31 October 2008

Glass knobs from Restoration Hardware, response to a reader

A reader posted a comment yesterday after my posting about Restoration Hardware's glass knobs. Ming wanted to know what kind of a design would dictate the use of glass knobs. Well, here's a look at a rendering of the project where the glass knobs will go.


This is a butler's pantry located between a formal dining room and a kitchen in an older home. It's a true butlers pantry because it will be used to store dishes, linens, silverware, and serving pieces. Technically, a butler's pantry is a small room used for storing the stuff you'd use to entertain, and they're also used to stage and clean up after dinners.

This one has a dishwasher and an icemaker in it and so that real china can be stored in the wall cabinets, each of the wall cabinets is 16 inches deep. The standard depth of a wall cabinet is 12" deep and that's not enough depth to be able to stack large plates. If you're planning a remodel some time, add some deeper wall cabinets, butler's pantry or no butler's pantry. You'll be glad you did.

Those wall cabinets have a pretty distinctive, Mission-style mullion over clear glass. The cabinetry is an inset style from Medallion Cabinetry called Winslow and they have been painted an off-white color called white chocolate.

When it's up to me, I always put knobs on doors and handles on drawers. If it's a wide drawer, I'll use two handles per drawer. So in this case, here's that knob again:


And wouldn't you know it, those clever kids at Restoration Hardware have a companion handle:


Now because the butler's pantry is in a room separate from the kitchen, it's in a different, though somewhat complimentary style as the kitchen. The kitchen sort of looks like this but not really:


That photo is from Medallion, the kitchen and butler's pantry I'm working on is still in the concept phase though the construction ought to start on it at some point before Thanksgiving.

Happy Halloween

I liked it better in the olden days when Halloween had an apostrophe between the two Es in the last syllable. Hallowe'en. It even looks better that way. Anyhow, however you spell it, check out this brilliant knife holder.

I think it's hilarious and what a great way to spread some Halloween cheer to the rest of the year. You can read more about this knife holder here.

30 October 2008

Oh my Restoration Hardware I am heartily sorry

I am sorry for looking down my nose at you all these years for being a retailer. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

I've been on a quest to find glass knobs for the last couple of weeks and I found this at Restoration Hardware of all places. Check it out.


It's my new favorite glass knob in the world and even more shocking is the fact that it retails for a mere $11. It's perfect and that thing allowed me to save the day and look like a hero. Unbelievable. Who's going to save me next? Pottery Barn? Geez I hope not.

Part two of my hardware quest of the last few weeks has been finding an affordable cabinet door latch. I know where to go find them  for about a hundred bucks a pop but for $14? Forget about it. Until now that is. Check this out:


That's also from Restoration Hardware. I hate being wrong, but I can be a man about it and admit it when I'm confronted with overwhelming evidence. My trip to Restoration Hardware provided me with a hint that I may not know everything after all.

Can I order my crow any way I want it or or is it a case where I'll have to eat whatever's placed in front of me?

I LOVE a good review


The brilliant and beautiful Kelly Morriseau over at Kitchen Sync had this to say about my blog in her blog this week: 
Kitchen and Residential Design: Paul Anater, is a kitchen, bath and residential designer in St. Pete, Florida.  He has a wealth of information about stone. I knew as soon as I read his blog post "Sometimes granite isn't granite at all", and is one of the few designers I've "met" who knows that Onyx isn't really Onyx that I knew he would be a valuable resource for those of you out there planning stonework in your homes. Paul also blogs about whatever interests him, which is fun, plus he has a sense of humour.


Thank you Kelly!

Now everybody pop over to Kitchen Sync to read a take on kitchen design from a woman whose experience dwarfs mine. She's smart, she's humorous and she doles it all out with a huge dose of common sense.

29 October 2008

Whither happiness?


On a related topic, and before I dive back into the world of residential design, there's a great article in this month's Atlantic magazine. Paul Bloom wrote a thought-provoking piece on the intersection of Philosophy and Psychology. I read it on my flight home to Florida the other day and it's been lodged in my fore brain ever since. Read his work here.
But what’s more exciting, I think, is the emergence of a different perspective on happiness itself. We used to think that the hard part of the question “How can I be happy?” had to do with nailing down the definition of happy. But it may have more to do with the definition of I. Many researchers now believe, to varying degrees, that each of us is a community of competing selves, with the happiness of one often causing the misery of another. This theory might explain certain puzzles of everyday life, such as why addictions and compulsions are so hard to shake off, and why we insist on spending so much of our lives in worlds —like TV shows and novels and virtual-reality experiences—that don’t actually exist.

Cor Sapiens Quaerit Doctrinam


I made it through my High School reunion last weekend, and honestly, it was pretty enjoyable. The highlight had to have been one of my classmates tracking down and inviting to our reunion the great woman who taught us Sophomore English. During the school year that spanned from 1980 to 1981, I was fortunate to land in the capable hands of Sister Rita. In the 28 years since that year, I have credited Sister Rita with awakening in me a love of literature and a lifelong need to see my name in print. Sister Rita had the rare talent of making a room full of 14-and 15-year-olds pay attention and find English interesting and even enjoyable.

