Kitchens should be fun! It’s so easy, dance if you want to.

November 1st, 2009 § Leave a Comment

The quest for the most efficiently built cabinets never ends. Here is a Merillat ad from the sixties, (maybe someone from Merillat can confirm the year of this ad for us),  that shows modern convenience back then, to the new video from Blum showing us the latest technology and convenience today.

Ok, so a little more news on base cabinets today. Yesterday we looked at corners in action, today we are going to look at a real cute guy in action. (Grin). This video deserves a post all on it’s own. A man who dances and cooks. I LOVE THIS! Servo drive has been around for a few years, but this video was just created in May ’09. Think of the uses, even if you limit the Servo drive to just one of your hardest working drawers, imagine the convenience! With a tap from a knee or a push from the hip, no more water drips on the cabinets near the sink. No more chicken hands on your drawers or cabinet pulls.

The product is showing the new Blum Servo Drive for drawers. Drawers open automatically using an electrical drive.   Sorry, cute guy not included.

If you are having trouble viewing the U Tube Video, click here:

Managing Design Expectations: The Client -Designer Relationship

September 16th, 2009 § 4 Comments

The Kitchen Designer: Hello, this is Laurie. How may I help you?

Client: Oh Hello, before you come out to my house to take measurements, I have one other request for my kitchen design. At our first meeting you asked us if there was one primary cook or two and if we had any special needs we want you to take into consideration.
The Kitchen Designer: Yes?
Client: Well, yes, we thought about your question and realize we do have a family member that uses the kitchen quite frequently and we think we need to take his special needs into consideration.
The Kitchen Designer: Oh?
Client: Yes, you see we have a cat that won’t drink from his bowl. He drinks from the kitchen faucet. Actually, our cat is very fond of water. The only problem we have with this is that he can’t turn the faucet off when he’s finished. We need you to help us with this. Can you specify a sensor into the faucet that will turn off when there is no motion?
The Kitchen Designer: Well… sensor faucets are on the market and they are becoming more popular…I would have to check specs to see how we could make this work…I suppose…can I get back to you with an answer?
Client: Sure, that would be fine. Here is a video we took of our cat, perhaps it would be easier if we could just show you what we mean. If you can just review this, and maybe if you can also show this around to your vendors to get the best deal, we want the faucet to be triggered by a sensor…our water bill is getting pretty high with the faucet on all day. Can you show us all the best possible options to help us out?

This is a hypothetical story, of course, using a very funny cat video submitted on line by Kim Tasky at You Tube. (She is neither a client nor the person in the above scenario.) I use this very amusing cat story to make a “tongue in cheek” point about a universal problem regarding the client-designer relationship.

The point is this:
There are some clients working under the impression that Kitchen Designers should spend time on your project researching, sourcing, evaluating, planning the best possible options to incorporate a client’s every last desire on the wish list before paying for services. There are no professions that work for free. So why do people expect to be dazzled with a design before paying for it?

You can call a plumber for a service call and he will charge you $75.00 just for the trip charge before he pulls out his plumber’s wrench.

You wouldn’t call your attorney and ask him to review your lease agreement
without expecting a bill would you?
And you wouldn’t tell your attorney “I want to see what ideas you can come up with first and then I will let you know if I will hire you.”
Perry Mason

Kitchen Designers receive a myriad of special requests for a remodel project. Some details more complex then the next to specify and execute. And most every time, the client is on a deadline because they did not budget the time to allow for the design details to be fleshed out. All projects, no matter the size, require thought and research before recommendations can be made. Here in lies the problem. How do you value your designer’s time?

How much free design do you think you are owed before paying a retainer?

Solving Design Problems: What is this service worth to you?
There is a perception problem about what a design is worth to the client. Here is the issue Designers are continually facing: a prospective client has a design problem they want their Kitchen Designer to solve for them. Designers expect a prospective client to interview with two or three designers before making a final selection. Qualified designers expect to be interviewed and are able and ready to prove their qualifications to prospective clients. But ask a Designer to pull out the “dog and pony show” for you and you may get a polite response declining your request. Internally the dialogue going through that Designer’s head may be something to the effect of “I have been doing this for 30 years, I don’t need any more practice to prove I can design.”

