Showing posts with label appliances. Show all posts
Showing posts with label appliances. Show all posts

02 March 2015

Gettng the right sized heater for your patio space


The outdoor living areas within your patio and garden provide you with the best moments of solitude and relaxation due to the natural openness and closeness to nature. However, at some points in the year, it gets too cold for you to enjoy the serenity of these places. During this time, you need a way to make your patio as cozy as possible so that you can still get out there and enjoy it. The solution in this case is a patio heater. While buying this device, you have to make certain considerations in terms of the space available as heaters come in a wide range of sizes with different specifications. If you’re looking for the right sized heater for your patio space, then look no further. We’ve put together some information on sizes of heaters for different fuel sources so you will find the decision much easier to make and you’ll be able to get the perfect heater for your outdoor space.

Gas patio heaters
Gas heaters use propane as fuel most of the times. They are popular because of their ability to heat up a place very quickly. Since these appliances use gas and need to have a gas tank, they tend to be very big, and come equipped with propane gas tanks that can hold as much as 20 gallons of gas. These types of patio heaters come in handy when you intend to heat a large area. However, they are unsuitable if you have space limitations. For them to work uniformly, you need to place them right in the middle of the area you intend to heat which can prove problematic in smaller spaces. Over time, space issues have led to manufactures designing smaller, tabletop patio heater versions that are a bit more practical in terms of size but still they usually don’t look quite as discreet as their electric counterparts. You can place them on the patio table or mount them on the walls of the room, or even the ceiling. However, many homeowners feel these options place the focus on the heater, rather than having it blend in with their patio.

Electric heaters
There are a wide variety of different electric heaters that come in a variety of different sizes. One standout feature is the fact that they do not need any fuel as such, as they are powered by electricity. This means that you do not have to worry about a huge gas tank clamouring for space with other items in your patio. In most cases, electric heaters are mounted on the wall and plugged to a power supply. You can always direct the heat where you want it most when using these appliances. In addition to this, you can control temperature levels depending on the amount of heat you require. Electric heaters include the classic type, convective panel heaters and under desk heaters. The Thermofilm range of heaters are innovatively designed to fit smartly with any patio or garden space, and you won’t find space an issue. Worth a look if you’re a little short of space.

An electric heater is far more space considerate than its gas counterpart. However, some gas heaters are more energy efficient. What you need to look for, particularly if you either have a small space or do not want your heating to be an eyesore is a company who specialise in offering bespoke heating solutions to a variety of different spaces. Getting the right heating will certainly help to ensure you can enjoy your patio or garden space without having to step over cables or look at ugly heating elements.

20 February 2015

How much should you spend on redesigning your kitchen?

The past few years have seen the kitchen grow in importance, in comparison with the rest of the house. Today, people eat, gather, and even have parties in the kitchen. Larger kitchens have replaced the small, basic ones with conveniences such as larger sinks, islands, fancy lighting, beautiful refrigerators, cookers, and so on. Most homes have picked up on the cozy, social kitchen trend. But how much should you spend on redesigning your kitchen?

Creating A Budget

After conducting thorough research on the re-designing options for your kitchen, it is time to consider your budget. The following tips will help you estimate more accurately.
When planning, decide what exactly needs to be done. Your decision will place your project in one of two remodeling categories:

Minor Remodels

Minor remodels average at around $17,000 to $25,000. These are usually done when a  kitchen has a good layout, or its plumbing and electrical systems meet the current building standards. However, the finish may be outdated and needs revamping. The design, in this case, will remain identical to the original, and it will mean you change the cabinets, flooring, ceiling colour and worktops.

Major remodels

Major remodels are far more costly. Mid-range projects in this category average at around $50,900 to $59,700 while high-end projects average at around $103,500 to $115,500. Due to poor planning during construction, some kitchens require significant updates or repairs, and expansion in size, hence the sharp difference in cost between the minor and major remodels.

After determining what your kitchen needs, coming up with a budget that will cover your expenses becomes less daunting.

Break down the Costs

Come up with an easily comprehensible way of breaking your budget. On average, you can break down your budget – as a percentage of the total amount – as follows:

  • Cabinets: 35 percent,
  • Appliances: 20 percent,
  • Labour: 20 percent,
  • Windows: 10 percent,
  • Fixtures: 5 percent,
  • Fittings: 3 percent,

Prepare for the Unexpected

Something unexpected always happens during construction – especially in older residences. For example, on ripping out your walls, you may realize that the electrical wiring is outdated, or that your floor has rotted after pulling out your dishwasher. Leaving about 20% of your budget to cover the unexpected is practical.

List what You Consider most Important

List what you feel needs revamping the most. If you feel that new appliances will give your kitchen the most pleasing restoration, ensure that they are at the top of your list. This way, even if the cost supersedes your budget, you will have taken care of what is most important to you.

Acquaint Yourself with the Charges Design Professionals Demand

Design professionals can take your project from conceptualization to selecting the finish materials for your construction.

  • Architects charge, on average, $150 per hour and above, or a flat fee of about $500 to $5,000,
  • Interior designers charge an average of $100 to $150 per hour or a flat fee of $500 to $10,000, and
  • Kitchen designers charge $50 per hour.