I've been wracking my brain and trying to remember what we read and wrote about that year and I have a vague memory of writing a paper about humor, so we had to have been reading Twain. I remember too, writing the first poetry I'd ever written but I'm not quite sure what I wrote about. Despite the gaps in what I remember, what I can recall as clearly as this morning was Sister Rita's constant encouragement. Her teaching philosophy seemed to be that so long as we threw ourselves into something completely, whatever resulted was perfect. If I read and understood a passage or a short story, any opinion I ventured was valid. It was my first taste of academic freedom and it was the first time I experienced the joy of learning something for no reason other than the reward of knowing. And the 14-year-old version of me who sat in that classroom couldn't get enough of it. 

Thanks to Carol's brilliant detective work, I was finally able to tell the amazing Sister Rita how huge and lasting an impression she made on me. It felt like a circle'd been completed after 28-odd years. 

The title of this entry is the motto of my Alma Mater and it means "A wise heart seeks knowledge," if your Latin's a little rusty. Those words were hollow to me when I was a teenager, but in the years since I've come to appreciate what they really mean. Wisdom; like happiness, confidence, satisfaction, tranquility and any other state of being you can name, come from inside and work outward. Wisdom seeks knowledge, knowledge doesn't cause wisdom. That's hardly news but I'm glad I figured that one out, even if it took a while. So thank you Sister Rita and thank you oh Alma Mater dear. You set me on a path I wouldn't trade for anything.

28 October 2008

Appalling "designers" running amok

I watched the show Top Design on Bravo last week and it's taken me until today to recover my strength enough to write about it. I avoid television design shows as a general rule. All they end up doing is making me angry over the product placements and misleading advice. I end up hearing about this stuff second-hand, when my clients invoke the names of their favorite shows. I hear the lingo they pick up too. "We need a pop of color here" is the expression that tells me that somebody watches a lot of HGTV. Ugh.

Anyhow, I'm a big fan of Project Runway on Bravo. Project Runway showcases real talent and provides its contestants with genuine mentors. That show gives me a glimpse into a creative process I know nothing about --fashion design-- and I'm fascinated by it. I figured that since Top Design was a product of the same network, it would work somewhat along the lines of Project Runway. I was wrong. Tragically, tragically wrong. 

Top Design is an interior design competition show where a group of reality TV contestants imitating interior designers are given design assignments that are essentially product placements. Then everyone pretends that what they're doing is legitimate design. The pretend designs are then judged by a group of people whose hype exceeds their talent. And then after a whole lot of sturm und drang, one contestant gets eliminated. Ugh.

The ringleader of the judges is none other than Jonathan Adler.

Jonathan Adler started out making interesting vases but has in recent years taken his clown-like sensibilities into interior design. To wit:


This room is hideous. There, I said it. The emperor has no clothes.


Actually, the emperor's clothes don't fit.

The week I saw, the contestants were given a budget of $20,000 to design a set disguised as a room and have that set/room showcase a modern chandelier. The price of the chandeliers wasn't included in the 20 grand they had to spend.

Here's the room that won. The light fixture is silvery-looking $6000 pear hiding off to the left side of the room. Remember, the task was to highlight the light fixture.


Here's the room that didn't win, though all of the judges fell over one another praising it. The $11,000 "focal point" is on the upper right side of the photo.

It's a bloody nightmare. It's intentionally ugly and mismatched and was clearly a play on the nightmares Jonathan Adler cranks out. Now, I understand being provocative and I love making a loud statement from time to time. But this is absurd. The affected queen who designed it needs to be kicked in the head. 


Utter nonsense and people who don't know better will fall for it. Ugh.

If it isn't already painfully obvious to the non-designers who watch this show, this show has 
nothing to do with real-world design. I feel like my noble profession is being dragged through the mud by this train wreck. But real-life design would make horrible reality television. How do you make hours hunched over a drawing table compelling TV? 

Todd Oldham plays the role of mentor on this program and his presence on it is a bit of a disconnect. 

I have a world of respect for Todd Oldham. The man is a genius --he's a creative machine. He's in fashion, photography, illustration, fabric design, interior design, furniture design, film making, publishing and I'm sure there are plenty more I'm missing. He tries to offer the sociopaths and narcissists his sage advice and he's routinely ignored. I hope the producers are paying him a lot of money. But man, some money's too expensive.

So I did my bit, I sat through an episode of Top Design. And with that one hour, I have had my fill of design-ish TV for the next year or so. I should have known better. You know, I probably could have made it through had at least been entertaining, but alas...

There's more to stone mosaics than the dreaded tumbled marble

Here's some really cool takes on stone mosaic from Walker Zanger and Ann Sacks. More proof that if you find yourself in the tile aisle in a Home Depot, it's a good idea to keep right on walking.





27 October 2008

Cool ceramic mosaics

The push toward all things glass mosaic has opened up a space for ceramic tile mosaics to stage a comeback of their own. Check out these beauties from Mod WallsAnn Sacks and Walker Zanger.

These first seven photos are from Ann Sacks, who in my mind sets the standard for ceramic tile. Man, I am madly, deeply in love with Ann Sacks.








