Inspiration: Thinking "Why Not?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Inspiration from people and places keeps my creativity flowing. I design residential kitchen remodels for my clients. I know that for many of my clients that the design they entrust me with is the kitchen of their dreams. My goal is to get this for them.

Inspiration and keeping my ideas fresh comes from everywhere and everything. Weather it is as simple as taking a different road on my daily route, a weekend drive, a journey to a new city or as simple as reading about another designer's work, finding inspiration from multiple sources is as necessary to me as water.

Clodagh, a woman who was named after a waterway in Ireland, an award winning designer of international fame, with signature products inspired by nature, has tackled the world of fashion, architecture and design, and also has time to manage a burgeoning retail collection of lighting, fabric, carpets and decorative accessories. When you live by a life long motto of : "Why not?", anything is possible with that state of mind. Her story is amazing and inspirational.

If you admire and are inspired by the zen like and environmentally friendly qualities in design, then you will be inspired by Clodagh's signature "Four C's of contemporary design: contemplating, cleansing, clarifying, and creating everything from sensual bedrooms to spa-like baths in her new book, Your Home, Your Sanctuary , by Rizzoli.
Clodagh says, "What I like to hear most from my clients is, "We feel good here." I completely agree with her.

In a time where the news is so alarming, the best we can do is make our homes a peaceful and nourishing place. Turn off the news, turn to your loved ones instead. Our home should be a place of rest and tranquility, a way to recharge, calm and renew every morning and night.

Trend guru, Faith Popcorn coined the phrase in the 1990's, "cocooning", suggesting that modern people cocoon in their homes because work is busy, life is hectic, and the news tells us that it's dangerous to be anywhere but safely ensconced in our castle.

But the identifiable departure from the trend of cocooning from the last decade is the shift in thinking globally and acting locally. Clodagh states, "it's about making a better world". Giving back to the community is an important part of Clodagh's business. is a non-profit that pools donations for charitable organizations that provide education, health necessities, and other means of assistance to children around the globe.

On her website,, you will find several very simple ways you can give globally by giving up a simple daily luxury we take for granted. Her website has a cause and effect chart with a donation reference amount and how your small financial contribution makes a difference in someone else's life. This excerpt from the web site can be found at: About Us.

Give up a couple of lattes and a muffin a month. $10.00 a month (appropriately channeled, and by that we mean put your bucks here) will bring miracles to children far away in distance, but close to the heart. Again, why?
The money you give will make a difference.

To you a mosquito net is something to drape romantically over the bedposts. Nice design. To a child in Africa, a mosquito net can literally be a lifesaver, guarding them as they sleep, from Malaria, the number 1 killer of children under 5.

What else will your ten bucks buy? A uniform, a requisite for school. For many, it's their only clothing. But it is more. Hope. Pride. Belonging. Opportunity. A road that leads beyond the village and into the world beyond, to become a valued member of the global community. Given education, given opportunity, one of these children might become an astronaut, or discover a cure for AIDS. Why not?



Tile Murals

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Imagine being able to transfer any image onto marble, ceramic and glass tile to create tile murals?

Alicia Tapp Designs is very excited & proud to announce
the availability of art from
Contemporary & Award Winning Artists and Photographers
in a variety of themes and techniques~ from Tuscany landscapes to
Renaissance and spiritual paintings to be transferred onto your choice of
marble, ceramic and glass tiles. ..Indoors or Outdoors

Whether your project is indoors or out, ( kitchen back splash, floors, counter tops, patio or pools),there are innumerable ways to customize your design.

Alicia Tapp Designs offers unlimited ideas on their web site.


Fresh perspectives.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's in a kitchen tour?

This weekend, the Central Coast and Valleys Chapter of the NKBA held it's third annual Kitchen Tour. What is better than an interactive tour? See the kitchens, talk to the designers, open the drawers, get a chance to see the latest innovations in cabinets, appliances and advancements in eco-friendly products. It is a once a year opportunity that beats any visit to a showroom or looking at a magazine. Walking through a newly remodeled kitchen is a sensory experience.

A live demonstration from the EasyCleanHome team was on hand at Home # 6 on the Tour, my client's own kitchen. The science behind the nanotechnology demonstration is the coolest thing to watch. It is not really a "new" product, it has been tested and used in aerospace, defense and motor sports. A non toxic, non staining coating that bonds with the surface, providing a anti-microbial, super-hydrophobic surface. A product that repels water, contaminates have nowhere to absorb into, what can be better than that for easy maintenance? What a better idea than to use this technology on residential surfaces such as granite, stone, stainless steel and glass.

The NKBA Tour of Kitchens was held in nine homes throughout Ventura County varying in style from 1950's California Ranch to 1980's tract homes. The following photos are the entries from myself and my associate Liz Tiffin from Westside Remodeling.
Enjoy viewing the transformation!



Kitchen shown above was treated with Easy Clean/ Green Life Coatings.
The stainless steel sparkles. Finger Prints wipe right off the stainless.




What's really great is to watch the expression of surprise in the neighbor's faces, standing in the kitchen looking at the transformation, maybe thinking what "could be" for their kitchen. This is a Morrison Ranch Tract Home. From Tract to Terrific!







