Modern Kitchen Redesign: When Contemporary Flair Meets Functionality

By Elaheh Eghbal

The kitchen is a central place in our homes –  a place to gather, celebrate, experiment, and nourish. Now picture this: a 1988 townhome kitchen that was dark, small, and had minimal storage. This certainly was not an ideal space for homeowners Michele and Keith Zettle who have lived in the home for 29 years.

It’s imperative to have a kitchen that meets and exceeds your needs. So, when Michele and Keith decided to remodel their kitchen, they knew the outdated aesthetic had to be replaced with more space for storage and entertaining and more light. Michele did her research for about two years, had a vision of what she wanted, and knew they wanted to work with Mike Landis of Landis Custom Cabinets after meeting him at the York Builders Association’s Home & Garden Show.    

Shifting the Structure

Michele and Keith knew that they didn’t have much space to work with due to the locked in L-shape layout of the kitchen. However, with Mike’s artistry and vision, the peninsula was pushed 18 inches into the main living space which opened the flow of the kitchen and allowed for a wine bar and additional storage. The new section of cabinets and wine bar were an addition that Michele and Keith knew they wanted to have to be better able to entertain guests.

The old kitchen was a puzzle; if the dishwasher door was down, it blocked access to the kitchen, and there wasn’t a good space for the waste can. Mike was able to craft an ideal final design that provided a solution to the space issue — extending the peninsula and dedicating under-cabinet space for the waste can. This created space for additional storage, along with many new and desirable conveniences like large drawers for pots and pans and a lazy susan. Because of these, Michele and Keith are now able to keep their kitchen more organized and clutter-free.

“Mike was easy to work with, stayed on budget, and helped with some suggestions regarding space issues, too. The new conveniences like the large drawers for pots and pans and the new lazy susan helpus stay organized and clutter-free.” – Michele Zettle, Homeowner


Advancing the Ambiance

What was originally a kitchen with outdated ceramic floor tiles, plain cream-colored counters, and standard wooden cabinets was transformed into an elegant, entertaining-ready space. Plaster soffits were replaced with recessed lights to illuminate the windowless space and LED tape lights (they’re ? of an inch!) were added to illuminate the counter and inside the upper cabinets. LED lights have become a standard feature for cabinets, allowing you to showcase elegant glassware and stemware racks in upper cabinets; they worked out beautifully for this transformation.

In addition to brightening up the kitchen through lighting, Mike custom built a 2” thick radius bar from 400-year-old reclaimed oak from an old barn. Not only did this create additional sitting space, but it also brought warmth and a bit of nature to an otherwise contemporary kitchen.

A two-tone motif was added to the cabinets; ebony base cabinets and designer white with pewter glaze wall cabinets brightened up the kitchen and created dimension. To continue with the aesthetic, Frank’s Marble & Granite installed a specialty countertop – exotic splendor white granite throughout.

It’s About the Experience

Mike Landis has been in this industry for over 30 years, so every one of his customers knows they’ll be working with a highly knowledgeable, experienced team. Since 2006, Landis Custom Cabinets has been serving York County and surrounding counties, bringing every homeowner a unique experience.

Every Landis project is as unique as the customer, taking in important factors such as individual lifestyles, needs, budgets, and physical space. The custom pieces are built in the 3000-square-foot Dover, Pa. shop, which means that every kitchen and bath renovation is custom built. The personalized experience doesn’t stop there. Mike Landis works with every customer from beginning to end. As the owner and someone who is incredibly passionate about quality craftsmanship, he’s the one coming out for every initial consultation and is involved with re-designing and installing each new space. Customer happiness is his priority, and every person or family he works with can be sure they’re getting his best work each and every time.

“I’m the one helping to design your kitchen; I’m the one to do the install, I’m with you the whole way through. I’m not a salesperson just handing you off to some other guy who will do the install two weeks later.”

– Mike Landis, Owner of Landis Custom Cabinets

Whether you’re building your first kitchen or renovating an older space, one thing is for sure: it’s essential to find a contractor who is an expert in what they do and will create the space you want. By doing the right research and getting to know your contractor, you’re bound to love your final space.

Michele and Keith Zettle opened their remodeled kitchen for the 2018 Chefs on Parade and Parade of Homes events. For Chefs on Parade, their Landis project showcased Calogera (Charlie) Elia, owner of Iron Horse York to serve up a few signature recipes from the American-style bistro.

Originally published in The York Builders Association’s 2018 Issue of At Home in York Magazine.

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Granite or Quartz. Which is right for you?