Of course you should shop around for this. Some kitchen builders in Melbourne offer free design consultations along with their services.

You should also acquaint yourself with the charges that your local buildings permit office requires for such a demolition. Some areas determine their fees basing on the planned work while others require you to pay a percentage of the total project.

Your kitchen reflects your lifestyle, and spending money on it gives you the chance to get a kitchen you’ll love to be in, whether to cook, socialize or relax. Since a cozy, social kitchen is the new trend, revamping your kitchen should be among your top priorities if you've the budget to spare.

13 February 2015

Tips for making a kitchen renovation less stressful


Let’s face it – redoing the kitchen is not a fun job, and it can be so stressful in fact that many of us choose to put it off for years, and instead endure a kitchen we hate rather than putting up with the hassle.

However, if you take some steps you can make the task considerably easier and a lot more stress free. Here are some tips for doing just that.

Preparation is key

From things like setting a budget early on and having a time frame in mind, getting prepared will be really useful when it comes to keeping things organised (and keeping calm!). As well as thinking about these sorts of things, also get the actual room and the rest of your house prepared. This will include doing things like totally clearing out the existing kitchen of things you no longer want in there, and ensuring work people can have easy access to the space when it comes to things like bringing in your large, new appliances.

Consider your new appliances as wise investments

Renovating a kitchen is rarely a cheap venture, but it’s such a good idea to not skimp on your new appliances, as treating them more as an investment is a much better idea in terms of getting more for your money. If you go for cheaper options from the beginning, you may end up replacing them sooner than you’d wish which will end up costing you more anyway.

...and get rid of your old ones easily

Getting rid of your old, existing appliances to make room for your brand new ones can feel like a bit of a mammoth task. However, there are a number of options out there that will take away the hassle (literally). From companies taking away your old ones in return for discounted new ones, to companies offering to recycle them for you, there are lots of things to look into. You can check out this website - – for more info on the latter option.

Get your agreements in writing

Finding trusted trades people isn’t always easy, though when you do find someone, it’s recommended that you get all of your agreements in writing for the jobs that they’re going to do. That way, you’ve got written, physical proof of what you were expecting, should there be any issues that you need resolving along the way.

Install plenty of power points

This isn’t generally something that people forget, but it may be something that we rarely install enough of. Your kitchen will be one of the main rooms in your house when it comes to electrical usage, so it’s a really good idea to ensure you’ve got loads of plug sockets installed so that you have more than enough for when it comes to using your new kitchen.

Go green where possible

Being environmentally friendly is a goal that many of us want to achieve, and if you’re redoing your kitchen, you may want to look into ways in which your renovation can do this. Here are some tips for going green in the kitchen.

09 December 2014

How much should you spend on a blender to use in your kitchen?

A blender is one of those kitchen utensils that can vary greatly in price, from the tens of dollars to the mid hundreds. There’s no easy answer as to how much you should pay for a blender, a good deal of the decision is going to depend on what you want to use it for. Of course your budget will also need to come into the equation.

If you’re a nutrition fanatic, and the blender is going to be put to work to make everything from soup to purées and from nut butter to baby food, then may want to invest in a powerful machine that’s going to withstand the workload. On the other hand if you’re just a smoothie a day person you probably don’t need to break the bank.

What’s the difference between the different priced blenders?

The blenders at the top end of the market are expensive, there’s no two ways about it, but they do have impressive blending strength. They have a real work horse of an engine and precision engineering that makes sure whatever you are blending is literally pummeled away. They are sturdy and strong and they will endure a large amount of wear and tear. Not to mention, they are the nutrition aids that are popular to be seen with. If you’re interested in keeping up with the neighbors, these are the blenders that you aspire to.

Now, if you have the budget, you may want to have one of these mean machines no matter what, but do you really need it? There are plenty of blenders on the market in a lower price range that will do a job for normal day to day blending.

The mid-price range blenders, at around $100, will happily withstand your normal soup and smoothie demands without surrendering under the pressure, and it has to be said that even those blenders in the lower price range are worth considering if you’re not a major foodie. Let’s face it, if your blender is only going to see the light of day a couple of times a week, and you’re happy with a relatively smooth smoothie, you may be quite happy with a lower end blender that does a basic job.

Are there any other options?

If you don’t want to invest in a standing blender then you may want to consider an immersion or “stick” blender. If you have an immersion blender then you literally just have the stick; the motor is situated in the handle. This may be a good option for you if you are limited to the amount of storage space you have, and you only blend small amounts. For larger jobs, such as blending a whole kale, you really need to use a standing blender.

If you love your smoothies and soups then a blender is a great addition to your kitchen. If that’s as far as your culinary blending exploits are likely to progress then you don’t need to spend a huge amount on a blender. If you want to blend away for hours, with a high rate of blending power, then it may be worth taking the plunge and making that big investment.

13 November 2014

Antiques belong in the kitchen too!

