor.  Ie picking out finishes, etc.


Now remember if all of this information is blowing your mind, then sit down and grab a drink because kitchen renovations aren't easy to do or live through.  We always recommend setting up a temporary kitchen space somewhere in your house so that you can keep some sanity while you are living through the chaos.

If you ever have any questions or want some help, please email us and we would be happy to help you get your project started!!  We can't wait to hear from you!


OMG I couldn't be more excited to start blogging again!  I love helping others get inspirations in all aspects of life! I mean let's be honest, getting inspired is so easy these days with phones, internet and apps, so why not relax and get inspired at the same time!!  Whether you like to follow Interior Design/Decorating, DIY, Saving money (Well duh thats always  a good thing!), or good recipes (because I love to cook!), even my new experience with Motherhood, and keeping your life together (Because sometimes we all need a hand)...make sure you follow my blog and I will be sure to help you with least I hope!  :)

So first!  Lets get off to introductions!!  Who is the woman behind the keys?!?!  My name is Katy Lynn Retzbach, recently married (maiden name Pellegrino) and I am an Interior Designer who specializes in kitchens and baths!  The two most expensive rooms to renovate of course, but the two rooms that can be the most important rooms in your house!  We will come back to that further in the blog, but for now we will leave it at that.  

When I was just 14 years old I had always love how just a little paint could transform a room.  So I would rearrange my bedroom, paint the walls, and switch out my curtains and pillows.  I was the girl helping my dad install hardwood floors and repainting furniture I had or found on the curb.  I was fishing wires through walls and changing out the lighting fixtures just to see how it was done and know that I could do anything I had set my mind to.  I always loved seeing the gratification of someone else's face when seeing how it looked after I was done with it.  It was something I have loved since I was about 14.  Soon after graduating high school, I decided to study Interior Design at Arcadia University.  After getting my bachelor's degree in 2009, I started my internship at a high end Interior Design firm in Philadelphia.  I loved being able to put everything I had learned in school to real life and having that before and after "OMG!" feeling after our clients would see everything complete.  There was just something about it I couldn't learn enough of....and that was when I decided to go back to school and get my Master's Degree from Drexel University.  Long and short of it, I have since been working for a custom millwork and cabinet company since, four years and counting!  There I have been designing custom kitchens, bathrooms, closets, butlers pantry's, millwork and even ceilings!  You would be surprised how much you can do with millwork and cabinetry in your house!  

During that time I have also been hired to help with the other aspects of design including (but not limited to) countertops, backsplash, flooring materials, wall color, window treatments...and god knows what else!  I can tell you that I have loved every second of it!  And thats how Designs by Katy Lynn was started!  

So.....what does Designs By Katy Lynn do?  We are a full service Design firm that can be hired as an Interior Architect & Designer, Wedding Designer, Floral, Party Designer, and Home Stager!  No job is ever too big or too small and I always love a challenging project!  So shoot me an email, follow me on Instagram (@designsByKatyLynn) and facebook (Katy Lynn Retzbach) and lets create something awesome together!  Oh and most importantly, make sure you follow my blog to keep up to date on what I am doing and renovating this week!