Designers seek out alternate moldings an…

July 28th, 2010 § Leave a Comment

Designers seek out alternate moldings and materials to keep current. Are Americans ready for alternate choices in kitchen cabinet materials? Will we ever break away from the standard Maple and Cherry? For an interesting take on new ways with old materials check out this article:

Are you open to new options in cabinet materials?

Hearst Castle and the Products it Inspired

July 24th, 2010 § Leave a Comment

Luxury as Defined. Period.

Preserving the history of design and craftsmanship through inspired contemporary design.

How does architectural history translate into kitchen and bath products? View pics at KBB online to view stunning products inspired by the architectural elements found at Hearst Castle. Once the private home of publisher William Randolph Hearst, the estate also known as La Cuesta Encantada®  or “The Enchanted Hill”, overlooks the spectacular California coast and was the shared design endeavor of architect Julia Morgan and William Randolph Hearst. Today Hearst Castle is a California State Historical Monument and State Park.

View of The Hearst Castle overlooking the Pacific Ocean

Some of my favorite manufacturers have been licensed by the Heart Castle Collection to produce inspired reproductions from design elements found throughout the castle. Tilevera, Enkebol, Soko, Barclay Butera Home,  Taracea, and Habersham to name a few. Not everyone can own a castle nor would want to furnish one, but the design details inspired from The Hearst Castle lend themselves beautifully into kitchen and bath projects inspired by the antiquities collected by Mr. Hearst from around the world.

Fortunately for me, Hearst Castle, on the Central Coast of California is a short day trip to escape to. Designers, artists and artisans from all over the world come to Hearst Castle for inspiration for their own reasons. Whether they come for inspiration for a major product line or for a one of a kind studio piece, the one thing they all leave Hearst Castle saying that in their wildest dreams they never imagined what an inspirational design resource it is.

For every client I have worked with there has always been a pivotal inspiration point for the design. Be it a color, a view, a vacation getaway, there is always a trigger point that inspires a design direction. What inspired your last renovation?

Where designers come to be inspired.


Fit for a King: Part 1

Bet you never knew you could do this wit…

July 23rd, 2010 § 1 Comment

Bet you never knew you could do this with Corian!

He Said, She Said

July 23rd, 2010 § 1 Comment

In an article, He Said, She Said, published at, July 21, 2010, it appears stereotypes about what women and men want in kitchen design is not that different, at least not in the upscale market.

Click the Link below to read what the results of  Top 5 Items Desired in an Ideal Kitchen and the Top 5 Words Associated with an Ideal Kitchen. Where men and women differ in opinion, according to the survey,  focused on cabinet organization and performance. Women it appears in the survey are focused on cabinet storage solutions; while men focused on performance of appliances. While I can certainly sympathize with one dear male reader who would beg to differ with this part of the study, who shouted out one Sunday morning from his kitchen in Minnesota,  “a pan! a pan! I would give anything to find a pan!” His attempt to make a Sunday breakfast became a blog topic and he wrote about the trouble with kitchen cabinet organization. I would say that both men and women would both agree roll out trays and pot and pan drawers are highly desirable interior cabinet features to include in a kitchen remodel.

What can we learn about this study? In our changing economy, the study reveals that at least in the upscale market, one of the motivating factors for these homeowners, who know they couldn’t sell right now if they had to, have made their minds up to stay put.  This is a market to sell to homeowners who are digging in and improving their homes instead of moving.

Article Source:

What relaxes you? Music, Light, Sound Vibrations?

July 21st, 2010 § Leave a Comment

Fountainhead Vibracoustic Bath

Fountainhead VibrAcoustic Bathtub

Isn't it about time your tub serenaded you?

Do you remember the last time you were at a spa and felt truly relaxed, your mind and body completely at ease? Wouldn’t you love to recreate that experience in your own bathroom? I saw this working tub on display in a showroom, and literally wanted to kick everyone out, lock the doors and experience the tub for myself. Ok, well maybe not go that extent. But the idea of being fully immersed in a warm bath, lulled by sound and vibrations, short of installing one now in my home, I would be willing to travel to a spa that had one just so I could experience this relaxing tub.

