What is all the talk about Lyptus?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You may be hearing talk of a new wood species named Lyptus. Cabinet manufacturers have introduced Lyptus in the recent past. Since that time, it has been well received as a unique and environmentally friendly wood species. Expect a wood species premium fee same as the Cherry wood premium, on average of 12%.

Lyptus is a premium, plantation-grown hardwood from Brazil. It resembles Mahogany with its rich, red coloring and tight grain pattern, however, it will exhibit dramatic color variations. Density and strength of Lyptus is comparable to hard Maple. For consumers interested in “green” design, Lyptus is an excellent option because it is a sustainable product.
It is a hybrid of the Eucalyptus tree and is extremely fast-growing with mature trees ready to harvest in just 15 years. After harvesting, new growth sprouts from the same stump and existing root system, and is ready for harvesting again in about 15 years.

For more information on Lyptus visit Weyerhaeuser.

Lyptus Natural. reddish, Pinkish Tones. Notice the beautiful grain pattern. Lyptus is one of the wood species that looks best when stained a dark color.

Lyptus is gorgeous is dark finishes.

Equally beautiful, Golden tones.

This kitchen has combined light and dark stains together. Great touch to use a rich, dark mahogany stain on the island and the refrigerator panels. The rest of the kitchen is shown in a lighter stain. So beautiful.


Save or Splurge: The Kitchen

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Check out this great article on when to splurge and when to save when it comes to kitchen cabinets and appliances. See the full article in the September issue of

"To get the most for your money, you need to know two things: when the good stuff is worth paying extra for and when the economy choice is plenty good enough."


Cabinet Hardware

Sunday, August 26, 2007

When selecting cabinet hardware, I would say 99% of my clients don't know about break -a-way screws. You will need them for your cabinet hardware that will be attached to drawers. If you open up the drawer you will notice the thickness of the drawer box. Most drawers boxes are constructed with 1/2" thick hardwood. The thickness of the drawer head itself is usually 3/4" thick. Add this up and you will see where your screw supplied with your knob falls short.

A common mistake is to order your cabinet hardware and not order break-a-way screws to go through these thick drawers. A bag of 25 is about $3.00. Don't rely on sales people to remind you. Also, not all break-way screws fit. Make sure you get the right diameter to fit your hardware. Before you buy hardware, not only will you need a count of all the doors and drawers, make a note of how many drawers you have that will require break a way screws. A good installer will have them in their tool bag, but they may run short, and you will look like a hero when you lay your break a way screws on the table.


Contrasting Custom Interiors

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I have a client who found the most beautiful shade of green for her walls. She asked:

"Can we use this color in the interior bead board back of my glass door cabinets?"
When selecting a custom contrasting interior paint color for your cabinet order keep in mind these pre- planning points.
1. Plan in advance of your cabinet order placement. A special color matched sample will have to be generated and submitted back for your approval. Custom color matched samples should be arranged before a cabinet order is submitted so that the order is not delayed while the color match and approval are pending.

2. Test your paint color on a solid wood sample. Preferably on the same wood species you are planning for your cabinet order.

3. Plan on additional fees to your order. Paint premium fees from the factory usually rate 10%- 25% more to an order. When submitting your own custom color, add to your costs the following: Development fees, Custom Color Fees, Custom Multi Step Fees which can add 5 or 12% to your order.

4. Before going to the additional expense of custom color, check with your cabinet sales person to see if there is a close match that would suit your needs for the project.

When I see a custom color request, it is usually done as a paint request, not a stain. Stains are easier to match with the range of stain colors available through cabinet manufacturers. Paint colors with cabinet manufacturers are limited. They may offer Forrest Green and Pistachio Green which are few and far between that perfect shade you are trying to achieve. "Contrasting interior color" is usually requested in a wall cabinet with doors routed for glass, or bead board interior backs to complement or go along with a paint color being carried through on the walls.

Why go to the expense of having the factory paint it? If very careful, "Do-it-your-selfers" can attempt painting small portions of interior back walls of cabinets or loose bead board back and install into the cabinet. Be careful though, if painting over already painted material, you could wind up with a mess, if you don't pre plan by priming before painting. What a mess! You do not want to wind up with a painted surface that peels right off. Painting is not for the faint of heart. If you say you want the interior unfinished, manufacturers will not warranty unfinished cabinets, nor ship isolated unfinished parts of a cabinet.