By Carmine Pantano, Frank’s Marble & Granite

If you’ve been watching all those DIY and Home & Garden channels, been shopping for countertops yourself, or just talked with a friend who has recently been through a kitchen remodel, you have a good idea of just how many countertop material options there are today. For the most part, people in York County are choosing between granite and quartz. These two surfaces are favorites for their durability and easy-cleaning properties.

First, let’s take a quick look at what granite and quartz are.

  • Granite forms naturally deep underground – created as a result of the intense heat, pressure and ultimately the cooling of molten rock. It is removed in large slabs from deep below the earth’s surface and comes in a stunning array of colors and mineral highlights. Interestingly, granite contains the minerals quartz and feldspar, along with some others. After the slabs are removed from the earth and leave the quarry, they are cut and polished but are otherwise entirely natural.
  • Quartz is one of the earth’s most well-known minerals. Though they are made up of 90% quartz, quartz countertops are humanmade. (Percentages can vary but are typically 90%, 93% or 95%). By blending quartz with resins, polymers and various pigments, a very durable and smooth artificial rock is created without any pores or cracks.

Both materials can go a long way in defining the look of a room, so personal style or preferences determine the ultimate choice between quartz and granite. Along with overall aesthetics, some practical considerations come into play when comparing the two.

Here’s a quick review of the pros and cons of each so you can determine for yourself which countertop is for you.


Pro: It has a timeless appeal. Since quartz is relatively new as a countertop option, it hasn’t had an opportunity to prove its longevity yet, but granite most certainly stands the test of time. It has a broad appeal, is an excellent selling point at resale time and has consistently demonstrated its value as a long-term investment.

Pro: Wide slabs are a plus. While it is available in a variety of shapes and sizes, finding granite slabs more than 70 inches wide isn’t uncommon. On the other hand, quartz slabs are commonly found at about 56 inches – and rarely larger than 65 inches wide. The fewer seams, the better when designing spacious kitchen areas with larger islands.

Pro: Granite is more economical. Ok, if you’re pricing out exotic pieces (and there are many), this statement is not applicable! There are, however, more reasonably priced options for granite than for quartz and a much wider range of pricing options. An inexpensive granite option can range from $45-$65/ square foot installed as compared to at least $70-$100/ square foot for quartz. Naturally, a lot of the cost will depend on your surface area and if you have a lot of space to cover. The price difference adds up.

Pro: Its impressive and natural beauty. When comparing the appearance of granite and quartz, it comes down to personal preference. Since granite is naturally occurring, it will never be uniform. Depending on your tastes, that can be a pro or a con. The style and color choices, along with the dramatic patterns and textures are what makes granite so stunning and distinctive. No two slabs are the same. If you are one-of-a-kind and want your kitchen to reflect that, granite might be the right choice for you.

Con: Certain colors are porous. The biggest misconception is that all granite is porous and requires sealer on a yearly basis. This is not entirely true. The facts… 90% of granite is too dense to accept sealer. Therefore, sealer does not affect 90% of the granite out there. That leaves us to discuss the other 10% that is a little softer and more porous. Some of the softer granite is susceptible to staining from water rings or spills that are not cleaned up quickly. Discuss sealer longevity with your fabricator, and they can tell you how often they recommend sealer to be applied. Spills are not typically an issue for quartz as it is manmade and nonporous.

Con: Styles can be inconsistent. Because of the natural veins, flecks and whirling motion in granite, it can be a struggle to find a “clean” and simple style. For many, this is part of its uniqueness and appeal, but if your preference is sleek, clean and uniform, quartz might be the answer to your needs.

Con: It’s not perfectly smooth. Granite is 100% natural. There is no wax or coating on granite that gives it its shine. It’s a grinding/polishing process that starts at a coarse grit and ends with fine grit that provides granite its shine. Any natural veins, pits, and other irregularities are common in granite, and you WILL be able to feel them. These cannot be sanded down and usually cannot be filled in.

Simply put, you’re buying a piece of nature. Stand back and enjoy its beauty! Quartz is manufactured and will have a much smoother feel to it.

Granite photos:

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Pro: It’s easy to maintain. Because quartz is a solid surface, it’s simple to clean and keep bacteria-free. It is tolerant of most detergents and requires no sealant. Do consult with your manufacturer on cleaning supplies, as some chemicals can negatively impact quartz.

Pro: It’s durable. Believe it or not, quartz is stronger than stone. Because it isn’t porous like granite, quartz is pretty resistant to scratches and stains. Many things that might cause concern with other materials like coffee, red wine, citrus juices, and oils, won’t stain quartz. Quartz is also more flexible than granite, so even though it’s still incredibly heavy, it can be easier to install, which result in fewer worries about cracking during installation.