These are from Mod Walls who are taking ceramic tile into some really interesting and welcome directions.




Walker Zanger is great for putting new twists on classic designs.



26 October 2008

New glass mosaics

I'm out of town, but through the power of the Internet I'm still able to keep right on posting as though I were still sitting at home. Amazing.

Anyhow, I notice that I get a lot of traffic from people looking for inspirational photos of glass mosaics. When I'm looking for some inspiration along those lines, there are three sources I turn to time and again. They are Mod WallsAnn Sacks and Walker-Zanger. I think those three have some of the best websites out there for seeing this sort of thing in action. Here are a couple of great rooms I found on Mod walls and all of them feature glass tile mosaics.

As you can tell from how varied these things are, there really aren't any rules except the single overriding caution of life in general; just because you can doesn't mean you should. Got a question about a particular image? Just ask and I'll chew off your ear with an answer.






This is what I meant about the difference between can and should.

25 October 2008

More to love about Caesarstone

Ann Porter is a Kitchen Designer based in Naples, FL and she writes another great kitchen design blog called KitchAnn Style. Check it out here and she's also listed in my blogroll on the right side of this page.


I was reading Ann's blog and I came across one more thing to LOVE about Caesarstone. Several more things in fact. I mean look at these photos. Everything I'm showing you here is Caesarstone composite material. The technique that's been done here is a low relief; these damask patterns have been sandblasted into the surface of regular Caesarstone. 


This isn't something that comes from Caesarstone this way, this is a finishing technique. So the Damask patterns here are the result of a masking pattern, similar to the type of thing you'd find at Modello Design. Thank you Ann Porter for that referral too.


I'm really stunned by this and in a really good way. I see a lot of stuff in the course of plying my trade, but this is new and I love it. Remember, you want Caesarstone if you're in the market for composite counters!

24 October 2008

Short selling explained

My pal Paddy Hirsch, Marketplace's Senior Editor, has taken to his dry erase board again to explain the whys and wherefores of the much discussed but seldom understood practice of short selling.


Getting naked in short selling from Marketplace on Vimeo.

My childhood on Ebay


Good Lord. Is there anything that nostalgia buffs won't buy?


I mean, how did this stuff become collectible?


I am flying to Pennsylvania this morning to attend my 25-year High School reunion tomorrow night. So maybe I'm sensitive to this sort of thing right now. But there was a time when this Corelle in the avocado green Spring Flower pattern was all the rage. My mother and all of her friends had it. I ate many, many toasted cheese sandwiches off of these plates. Times changed eventually, and my mother pitched all of hers in a radical fit of updating at some point in the early '90s.


It's interesting to see it again, if only to get a shiver of recognition. But to spend money on it on eBay? I guess I'm not one for nostalgia. I had a good time when I was a kid --I had a genuinely happy childhood. But I think I'm missing the impulse to try to cling to it or recreate it in my adult life.


Armed with that little scrap of self-awareness, this ought to be an interesting weekend indeed. Look out class of '83, I'm coming back to the land of my birth. So let's keep things focused on the now and keep the sentimentality to a minimum.

23 October 2008

On the horizon: The Water Mill



This is the Watermill by Element Four. Element Four is a British Columbia-based company that's determined to solve the world's potable water problems and their first product in that direction is their Water Mill.

The Water Mill mounts to the exterior of your home and distills pure water from the air. It's estimated to cost 35 cents a day to run and it cranks out 3.2 gallons of water a day. The Water Mill can be connected to a sink top dispenser, the ice and water dispensers on a fridge, its own wall-mounted dispenser or it can run into a separate, refrigerated appliance dispenser. The diagram below shows these four dispensing options pretty well.




While the Water Mill can't supply all of a household's water needs, it can provide ample drinking water for a family or individual and it will help you throw away the bottle for once and for all.

22 October 2008

Happy Birthday


This was my Grandmother, Guellma Gevene Flowers-Smith-Stewart and she was born on October 22nd, 1905. We called her Gram sometimes and Gevene when there was a good story to tell that involved her. There were always good stories to tell that involved her. 

Gram died 11 years ago and a part of all of us went with her. But a bigger and better part stuck around. I cannot turn a mattress or iron a shirt without thinking of her, nor can I laugh or gossip with my sibs without her being in the middle of it. I report to my friends that my place is "Gevene clean" and they know that I've spent the previous day scrubbing my floors and vacuuming under the sofa. She's why I have a bar of Fels-Naptha soap under my sink and why I insist on doing everything myself. She taught be to be self-reliant, to draw strength from adversity and above all to laugh. Some people just loom large and Gevene certainly did that. I've heard it said that the dead live on when the living remember them. If that's true than this lady will be around forever. 

The baby in this photo was her first great-grandkid. Well, she's a grown woman now and in three weeks she's going to be married. My siblings, my parents and I will get together for my niece's wedding and celebrate. Wow. The first of my nieces and nephews, my parents' first grandkid, is getting married. We'll laugh and dance and knowing us, argue. But more than any of that, at least so far as I'm concerned, we'll do our best to make sure that the great lady who begot all of us lives for a little while longer.
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