How To Reclaim Your Kitchen In 3 Easy Steps

How To Reclaim Your Kitchen In 3 Easy Steps

The kitchen, the Heart of the Home, where everyone wants to hang out and have fun.   But are we really doing that?  Our lives are crazy busy between work and carpooling, after school activities, and evening meetings.  There’s barely time left in our week to shop for food.  Who has time to cook it?  Wouldn’t you love to go back to a simpler time?  A time when we were all together as a family making memories in the kitchen? Wouldn’t you love to learn how to reclaim your kitchen in 3 easy steps?

I love this video produced by Subzero/Wolf.  It’s a perfect explanation of how we wandered out of the kitchen and into “fast food land.”  Isn’t it time you reclaimed your kitchen?  Enjoy the video!

Video Courtesy of Subzero/Wolf

Reclaim Your Kitchen In 3 Easy Steps:

  1. Plan your meals even if it’s only one meal a week.  The next week add another meal.  Set a time to eat.  Set the table.  But most of all just cook!
  2. Celebrate the goodness of fresh food and how healthy it is.  Not to mention the money you’ll save on dining out!
  3. Cook together!!!

If you’re dreaming of your own Heart of the Home Kitchen and don’t know where to start,  we’re here to help.    Just leave your name and email in the box on the right to receive our free report 5 Secrets To Your Spectacular Kitchen or Bath.

Kitchen Lighting Tips

kitchen lighting

Being an interior designer means more than helping clients with the pretty stuff.  It also means staying current on technology and trends.  This week, to stay current with my design certification, a class on kitchen lighting was in order.  Even though I know the basics, it’s always a good idea to have a refresher now and then to learn something new.  And, of course, I love to share it with you!

The most important take-away for the class, that I can’t stress enough, is the need to plan.  We plan our vacations, our road trips, and even our days.  In a remodel, we plan our cabinet layout and our appliances.  But how many of us don’t even think about planning the best type of lighting we need in the kitchen?  We know that we need overhead lighting.  And if you’re “lucky enough” to have a fluorescent box on your ceiling, you know that you want to get rid of it!  But what should you replace it with?  Let’s take a look at the three essential layers of lighting that are important in every kitchen.

Layer 1 – Ambient Lighting is the general lighting that brightens our kitchen and is the foundation for all the other lighting in the room.  The goal with ambient lighting is to have even distribution throughout the space so we don’t have dark pockets that make it hard to see.  

In the past, builders and re-modelers turned to the flush mount light fixture, or the lovely fluorescent box centered in the work space.  The trend today is to use recessed can lights.  And then we always have the questions…How many cans should we use?  How should they be spaced?  The answer to this is based on the ceiling height, the colors in the room and how they reflect, and…your age.  Yes, our eyesight gets worse as we age, and some of us feel more confident with more overhead lights.

accent lighting

Krieg Home. Shooting for Home Forge Remodeling. June 27, 2006.

Layer 2 – Accent Lighting

Most of us love this layer because it’s the “jewelry” for the kitchen.  A few ideas of where to place them are:

  • Pendants over an island or table
  • Over the cabinets, tucked away behind the crown molding
  • Inside cabinets with glass fronts to show off what’s inside
  • Lighting in a tray or cove ceiling
  • Under counters
  • On floating shelves which are popular today
  • Toe kicks…especially good for late night visits to the kitchen so you can find your way!

Layer 3 – Task Lighting is especially needed to help us see better when we’re working around the kitchen.  Things like reading the buttons on the coffee maker or dicing vegetables are all made easier with task lighting. 

We all want to have our counter work space illuminated so that we can see better and avoid dark spots.  That’s why it’s so important to install under cabinet lighting in your home

To get the best coverage and light up your whole counter, the lights need to be installed to the front of the cabinets.  LED tape strips offer the best opportunity for this.  And the length of the light strip needs to correspond to the width of the cabinet.  A big no-no would be to try to save money and install a 12” light strip on a 36” cabinet.  Doing that would create shadow pockets on your counter, and make seeing difficult.

Unfortunately, on tight budget projects, this is often the first thing to get deleted off the want/need list.  And it’s the one thing that clients regret not including.  I can’t stress how important it is to find other ways to stay within your budget.

We plan everything else in our kitchens, so why not take the time to plan our lighting.  Remember before you run out and buy the pretty fixtures, put some thought into where you want the lights, where you plan to do the most work, and then where you want that WOW factor of beautiful pendants.

It’s all in the Details: Easy Solutions to Make Life in the Kitchen a Little Easier

Have you noticed that kitchens are not just for cooking meals or washing dishes these days? They’ve become the heart of the home, command central, and the place where everyone wants to hang out. 