Ask a Kitchen Designer their opinion about “HGTV” type shows where three designers are trotted out for the client to compare three fully detailed designs and you will get very opinionated answers.

“Ideas are free but designs must be paid for.” Laurie Burke

Home improvement shows have done a disservice to the design community and have built up unrealistic expectations for clients. You would be surprised to know that a majority of potential clients expect that several design options be presented in detail before paying a retainer to contract for design services. It happens at all ends of the spectrum from the high end client to the budget minded client.

A fully detailed dimensioned design plan with elevations and renderings, before a retainer is paid is just not a workable business model for designers as it involves time without money, and giving ideas away with the ‘hope’ of getting the business is just bad business.

Charles Schulz

Hiring your Kitchen Designer should be based on several factors, creativity being one if them. Secondly, the ability to complete projects in a timely manner and within budget. Third, the ability to communicate with you, your architect, your engineer, your GC or subs throughout the job as needed. Fourth, the ability to manage obstacles as they arise, and lastly the ability to see a project to it’s completion.

Updating a 60′s kitchen

December 29th, 2008 § 6 Comments

This year one of my projects was a kitchen remodel in a 1961 ranch style home.
Poorly planned, and then updated once in the ’70′s, this kitchen was stuck in a time warp.

Sink and cook top location in tight quarters.

A peninsula partition, anchored between a double oven and a desk cuts the kitchen in half.

An energy efficient refrigerator will replace this one.

Booth seating remodel from the 70′s. Homeowner added seating in the kitchen in place of the washer and dryer. Everything about this kitchen was cramped.

The jog in the wall behind the bench seating is the water heater room.

View of the kitchen window, exterior door to side yard, and water heater room. Budget was cost prohibitive to expand the kitchen footprint out another 6 ft. Next best plan was to frame out the bay window.

One of the goals of the project was to make this kitchen pet friendly. The design changed slightly from the original concept to include a doggy door direct to the side yard for the family dog, Angel. Another feature added to the project was the inclusion of a desk and a doggy diner. The water heater was jettisoned to the garage to gain a desk.

Selection of the new cabinet color is discussed. None of these colors were selected. Cherry wood in Nutmeg stain by Dynasty by Omega in the Brookside door was ultimately selected.

The slabs are selected and the deposit is paid.

View into the kitchen. This door will be closed off in order to get a better floor plan. The doggy door access was included again in a new door.

Demolition begins. The water heater accessed from the outside will be relocated to the garage.

Water heater gone. The footprint for the water heater closet now part of kitchen. Sheer wall framed. Electrical wiring underway.

The bay window wall framing begins. Gas meter relocated. Framing for side door in place.

Door to garage is framed.

Red flag up on mail box. Message from Lead Carpenter to Homeowner.

Bay window in framing.

Renewal by Anderson Windows are in.

The kitchen was very small, apartment sized, due to the peninsula wall holding the double oven and awkward counter space.

Arched opening enhanced with double wall framing.

Peninsula gone, drywall in, kitchen beginning to take shape. Temporary sink left on site for homeowner’s convenience.

Cabinets are being installed.

The cabinets are measured for granite and the fabrication of the counters begins by All Natural Stone Design.

The completed kitchen. Cabinets from Dynasty by Omega in Brookside Raised, Cherry Nutmeg. GE Appliances from Warehouse Discount Center.

Furniture selection, upholstery and window coverings by Interior Designer Holly Higbee Jansen, of Higbee Jansen Design.

The exterior door to side yard and to the garage is in place. Notice the clever repetition shown in the detail of the window curtain duplicating the arch of the adjacent door. Your eye is distracted from the rectangular shape of the glass insert. A creative way of handling obstacles.

Client’s wishes accomplished: Desk, Banquette, Dog Diner, Dog door, Island, Double ovens, 36″ cook top.

