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HOW TO CREATE AN AMAZING KITCHEN DESIGN THAT WORKS FOR YOU

HOW TO CREATE AN AMAZING KITCHEN DESIGN THAT WORKS FOR YOU

 

Have you ever hosted a party at your home and everyone wants to hang out in the kitchen?  There’s laughing and talking and everyone is having a wonderful time!  Even with an open floor plan, and lots of subtle hints to move to the great room, they all want to stay in the kitchen.  The downside to this, if you’re the hostess, is that guests are in your way as you try to get the food ready.   It’s hard to move around them to grab to what you need, and you end up getting a little stressed.  At that point, you might start wishing that your kitchen had a better layout.   So how can you create an amazing kitchen design that works for YOU and your family?

One of the first things we do in a kitchen consultation is talk about what you want and what you need in your new space.  And almost always my clients’  first response is “I want our kitchen to be more functional with lots of counter space and storage.”  Sound familiar?  Everyone has their own idea of how they want to work in their space.  You want a functional kitchen design that’s been customized just for you and way you want to work and entertain.

To make this happen, always start with a plan.  Would you ever go on a trip without knowing how to get to your destination ?  I know I always check it out on WAZE.  The same thing applies to designing a kitchen that works for YOU.   When you have a vision for the end result, all the steps along the way fall into place.

Begin with making a list of everything you need in your kitchen.  This would include things like all the appliances you need (ex. refrigerator, cooktop, oven, dishwasher, etc.).  Then move on to lighting, flooring, and countertops.

Next is your dream list of wants.  On this specific list add things like a 48” refrigerator, a double oven, roll out trays in every cabinet, drawers instead of cabinets.  Don’t forget all the bells and whistles that go into a cabinet, the accessories.  Specialty cabinets like trash drawers, tray dividers, spice pullouts are always convenient things to have in a functional kitchen.

What are the specific reasons why you want each item.  For example, you want drawers because you don’t want the extra step of opening cabinet doors.  Or you prefer cabinets because you can’t stack things and find them in drawers.  Remember that this is YOUR kitchen, and it needs to be designed for the way you want to work in your space.

A place in the pantry to store serving platters in plain view.

Island utensil drawer

My friend,Jane, designed this utensil drawer for her island

island tray divider drawer

Jane’s island tray divider drawer

The last thing to consider during this planning phase is what items need to be next to or near each other.  The obvious is the sink next to the dishwasher.  But what other products do you need to be grouped together?  Do you like having your trays and cookie sheets next to the oven or closer to your work area?  This exercise might take a little longer.  But once you have it, your space planning will be much easier.

Dish drawers directly across from the dishwasher for easy unloading.

Spice pullouts next to the range.

Keep in mind that having each and every one of your “wants” isn’t always going to work, even if they do fit into your budget.   So be willing to compromise on the amount of products and even the locations of certain things.   In the end, the goal is to help you create an amazing kitchen design that’s not only beautiful, but it’s functional.

 

 

You Get What You Pay For:  The Up’s and Down’s Of Shopping On-line

You Get What You Pay For: The Up’s and Down’s Of Shopping On-line

 

Has anyone ever told you that sometimes the lowest price doesn’t always mean it’s the best choice for a project?  I know that I’ve heard it from my parents, my contractors, and other designer friends, “You get what you pay for.”  I even pass on these words of advice to my own clients.

But with the ease of internet shopping and today’s supply shortages, it’s so easy to hop on-line to find exactly the look and color you want.  With the ease of comparing prices from one vendor to another and faster delivery times, who wouldn’t want to give it a try?  After all, ordering a custom sofa, or even having your old one re-upholstered can take several months.

We all can think of a few things for our home that we would pay almost anything to have.  It’s beautiful, the quality is excellent, and the color is exactly what we need to make the room go from drab to fab!  When it’s finally ours we’re so happy and excited that we can’t wait to share! 

Then there are the other things that we need for our projects that aren’t so important to us.  They might be a filler piece to finish off the room.  Or an appliance that we know we won’t use every day.  That’s when finding a bargain really gets our excitement flowing.