Pro: It’s trendy. Possibly due to the low-maintenance and sleek appeal of quartz, many interior designers have started to favor quartz – so it’s in high demand right now. Due to its rising popularity, quartz can also really deliver on its return on investment at resale – providing you are purchasing for a reasonable price.

Pro: Its style is sleek and uniform. Though it does have the look of stone, a big selling point for quartz is its consistent, clean style. With so many design features to choose from today, consumers often get frustrated when trying to find cabinets, flooring, backsplashes, etc., that all work together. The unblemished elegance offered by quartz blends naturally with today’s more contemporary design trends.

Pro: Colors that look like marble. In the past two years, quartz has come a long way and now offers countertop designs that look like marble without the marble maintenance. This is not a pattern that can be found with granite. If you’re looking for the “marble look” without the marble maintenance, quartz is the only way to go.

Con: It can be costly. Durability, gorgeous sleek design and low-maintenance come at a cost. Quartz is specially engineered to deliver specific benefits and with anything made by humans, those who manufacture it control the price. Lower-End quartz can cost as much as level two granite. Granite offers a much wider range and selection under $65/ square foot installed, but you would be hard-pressed to locate a quartz countertop for that price.

Con: It is not the right choice for outdoor use. Remember how granite occurs naturally? Well, that is also why it’s naturally engineered to withstand the elements which quartz isn’t designed for. Though quartz is made to be incredibly durable, it is not indestructible. Sunlight can cause quartz to fade or become discolored over time.

Con: Quartz slabs are cookie-cutter. Again, this is a matter of preference, but if you’re looking for consistency, a predictable manmade surface won’t have many variations. 

Con: It is synthetic. Yes, quartz is manufactured to “look real,” but the fact remains that it is not straight from Mother Nature. Though manufacturers have made a lot of progress with creating colors and textures in quartz, it will never have the glorious natural beauty of granite.

Granite and quartz are likely the top two materials recommended for your kitchen and bathroom countertops. Your decision should be about which surface best suits your lifestyle and your vibe. There is no wrong choice – just have fun choosing!

A note about daily maintenance: It is recommended that you clean both granite and quartz the same way – with a Ph-neutral natural stone cleaner. Wipe till dry, and your countertops will look beautiful for years to come. Avoid using a cloth or sponge from your sink as that will spread dirt and oils around. Soap and water will leave water spots and soap scum. Many over-the-counter cleaners – especially those that claim to do more than one thing (clean & polish, clean & wax, clean & seal), are also not effective. These products won’t do damage but will leave a dull film after use, and your countertops will require a little more cleaning with a proper cleaner.

Quartz photos:

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”82″ display=”basic_thumbnail”]Originally published in The York Builders Association’s 2018 issue of At Home in York Magazine. Photos included in this article demonstrate work by a variety of YBA members.


Winged Wonders of Penn’s Woods in Your Backyard

By Cathy Hart

More than 400 species of birds make their home in the 46,000 square miles that make up Penn’s Woods. But you don’t have to travel the state to find them. You can enjoy many right in your own backyard. Let’s take a look at what you might find.

Without any effort — meaning putting up feeders and their accompanying earnest but generally ineffective anti-squirrel accoutrements — you’ll see blue jays, cardinals, flickers, and robins almost all year round. Properties with hedges and thickets typically draw in mockingbirds. Add a water source such as a pond and some tall grasses, and you may draw in red-winged blackbirds.

Once you introduce a regular food source by way of feeders filled with favorite foods, you’ll increase who comes for a visit. Feeders come in all shapes and sizes, and some are designed to serve up specific types of bird seed of interest to particular species. For example, in the springtime and through summer, a nyger/sunflower seed mix is sure to bring in goldfinches with their bright yellow bodies and black wings. Filling a hummingbird feeder with nectar will bring the energetic, flying jewel-like ruby-throated hummingbird. (Pro tip: Only the males sport the trademark red. If you don’t see it, she’s a she.)  In any season, a suet cake will make downy woodpeckers, black-capped chickadees, and tufted titmice very happy.

When blue jays are around, try putting out some unshelled peanuts. More than once I was treated to the same intriguing show after tossing out some peanuts. A jay lands near the peanuts, then carefully picks one up, then puts it down until he finds the perfect peanut. Once he does, he flies away to a nearby perch to enjoy his treat.