Mostly, the reason that most are willing to pay the fee is that there is no better finish than a professional factory finish. No hassle, no mess, no re-do's with local painters. It is done, and ready for installation!

If a homeowner hands the paint can to the unsuspecting cabinet installer, be prepared. Cabinet installers do not paint unless a pre-arrangement has been made in advanced. Most will want you to make arrangements with professional painters for finish work.


On Line Window Shopping

Friday, August 17, 2007

Whenever I come across a great Blog, I bookmark it under "Window Shopping", with plans to come back later when I have time to sift through the pages. Here is one such blog that got my attention. Another Shade of Grey is a fabulous design blog. She is able pull together great finds from other stores and other great blogs. I believe she has accessory items for sale on Etsy. What's Etsy? It's an online shopping bizarre. "Find what you want in the unknown". It's tag line reads: Your place to buy and sell all things handmade.

Here are some photos of what you can find on Another Shade of Grey.
Retro Dinnerware:

Heavenly carpet:

These mugs for sale make me reminiscent of my child hood.

How fun is this: a viewer uploads her bedroom for design help and Shades of Grey lends design ideas and provides the viewer with a visual of an "after" design.


Custom Built

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Here is a picture of a sink base my client and I created to solve the corner sink problem of too much wasted space.

The typical corner sink base the client had before was angled in such a way that it pushed the sink base farther into the room wasting a lot of space in front of and behind the sink.

The redesign I worked on with the homeowner, allowed for a 46" base cabinet, two sets of bifold doors allowing for the sink to be set back further into the corner than before. Hoping for the largest sink possible, we used a fairly large Blancowave 37" stainless Steel Sink.

One glitch was minor; the doors arrived with piano hinges.

We replaced them with concealed hinges. The outcome was successful and the customer is enjoying her corner sink now more thank before.

We also got rid of the 15" trash compactor and replaced it with 18" double trash cans to the left of the sink, thus making more usable counter space between the cook top and the sink.

Can you guess? The 18" three drawer base is disguising the 18" trash base. The top drawer is operable. The two drawers false panels hiding the pull out trash cans. That was a clever trick we used to give the appearance of drawers to match the drawers to the left of the cook top. The client is big on symmetry.

This project is an example of how ideas evolve as we work our way through the design. When the client first came to see me, the idea was to remove huge wasted space of the corner sink. Too much unusable space behind the sink and too much space projecting into the room. The client was so tired of this space that they were willing to place half of the sink into an L shape corner in order to reclaim the inches for usable counter and base cabinet use. The problem I saw in their initial concept is that we are replacing one awkward configuration for another. Another aspect of the design; originally the idea was to keep the 20 year old Thermador oven that still worked great! The problem: it was in a spot in the kitchen that would not work well with the new peninsula we wanted to add for more counter space. Leaving the oven in the original location would create a barrier or "walk a around" from the dining room. Not a good idea. We placed a movable cart in front of the pantry to show a possible location of the peninsula. We rejected this and placed the peninsula off the opposite wall.

We decided to move the oven to the opposite wall of the cook top, but because the oven was vented, Mrs. R. finally warmed up to the idea of a new Thermador when we found out moving the old Thermador meant additional costs with a new roof jack to vent the old oven. The second concept we decided to nix, was the placement of the refrigerator in the corner. As with the old corner sink, the refrigerator was decidedly too big to be placed on an angle. Instead we jettisoned the pantry to the old desk area in the kitchen, which was not used as a desk at all by the client. We found the depth of the desk area worked well so that we could place a pantry on one side and a glass fronted curio cabinet accessible from the hallway. Voila! A space that gave us a bonus storage.

In the redesigned space: oven and pantry moved, refrigerator inched over; the sink stayed in the corner with a more tailored fit with a custom cabinet. We also custom built the space to house the GE Profile Refrigerator.

It was important we put back simple key features inside the cabinets. Tray dividers are essential.

The "Tray Stay" is a Omega National Product, made in maple veneer. Installed in u channel brackets with screws. Fastened into multiple locations. Great feature. You decide what span you need between the dividers.

Notice in the "after photo" the bump out in the side panels and cabinet above the refer. to allow for a 28" case depth refrigerator. The before shot shows the massiveness of the old refrigerator. The new refrigerator is still 25.5 cu. ft.

Before: After:

We also liked the idea of "side lights" on the glass door cabinet.