A while back, my words of advice came back to haunt me when I did my own on-line shopping.  Let me tell you a story of my first experience…..

When I was staying in Singapore several years ago, I bought a beautiful  hand knotted tribal carpet runner.  It’s made with vegetable dyes, which I love, and the colors are deep and rich reds, blues, and ivories. This rug has traveled with us from house to house, and I still have wonderful memories whenever I look at it.

Tribal runner

Imagine my surprise, when I was browsing through an on-line weekly sale and saw a small area carpet in the same exact pattern and the same exact colors.  And the best part was that it was more than half of the price I paid for the runner!

While I was thinking it was too good to be true, I checked their return policy.  Good to know that not only was shipping free, the return freight was free.  Once I discovered that important fact, it took about a minute to hit the “order now” button…and it was mine!!!!

My excitement mounted as I waited for the package to arrive.  Finally, 4 days later, it made it to my front porch.  I ran for the scissors to cut the bag.  I pulled off the bag.  I unrolled the carpet.  And then…..a total disappointment over the purchase.

Online tribal rug

You see, what I couldn’t have guessed by looking at the on-line photograph, was the dull colors.  They were the same reds, blues, and ivories, but definitely not as vibrant.  The patterns are almost identical, but there are many more knots per inch on the expensive carpet than on the bargain carpet.  And lastly, the height of the tufting doesn’t compare with the runner.

By itself, the “bargain” tribal carpet would look beautiful in any home.  But because I wanted to show them in the same room, it just wouldn’t work.  The comparison in color intensity and quality would have always bothered me.

Tribal rug comparison

Since that first experience of on-line shopping for our home, I’ve made several other purchases.  Some were perfect, and others not so perfect.  Items have been returned because they didn’t look like the on-line image or the description.  An accent rug was kept simply because it met the criteria we were looking for: fast delivery, washable, inexpensive, and puppy-proofed. 

It all comes down to what you value most at the time you’re ready to purchase.  If it’s something you need to replace because the one you have is broken, waiting 3 months for a perfect quality piece might not be an option.  But if it’s an item that you really love, then waiting for a piece of furniture that is customized for your room is worth it.

on-line counter stools

When we discovered that our custom made counter stools couldn’t be repaired and the finish was discontinued, it was finally time to decide on a replacement.  With a newly renovated kitchen, and company coming, what I valued at that point in time was a swivel stool that looked good, in colors that would work with our cabinets and countertops.  For me, it was more important to have them delivered within the week than to wait months for custom stools

After carefully reading the specification to make sure they would be the correct size, the order was placed.  They arrived within the week, just in time for our guests!  Are they exactly what I would have chosen given patience to wait for custom? No.  But for now, the color is perfect and the seats will be covered soon in a fabric that coordinates with the other fabrics and colors in the space.

These stools, when compared to the custom swivel stools we had, are definitely a “you get what you pay for” purchase.  I mean, they were a lot less than a custom stool would cost.  But because I carefully read the product details, and studied the on-line image, I knew what to expect and wasn’t disappointed. 

Lessons Learned:

  • If your design project requires you to have two or more items that are identical or even remotely similar, buy them at the same time.
  • If the price is really low, it just might be too good to true.
  • Carefully read the product description and specifications for length, width, seat depth, arm height
  • Seeing a product in person so that you can touch it and feel it is a good thing.
  • On-line shopping is great!  But make sure the return policy is one you can live with.
  • Keep a list of what you need or want for your next design project.  And from that list decide what you’re willing to splurge on and what you would rather bargain shop for.
  • Don’t buy your main upholstered pieces online unless you’re familiar with the manufacturer. 

When it comes to shopping online, there are good deals to be had, especially during sales.  But remember to do your research, read the fine details, and decide if settling for less than your dream is worth it.  After all, no one wants to be told “you get what you pay for.”

