Summer Daze

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Ode to summer weekends in Los Angeles. Picture of The iconic Case Study House #22 designed by Pierre Koenig. Link back to Flicker

Gorgeous outdoor fireplace Peck Residence, Here's a link back to Flicker


Coining a phrase

Friday, June 22, 2007

I was having a conversation yesterday with a client about a particular design aesthetic where by styles are co mingled: old world and modern technology. This seems to be what many consumers are after. Manufacturer's are attuned to this. came a cross Grohe's new product , Relaxa Rustic, where by they coin the phrase ‘Ameropean’ – the point where modern European design and engineering meets the authenticity and classic styling of American interiors. I like it.


Corner Cabinets: A reason not to have one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Corner cabinets: When faced with an option of using a corner for storage or voiding the corner, evaluate what can be gained without one. This kitchen would have lost it's impact, the hood would have to be moved over possibly, and the drawers would lost the balance this massive hood needs.

This gorgeous kitchen remodeled by Downsview Kitchens, for the 2007 American Red Cross Designers’ Show House, West Palm Beach, Florida, and featured in the July-August issue of Veranda Magazine, is designed with a voided corner . The impact in the design is the curvaceous hood, the molding, the simplicity of the drawers. It is the use of drawers instead of a typical corner storage cabinet that makes a case for voiding the corner in favor of symmetry and balance.

This kitchen would have looked off balanced had they used a lazy susan corner cabinet. I like the balance of the 3 drawers shown both left and right of the range. They are a good width, looks like they could be 18 or 21 wide. I don’t like using drawers that are too narrow. The designer used shallow depth glass fronted bin drawers; great impact below the window. Love the use of the wood butcher block surface. I also like the wall to the right of the hood. Painted niche style open decorative display with tile accents. This is beautiful.

Now for what I don’t like: for a hood this size, I would have expected at least a 36” range. But then the drawers would have to be reduced in width. This seems a typical problem for most homeowners: bigger appliances or better storage. Also note the glass cook top is not level in the back left corner. Not much else to critique. I really like this space! Bravo to Kitchen Designer Sean Daigle. Also to Monica Brent who skillfully painted the hood. Gorgeous!


Sinks: the simple truth on getting the best sink.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Bottom Line: No pretty pictures here: just chalk full of information you need to know before you buy a sink. See web site links for the photos and spec sheets.