Modern appliances, the latest recipe, seasonal spices… staying current is important when it comes to cuisine and your cooking space. And in 2014, your kitchen is often a place that contains just as much programming and electronics as your car or TV room.  But let’s not forget the comfort and class of tradition - the sturdy, burgeoning design of homewares past, or your love for your great grandmother’s recipes. Incorporating antiques into your kitchen is an easy and effective way to bring time-honored heart and design to your favorite room. The internet boasts opportunities for buying timeless antiques at great value, so here are a few ideas to help get your wheels spinning:

Use antique vases as storage
While vases are traditionally regarded as flower holders, they have countless other uses if you put your mind to it. You can give a new life to a beautiful antique vase by using it to store your favorite utensils and kitchen gadgets. It’s a convenient, unique way to show off your love for old treasures.

Accent with antique furniture
Accenting with antique and/or mismatching chairs and table sets can benefit the overall ambience of your kitchen. Incorporating different antique chairs or accenting a corner with an old desk or cabinet for a work space gives off a homey, well-rounded feel. This works especially well in rustic-themed kitchens, but can also be complementary to more bold, modern designs.

Install antique fixtures for a dramatic effect
Finding the perfect antique can do wonders for the lighting and overall mood in your kitchen. While there are many great options for antique lighting online as is, sometimes old pieces need a bit of love and refurbishment. Here are some tips for modifying lighting and fixtures on your own.

Dine with antique dishes and ceramics
Mismatched dish sets offer an eccentric, aesthetic way to dine, and antique ceramics are a great window into the cultural values and delicacies of the past. Search for charming antique dishware online, or refurbish some old family heirlooms for a unique and personalized dining collection.

08 September 2014

Different types of cookers and ovens

If you’ve decided your tired, old cooker or oven needs replacing and it’s a long time since you visited an appliance store to check out the different types available on the market, you may be confused about the choices. However, at online retailers such as Appliance World, due to the extent of their product range, you’re sure to find one that will suit your needs perfectly.


Powered by mains for the majority of people but occasionally using bottled gas, cookers and ovens using gas have long been a popular choice for households. Quick to heat up and easy to control as it’s a much more visual cooking method than any of the electrical choices, gas cooker tops and electric ovens such as the Siemens built in ovens are a popular combination for many kitchens requiring a sleek design. The only real disadvantage to using a gas cooker is that there’s more parts to dismantle and clean with the rings are they will need washing regularly to remove the fat and food residue otherwise they can quickly become blocked.


Induction uses very powerful electromagnets, and these are underneath a glass surface which is manufactured from smooth ceramic. When turned on, the induction power comes from an electromagnetic field. The field causes heat to be created, and this is then transferred to the pan or pot on the stove. There’s no heating element and no burners underneath. The way the food cooks is through a rise or fall in the amount of electric power. It’s also possible to buy induction cookers which are manufactured from cast iron.

The main positive aspect from using induction to cook with is that they are really safe – with particular reference to children. There’s so little chance of burns happening accidentally, because the heat moves from the field to the cookware and there’s no stovetop to heat up. As it’s electrically powered, there’s never a worry about a gas leak.

Induction power is very energy efficient, and food doesn’t take so long to cook. It’s also a very easy to use the kind of heat as temperature control is easy, and changes in the heat take place very quickly.

Because of the glass top, they are very quick and easy to clean – a wipe with a soft, damp cloth, and the job is finished. They also suit modern, sleek and contemporary designed kitchens.

However, some people feel there is a possible issue with radiation, but research evidences this to be very low. You’ll need to buy pots and pans which have either iron or stainless steel bottoms otherwise the magnetic field won’t be created, and there’ll be no heat. The cookware bottoms also have to be flat to ensure even distribution of the field.

You’ll need to be careful with the surface. Be careful not to crack the glass with cookware or to drag anything across the top otherwise you’ll end up with scratches.

Ceramic top cookers

Ceramic cooker tops work through the installation of metal coils or halogen lamps placed under a piece of ceramic glass. They work through electricity and heat up when switched on. Heat produced then goes into the glass surface and then into the pan.

A ceramic cooker cools down very fast and so is very safe – particularly when just switched off. As with induction, there’s no worry about gas leaks. This is an energy efficient choice with very dense heat in a focused spot.

Cleaning is easier – a damp, soft cloth is all that is needed, but they do need to have spills removed immediately to prevent burn marks.

Using ceramic may mean buying new cookware as they require heavyweight pans for good conductivity covering the whole surface. They are easily scratched and broken in a similar way to induction. Whilst they cool down quickly, they are slow to heat up, and temperature changes are felt not to be quick enough for many people when cooking and needing to up the heat.

06 August 2014

Top 5 Energy Efficient Appliances of 2014

Home appliances account for most of the energy that you use in your home. One of the best ways to reduce your electric bills is by using energy-efficient appliances. These appliances apply advanced technology, allowing you to enjoy better performance. Here are the top 5 green appliances based on information compiled from 3 of the top professional home appliance repair and maintenance providers.

The Whirlpool Gold ® Series Dishwasher with Sensor Cycle

This dishwasher automatically selects appropriate wash and dry settings. The Whirlpool Gold ®Series dishwasher with sensor cycle cleans tough stains 35% better compared to other appliances. It uses adequate amounts of water, time, and energy, allowing you to make significant savings.

It has an efficient wash system that allows you to clean a full load with less energy and water compared to other models.