It’s not often that a tub captures my interest but this one does. The Vibracoustic Bath is manufactured by Kohler. It’s called the Fountainhead®. Let me tell you about this tub. Chromatherapy alone doesn’t grab my attention. Jetted tubs are too noisy for true relaxation, but give the tub a deep bathing well, soothing vibrations and hypnotic sounds, now this makes for an interesting tub! Just thinking about this tub is relaxing. The Kohler website states: Soothing instrumental compositions play above water while acoustic vibrations sweep through the water and around the body. Let’s say you get tired of the preset music, no worries, program tunes from your Ipod, and enjoy the music coming from your tub. No speakers are visible, a beautiful thing.


  • 21″ deep bathing well to overflow.
  • Note the clever location of the Overflow in corner. Water overflows into horizontal drain for maximum bathing depth.
  • Preset, original music, composed in collaboration with a renowned sound therapist, engages and awakens the mind
  • Sound vibration envelops the body and encourages your breath and heart rate to synchronize with a slower rhythm
  • Chromatherapy, a repeating sequence of soothing colored lights, choreographed with music provides a holistic approach to profound relaxations
  • Generous, ergonomic bathing well allows you to float freely while feeling safe and secure
  • Contoured head pocket allows bather to comfortably rest his or her neck
  • Two Massaging pulse experience provides a more intensive physical vibration massage that can be varied to the desired level
  • Coordinates with the Fountainhead Suite
  • Organic shape complements simple, spa aesthetic
  • Exposed-deck installation creates a semi-raised appearance

List price*: $7,548.00 and up

Learn about the Evolution of the Induction Cook top

May 18th, 2010 § Leave a Comment

Yale Appliance + Lighting is a blog I read frequently. May 12, 2010 they presented a photo timeline of Induction Cook Tops. Great read. If you are in the market for a new cook top, check it out to see which Induction Cook Tops give you more bang for the buck.   The Evolution of Induction.

Critiquing Kitchen Design and Cabinetry

May 6th, 2010 § 8 Comments

From Luxury Home Magazine: Phoenix 

As a blogger who’s primary focus is that of all things kitchen and bath related, I get excited when I see a kitchen or a bath that has been carefully designed and executed with all the right design elements. Well, alright, maybe there are one or two things I would have done differently, but not by much. Overall I give this contemporary kitchen two thumbs up. Quiet elegance is what I call this. 

The home is located in Scottsdale Arizona. The neutral color palette and “tone on tone” scheme fits into it’s overall desert surroundings. What I mean is that the design is not contrived. They did not impose a Tuscan- themed design in a contemporary home. The kitchen is fairly large and the use of two islands is a stroke of ingenuity. They stayed away from the mistake of using one monster sized island and instead divided the space into two islands. The interior island, approx 6 1/2′ x 4′ is the workhorse island and includes the main clean up sink and dishwasher. (I wish they didn’t place that ridiculously over sized plant on the counter that blocks my view of the space). The opposite side of this island with 24″ deep cabinets allows for plenty of storage. This is a dream kitchen for entertaining. Who wouldn’t love this kitchen? 

The outer island is open to the living area and yet has a 42″ pony wall that prevents your eye level view landing directly onto the kitchen counters. Smart idea when company is over. You don’t want your guests focusing on the clutter in the kitchen. I like this, if I can hide clutter from view, I will do it. 

One of the most commonly overlooked elements in kitchen design is the ceiling. This kitchen added the drywall clad beams in the slightly  darker paint color. The addition of the beams adds an important element in the design. It prevents the large room from looking too generic and sterile. The one thing I see that I would have done differently is the placement of the microwave. Most kitchen designers have an opinion or two, or three about the microwave. If you are a tall person, let’s say 6 feet tall or so, placing a microwave 54″ above a finished floor is acceptable if you are this tall. But for the rest of us who are height challenged, 54″ a.f.f. is too high up for comfort. Actually, 54″ is the bottom of the wall cabinet. The bottom of the microwave starts at about 55 1/2″ the center of the microwave winds up at about 60″ tall. If the average height for women is 5′-6″ tall, the center height of a  microwave at 60″ is too high. You should never be pulling hot objects out in the direction of your face and above shoulder height. It is dangerous and can lead to severe burns if the container explodes in your hands as you are pulling it out. Argue with me if you insist, that you do not like a microwave lowered from the rest of the wall cabinets, but in the picture above, you can clearly see this microwave wall cabinet is located between two 24″ deep appliances and could have been lowered 6″ for the sake of comfort of shorter users, kids included. Actually, the microwave is usually a child’s first introduction to helping out in the kitchen, why not make it more convenient for the young set?  

