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

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.

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.

Oh No! What Was I Thinking?

                                    

           What Was I Thinking?

You know how we all like tackle a DIY project every once in a while?  Maybe we do it to save money.  Maybe we do it because design TV makes it look so easy.  Even though it can be fun (and sometimes stressful), there may come a time when you have one of those “What was I thinking?” moments.

          As an interior designer, I often get the SOS call to fix it.  What I would really love to do is help you prevent it.  And so MY #1 Reason to Have a Designer On Your Team is to help you avoid costly mistakes.

         These costly mistakes seem to be broken down into two categories.  Let’s take a look…

 

 Purchases your regret later because you realize you don’t like them:

  •       You had a “love at first site” moment and just HAD to own it
  •       You didn’t really love it, but had a “hole” to fill and thought it would work
  •       Oops!  You forgot to measure.

  Purchases and decisions you made because you didn’t know better or didn’t think it through:

  •       Appliances that will be placed against a wall and the impact that will have on opening and closing doors and drawers.
  •       Adding expensive new counter tops and then realizing you should have purchased new cabinets.
  •       Not checking the specifications of appliances to see how they will affect the cabinet.
  •           Buying on line,which we all do, and realizing you don’t have all the parts and pieces to finish the job correctly.

        kitchen mistakes; refrigerator next to a wall

Your Design Action Steps:

1.  If you’re in the “information gathering” phase of your project, remember to study everything.  That means look over the plans when you have them, and check out the specifications and dimensions of each item you hope to purchase.

2.  Hire an interior designer to be a part of your team.  The peace of mind you’ll get from relying on someone you trust will be well worth the investment.

 

  At Authentic Living Interiors we offer many ways to work with Randi. 

Top 10 Kitchen Tips to Love it Now….Sell it Later

top 10Through all the years of designing kitchens and baths, the number one request is “How can I update my kitchen without doing a full blown renovation”?

At first the immediate need was to fix it up as inexpensively as possible so that the homeowner could put it on the market to sell.  You see, the economy was booming.  Clients were excited to cash in on the fast home sales and increased value. Remember those days?  But then, the economy crashed.  No one was doing anything…except sitting tight.

Flash forward to today.  We’re finally ready to invest a little and update our homes.  But I’m finding that homeowners are more interested in enjoying their investment for a few years, and then trying to sell.  Their ROI, for the present, is enjoyment!  Some will stay a year or two and others still aren’t quite sure.

But before you make any type of investment in your kitchen, you need to take a good, unbiased look at the space and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the space plan working for you and your work habits?
  • Are the cabinets in good condition?
  • Will you REALLY love the cabinets enough after you paint them?

Asking yourself these questions is extremely important.  Adding new granite countertops to worn out cabinets is a waste of your money.  If you even think that you might want new cabinets a year from now….WAIT UNTIL YOU CAN AFFORD IT!!!!  Countertops cannot be taken off  to install new cabinets.   But, if you’re comfortable with your answers, then it’s time to move forward with some updates that will let you love your kitchen again.

1.  Replace the countertop with a new surface.  This also morphs into a new sink, faucet, and sometimes, garbage disposer.

2.  Paint your cabinets a fun color.  I especially love painting oak cabinets because the grain of the wood comes through.

3.  Change the cabinet hardware.  If you’re painting the cabinets you don’t need to worry about making sure you replace with the same size hardware.  You can even add a knob in place of a pull.

4.  Paint your walls and trim, especially if you still have the typical  80’s floral wallpaper and dark wood trim.  This will really brighten the space.

5.  Add roll out shelves to the inside of all base cabinets.  This will make life much easier!

6.  Change your backsplash to something neutral and calming or fun and colorful.

7.  Take care of clutter inside your drawers by adding dividers.

8.  Look for lower price point cabinets to make the big change.  They won’t have as many bells and whistles or modification options, but will get you a new look and a new plan at a reasonable cost.

9. Change the lighting.  Remember, though, that the popcorn ceiling might need to be fixed.  But buyers don’t want that or the fluorescent box in the ceiling.

10. New appliances with up-to-date technology like Energy Star rating and excellent food preservation.

Design Homework:

Take a personal assessment of your kitchen to see how you can implement some of these tips to update your space.

If you’ve enjoyed reading these tips, and would like to learn more, leave your name and email in the box at the right.  Every week I send design tips, trends, and the latest product information for your kitchen, bath, and…more!

 

Kitchen Design Tip #2: Back Splash Outlets

One of the last things to be finished in a kitchen remodeling project is the back splash.  So remember to save your energy and creativity for the final push!  Don’t do like some people who say “I don’t care anymore.  Just give me white!”  I know that’s how I felt when we built our first house. 

Now that you’ve put some time into finding the perfect tile for the beautiful new design, it’s time to think about outlet placement.  Most homeowners don’t even think about it.  They assume that their contractor will take care of it…and they will.   Soon the job is completed and you’re moving back in.  And immediately you realize that your beautifully designed back splash has a large, unsightly outlet in the middle of your accent border!  How could that have been prevented?  Let me share my tip…

Tip #2:  Outlet Placement

 

         I like to keep my outlets as low as possible on the back splash so that the cords don’t poke out of the wall at mid-height.  And to get them even lower, I always ask the contractor or builder to turn them horizontally.  By doing this, the cords are lower and the tile design will be uninterrupted.

Other options exist that do an even better job of hiding outlets.  Some people have had them installed on the underside of their wall cabinets.  But this requires the “box” to be inside the cabinet. 

     There are outlet strips that can be installed on the back splash, just below the wall cabinets.  If you’re using a light rail on your cabinets, the strip will hardly be visible.

No matter which option you choose, blending your switches and outlets with your back splash tile is a must.

If you would like to learn even more tips to help you create your dream kitchen, grab our FREE report by filling out the box on the right!