This dishwasher comes with specialized options that allow you to clean a small number of dishes while still remaining energy efficient. Its Top Rack Wash helps you save energy and time because it can wash dishes placed at the top. This means that you don’t have to load dishes until you have a full load. It will also automatically determine how much water and time is required to wash the dishes on the top rack.

Its AnyWare™ Plus silverware basket allows you to free up additional rack space. The basket easily fits in the door or lower rack, allowing you to wash more dishes in a single load.

Its upper rack is adjustable and you can easily pull it in and out when you want to change its location to suit the size of the items you want to wash.

The Kenmore Elite 4.7 cu. ft. High-efficiency Top-Load Washer

This washer has an Energy Star ® label, making it an ideal choice if you are looking for a green appliance. The Kenmore Elite 4.7 cu. ft. top-load washer offers superior fabric care as one of its signature features. It applies Smart Motion technology that allows you to use 6 washing motions. It also has 14 wash cycle options and 5 temperatures, allowing you to save on energy, water, and time when cleaning your clothes.

This 4.7 cu. ft washer can accommodate large items such as bedding. It comes with an in-built heater that automatically warms water to allow enhanced cleaning. The heater will raise the water temperature quickly. This means that each fabric gets customized cleaning.

Information on the “Whirlpool Gold ® Series Dishwasher with Sensor Cycle” and “Kenmore Elite 4.7 cu. ft. High-efficiency Top-Load Washer” provided by: Accredited Appliance of Phoenix.

The Kenmore Elite 29.2 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator with Genius Cool™

This is an Energy Star compliant stainless steel refrigerator that is designed to offer better performance. The GeniusCool™ relies on two evaporators that cool the freezer and refrigerator separately. This means that your vegetables will remain crisp while your frozen items are protected from freezer burn.

It comes with the CrisperKeeper™ drawers that absorb the natural gas emitted by vegetables and fruits when they are ripening. This helps to keep your produce fresh for a longer period.

This refrigerator offers you more storage space but it still remains in the standard 25 cu. ft. footprint. It also features the CleanFlow™ Air Filter that is used to circulate air. It is more effective at reducing food odors compared to using baking soda.

The refrigerator door can store about 8 gallons of milk. This is remarkable when it is compared to other side-by-side refrigerator models.

It also comes with SmartSense™ Temperature Management that is designed to detect temperature changes in the appliance. This feature automatically adjusts cooling to ensure foods are stored at the most appropriate temperatures. Your foods will stay fresher for longer periods in this appliance.

The refrigerator also comes with the Kenmore® dispense system, allowing you to get filtered water. You can customize the system to get preset water amounts based on your preferences.

The Thermador 36” Masterpiece Series Electric Cooktop with Touch Control and Bridge Element

This cooktop comes in an elegant design and offers precise control and excellent performance. The Touch Control feature offers 17 power settings, allowing you to save energy when cooking or warming food. It has a panel lock, timer, and 9 cooking settings, fast preheat setting, and keep warm setting.

It has the Triple Element feature that is designed to heat various types of cookware efficiently. The size of the cookware will determine how much energy is used to heat it, allowing you to gain significant energy savings.

This is one of the few cooktop models that come with a bridge element. A dual-zone element is integrated, making it easy for the appliance to heat cookware that have unique diameters. If you have oblong cookware, this appliance will come in handy when you are cooking or warming food considering its one of only a few that can do it with ease.

Information on the “Kenmore Elite 29.2 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator with Genius Cool” and “Thermador 36” Masterpiece Series Electric Cooktop” provided by Appliance Repair Specialist of Tampa.

The Sharp R930CS 1-1/2 cu. ft. 900-Watt Convection Microwave

This is a stainless convection microwave oven that is usually used as a countertop unit but you can also have it built in. The Sharp R-930 uses 900-watt to function. It comes with more than 10 power settings. This oven has an interactive display with smart and easy sensor settings.

It has a turntable that allows food to heat evenly, reducing the amount of energy used. This appliance can also crisp, brown, bake, and broil different types of food. It’s definitely the best appliance to use when you are making popcorn.

This convection microwave oven can accommodate a 13” cake pan and standard roasting pan. It comes with additional racks that allow you to bake two different dishes at the same time.

You can use this microwave oven to cook meats such as chicken, sausages, and steak. It comes with the Sensor Cook feature that allows efficient cooking. This feature is designed for cooking hot dogs, frozen entrees, and vegetables. All you have to do is place the items on a plate and select the Sensor Cook option for the particular food item and the appliance will do the rest for you. The sensor settings offered by this appliance allow you to realize significant energy savings when used regularly.

And there are no protruding parts on this appliance, making it easy for you to clean it up with some paper towels or damp cloth.

Information on the “The Sharp R930CS 1-1/2 cu. ft. 900-Watt Convection Microwave” provided by AAA Appliance Service Center.

20 June 2014

Blending in — creating a pleasant but practical kitchen

Julia Child's kitchen

It’s said that the heart of the home is in the kitchen, and that’s certainly true. The focal point of many family gatherings, the kitchen is often just a buzz of activity. Especially if you've got to cater for a large family, making sure your kitchen is well-planned out can prove a real time saver when it comes to maintaining a clean and hygienic atmosphere. Even if you’re just cooking for one, you really can’t underestimate the relaxation a few enjoyable hours in a neat kitchen can provide.