For those of us in the Sandwich Generation, with grandchildren, adult children and elderly parents visiting on a regular basis, a one-size-fits-all type of kitchen doesn’t always serve everyone.  When that happens, it’s time to take a look at the details that can make life a little easier for everyone.

Whether you’re planning a kitchen remodel or a simple kitchen make over, the details make all the difference in how comfortable you and your guests will be while you’re cooking, playing, or working.

  • Room to easily move around. In the kitchen above, the space between the sink cabinet and the island is 42”. The National Kitchen and Bath Association has set 36”-48” as the standard distance to use when planning your kitchen. I like to think of a 36” space as a “one butt” kitchen…only one person can pass at a time. At 42”, two people can work comfortably, but 45” would be better. Now think about your family. Is someone using a walker or a wheelchair? Even if it’s temporary, they’ll need a little extra space to maneuver.
  • Rugs. I love to soften the look in my kitchen by adding accent rugs at the sink and cooktop. But, unfortunately, they can become an accident waiting to happen. Be sure to use a rug pad to keep them from sliding…or don’t use them at all.
  • Think of the little ones. If your grandchildren are like mine, they love to help out in the kitchen. A little detail that I’ve discovered to make everyone happy is a step stool. They can easily do it themselves (which is a HUGE thing to a 2 year old), and they now feel like they’re part of the cooking crew. Another little detail with big safety features are cabinet locks to keep the toddlers away from cleaning supplies and things that can hurt them.
  • Lots of good lighting. This includes all the natural light you can get from windows. After that, I like to make sure that there is at least one recessed can at every work station for direct task lighting. Next, is the ambient lighting provided by island pendants. And last is the light provided by under cabinet lighting. Be sure to either put them on dimmers or have separate switches for different areas.
  • Use levers instead of knobs. Levers aren’t just for our arthritic hands. Think mom-holding-a-toddler or yourself trying to open the pantry with an arm full of groceries. What would make life easier? A door lever that we can operate with our elbows.
  • Bye-Bye stationary shelves. Adding roll-out shelves to your base cabinets and tall pantry cabinets will make your life SO MUCH EASIER!!!

  • Faucets. Single handle faucets with pull-down sprays have been around for a while.  But the latest faucet technology includes motion sensors so you can work hands-free.

  • Heights matter. When making plans for your dream kitchen remodel or make over take the time to consider the heights of your major appliances, especially the microwave.  When it’s too high, remember that for some people, it could be a problem.  Have you ever tried to pull a bowl out of the microwave and forgotten that the bowl might be hot?  You drop it, or even worse, spill the contents…and you get burned.  Think about this happening to a child or your elderly mother.  My least favorite location for a microwave is over the cooktop.  I realize that many of you may have this configuration in your own home (we had it in our townhouse).  But when you finally get to plan your dream kitchen, try to avoid this.  Maybe select a microwave drawer.
  • Other important dimensions to make life easier.

  • Your Design Homework for this week:Compare these dimensions with your own kitchen.
  • From the list above, make a list of the little details you can add to your own kitchen that will make life a little easier for everyone you love.

The Heart of Your Home–The Kitchen

I want you imagine, just for a moment…that your kitchen is not just a place where meals are made and dishes are washed.  It’s a place where memories are made.

What would it be like…if instead of running to close the door to your kitchen when friends stopped by, you couldn’t wait to show them the best room in your house?  A room that’s the heart of your home, where people WANT to congregate.  A room where everyone is always laughing and happy.  A room where you’re proud to entertain family and friends.  Does this sound like the kitchen you have right now? 

Everyone who’s ever hosted a gathering in their home can tell you, that no matter the size or shape, your kitchen is ALWAYS going to be the place to hang out.  And in some kitchens it can become pretty crowded…and warm!  So what allows one kitchen to pull off the perfect gathering while others just don’t work as well?  Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about creating a kitchen that is truly the heart of the home, the “center of everything”.

A Heart of the Home Kitchen might have:

1.An open flow into the family room or dining room

kitchen island

2. Island for prepping and serving food, especially during a party

serving food

3. Stools at the island

Island

4. Enough walk space between cabinets and/or island (36”-48”)

walk space

5. Homework space for the kids
6. A place to sit and have a conversation
7. Uncluttered spaces: a place for everything
8. A message center for charging devices and message taking
9. A place to feed pets
10. Medicine storage
11. Table space for eating, talking, or playing games

table space

12. A prep sink so others can help with meals
13. A desk for paying bills, searching for recipes, collecting purses and keys

Your Design Homework:

  • Using the list above, check off the items that you already have in place in your kitchen.
  • Of the items you don’t have, ask yourself if they’re really important to you.
  • If they are, make a plan to include them in your next home makeover project. Remember that some items on the list can serve more than one purpose…a table can serve you for eating meals, doing homework, having coffee with friends, etc.