I also like the use of 24″ stone floors. 12″or 13″ tiles would have been the wrong scale for this room. I wish there were more pictures of this kitchen to show the cook top section but sorry, this is it. 

The irregularities in maple wood is more noticeable on medium to dark stains.

Here is another important factor in the design. The cabinets shown here are maple in a medium tone and it looks like they they might be finished with a brown glaze wiped into the surface grooves in the door panels. Maple stained darker becomes more ruddy, more blotchy in appearance. You may look at this sample door shown and reject it for the blotchy appearance on face value alone. I picked apart this kitchen above with red circles the way a homeowner would before giving the cabinets a fair chance before the kitchen is completed. The number one sales call a cabinet sales reps receives has to do with the perception of what a finished cabinet should look like. Avoid over analyzing your cabinets with a clear grid sheet by picking apart the highs and lows in the graining and mineral steaks that are naturally occurring features in wood. This is not the problem of the wood itself but the problem of the sales person not properly explaining to the customer the inherent characteristics found in the wood species they selected. There is nothing wrong with the maple wood shown in this example and it should not  be considered a flaw requiring all the doors to be replaced. My intent with this example is to show  that when the maple is viewed in perspective in a completed design, the ruddiness becomes less of a factor. Look back at the first picture. Your eye is not focusing on the blotchiness of the cabinets, your eye is looking at the overall beauty in this kitchen design. If you look hard enough and close enough, you will find flaws in anything. Anyone who holds a 10x magnifying mirror to their own face can testify to that! Oh lord do I know that! Yikes! 

Mineral streaks found in wood cabinets are beauty marks not flaws. 
The most beautiful women in the world have beauty marks. 

You should never expect perfection in wood graining just as you can never achieve true perfection in your own skin’s pores. Before your cabinets were…”cabinets”, before the lumber from which your cabinets were built, they were once upon a time trees in a forest. How much light the trees received, the natural elements in which the trees grew are a forever reminder that your cabinets were once a living, breathing part of our natural environment. The demarcations on your cabinets tell a story of your cabinets history or pedigree. These natural characteristics cannot be air brushed away, cannot be removed with lasers or bleach lightening agents. What should not be accepted are burn marks from over sanding, thumb prints in the stain, mars in the finish, and rough finishes are not acceptable and should be brought to the attention of your sales person for replacement. Mineral streaks and mineral flecks are naturally occurring in wood and should be considered beauty marks not flaws. If you can not accept this fact, you need to look at thermofoil and plastic laminate that will provide you more consistency and repeat pattern in graining. But then again, if this kitchen was done in either, I would not consider it as beautiful as it is, would you? 

When all is said and done, this kitchen is really a beautiful example in elegant simplicity. 

Toby Howes Furniture Brought to you by CFT411

May 3rd, 2010 § Leave a Comment

My Daily Newspaper is actually my blog roll. I really admire my associates in blogging. Bringing you insight, beauty and “fabulousity”, I landed on CFT411′s page this morning and fell in love with this desk. 

This is masterful design details at work. 
Notice the curved veneer is balanced and center matched producing horizontal symmetry. 
The desk is made by Toby Howes Furniture. For the full story, link back to CFT411. Joe Freenor and Joe Dusel, are the real deal, professional woodworkers that take time to write about their craft. Get to know them. As it turns out, I am not the only one interested in the etymology of words. In this story they also cover the word origin for dresser. It means more than a chest of drawers, depending on where you live.    

Lazy Susan and it’s predecessor The Dumb Waiter

May 2nd, 2010 § 1 Comment

I have a Chinese penpal through Google Buzz. Every so often he will question what I am talking about when I use a word to describe something. I once referred to something amazing by using the slang pejorative ”crazy”. The word “crazy” in English has multiple meanings. Besides a derogative way to describe a psychological disorder, “crazy” can also serve as a quick descriptive word to describe something astonishing or awesome in a good way. 