  1. Before going shopping, observe your cooking habits. Measure your existing sink width; include outside dimensions and each bowls inside dimension including depth. How do you use your sink? Do you wash dishes in a double bowl sink? How many cooks? Two water stations are essential for two cooks or for that holiday dining. Do you have place to add a second small prep sink?
  2. Take measurements of what your new sink base cabinet will be. Subtract for the sides of the cabinet to determine what size sink will fit in your new cabinet. If you have any doubts consult your designer. Never order your kitchen cabinets until you are satisfied with the size of your new sink. You don't want to be disappointed when your designer tells you can only buy a 33" sink or smaller to fit your design when you were hoping for a bigger sink!
  3. Depth: bowls that have straight sides will net a bigger interior space. Look for Blanco Magnum Series, Blanco Steel Art Series.
  4. Shape: Round shapes net smaller interior space in comparison to its square counterparts. An example of this: Kohler's Brookside verses Kohler's Clarity. If space is limited, Kohler's Smart Divide is a great solution. Round shape or square shape, it's all there!
  5. Built in stainless steel drain boards: I personally like this, because it gives a clean drip edge for water to drain into the sink. The draw back, hard water spots once the water dries and another area of stainless steel to wipe down to keep it looking new. See Kohler Prologue Elkay Gourmet series or Oliveri Euroform or Petite or New Petite.
  6. Waste Disposer Compartment: If you are ordering a single bowl sink, you will want to get the food waste disposer located in the far corner and not in the middle of the bowl. If you are ordering a triple bowl sink with the garbage disposal in the middle, much of the feed back from homeowners has been negative and no one has told me they want to replace them with a new one. The biggest complaint is that the extra bowl for the garbage disposal takes away from the size of the usable sink. Secondly, these dedicated bowls for the waste are higher up in the sink and food debris can be whirred right back up at you.
  7. Pick you faucet at the same time you pick your sink. How many holes are on the back ledge of the sink? Count out how many holes you will need to see if it will work with your sink. This is the biggest area of compromise for most people. What will be on your deck? A faucet, a side spray, a hot water dispenser, an air gap for the dishwasher, soap dispenser. Most cast iron sink are pre-drilled for four holes. Drilling holes in cast iron is not a viable option in some cases. Ceco Sinks carry many identical styles to Kohler, American Standard and Eljer, and the appeal is that they may be able to custom drill the holes at an additional fee. Adding holes in a stainless steel sink is much easier. In solid surface sinks, for example, Corian , the holes are drilled in the counter top deck so the number and placement is flexible.
  8. Composting: Do you want a chute in the deck? They are available. Check with the sink manufacturers. An alternate method I prefer that takes up less space is a separate composting bin kept on the counter or under the sink for immediate removal to the composting bin. Remember to remove daily to avoid the fruit fly party that will soon appear even if you forget.
  9. Sink Strainer. Do not order it in plastic. For best wear order a stainless steel strainer. I don't care if it matches your white, oil rubbed bronze or satin nickel faucet. I am going to be insistent on this point. You will pay more for quality but you will wish you had when you see your powder coated strainer peeling away in a very short time, these cheap plastic powder coated strainers will "ugly out" before they wear out. Stainless steel!
  10. Get a faucet that is proportional to the width of the sink. Make sure when you specify a large sink and a side spray, that the spray reaches onto the far reaches of both bowls.
  11. To under mount or not: You may be fastidious but your spouse or kids not. An under mount sink will have the faucets mounted on the granite or solid surface. This means water will run off onto the counters easier. Especially if someone leaves a wet sponge on the counter. Get a $6.00 suction cup sponge holder mounted to the inside of the stainless sink to resolve this. Stay away from sponge tilt out trays. They rust, won't close properly overtime, and wet sponges left in close proximity to wood is not a good idea.
  12. Single bowl under mounts side by side with a granite or solid surface rim. If you specify this make sure you recess the solid surface ledge between the two bowls at least 1/4" inch. You will want to avoid water run off between the two bowls, across the counter and down the floor. "Water wears away mountains" and please do not make your cabinets the victim of water damage. Wipe down spills off your wood surfaces to protect the longevity of your cabinets.
  13. Tile in sinks: This is a great alternative to contain the water on your deck. The faucet gear is mounted on the cast iron or stainless surface. Most people are opting for under mount because of the look with granite counters. But don't overlook the tile in if you think your family is going to run into problems described in item #11.
  14. Self rimming: pretty upon first site. Problems: several. Wiping down counters into the sink is harder because of the self rim. The rim has a visible caulking joint all around the sink. Tends to be a crumb collector area. Most plumbers will specify a white caulk unless you make sure to specify a matching caulk color. Cast iron rims can show chips more so than other types of sinks.
  15. Corner sinks: They can be the most awkward sinks if not placed close to the front edge. Place no more than 2-3 inches from the front edge of the counter top.
  16. Apron front sinks: Beautiful? Yes. Practical, I have my reservations. Water is my first concern. There is more chance for water roll off onto the face of cabinets, causing what else, but warranty issues on your cabinets. Peeling paint, cracked paint is a result of water damage. Protect your cabinets by wiping them down, be observant of water. Design options: Recess the cabinet doors. Install a ledge between the bottom of the sink and the cabinet doors to catch the water before it drops on your cabinet. Belt buckles can scratch the apron too, scratches on cast iron can be rubbed off but scratches on stainless steel are there forever. Deep apron sinks can give you a back ache. They are mounted 3/4" or lower depending on the thickness of your counter top and cause the user to reach deeper. Working at the kitchen sink for extended times, you’ll feel the difference.
  17. Faucets: watch out for the following: a) handle rotation front to back. Watch out for clearance: Window ledges or a wall could interfere with the lever in the hot water position. B) handle attached to the side of the spout, could interfere with the next item in the deck. Check the hole spacing available on your sink. Extra thick countertops could pose problems for the plumber. The faucet shank length needs to accommodate the counter thickness. C) Bridge faucets or two handles faucets, watch out to make sure they are accessible for both bowls. With a side spray, you need to make sure it reaches into the far end of the opposite bowl. Swivel Goose neck faucets with a pull down handle are my favorite for ergonomics. The high arc spout makes moving large stock pots in and out of the sink easy. The pull out sprays is longer and the braided hoses are the most durable. Plastic hoses wear down quicker at the connector than do the braided hoses.
  18. New ideas: If you are short in space for a second sink and you and your spouse can benefit from two water sources, consider a large double bowl sink and install two faucets, one for each bowl. This can be handy when you need to drain your pasta water and your spouse is rinsing the lettuce.
  19. Accessories not to overlook: Stainless steel grids protect the sink surface. A good design has the hole built to match the disposal hole. Stainless steel grids last longer than the plastic coated wire grids which tend to rust out and ugly out quicker. The plastic ones are not as expensive to replace if you find your’s has uglied out. Soap dispensers are not high on my list, actually on the bottom of my list. It is the first think to go bad. Once the spring action pump gets gumped and goey, it breaks. By the way, to fill them you remove the spout. I heard of one homeowner who never refilled hers because she thought she needed to unscrew the bottle form the bottom from underneath the sink. Colanders and cutting boards that fit the sink are ingenious for easy prep work! Most of this information can be found in NKBA's Professionl Resource Library , Kitchen Planning Volume. Product references and comments are from years of discussions about sinks with my customers.