A Message from Consumer's Reports

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Consumer Reports, always looking out for consumers, has just published 5 valuable tips consumers can implement to go "green" without breaking the bank. In this time of uncertainty, buyers must be judicious in knowing what is truly an eco-friendly product.

We are seeing first hand what deregulation has done to our financial institutions and Consumer Reports reminds us in their newest publication, Shop Smart; "There are no federal regulations for items marketed as eco-friendly so some green products might not be as green as you think".

The experts at ShopSmart, from the publisher of Consumer Reports, spent months sizing up fridges, running dishwashers, burning light bulbs, and punishing faucets to find the best green kitchen products.

  1. Get a water-saver faucet

· Why: A gleaming new faucet is an easy upgrade, but kitchen models can be water wasters compared with some bathroom faucets. Low-flow bathroom faucets with the Environmental Protection Agency’s new WaterSense label are about 30 percent more efficient.

· Easy Green Fix: Until the EPA comes up with criteria for low-flow kitchen faucets (they’re in the works), for $3 to $11 you can make most new or existing taps more efficient simply by attaching an aerator.

· One Possible Draw Back: With lower flow, it might take a bit longer to fill that pasta pot.

· What to Buy: Two Kohler models that aced ShopSmart’s most recent tests and can be ordered with custom-fit aerators for about $10 are the Vinnata K-690-BX , $550, and the Forte K-10433-VS, $250. Another green choice is a hands-free faucet, like the Danze Parma D421058, $480.

· Tip: When you find a faucet style you like, make sure it has a lifetime warranty that covers stains and water-wasting leaks.

  1. Switch to watt-stingy lighting

· Why: Modern kitchens can use up to 2,000 watts for lighting because standard incandescent, halogen, and xenon lights are energy hogs. All that excess heat from lights might prod you to turn down the A/C to cool things off.

· Easy Green Fix: Switch to cool-burning compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in overhead fixtures, and also consider adding some LED or fluorescent undercabinet task lighting. This easy fix costs about $200 for five fluorescent fixtures.

· One Possible Draw Back: Some—but not all—CFLs and LEDs cast a bluish or other funky-color light. Before you buy, ask if you can return the fixture if you don’t like the way the light looks with your décor.

· What to Buy: Strips are the most common type of task lighting, round “puck” lights are best for casting pools of light onto a counter and linear lights are best if you need more versatile fixtures. Both round “puck” lights and linear lights are available with LEDs.

· Tip: If your cabinets don’t have a built-in valence to hide task lighting, either add one or choose a fixture with a sleek housing that’s not as noticeable.

  1. Put in a ceiling fan

· Why: Kitchens get hot, and if you use an air conditioner to cool things off, it will gobble up a lot of energy and money.

· Easy Green Fix: A ceiling fan in the kitchen will use only a fraction of the electricity that an A/C would.

· What to Buy: ShopSmart tested models from Hampton Bay, Harbor Breeze, and Hunter, and most performed pretty well in air-movement tests. So rather than shop for a particular brand, go for a style you like and remember that lighting affects energy use.

· Tip: You might be able to find CFLs designed for ceiling fans that can replace the original bulbs and save energy.

  1. Renovate with recycled stuff

· Why: A new countertop or cabinet style can change the whole look of your kitchen, but manufacturing them keeps power plants polluting the air and some green goods aren’t as green as they might seem.

· Easy Green Fix: Before you buy new, see if you can find secondhand products.

· What to Buy: Salvage shops are stocked with new or gently used stone countertops, hardwood flooring, decorative lumber, and kitchen cabinets, so they’re a great place to look for bargains. Habitat for Humanity sells used and surplus building materials at outlets called ReStores.

· Tip: If you must have new, look for greener cabinets and other products made from sustainable lumber and materials.

  1. Trade in the biggest energy hogs

· Why: The appliances in your kitchen that take the most energy to operate are refrigerators and dishwashers. The older these appliances are, the less energy efficient they are and the more costly they are to run.

· Easy Green Fix: It usually doesn’t pay to replace working appliances with new ones. But when you do update, look for models that use less energy and are quieter. Though energy efficient models can cost more, you’ll recoup the money as your utility bills shrink.

· What to Buy: ShopSmart found that the Amana AFD 2535DE [W], $1,550, saved up to $72 a year in annual operating costs compared to a 15-year-old fridge and the Bosch SHE33MO [2]UC, $540, saved up to $51 a year compared to a 7-year-old dishwasher.

· Tip: You don’t have to ditch the clunkers all at once. Start with the least efficient ones. It pays to replace them when repairs would cost more than half the price of a new appliance.


A side note on Tip # 2, "one possible drawback to lighting".
My favorite lighting tip is changing recessed can lights to LED. Times are changing, and here is an example where regulation works in our favor. It used to be there was no standard way to judge a good LED from a bad one. Recently, in an effort to standardized the lighting industry, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed test methods that manufacturers should use to standardize color specifications of LED lamps and LED light fixtures. With this new standard manufacturers will use, consumers will be able to compare total light output, energy consumption, chromaticity and color quality.
For more information on lighting on Lighting standards start with the article form Light


A tip for adding non-structural pizazz to your ceilings.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Kitchen Design Notes: Ceilings Need Attention Too.
In posting my topic on ceilings, it turns out there is more to be said, and Kelly over at Kitchen Sync blog has offered some fine tips on ceilings.