Keep your Bathroom Mold Free

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What is a bathroom topic doing in a Kitchen Blog you may be asking yourself. Occasionally, I venture into designing bathrooms for clients. One client asked me lately about controlling mold growth. Here is a link to an article I found, "Keep Your Bathroom Mold Free", that offers simple tips anyone can follow. These are simple and sound tips I find myself sharing with clients all the time. I find it interesting that most people don't run the vent fan in the bathroom at all, a very useful piece of equipment to evacuate steam and moisture from a bathroom. Check out the the link is to The Daily Tubber, a fun and useful website on claw foot tubs and other interesting bathroom facts.

Keep in mind, nothing can be 100% bullet proof, mold needs food and water to grow. Any wet environment can become a breeding ground if left untreated and neglected from day to day maintenance.

You can specify materials that will act as preventive measures in building your project but don't forget to keep up the maintenance once the contractors are gone. For instance, epoxy grouts are gaining popularity in residential applications. Custom Building Products has a product called 100% Epoxy. It contains a product called MoldGard® Technology — Custom Building Products’ effective and environmentally sound approach designed to inhibit moisture intrusion and neutralize the food source that mold and mildew thrive on. It Combines with any Polyblend® Sanded Tile Grout to produce a highly stain-resistant and chemical-resistant epoxy grout. Laticrete has a product called SpectraLOCK, an epoxy based grout that utilizes a revolutionary breakthrough in technology. Its unique cross-linking system performs like an epoxy with respect to color uniformity, durability, and stain resistance and it is easy to use like a Portland cement base grout.

There are disclaimers with these products you should be aware of:
1. Some soft polished marble or delicate glazed or glass tile might be scratched. Laticrete recommends applying a small test area to determine results before grouting entire installation.
2. Epoxy resins may affect the color of porous stone. Verify results with a test area.
3. LATICRETE SpectraLOCK Grout is resistant to staining when exposed to most household products and cleaners (e.g. ketchup). However, long term exposure to any material without
proper cleaning and maintenance will increase the probability of staining.
4. Custom Building products cautions when used on exterior installations, color variations may occur over time, especially with lighter shades. May stain light colored marble or stone. Test a small area and check for staining prior to grouting the entire installation.

Another day: I'll come back to talk about paperless drywall.


Don't buy the hype on new appliances

Highly hyped kitchen products often disappoint. That's the message in Consumer Reports' 2007 August issue, in its annual kitchen package. The magazine's tests found shortcomings in many highly promoted, costly items. Often, an old standard proved the better choice.

What have you purchased and were disappointed in the performance of the product?



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

At times I am at a loss for words when I encounter rude and demanding "potential" clients.
Working with a designer on a kitchen project entails a relationship that can last for months. It is so much nicer to work with people who are more communicative than demanding. With that in mind, the interview process is a two way street. In as much as the client is interviewing the designer, so too is the designer evaluating the client.

Please keep in mind the following:
1. Appointments are recommended and appreciated. If you walk in, I will be friendly and accommodating to answer your questions. If I am in the middle of working with another client, I will be happy to schedule an appointment so that we may have the proper time to evaluate your project needs.
2. If we have an appointment, I will be on time and will call you the day before to remind you. Please arrive on time or call me to let me know you are delayed.
3. If you have drawings and want me to price out your job , please do not ask me to put your quote ahead of other clients. Every client gets equal time. If I say that my lead time is two- weeks out, please do not call me back one week later upset that you have not heard from me. If I can accommodate you sooner, I certainly will try.
4. I will get back to you in a timely manner with your project quote. If I don't here from you, I have no way of knowing if you received my message, if you hired another company, or you are too busy to call back. Please contact me either way so that I may have a way of knowing where I stand with your quote.

As for the obnoxious overbearing bullies of the world there is absolutely no rule that says I have to be your designer.


New and Improved Low VOC Paints

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's been a while since I posted. Summer time is my busiest season.
Since my customers are asking, I have the latest info on what's new in Eco-Friendly Paints.
Low VOC Paints gained a bad rap from painters when they were first developed. The biggest complaint was the quick drying time. However due to consumer demand, R & D depts. with many paint manufacturers have been improving the performance of Low VOC Paints.

Green reading: reference the August 10, 2007, New and Improved Low-VOC Paints article in Kitchen and Bath Business for the full story and additional links.

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