 

More Joy…Less Stress: 3 Simple Steps to Avoid Holiday Chaos

More Joy…Less Stress: 3 Simple Steps to Avoid Holiday Chaos

 

I don’t know about you, but I tend to procrastinate on holiday preparations.  Sometimes it’s because I’m too busy with other things that were more important when I said “yes” to them.  Other times, the perfectionist in me keeps thinking “what if?”  What if a better table decorating idea comes to me later?  What if there won’t be enough variety of food?  Crazy, right?

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s time to think about what can be done right now that will bring more joy and less stress to the holiday.  Remember, we want to avoid holiday chaos and focus on enjoying our family and friends.  The answer could be discovering the ONE THING you want to accomplish with the preparation and the meal.  For me, that would be enjoying our time together, staying calm, and living in the moment.  When I focus on this….and how long it will take to pull it all together…it’s time to get real and make a plan. 

Let’s take a look at some simple steps to avoid holiday chaos:

What can you easily accomplish in the time you have?

Remember that people typically come to a gathering for two reasons: food and funYOU are hoping to create lasting memories. But be realistic about the amount of time you can spend planning and preparing.  When you’re completely exhausted by the time you sit down to dinner, it’s hard to enjoy the meal and your guests.  Take it from me…been there, done that!  My little Thanksgiving secret is that one year I went on strike in cooking the meal.  But that’s another story for another day! LOL!!!

As you plan your meal, remember to delegate a dish or two to anyone who offers.  Your party will be easier that way.  And the bonus for your guests is that it lets them try a new recipe as well as feeling helpful.

What should you buy? What should you DIY?

Sometimes you just can’t do it all yourself.  So you need to decide what can you buy and what can you realistically do yourself.  Costco, Trader Joe’s and Fresh Market have delicious, prepared food that can fill in for side dishes you don’t have time to make.

This same mindset holds true for the table decorations.  Most of us dream of having our Thanksgiving table decorated with perfectly coordinated china, colorful linens, and beautiful centerpieces.  With a peaceful walk in the woods and a quick “shopping trip” around your own home, you can easily create a look that will wow your friends and family.

How to handle the clutter when guests are staying overnight?

I like being neat and tidy (most of the time), so a house full of overnight guests, luggage, and cramped quarters can feel a little crazy and chaotic.

Some of the ways I’ve managed to keep clutter to a minimum is to make sure everyone has a designated area for their family’s “stuff”.  At my house  that means all coolers are stored in the room off the garage and toys are kept all together.

Creating an out-of-the-way private space for guests to keep their suitcase will make them feel welcomed and keep the clutter to a minimum.

We all want the holiday to be a joyful, fun-filled and stress-free time.  We want our guests to feel welcomed and comfortable.  And most of all, we want to create cherished memories that last a lifetime as we give thanks for all of our many blessings.

Break Free of Your “Color Box”: Let Nature Choose Your Color Palette

Break Free of Your “Color Box”: Let Nature Choose Your Color Palette

     Have you ever walked into someone’s home and it is absolutely the perfect colors?  You want to curl up in a chair and make yourself right at home.  Maybe grab a glass of wine and a really good book.  And while you’re sitting there you begin to  wonder how they accomplished that daunting task?

     There are many tricks, tips, and secrets that designers use to create the perfect color palette for themselves and their clients.  And one of these is to let nature do the work for you. 

      One of my favorite things to do when I’m outside is to take a good look at everything around me.  I notice the textures of tree bark.  I look at the way light plays on a mountainside.  Maybe it’s the art classes or the quilts I’ve made that have created this awareness.  Maybe it’s just one person’s passion for color and texture.  But through each experience, I’ve learned that nature is the best form of color combination you’ll ever find.

      As I was looking at this beautiful lake photograph, thinking about Fall, and feeling nostalgic about leaving our lake home for new adventures,  I realized that most of my favorite colors are in that photo.  And, most importantly, I use these guides to help me with my own color selections.

Let’s look at the photo above to see how you can make it work in your home for your next DIY project. 