Kitchens should be designed, keeping not only aesthetics in mind, but also efficiency. Ensure that appliances are sensibly located – especially the main essentials like electric cookers, refrigerators, etc. — and workflow will be so much smoother. In fact, this is probably the most important factor while designing a kitchen.

Aesthetics are important, too. Taking the time to reflect on how you’d like your kitchen decorated is certainly worthwhile. Your kitchen has to be somewhere you enjoy spending time, and if you've got kids, making sure it’s attractive for them, too, is a neat little trick to encourage them to help with the washing up! The counter tops, the colors of the appliances, the color of the backsplash — coordinate them all to make your kitchen a pleasant room to spend time in.

Making sure the kitchen is easy to clean will help hugely, too. Alright, that carpet might look great in the shop, but when it comes to mopping up spilled sauces and wine, you’ll definitely be thankful for easy-wipe surfaces! Tiles come in such a variety of designs and colors that the hardest part of your job will be choosing what you want. Tiled floors, once laid correctly, can last a lifetime, so it’s really essential to think carefully about how you want your kitchen to look today.

The appliances in the kitchen should also be coordinated with each other. If space is at a premium, buying an electric cooker with an oven makes sense. Preferably, choose appliances of the same brand, since it makes servicing them easier and you can often get good discounts when you buy more from one company.

Keep enough space to move around the room. Try to make a small eating space in the kitchen by putting an island with stools or a small table. Put up some colorful accessories such as pictures and plants to enliven the atmosphere.

These are but a few of the many ways in which you can make your kitchen the happiest place in your home. Apply them and you’ll feel less like you’re slaving away at a stove, and more like you’re improving your quality of life.

27 September 2013

Use Thermador appliances, win valuable prizes

Hey designers, The Thermador Kitchen Design Challenge is back and it's better than ever. Oh and when I say "hey designers" I mean to include all  professional designers, architects, builders, remodelers and kitchen dealers in that blanket term.

The contest this year has been expanded pretty significantly; the cash prizes on the line this year amount to $100,000 and the way to enter is as straightforward as it's ever been. There's no fee to enter and if you've been specifying Thermador you have no excuse not to enter.

Sixteen regional winners will receive a $2,500 cash prize and an expense-paid trip for two to a magnificent gala celebration in the fall of 2014 to compete for national prizes. How it works is this:

Regional Winners

  • 12 regional winners competing within six defined sales territories will receive $2,500 cash for the best overall use of Thermador appliances in any style kitchen design and will compete for national prizes.
  • 4 regional winners will receive $2,500 cash for the best use of Thermador built-in refrigeration in any style kitchen and will compete for a national prize.
  • All regional winners will also receive a trip for two to a magnificent celebration weekend in the fall of 2014.

National Winners: Traditional/Transitional

  • The regional winner with the best use of Thermador in a traditional/transitional kitchen design will receive a grand prize of $15,000 cash. One second place winner will receive $10,000 cash.

National Winners: Contemporary/Modern

  • The regional winner with the best use of Thermador in a contemporary/modern kitchen design will receive a grand prize of $15,000 cash. One second place winner will receive $10,000 cash.

National Winners: Best Use of Built-in Refrigeration

  • The regional winner with the best use of Thermador built-in refrigeration will receive a grand prize of $10,000 cash.

All you have to do is set up a profile, complete the online entry form, write a narrative of no more than 300 words, and upload your photos. March 14, 2014 is the deadline to enter.

The expanded version of the requirements and the general rules are:


  • The 2012-2013 Thermador Kitchen Design Challenge is open to professional designers, architects, builders, remodelers and kitchen dealers.
  • Individual, team and company entries will be accepted.
  • There is no limit to the number of entries that can be submitted by an eligible Entrant as long as each Entry features a unique Kitchen Design. However, each entrant is only eligible for one regional prize and one national prize.

The Kitchen Design:

  • The kitchen design must include at least three Thermador appliances.
  • Kitchen designs may include non-Thermador appliances only if Thermador does not offer a similar product in our lineup. Non-Thermador ventilation will be allowed depending on the application.
  • All design and construction must be fully completed within the contest period of December 1, 2011 to December 31, 2013.

Entries must include all of the following:

  • A headshot of the entrant.
  • A minimum of two high-resolution photographs of the completed kitchen design in .jpg format. Additional photos are welcomed to show various perspectives, details and "before" shots. Blueprints, floor plans, elevations and perspective drawings may be included but will not be accepted as the only means of entry. Files should be no larger than 20 mb.
  • A written narrative of no more than 300 words describing your kitchen design.

You can find Thermador's complete rules by following this link.

In an industry heavy with design competitions and prizes, this one's the most straightforward. If you worked on a Thermador project or two recently, go ahead and enter. If you haven't then start specifying Thermador!

25 September 2013

Want to win a Discovery WineStation® from Dacor and the Decor Girl?

This is a Discovery WineStation® from Dacor.

This is Lisa Smith, the Decor Girl.

Isn't that a great shot? Kudos to my good friend Courtney for that one.

Together, Dacor and my friend Lisa are teaming up to give away one of Dacor's new Discovery WineStations.