While that’s one show you might see on occasion, a regular visual to behold is the frenetic activity of the ground feeders that satisfy their cravings with the seeds that fall from above. Song sparrows and chipping sparrows are common sights. Many sparrows look very similar, often referred affectionately by birders as LBJs (Little Brown Jobs), but the song sparrow is distinct. This sparrow can be “spotted” by the prominent black dot on its chest. Meanwhile, the chipping sparrow also stands out from the crowd. The most telling characteristics are its size – just 5 1/2 inches – and the reddish-brown color on the top of its head.

Like cardinals and blue jays, song and chipping sparrows generally hang around all year. In the winter months, the white-throated sparrow comes a-callin’. Look for a plump brown bird whose shortish bill has patches of yellow on both sides, rounded out below with a neat patch of white. Another winter visitor is the dark-eyed junco. The junco’s mostly dark plumage is contrasted with white visible on its chest. When it takes wing, you’ll see the tell-tale flash of white on its tail.

Then as winter gives way to spring and the white-throated sparrows and juncos head out, a whole new season of backyard birding begins. Whether you’re in an urban or rural setting, you can see more than a dozen species. Another pro tip: Get a field guide to help you identify the visitors to your slice of Penn’s Woods. Watching the antics of our winged friends is a relaxing and rewarding way to spend a portion of your day.

Originally published in The York Builders Association’s 2018 issue of At Home in York Magazine.

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About the Author

Cathy Hart is a self-described word and bird nerd. She is the former editor-in-chief of Wildfowl Carving Magazine. Her love of birds blossomed during her tenure with the magazine that showcases all kinds of realistically carved and painted birds. These replicas inspired her to go looking for them in the wild, and she took to the woods to experience the joy and at times frustration of bird watching.


A Guide to Aging-in-Place

By Melissa Fritchey

If you’re considering your options for moving to a smaller, more manageable home or staying in your current home as you approach retirement or as adult children leave the nest, it’s smart to keep future limitations and physical challenges in mind.

For many, staying in the home they know and love is essential. An AARP study found that nearly 80% of seniors have a desire to stay in their current home. If you find yourself leaning in this direction, now is an excellent time to consider what modifications to your home might be necessary to suit your needs and better ensure your safety as you get older.

Our current homes can often create difficulties as we encounter age-related limitations like reduced mobility and dexterity, declining vision and hearing and decreased strength. Aging-in-Place is the practice of planning for those challenges. There are many alterations you can make as your time and budget allow to make sure your home is easier to manage down the road.

If your ideal scenario is to “age-in-place,” here are a few suggestions:

Put Together a Solid Wish List

Go through your home and assess which rooms might have limitations for you if you become challenged with balance or coordination problems, limited vision, trouble walking or climbing stairs or the need to use a wheelchair. You’ll find that some areas won’t require much in the way of modifications and other areas will need more. Build a plan and timeline for tackling your list as you complete your assessment.

Focus on Improving Livability

While single-floor living might be ideal, moving to a one-story home isn’t always practical. Ultimately, moving a master bedroom and laundry room to the ground floor can be part of the solution and can give homeowners many additional years in a home they love. Building and remodeling professionals who have earned the National Association of Home Builder’s Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation have received training on how to build or renovate a home so that the occupants can live in it safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age.

Other basic renovations that can make your space safer and more livable:

  • Wider doorways
  • Levered door handles instead of knobs
  • Easy to open and lock doors and windows
  • Electrical outlets at 18 inches instead of 12 inches
  • Light switches at 42 inches instead of 48 inches
  • Non-skid floors
  • Easy to grasp cabinet knobs and pulls
  • Lever faucets
  • Front controlled stovetops
  • Curbless Showers
  • Grab bars at the back and sides of shower and toilet

Leverage Technology

Smart appliances and technology are making it easier to make a home safe and more responsive to our needs.  Lighting is one thing that can make a difference in many ways. Motion sensor lights can illuminate a room as soon as you enter and can connect to a home security system. A smart refrigerator can notify you if a door is left open or if you run out of milk. A wi-fi enabled fridge even has reorder and delivery functionality. There are also appliances with larger print for improved readability. Other devices like voice assistants, video doorbells and smart thermostats are particularly helpful for seniors.

Additional tech solutions that make excellent aging-in-place alterations:

  • Strobe light or vibrator assisted smoke or burglar alarms
  • Installation of medical response device
  • Task lighting under counters
  • Voice activated remote control
  • Smart home phone

Expand Your Space

Depending on the age of your home, you might find that your master bath or bedroom is simply too small for comfort and livability with aging. Consider opportunities to expand into adjacent rooms and open up underutilized spaces. A professional remodeler is the best choice when trying to determine what your options are for safely creating more livable space.