Project complete.

Dogs and Hardwood Floors

December 1st, 2007 § 3 Comments

One of the phone calls I got this week was from a contractor who’s client is accusing his crew of scratching their new hardwood floors. But, what we know is the homeowner has a small dog and the scratch marks are most decidedly the same pattern a small dog would make on a floor.

Item of note: if you have dogs, (what do we know from dogs? We’re cat people!) So we went to the hardwood experts for advise. So before banishing the poor pooch to the pound we suggest you do modify the stain color for your floors. Avoid dark hardwood floors. Why? Their claw marks will show up more on a darker wood. Opt for lighter honey tones and choose a hand scraped plank that will lesson the appearance of scratches a dog will make.

And then there is this: SoftPaws.Net

Nail Caps as a preventive measure: Damage to Household Surfaces: Hardwood Floors – Doors – Walls – Screens – Furniture – Carpets. The nail caps effectively blunt your dog’s nails so their ability to scratch surfaces is significantly reduced.

Also, for more info on hardwood floors go to:
Image from the Hardwood Floor Nut, a great resource for useful information for anyone interested in hardwood floors.

More to know about when working with hardwood floors:

  1. Place Ram Board down for protection over hardwood. It’s temporary floor protection, thicker than Rosen paper.
  2. Appliance Dollies and Hand Trucks. Be sure the contractor who is wheeling in your refrigerator or other heavy items is using the right one for the job. A smaller dolly with wheels not equipped to handle the weight of a refrigerator can wreak havoc with track marks on newly finished hardwood floors.

Here Kitty, Kitty, kitty!

November 9th, 2007 § Leave a Comment

I got a call today that stressed me out.

“Your crew was working here today with the doors open and my cat got out!”

Many of the homes we work in are in areas that abut to open space hills and canyons.

I am an animal lover myself and would be devastated if my pet wound up as lunch for some hungry coyote.

So it pains me to have to remind customers that we need you to work with us to protect your cherished pets. We are in your homes to remodel. While we are there, the area we are working in is a construction zone. We section it off with Visqueen zipper walls in many instances. In other cases, when our plastic barriers come down as we near completion, caution is still required on your part to protect your pets.

In today’s instance, the dry waller had to have open doors and windows for circulation. Once it was determined that “kitty” made her escape, all hell broke loose. We worked faster than a Southern California Wildfire to get that darn cat. The Homeowners were both set to leave for work and panicked at knowing Kitty was outside and vulnerable for a coyote on the prowl. I got the call from the startled homeowners. I called my contractor and yelled at him for not letting the dry waller know about the cat in the house. He called the dry waller and yelled at him and made him start searching for Dear Kitty. The dry waller called me and said the cat walked back into the kitchen! I drove over to the house to make sure Kitty was safe and sound in an upstairs bedroom.

The moral of the story: Please make sure your pets are safe and away from the construction zone! Post signs all over your doors to make sure construction crews are aware that animals might escape from the house.


A Friendly Reminder to our Clients with Pets

Pets are a cherished part of your family and we want them to be safe during remodeling. Please remember to keep pets in a separate room away from construction where they will be safe and protected during the remodel.

Although we will do our part to keep doors closed, we kindly remind our clients that a portion of your home is a construction zone and must be treated with caution. There are tools, and nails, and heavy equipment. Many times the construction crew will be opening and closing doors while working. This is a necessary part of the job and cannot be avoided.

Knowing that pets get anxious with loud sounds and new people in their home, during this stressful time you may want to pre-plan a place for your pet with food and water and bedding. Work with us by placing notices on exteriors doors reminding our crews of your little “escape artists” cats and dogs. Let’s work together and make sure that your pets are safe during a stressful time for them.

Thank you for your patience,


West Coast Kitchen and Bath

Plaza Kitchens

Pancho looked at me this day when I took this picture of him, as if he was saying, “I don’t know where my water bowl is….uh, uh, uh, excuse me, don’t forget to make a place for my water bowl, I am so stressed with you in my house!”

We love you Pancho!

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