What is a Discovery WineStation®? It's a combination wine chiller, wine preserver and wine dispenser --an at-home version of the chiller/ dispensers you see in wine and tasting bars.

Here's a description in Lisa's own words:
Introducing the first four bottle, automated, temperature controlled, wine preservation and dispensing system designed for the home. Small enough to sit on a countertop, this would look smashing on the home bar! There is also a trim kit for those super chic wine collectors wanting a flush built-in look. Enjoy the right wine on your time schedule. Imagine being able to maintain the quality of an opened bottle of wine for up to 60 days. Share a taste, a half glass or a indulge in a full glass of wine – you choose. Perfect for entertaining! Speaking of entertaining, this is going to completely wow your techno gadget friends. Individually program the display for each bottle to show wine type, wine year and varietal. With the dual zone temperature accessory, you can even split the temperature by 10 degrees.
It sounds pretty slick and it's certainly the first one of these to show up in the consumer market. These wine appliances retail for around $5000 and that's where Lisa comes in.

Decor Girl and Dacor have teamed up and are hosting a contest to give away one of these units. The contest is pretty simple and straightforward.

Take a picture of your favorite bottle of wine, maybe where you would put the wine station, a glass of wine, people enjoying wine – anything which would fit into the wine theme and email it to me.  Have fun.  The contest runs September 25 through October 4, 2013 and you’ll need to click here for the contest rules. Creativity will be rewarded and PhotoShop's fine. remember, e-mail your photo to Lisa (not me) by 4 October to be considered.

Once all of the photos are submitted, they'll then go to a panel of some of the smartest people on the planet. I'm on the panel so I can say things like that. Once we come to a consensus, Lisa will announce a winner and somebody gets to be the envy of their in-laws this Thanksgiving.

Give it a shot and while you're at it, follow Lisa on Twitter and Instagram and then like her on Facebook. It can only help.

15 June 2012

¡Adios mosquitos!

See this?

It may be the thing that saves my summer.

That's an InaTrap, a mosquito trap that's actually attractive.

Most mosquito traps and bug zappers are an eyesore, but the InaTrap turns all of that on its head.

I have a big table on my patio and as often as not, I use it as a dining table. When I have people over, that's where we eat. Not only that, my next door neighbors and I tend to sit out there and talk long into the night. This set up works out perfectly for most of the year. However, when the rainy season kicks in every May, the mosquitoes come with it. The rains continue through the end of September and during the wet months, lingering at my patio table becomes an exercise in mosquito evasion.

I've thought about mosquito traps before but they're always such an eyesore. Not so the InaTrap.

The InaTrap is the result of the collaboration of Acase, a manufacturer of acessories and cases for iPhones, iPads and the rest, and the design house Inadays. The InaTrap won the 2012 Taiwan design excellence award and I can see why.

Its compact design uses just five watts of power and how it works is pretty ingenious. Here's a diagram:

The device uses a combination of UV light and a photocatalytic reaction that produces low levels of CO2. The CO2 convinces the little monsters that there's a tasty human being at the source of that gas. Once the mosquito enters the trap, it gets caught up in a nearly silent downdraft and it lands in a chamber that's out of sight. Oh, and they don't survive the trip across the fan blades. Boo hoo.

Here's the whole collection:

The InaTrap measures 215 x 215 x 315 mm (or 8.46 x 8.46 x 12.4 inches) and weighs 1.2 kg (2.64 lbs.), its lamp has an 18,000 hour lifespan and it carries a one year warranty.

The InaTrap is available in North America now on Amazon. I know I don't live in the only part of the world where mosquitoes descend en masse every summer evening.

So what do you guys think? What's the best way do deal with mosquitoes?

13 June 2012

Blanco and Bosch make a great pair

As I mentioned a couple of times last week, Blanco and Bosch flew me and a bunch of great people I know to Costa Mesa two weeks ago. We were there to tour Bosch's new training center and showroom, ask pointed questions to the Bosch industrial designers, shoot hours of video and of course, cook. Bosch's new facility is amazing and every sink and faucet in the place was made by Blanco, hence the joint venture.

It's the perfect marriage of brands. Their design philosophies match the commitments to quality and innovation perfectly.

Lori Dolnick from the Blanco PR team photgraphed the entire event and put everything together in a video.

The people in that video are a who's who of the Kitchen and Bath Industry and I consider them to be not only my peers, but also my friends. It's always an honor to be included with such an august group and I can't thank the marketing teams at Blanco and Bosch enough.

08 June 2012

Thermador's Freedom Induction

Last February, I wrote a post about an induction cooktop from Gaggenau I'd seen in Germany the previous month. Gaggenau calls it Full Surface Induction and I was completely blown away by it when I saw it for the first time. Full Surface Induction dispensed with the idea of burners all together and turned the entire cooktop surface into a cooking zone. The appliance could sense the size of the pot resting on it and only activated the induction coils beneath that particular pot.

I wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it with my own eyes. When I wrote that post almost a year-and-a-half ago I summed it all up with a lament about how that technology wasn't heading across the Atlantic any time soon.

It turns out I was wrong about that, Gaggenau's Full Surface Induction will be available in North America in August of this year.