Not only can aging-in-place modifications make a home easier to navigate and cater to a changing lifestyle, but they can also increase the value of a home when the time comes time to sell.

If you’re interested in finding a reliable contractor to help you remodel your home, contact the York Builders Association (YBA) at 717.767.2444 or find us online at YBA members are insured, registered professionals committed to the building and remodeling industry in York County.

All images provided by Red Oak Remodeling.

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York Builders Association Launches WorkforceNOW Brand Focused on Addressing the Skilled Labor Shortage

The York Builders Association (YBA), the community’s trusted building industry resource, recently launched a new brand initiative. The WorkforceNOW brand will serve as the umbrella which covers all of YBA’s programs designed to support workforce development.

“Our efforts focused on workforce development and education about career opportunities within the skilled trades have grown, and as an association, we have heightened our focus on these objectives,” said YBA Executive Vice President, Laurie Lourie. “To gain traction and reach new audiences, we felt it was time to create a sub-brand that stands on its own.”

Though the construction industry is booming, the lack of skilled workers creates a variety of challenges – including increasing the cost of construction and slowing project times. While a multitude of stable, well-paying jobs are available in the industry, recent studies continue to show that young people are still more likely than ever to pursue a college degree.

According to YBA Board of Directors Vice President Shonna Cardello, “As the primary resource for the home building industry in York County, part of the YBA’s role should be developing a workforce that meets the needs of our local economy and our member companies. It is also our responsibility to build awareness about the diverse career opportunities that exist and do not require a lifetime of student loan debt.”

In April of 2018, the YBA coordinated its first annual Construction Career Days event with seven local high schools and seven local companies in the building industry. The event promoted awareness of the variety of career paths available in the local market and provided an opportunity for students and potential employers to connect. A 2019 Construction Career Days event is planned, as well as other programs that serve the mission of becoming a workforce development resource for both member companies and the community, closing the skills gap and inspiring more young people to pursue careers in the trades.

The WorkforceNOW brand was launched at a recent association meeting, and several YBA member companies have already stepped up to pledge their commitment to continued workforce development initiatives. Those companies include White Rose Settlement Services, Inc., Schmuck Lumber Co., Schaedler Yesco Distribution, K.D. Rosengrant Building & Remodeling and Strine’s Heating & A/C.

Members of YBA’s Executive Committee: Jason Barshinger Shonna Stock Cardello Brandon Knaub Andrea Bledsoe missing from photo are Nicholas Sabold and Ted Hively.



Health Insurance Renewal Time?

Let the York Builders Insurance Trust help take the frustration out of obtaining health insurance rate quotes.  We offer rates from all of the major carriers.  If you are a company with five or more insured employees, we may be able to save you money with an alternative funding insurance product.

If You Don’t Currently Offer Company-Sponsored Health Insurance

We can provide a comprehensive rate proposal with plans that will meet your insurance needs and budget. Employee benefits are an excellent way to attract and retain high-quality employees.

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The BenExtend Aflac program combines the commonly-used benefit of hospital indemnity, critical illness and accident products into one simple plan.  It is a very affordable plan designed to help employees better manage rising deductible and health coverage and care expenses. 

For more information please contact the Trust at 717.779.0747 or


Construction Career Days

YBA’s Construction Career Days are a fabulous opportunity to share an insider’s view of your company with local students in the community who are interested in learning about potential career paths in the skilled trades.

YBA launched their very first Construction Career Days in April of 2018. Matching seven member companies with seven local high schools, the 2018 event promoted awareness of the diverse career opportunities available to students locally in the construction industry.

We plan to grow this program and inspire more young people to pursue careers in the trades! 2019 Construction Career Days will take place April 8-10, but we do have some flexibility if those dates don’t work for potential host companies. We already have six schools lined up to participate in 2019 and we expect several more.

This event is an extension of the YBA WorkforceNOW initiative.

Interested in:


Contact Melissa Longenberger at or 717.767.2444.

The lack of skilled workers in the construction trades is a big challenge and YBA is committed to being part of the solution. Careers in the skilled trades are a viable alternative to a four-year degree, and often, considerable student loan debt. Our objective is to educate students and parents about the variety of career paths available that are challenging, fulfilling, lucrative and do not require a lifetime of debt. Our programs are geared toward building a better future for our industry by celebrating careers in construction and shining a light on the many opportunities that are alive and well right here in our community!

Video – Highlights of 2018 Construction Career Days

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