1.  Find one dominating color that really speaks to you and use it freely.  For me it’s the beautiful blues of water that range from deep blue to turquoise. 

2.  Next choose a secondary color from the photoRed would be my personal choice.  One of my favorite pieces of pottery just happens to include both of these colors!

raku vase in blues, turquoise and coral

3.  After that, choose one or two more to be accents.  These colors can be present in pillows, throws, towels, and any other accent piece you’d like to use.

 

4.  Finally select one color for a background and paint your walls. My go-to neutral wall color is usually Benjamin Moor Cedar Key.  It goes with everything and makes a good background for colorful art work.

      Take a look at these accent pieces found online.   They’re great examples of how you can follow the steps above to create your own color palette, and then shop on your own to find the perfect accents to pull it all together.

Ceramic Mood stones in Fall colors

    And, if you’re renovating, be courageous and step out of your neutral color box and just go for it!!!

Sky blue backsplash tile

    

If you’ve been thinking about adding some pizzazz to your home this Fall, don’t know where to start,  and are nervous you’ll make a costly mistake, be sure to grab our FREE report!

 

               

3 Secrets To a Stress-Free Renovation

3 Secrets To a Stress-Free Renovation

Starting a home renovation project is a big step.  For most people, it’s a fun and exciting time.  They enjoy the process, have fun selecting their products, and want the very best when it comes to the people they choose to work with.

But every once in a while a client starts the process with a sense of dread.  They’ve heard “stories” from their friends and family about the horrors of construction.  So they worry in advance about the mess and how long they’ll be inconvenienced.  What will they do for meals?  Where will they set up the temporary kitchen?  Will the guest bathroom be too small for both of us while we live through construction?  If you’re considering a renovation or any type of disruptive project at your home.  I hope that you’re not letting these stories scare you away.

I think we’ve all had some type of disruption to our home at one time or another.  Maybe you’ve had new carpeting installed, or hardwood floors refinished.  Maybe the entire house has been painted.  No matter what project you’ve taken on, it probably brought chaos into your life and a lot of anxiety!

a demo'd kitchen remodel

We want everything to turn out just the way we imagined…PERFECT!  But too often we expect perfection all along the way, and become impatient if a little glitch appears.  I can relate because it happens to me too.  And what I’ve noticed is when I’m tired, and the chaos has dragged on too long, I get impatient.  I start to hover around the workers (or my husband) to make sure the job is getting done “right.”  And when I find one thing wrong, I start looking for other things that aren’t perfect.  Has this ever happened to you?

Since I’ve been spending some time with cabinet installations lately, and disappointed that a ding or two is keeping that perfect kitchen on hold for a week or two,  I started thinking back on some of my clients’ projects.  I realized that the clients who were the most stressed out were the ones who had unrealistic expectations of how a project works.

new kitchen under construction

And it also reminded me that when stress and anxiety creep up and rear their ugly head, it’s time to follow these 3 Simple Steps:

1.  Take a deep breath!  When you see a mistake, a ding, or anything less than perfect, take a step back and breathe.  Know that it will all come together perfectly in the end.  Maybe not today or tomorrow.  But it will be perfect soon.

2.   Trust that the people you’ve hired want the very best for you and your project.  You’ve hired the very best.  Don’t hover around the job site to watch them at work or ask a lot of questions.  I know you might want to watch the process, but imagine your employer looking over your shoulder all day long.  It probably slows down your work and makes you anxious.

3.   Take a break.  The banging, sawing, and drilling will get on your last nerve after a while.  So make it a practice to get away for a little while each day, especially if you work from home.  When you’re at the job site all the time, you start to notice every little imperfection to a cabinet, wall or seam.  Let your installer work their magic to make it perfect and you’ll never notice there was a problem.  After all, that’s why you’ve hired the best!

If you’re thinking about a home renovation, whether it’s a small project or knocking down walls, you might be afraid of making costly mistakes.  And that’s why I’ve created 3 Costly Home Renovation Mistakes and How To Avoid Them.   All you need to do is click on the button below…easy peasy!