Is the ceiling fan the light fixture of choice for the male race?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Maybe it is the fact that ceiling fan's have cool remote controls.
In any event, give a little will ya'!


What color cabinets will go with my hardwood floors?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In an email posted by a reader of this blog, the call for help with color for cabinets was asked.

Hello Laurie!
I found your blog and am very impressed with your kitchen designs.We are doing a new construction of a brand new home and am having trouble deciding on what color the kitchen cabinets should be to go with. We have decided on a flooring, it is Brazilian Cherry here is a sample of what it will look like We are going with Omega Dynasty Cabinets Anson style door. It would be great if someone could assist on a color for the cabinets. We are open to input, and suggestions, we are open to having the counter anycolor. Thanks!

Dear Myron, thanks for reading my blog. Although I can't answer your question directly without benefit of a design retainer, I think this is a good question in general that so many will face when selecting hardwood floors and cabinets in a kitchen. I can give you some points in general to think about.

When deciding on color for cabinets consider the factors of the space.
  1. The amount of natural lighting: is the room dark? is it flooded with light?
  2. Does the room open up to a great room or is it separated from the rest of the house? Are you looking to integrate the cabinetry to blend into the open space? In other words, the appearance of the cabinetry looks like furniture, blending with the entertainment center and other furnishings.
  3. What is the style of the house? What is it that you want to accomplish with the style? Do you want traditional, modern, contemporary? With the Brazilian cherry you can really play this up with anything from a complementary off white Painted cabinet color for a traditional look. For a contemporary influence tone on tone with a monochromatic color scheme is another direction.
  4. Additionally, are you prepared for the additional maintenance that goes along with hardwood floors? Do you have dogs that could potentially scratch your hardwood with their nails? Have you considered the warranty?
  5. And finally purchase responsibly. Make sure the flooring you are purchasing carries independent certification by an organization accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council. Ask about it before you buy. Do not buy woods from Endangered Forests. Check this list out.

True Story. American Cherry Vs. Brazilian Cherry

I always offer this true story example. I have a friend that owns a condo on Lely Barefoot Beach. Ten years ago they installed a beautiful American (considered very soft) cherry floor and in that time took extreme care of it by paying attention to care & maintenance. It looks as new as the day it was installed.

On the other hand I installed a Brazilian Cherry (considered quite hard) floor on Fort Myers Beach about six years ago. In both cases they were less than 50 yards from the beach itself, where sand "created a problem."

The owner of the Brazilian Cherry floor had a very active adult household who didn't clean up after themselves as much as the other family of four kids and a few pets. Today their floors need refinishing near high traffic areas and moisture sources such as the kitchen sink, refrigerator with icemaker.


There are many colors and styles available today and we realize the choices can be overwhelming. If you're sold on buying for hardness, do not be disappointed unless you live in a careful household.

Ken Fisher


10 Tips for Greener Gifting for the Holidays

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I used to laugh at my Grandma for wrapping gifts with last years gift paper. Mostly because she was the queen of re-gifting and we had to stop ourselves from giggling when we saw the surprised facial expression coming from the original gift giver.

But the reality is that the day after the holidays, all across the world, our trash cans are filled with mounds of gift wrap. Pretty to look at for a moment but ultimately trashed is a sad fact. Before the shopping frenzy starts consider that if every American family wrapped just three presents in recyclable materials, we would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Why not try to have a good impact this holiday season?

Before buying gift wrap that is used once and thrown away consider low impact gift wrap ideas: Make a package reusable. What a great way to give!

  1. A gift in a gift: Stop off in the kitchen housewares department for useful packaging: use a new dishtowel or apron to wrap up a gift. (And no, using your used dishtowels is not a good idea)!
  2. Wrap it fresh. Clip a piece of mistletoe, a sprig of pine or adorn with pine cones or cinnamon sticks in place of tacky metallic store bought bows. Careful not to wrap with fresh adornments too far in advance.
  3. Use real popcorn or peanuts in place of the artificial stuff for packing. Although make sure the recipient isn't allergic to peanuts.
  4. Handmade encourages keeping. Make a box reusable all year round. Line the inside of the box and the lid with felt, nice fabric, old maps or sheet music. Wrap the box and lid separately in recycled paper, try for lovely recycled paper. Make it meaningful by selecting the recipients favorite color or a theme: music, gardening, or cinema themes.
  5. Wrap it up with raffia, string or with reusable grosgrain ribbon.
  6. Cut gift cards from last years holiday cards instead of store bought gift cards.
  7. Brown paper bags your kids can help decorate.
  8. Give the gift of nature. Know someone who loves roses? Get your gloves on and plant a rose bush in her yard. (Get her permission first!) Or give a gift certificate from her local nursery or tickets to the next garden show. Or attach a seed packet to the gift box in place of an artificial metallic bow.
  9. Giving doesn't mean it has to be wrapped in the formal sense. Give an experience: Tickets to a show, a gift certificate to a fantastic restaurant, or a sporting event.
  10. Give the gift of yourself: offer to pet sit or dog walk the next time the recipient goes on vacation.
For more gift ideas: go to Green
For additional resources:

Grandma may have caused a few ruffled feathers back then, but she had it right. She had a huge list of grandkids and relatives to send gifts to, she was just being practical by recycling what she couldn't use. Instead of being part of the mass consumerism to purchase just because it's the holidays and you feel obligated to give a gift, think in terms of sustainable gifts from the heart.

Happy Holidays!


Feng Shui Your Kitchen

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Here is an interesting topic over at Green Living, Feng Shui Your Kitchen. Do you need a quick fix to avoid stagnant chi (life energy)? Want to feel healthier and attract more abundance in your life? Many of the ideas behind Feng Shui are really based on common sense. Try some of the ideas out and see if it doesn't improve your outlook for your kitchen.

I like the fresh potted flowers/plants idea. It puts me in a good mood to start my day looking at my cheery potted plants of rosemary and pomegranate. The idea of mirror behind the cook top doesn't sit well with me. Too much maintenance to make it always look sparkling fresh. I prefer the shiny teakettle instead.


If you could, would you...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

...purchase cabinetry that is focused on providing you a healthier place to live?

  1. Would you buy Formaldehyde Free Solid Wood?
  2. Would you buy a product knowing that the glue is FDA approved and contains no chemicals whatsoever?
Take a look at a product preview. What do you think?


Thinking it through with Slab Foundation

I am geared up for digging and planting in my small townhouse garden! Gardening is a lovely hobby to rest my eyes from all the computer work I have to do everyday. I love to get my hands in dirt, walking through nurseries and discovering what plants will thrive and which will not in my Zone 8. But before I set out to dig, I called my local utilities. Every month our local utility company always puts out a a reminder notice with the bill: "call before you dig". You want to make sure you do not strike a gas line or other utilities that can really create a serious situation and costly repairs. So it goes with remodeling your kitchen when it comes to relocating utilities.

Are you on slab foundation? Houses with underground utilities on slab foundation require more extensive work relocating utilities compared to houses built on raised foundation. Start with your local building department or plan check department.

This brings to mind one of the projects I am working on right now. I called the local building dept to check if our client's home had Post Tension Cables in the concrete slab. Post-tensioning is a method of strengthening concrete using high-strength steel strands or cables, typically referred to as tendons.

If you have a slab on grade foundation, check to see if your house has post tension cables in the concrete foundation. One item of note: our local building dept. commented that sometimes they may or may not have a record if a house has Post Tension Cables. Most newer homes will have them. Error on the side of caution always. It is worth the cost of having your slab ex-rayed for a few hundred dollars compared to repairs that can run in the thousands.

If you do have PTC in your foundation call in a company that will be able to x-ray the slab. The grid pattern has to be mapped out on the floor before trenching begins. Once the PTC grid pattern is mapped, then the concrete has to be cut, holes bored through between each cable grid to core through the earth and tunneled below the cables. The work is strenuous, time consuming and expensive but worth the extra effort if it means taking a dysfunctional kitchen to a exceptional functional entertainers dream kitchen. In the long run, the investment will be worth it if you look at it in terms of dollar cost averaging the expense divided into the years of enjoyment you and your family live in your home.

Here is a video showing PTC placed into the foundation.
HGTV Pro: Video Post Tensioning Slabs

A worker cutting a tendon tail in a poured concrete foundation.

A sheathed cable is laid through each interior beam before the slab is poured.

Here is a scary example of a slab that was trenched and cables were cut, requiring a very expensive repair. Photo courtesy of PTSR
This shows the damage that saw cutting and jack hammering can do to existing post-tension cables. Out of 18 exposed post-tension cables, 14 were broken.


Here Kitty, Kitty, kitty!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

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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