This literal translation of words got me to thinking of the cabinet accessory Lazy Susan. Have you ever wondered how this round tray kitchen accessory got it’s name? Why not the Lazy Heather or Lazy Kimberly? I always felt silly referring to this accessory as a Lazy Susan. Every woman I have known named Susan has been smart as a whip, funny, and very intelligent. So where in the world did the Lazy Susan get it name? There is nothing lazy about this round tray device on ball bearings. But it is even sillier to describe it as a double duty round spinning tray on ball bearings. Obviously for the sake of clear communication, referring to this ball bearing wonder tray as a “Lazy Susan” seems to be a term everyone knows and understands. I don’t see us shortening the name anytime soon to L.S. or anything else.  For the full history of the Lazy Susan I will refer you to the well researched article written by Michael Quinion at the bottom of this commentary. It’s a very good article you must read if you have ever obsessed over the word Lazy Susan. 

Americans seem to have a habit of shortening our words for some reason. Are we in such a hurry that we have no time to use our words properly? Have we just become “lazy” in using proper words? My pet peeve is the use of “my bad” as a way of saying “I’m sorry, I’ve made a terrible mistake and I am using the word “my bad” to be cute and a smart ass.” Who started this horrible phrase? 

Shortening words is clearly a trend everywhere. My bank, Washington Mutual, referred to itself as WAMU in it’s marketing, although it was bought by another bank and is now known as Chase. Short enough, I can’t imagine how Chase would shorten it’s name. Big C. NO! Too many double entendres will erupt and not in a good way. Kentucky Fried Chicken also refers itself in commercials as KFC. I guess it’s one way companies try to keep up with it’s hipper customers? For example, mention the name P Diddy, and everyone knows who this is. Mention the name Sean John Combs and you might get a blank stare from the older crowd.  

Motel 6 recently came out with a new commercial that picked up on this trend of shortening words. Did anyone hear it? It’s very funny and makes fun of our lazy habit of shortening words in order to appear hipper and cool. Motel 6 may be best known for a series of humorous radio and television ads featuring the folksy voice of writer and National Public Radio commentator Tom Bodett, with the tagline “We’ll leave the light on for you”. 


Blogging: Vice or Vision

April 30th, 2010 § 2 Comments

Image from the Blog Herald

Why have a blog? Is it a vice or is it a vision? Some people knit to keep their hands busy, others smoke. I found blogging became my favorite spare time filler a few years back. At first the blog filled those spare moments at work to dash off my thoughts about a project detail or product I liked. Then, I found it became an addiction that usurped my time when I should have been working, sleeping, paying attention to my family and MY LIFE. Blogging is something I do as a past time, not a full time job. If you find yourself blogging in the wee hours of the morning, communicating with your blogroll more than your clients or family, you may have crossed over into the land of blog addiction. To test your blog addiction, click here.

Not one to fall prey into addictive behavior, I saw a pattern and learned to curb the amount of time I spend on this page. A) Blogging is a fun past time, but this isn’t my day job. B) I enjoy getting away from the computer. Work, clients, activities in my life that take precedence over the blog. C) It takes time to create stories for the blog. Before I knew it, I was bombarded by press people looking for a landing page to promote their clients’ latest hot new product. It takes time to keep up a blog on a daily basis and I had to ask myself is it worth it? Truth by told, I don’t care how many hits I get, and I don’t care if I am on your blog roll or not. I am not one to follow the crowd to keep up.

“The time it takes to work 
on a blog worth it?

PR people, please excuse me if I can’t answer all your emails requesting blog space to promote your latest dinnerware pattern, air freshener, rugs, and what nots. I am sure your products are fabulous, but I have to draw the line somewhere. I say let’s get back to magazines, have your client buy ad space in magazines. People: buy and read magazines! It’s awful so many great magazine bit the dust in the last few years. The down side of blogging I see is that it contributed to killing magazines. There are thousands of bloggers out there clipping and scanning pretty pics out of magazines to create their own sort of blog magazine. That’s fine I suppose if it makes you money, but that’s not for me.

If it’s not making me 
oodles of cash, why blog? 

Hats off to those of you who have the wherewithal to keep up with yours on a daily basis. I will not be joining that master group any time soon, it’s a full time job blogging daily. I know some of you have parlayed your blogging into cash producing ventures, and that is truly fabulous. I have enjoyed meeting wonderful people through my blog, and the new career opportunities that have been made available to me through this blog. But for me, this blog will remain an extension of my work focus: kitchens and cabinetry design and a smattering of baths and tile. When I have time to post about something wonderful, I will do it, but for now, you can catch me commenting in 140 words or less on Twitter as @cabinetgal1.

Times up, spell check, preview, and publish! I’m done with my blog writing for today.