Though some items on the list might require a higher budget than others, remember that you can start from where you are with the little things.  When you’re happy and excited to entertain family and friends, and your home reflects

Once a Tree: How Cabinets Are Made

maple-tree-in-autumn-wallpaper-5312251772e8b
Once upon a time there was a tree. It could have been a maple tree, cherry tree, hickory, oak or alder. But each one of these hardwood trees provides the wood used in the cabinets that grace our homes. Visiting the Wellborn Cabinet factory was a fascinating experience where we learned how cabinets are made.

shipping
I’ve visited other cabinet factories in the past and was shown how the boards of wood are used to create cabinet boxes, doors, and trims. But the Wellborn factory is unique, not only because it’s a family owned company Made in America, but because they begin their process with logs.

logs1

When the logs arrive, they’re sprayed with water to keep them from drying out too fast in the hot summer sun. Then they’re sent to the first machine that strips the bark from each log so it looks like this.

From there the log travels down the conveyor belt to be squared off and ready for planning.

rippinglogs

Once the logs are cut into boards they need to be stacked and dried. The drying period is typically one year. But with maple, the water needs to be removed fast. If the waiting period is too long, the sugar in the maple will start to turn the board brown. Since clear, white maple is the most desirable, the maple boards are loaded into a kiln to be dried for 2 weeks.Each board can have no more than 6% moisture inside.

readyforthekiln

stackedtodry

After the drying process, boards are cut into widths that will be used for trim pieces and cabinet doors.

planedmaplereadyforkiln1

Then they’re stacked, organized and scanned into the inventory system so that Wellborn always knows what they have and where it’s located in the factory. This efficient system is what helps them build the doors and boxes quickly and easily with a 13 day lead time for most projects.

boardsstacked

boardsgluedandreadydoors

Boards glued together and ready to create the door center panel.

doors

The stiles and rails are glued around the center panel.

checkingforglue

Infrared lights let them check for any excess glue that would prevent paint and stain from covering the door.

paintingthedoors

Painting process…Paint is sprayed on and then hand wiped.

glazingthedoors

Glazing process….

Once the cabinets are assembled and ready to go, they’re boxed up for shipping. But the Wellborn family still has one more test they like to make. Every morning, before the work day begins, the founder, Paul Wellborn randomly chooses one box to open so that he can be certain the products his company sends to us is perfectly made. Now that’s what I call excellent customer service Made in America!!!

Designer Do’s and Don’ts for a Stress-Free Granite Makeover

Kitchen8815

Are you dreaming of a beautiful new kitchen, but know that buying new cabinets is more than your budget will allow? Maybe your cabinets are still in good condition and the the space plan works well for you. If this sounds like your kitchen, have you considered a mini re-do that includes new granite countertops?

There was a time, in my old EXPO Design Center days, when I was known as the Queen of Countertop Remodels because I helped so many clients with them. And because of that, I learned exactly what to do, so that stress was kept to a minimum.

Let’s take a look at my list of Designer do’s and don’ts that will help you with your own countertop remodel.

Do: Know what “look” you want to achieve in the space. The granite you choose will help you get there.

Do: Decide if you want a lot of movement (veining) in your granite.

Granite88152

Don’t buy granite if movement and imperfections will drive you crazy. Stone is a gift of nature, and definitely not perfect.

Do: Decide on your fabricator (the person who will template, cut and install). They often display granite slabs at their warehouse. But sometimes they’ll send you to look at a larger showroom that has more to offer.

Don’t visit a granite showroom without a designer, contractor, or fabricator name. They can call ahead to let the showroom know you’re coming, or they can go with you to help you select. Sometimes a showroom will recommend a fabricator if you don’t know who to use.

Do: Find out your fabricator’s price levels before you visit a granite showroom. Because most of them don’t sell directly to the consumer, they won’t give you a price. But they can steer you in the right direction.

Do: Make sure that you have your sink, and sometimes faucet, when they come to make your template. They will take it with them back to the shop.

Countertop88153

Do: Know that some fabricators require you to purchase an entire slab, and some will only charge you for what you use.

 

Don’t: Ordering less than 25 square feet is not acceptable to most fabricators. Sometimes they have a scrap yard to choose those pieces.

Don’t: Order granite when you’re in a rush to have it installed. From the time they make the template, until the time it is installed could take anywhere from 5-10 business days.

Don’t get your heart set on a granite slab too early in the process unless you’re prepared to make a deposit so they will hold it.

Don’t hang on to a sample that you love and expect it to look the same in 6 months.

Granite sells quickly in certain markets and new shipments aren’t always cut from the same area.  Always inspect your slab!

Counter Edge

Do: Know that there are different edges, and non-standard edges are sold by the linear foot.