In the meantime, last January, my friend and colleague Susan Serra wrote a post about Thermador's new Freedom Induction cooktop. Thermador is a sister brand to Gaggenau and next month, the Thermador Freedom Induction will make its North American debut.

When I was at Bosch/ Thermador/ Gaggenau's new facility in Irvine, CA last week I saw the prototype of this Thermador cooktop and I met the man who designed it. I admit it, I'm a geek when it comes to appliances, induction cooktops particularly. As amazing as Gaggenau's Full Surface Induction is, Thermador's Freedom Induction is even more so. Thermador's Freedom Induction has a 6.5" full-color screen that will teach you how to use the appliance essentially.

Here's a video showing the man behind this innovation, Malte Peters, and an early version of this appliance. The cooktop he's describing has a clear glass surface, so that you can see the many, many induction coils that live underneath it. These smaller coils are how Freedom Induction works.

All contemporary induction coils activate when they sense ferrous metal. Ordinarily, these coils are the size and shape of a conventional, round burner. Freedom Induction allows a user to place odd-sized pots and pans anywhere on its surface and it'll accommodate up to five pots at a time and a user can control each of those pots individually.

What's more is that somebody can move a pot to another position and transfer the cooking settings to the new position. It's revolutionary and this video of the original Gaggenau Full Surface Induction explains how this technology works better than I can.

Induction cooktops make so much sense I can barely stand it. They are significantly more efficient than any other cooking technology out there. They have the same level of control that gas does but without the radiant heat and wasted energy that accompanies gas. And unlike a traditional electric cooktop, the burners and cooking surface never get hot, so they're infinitely safer in homes with children or the elderly.

So if you're on the fence about induction, buy yourself a set of All-Clad cookware and go for it. I have never met anyone who'd made the switch to induction who regretted it. There are a wide variety of models available from Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau and if you have any questions about this technology, please shoot me an e-mail. I'm somewhat a zealot when it comes to this stuff and I'll answer all questions gladly.

04 November 2011

A cool, interactive, appliance repair graphic

Dealing with a malfunctioning major appliance is always fraught with anxiety and headaches. Trying to troubleshoot the malfunction to see whether or not try to deal with it by yourself is beyond the skill set of most homeowner's, though the repairs themselves are not.

Part Select put together repair information about washing machines, refrigerators and ranges and put them in a very clever graphic that will tell you the general costs of parts and the relative ease of making the repair yourself. Something like this may save you some money but it will definitely save you some headaches. Just click on the graphic to launch it.

Source: PartSelect Appliance Parts

17 October 2011

More wonders from London

It feels like it was six months ago already, but three weeks ago I was walking around at 100% Design with my friends Bob Borson and Veronika Miller. 100% Design was one of the featured events of London Design Festival and I was there thanks to the sponsors of Blog Tour 2011. 100% Design takes place at the large but manageable Earl's Court Convention Centre in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London.

I saw all kinds of cool stuff at 100% Design and it was the perfect mix of furniture, fabrics, lighting, surfaces and appliances. However, what stopped me in my tracks was this:

That's a concrete induction cooktop and it's part of a concrete kitchen from Vienna-based Steininger. Here are their photos of their Betonküche, German for concrete kitchen.

Much like the Pryolave integrated induction cooktop I wrote about earlier, this concrete induction cooker throws out all preconceptions when it comes to cooking appliances. Who says appliances need to look the way everyone expects them to and who says they need to be made from the usual materials?

Add to that that this entire kitchen (except for the wooden counter) is covered in 8mm concrete veneers and I was in love. The Betonküche was designed by Martin Steininger whom I met. Thanks to Veronika and her language skills, Martin described his creation with the pride of someone who's made something game changing. My German consists of little more than "Ich spreche ein wenig Deutsch [I speak a little German]" and had Veronika not been there I'd never have been able to tell the man how amazed I was by his creation.

If you want to look at some cutting edge Austrian design, look over Steininger's website.

04 October 2011

Game changing innovation from London

I saw more amazing things at the London Design Festival than I ever imagined I would. Being part of the first ever Blog Tour was a gift that keeps on giving, that's for sure. The London Design Festival is a nine-day, city-wide celebration of design and art with more than 280 scheduled events. One of the larger events this year was 100% Design.

Of the many venues we visited, 100% Design was by far my favorite. While I can get excited about furniture and textiles, after a while they all start to bleed into one another. I guess I'm a kitchen and bath guy at heart after all. 100% Design had the perfect mix of sofas and counters, draperies and flooring. I saw a lot of cool stuff and one thing in particular really blew me away.

The following images are from Pyrolave UK and they are photos of a kitchen designed by my friend Johnny Grey.

Notice anything unusual? That counter has an induction cooktop integrated into it. Pyrolave made from glazed, volcanic stone and it's the only material that can allow the electromagnetic energy of an induction coil pass through it without any loss of efficiency. There's no need for a typical glass cooking surface and being able to pop in an induction coil just about anywhere is an incredibly freeing thing from a design perspective. It's also a great opportunity to use induction outside of the kitchen. Imagine an induction-enabled sideboard or dining table. The mind reels.

Pyrolave UK had a booth at 100% Design and I was playing around with one of these induction-enabled cooktops while I was there. It was nothing short of amazing.