Bath Inspirations

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fabulous bath concepts from around the globe. Here are my favorites and I pay to homage to the Designers and Architects who built outside the box.

To create a dramatic entrance to the bathroom, interior designer Brandi Hagen placed an antique bench seat in front of a large Botanical Beach Grass Lumicor panel. Colors and materials were chosen to create a zen-like simplicity.

Creating a fun space that children actually look forward to using is surely a bath time winner, by Richard Behr architect and Jolie Korek, Interior Designer. Good color choices with Jerusalem Gold Stone and Mosaiac Glass Pebble Accents.
As seen in Trends Ideas

For the art collector. The freestanding Napoli is not just a functional tub - it's a sculptural installation. Edward Taylor, the president of Victoria & Albert's US headquarters, says the Napoli's ultra-contemporary design is the result of more than a decade of freestanding bath development, and is inspired by the pure organic form of an egg. The tub is a 75-inch-long, low-slung ovoid shape that provides ergonomic comfort and cocoons the bather.

Rationing hot water is a thing of the past with the Noritz tankless hot water system. Water is heated as it is used, so there is no chance it will run out. This house was designed by Dick Clark Architecture featured in Trends.

Trends volume 2205
The mixture of limestone tiles creates a light and bright bathroom that is rich in soft textures.

Architect : Robert Baum, LLP, Baum Thornley Architects (San Francisco, CA)

A translucent glass wall provides the central feature of both bathroom and bedroom. The shape of the mirrors was important, given their proximity to the glass, and this form is echoed in the stainless steel basins beneath. Soft focus from Bathroom Trends volume 2205

This bathroom by David Howell Design is created almost exclusively out of Jerusalem Gold limestone.

An entire wall of this bathroom, designed by architect Lindy Leuschke, is tiled in purple, blue and gray glass mosaics. These mosaic tiles add a strong, rich element to the otherwise simple decorative scheme.

This master bathroom, designed by architect Mark Singer of Laguna Beach, California, looks out onto a private courtyard. As well as the shower, the bathroom also features a 3ft-deep, Japanese-style soaking tub that is mirrored by a spa pool in the courtyard.


Singing in the Rain

Kohler introducing low-profile SoundTile speaker allow you to enjoy your favoritemusic or Internet radio stations through your DTV™ II interface.

K-8033-BN speaker in Vibrant® Brushed Nickel.


Best Bathroom Design EVER

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Best Bathroom Design EVER

Repeat business is a fine thing. I was searching for vanity fixtures for a bathroom remodel I am planning for a client and I ran into this! I love the humor. A little hard to use I would imagine though.


Gotta Have It!. Installment # 2

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The shapes of Elkay's prep sinks really appeal to me for a secondary sink. Shape, width, depth, off set drain placement, shaped cutting board. A little bit surgical looking, a little bit panning for gold. Fun to look at and very functional shapes. I can see myself chopping and rinsing my veggies with abandon!


A River Runs Through it.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da...

...My how this sink goes on. Fascinating. Elkay's newest line up for 2007 is offering organic shapes in antique hammered copper. Sizes rages from 28" up to 58" wide. Mystic sinks take their cue from water itself with naturally flowing shapes and an organic feel.
The resulting gentle under mount designs stand out to make a distinctive yet softened statement.

Need a sink with no fuss...try out one of these Elkay sinks for size.



Gotta have it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This morning I sloshed coffee all over the carpet as I made my way, bleary eyed, up the stair case at 6:00am. I cursed the fact that I do not have one of these as I cleaned up my coffee stains off the carpet.
To quote Ferris Bueller,
"It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

Brew Express
I am a self professed coffee snob. The best cup of coffee is the first cup! Add convenience into the mix with a built in water line, and all that is missing is my Butler James to serve me a cup!

The revolutionary new design of the Brew Express blends style, performance and convenience into an easy-to-use appliance that makes brewing coffee and hot beverages a pleasure instead of a burden. And because the Brew Express installs into the wall and hooks directly to your water supply, it also fits right into your life. You'll gain counter space and enjoy perfectly brewed coffee. All without spilling a drop of water. For more information, see Brew Express.


What's new in sinks?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Take a look at KOHLER for new trends in sink shapes. For a secondary sink at the island, I love the new shape shown here in Kohler's newest white, "Sea Salt". An absolute must is ordering the matching cutting board.

The clean, organic shape of the Fête island sink brings multipurpose convenience and a fresh aesthetic to kitchen spaces. Its unique, upper-and-lower basin design helps you easily accommodate both preparation and presentation, depending on your needs.