A valuable discussion Kelly, thank you.


Ceilings Need Attention Too.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Many times the ceiling is the overlooked surface in kitchen remodeling.
Here are some lovely examples of designing with the 5th "wall" in mind.
If you are graced with 10' plus ceilings, there are more options available. But, if you live in a two story home with standard 8' ceilings, take heart, there are still options available for you.

This space designed by one of my favorite designers, Patricia Gray, shows off a floating ceiling. What a fabulous technique.

Another view into the work of Patricia Gray. The wood tones adds warmth to the otherwise glistening reflective space with nearly floor to ceiling spans of windows.

In this rambling California Ranch with cathedral ceilings, rough hewn beams (the very top left of the photo), were added to ceilings. Additional accent lighting above the cabinets sends the accent lighting upwards. The focus directs your attention up.

A two story home, although the ceilings are standard height, this vintage inspired kitchen plays up the molding detail, wrapping around the angled details. This kitchen, designed by my associate, Liz Tiffen, will be on the Tour of Kitchens, October 19th. For tickets and more information about the Tour please visit

For many of us who have had the 1970's recessed 4 x 8 fluorescent light tubes covered with plastic panels, an interesting update to the ceiling is the use of coved drywall finished with crown molding accenting the inside perimeter. Additional recessed can lights can be run inside this recessed area or as shown here, pendant lights and accent lighting behind the molding.

In Southern California, our older Spanish style homes, Art Deco or Craftsman style homes built in the 20's and 30's had great detail included: coved, art deco tray or beamed ceilings . If you are lucky to have a home with good bone structure to start with, lucky you.

If not, there are so many lovely styles to select from, it's a shame to neglect the ceiling.

Here are some more examples of great ceilings.


A barrel ceiling by Capital Improvements, in Dallas Texas. (In Texas where they really do everything big).

From Euro Builders, Texas

From the Vaughn Group, Dallas, Texas.

From the Traver Group, Texas.
And of course, I cannot end this series of ceiling details without showing the lovely, over the top (literally) faux painted sky ceiling. This one feels like a trellis above with the vines trailing down onto the wall. This one is just faux you.

I have been holding onto this photo forever. I think the kitchen is charming.
This is from YesterTec. A furniture company that specializes in amazing workstations hidden in armoire designed furniture.


Red Hot and Sizzle

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What comes with the territory of designing kitchen and bath projects is the desire to punch it up with every new design. A new detail, a color, a new style. What makes a design special? A design aesthetic that carries all the way through. One that fits the style of the home. Proceed cautiously if your style leans towards the eclectic side. Learning to play up one style requires restraint. Restaint by carefully selecting materials that are in scale for the space, finishes that lend to the design, not detract from the overall effect. Adding too many elements or elements from a different theme makes for confusion.

Here are some of my favorite details from across the board. Inspired by color, asian elements, modern elements, and traditional elegance but never all at once. What do they all share? Restraint. Restraint, when balanced with the right balance of texture, scale, and tone is never boring. I love them all. Do you have a favorite?

From a favorite web site of mine: Green Tea Design. a Mizuya Island and Mizuya Counter with beautifully finished concrete countertops, a Maru Table, Dana Shelf, and some Antique Benches.

This sexy kitchen exudes style. It is a hip update to a 50's home. Designed by a fellow NKBA Member and friend, Ronni Fryman from Kitchen Places, Ventura, CA.

A balance mix of materials. Everyone loves a painted kitchen. This one exudes luscious elegance.
Flamed finished matte counters for the island with black distressed cabinets balances the bling of the chandelier and stately height of the white cabinets. This one, yours truly picked the colors and consulted on the layout for a friend of mine.


Kitchen Inspiration

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ever wonder what's new in Kitchen Design? Wouldn't you like to know where the future of kitchen design is headed? Take a detour to view a video log documentary web series for a glimpse into the future of kitchen design.

Designers interviewed include:

  • James Drake - Client list, including Madonna and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is literal the designer to the “who's who” of entertainment and politics.
  • Michael McDonough - The original trailblazer behind the green movement was recently part of the PBS Green Building "e2" series narrated by Brad Pitt.
  • Plus many other experts in design and construction who lend their views on kitchen design.
  • And what say you? Do you agree or disagree? What is your opinion?
For local inspiration visit an NKBA Kitchen Tour.
  • A Kitchen Tour sponsored by the National Kitchen and Bath Association is your up close and personal opportunity to see the latest trends and innovations.
  • The Central Coast and Valleys chapter will be hosting their third annual Tour of Kitchens on Sunday, October 19th in honor of National Kitchen and Bath month. The self-guided journey takes visitors through 9 recently-remodeled homes in Ventura County that epitomize the state of the art of kitchen design. This fundraising event benefits HomeAid of Los Angeles and Ventura, a charity that builds homes for the temporarily homeless. To buy tickets on line go to


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