Fête K-6494-FF island kitchen sink in Sea Salt with K-5821-NA cutting board and Simplice™ K-649-VS entertainment sink faucet with pull-down spray in Vibrant® Stainless.

Not ready to call it quits to a double bowl, but envy the size of a single bowl sink? Low Rise sinks have half the divider and twice the sink.

Kohler introduced the Smart Divide in many different shapes.


Mark Cutler Design: 5 Books I Love About Architects

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Mark Cutler Design: 5 Books I Love About Architects
Designers are continually looking for inspiration and fresh ideas to keep current. Part of that process is gleaning from the past. Check out Mark Cutler's site where he lists some great reading material on talented Architects.
I am an avid bookworm and collect monographs on the works of great architects I admire. Whenever I find my self on work overload, I pull open a book on work of Wallace Neff, Frank Lloyd Right, or Paul Rudolph. Lately I have been reading up on the work of Susan Susanka, an architect who embraces smaller spaces I wish more homeowners in Santa Monica and West LA would have read before building their McMansions.


Recipe for success

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Whipping up a functional kitchen? I am asked all the time what is the first thing to consider when remodeling. I like to think designing a kitchen is a lot like buying a good pair of shoes. What one person considers essential is another person's drudgery. I personally haven't worn pumps (intentionally) since the 80's and would be very grumpy if forced to wear them every day. Getting a good fit for your kitchen and new appliances is as important as getting a good pair of shoes! Style and trends are fun to look but if it isn't your style then you could be very disappointed in the long run. First and foremost make sure your new design and appliances suit your personal style.

"The friend of the family expert". Everybody's got one! Be it a sister, an aunt, uncle Lou, cousin Bob, neighbor Ned. If I had a dollar for every time a client started to second guess what they wanted because the "family expert" came over to critique their decisions, I would buy myself a yacht and sail away. Sometimes enlisting unsolicited advise derails the process of getting a great design; and who's kitchen is this anyway? Don't be swayed to buy into someone else's idea unless you are absolutely certain it's your style.

Size is important, how big is your kitchen? Bigger kitchens are not always better. Too many steps from the cold storage to the prep area or cook top makes cooking a chore.

Interior designer Ann Jones (picture above) finds the wood counter tops in her Sonoma kitchen attractive, practical and inexpensive.
What I love about Ann's kitchen is the warmth of the wood tops, the open and airy brightness to what would typically be a narrow, confining small space. Notice the walls are absent of standard wall cabinets. I like the open shelves! Chronicle photo by Eric Luse. Cooks Kitchens

Use: who is cooking, how many cooks, what's your cooking style? I noticed those who enjoy cooking want "visual" access to plates and pot and pans. Remember Julia Child's kitchen?
The visual cook prefers pot racks and open shelves and have fresh herbs in pots at the kitchen window.

The meticulous cook may be clutter phobic and more prone to ask for appliance garages and methods for containment to conceal everything.

Counter surfaces: are you considering bigger appliances? Make sure you are not sacrificing counter top landing space. Also important is storage space. Taking down that wall may mean an open space to the den, but what happens to your glass and dinner plate storage? Don't overlook using a hutch in place of wall cabinets to contain glassware and dinner plates. Immediate picture above and below courtesy of Smallbone of Devises, typical bespoke handmade fitted kitchen designed cabinetry.

Mary Risley (shown above) has a large kitchen for entertaining (shown) and a small, everyday kitchen, just beyond her dining room table. Chronicle photo by Jerry Telfer. Notice in Mary's big kitchen, (great for dueling cooks and entertaining), two sinks, two ovens, two cook tops. Any where she turns around their is a landing space, a prep space and she is close to a water source for clean up. Nice! And I love the big farmhouse table.
Now if you are jealous of Mary's BIG Kitchen, after all this is far from the norm, take stock of what is in your cupboards? What do you refuse to part with and what can you mark for a garage sale? Make working in your kitchen easy with enough drawers and roll out trays to retrieve items out of the base cabinets. Make space for cook books, the microwave off the counter, a pantry, and don't forget about the family pooch! Family pets not to be overlooked!

Limestone floors were a durable, easy-to-clean choice for architect Heidi Richardson's client who has large dogs. The beige and gray floor colors even camouflage shedding. Photo by Colin Mcrae. Full article available at COOKS KITCHENS/ Professionals share their recipes for design success.


What the pros use in their home.

APPLIANCES: What the pros use in their homes
Here's what the experts say about theirs.

I came across an interesting article from the San Francisco Chronicle, What the pros use in thier own home, by Jill Storey

Mary Risley, (pictured left), cooking school director, has several ovens and stoves in her home, including one she confesses to buying because the salesman was cute. (It's not the best of the bunch.) Chronicle Photo, 1999

It just goes to show their are various reasons we all have for buying a particular type of appliance.


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