It's genius really and it makes perfect sense. Induction technology begs for innovation and I love that Pryolave has stepped up to the plate and delivered such a great idea. Induction-enabled Pyrolave counters aren't crossing the Atlantic any time soon unfortunately, but when they do get here I'll be the one applauding loudest.

100% Design was the 7th trade event I'd attended outside of the US in the last ten months. I'm getting on a plane for another one in Toronto in a few hours and my seeing innovations such as Pyrolave's induction counters have proved what I've long suspected. The US no longer leads the world in innovation. There. I said it. Much of the innovations I've seen this year will never make it to our market here and if they do, they'll be a dumbed down version of the original.

I hate to be one of those Americans who travels abroad and makes endless comparisons to life here as opposed to there. But the innovation thing is as obvious as it is troubling. How and when did that happen? What would it take to turn that around? These are some of the things I think about during long plane rides.

Anyhow, how about this induction idea? If you're a designer, how could you see this figuring into a design? If you're a homeowner, would you ever spring for a put-it-anywhere induction cooker?

18 August 2011

Meet the Miele Futura Series dishwashers

In early summer, Miele rolled out a new series of dishwashers in North America, the Futura Series. Miele bills the Futura Series as the "world's most intelligent dishwashers" and I'm inclined to believe them after I read through the specs.

Miele introduced cutlery trays to dishwashers 25 years ago, an industry first. In the Futura Series, the cutlery tray is adjustable and will allow a user to change the tray's configuration based on the different heights, depths and widths of the utensils being washed. So now large ladles, whisks and spatulas can fit in the tray. The cutlery tray's flexibility adds to the flexibility to the middle tray. The cutlery tray adjusts from side to side as well, to better accommodate tall objects in the center tray.

All of the trays in a Miele Futura Series dishwasher are adjustable and come complete with removable inserts, right and left fixed and foldable spikes, single section cup ranks, height adjustable glass holders, bottle holders, foldable glassware rails and stainless steel GlideGuard extension rails that allow the baskets to easily glide out and in.

Miele added four, 20-year, LED lights to the interiors of these dishwashers, making them better illuminated that any other brand on the market. As smart an innovation that is, it's when the dishwasher door is closed and the lights go dim inside that the real work these machines do kicks in. They automatically adjust water temperature, monitor room temperatures, drying times, rinse aid and more. This saves time as well as water and energy. All Futura dishwashers are Energy Star qualified. In fact, Miele exceeds 2012 Energy Star requirements by 25% for water consumption and the new Futura Series is 35% most efficient than previous generations.

The Futura Series Dishwashers have a manufacturer's suggested retail price that ranges from $1,249 to $2,849, depending on the model.

You can read more about Miele's dishwashers and other appliances on the Miele website. Check it out.

10 August 2011

Meet the highly innovative Next Generation Europa Collection of ventilation hoods from Zephyr

The Milano Glass Island Range Hood

Household ventilation powerhouse Zephyr just released a newly-imagined collection of ventilation hoods called Next Generation Europa. These hoods are game changers on a whole bunch of fronts and it's exciting to see an appliance manufacturer be so willing to abandon business as usual in the quest for greater efficiencies.

The Milano Wall Glass Range Hood

What kind of efficiencies? Well, the entire Next Generation Europa Collection produces 77% less noise, delivers 30% more cubic feet per minute (CFM) of ventilation, is 77% more energy-efficient and uses low-temperature, high-definition light bulbs that will last for 68 years.

The Modena Island Range Hood

All of that efficiency is hidden in designs that are so sleek and beautiful you'd never imagine they were using a "green" approach to appliance design. Throw away the hair shirts, this collection proves that beauty can use resources wisely too.

The Modena Wall Range Hood

There are a couple of key components to Zephyr's core efficiencies. The first being a an onboard computer that not only manages the user interface, it runs a DC controller. What that means is that these hoods take AC current from the wall and convert it to DC. DC power is more controlled and DC power allows the motor to generate higher torque with fewer RPMs.

The Napoli Island Range Hood

Another key component to these new hoods are the high definition LED lights they use. The bulbs were developed by Bloom and they use 3 watts of power to generate a light level that's nearly as warm and intense as halogen. The "warmth" of a light source is measured in degrees Kelvin and the lower the number, the warmer the light is said to be. Most white LEDs come in at around 5000K but the HD LEDs from Bloom and Zephyr come in at 3200K. Traditional halogens come in at around 3000K, so unless you're doing a direct comparison, I doubt anybody would be able to identify these lights as LEDs. Those HD LEDs also come with something else that's unheard of for a light bulb, a three year warranty.

The Venezia Wall range Hood

Finally, the last and most noticeable key component to this collection is a motor Zephyr calls a DCBL motor. The DCBL motor uses 26 watts to operate as opposed to 115 watts for a traditional blower motor. On its lowest setting, the DCBL motor generates enough CFMs of air circulation to effectively vent one 10,000 BTU burner and one 15,000 BTU burner when both are set on high but it does so with 77% less noise and 30% more CFMs. The DCBL motors have six power levels and even when they're running at full bore, it makes 11% less noise, uses 43% less electricity and delivers 38% more CFMs than a traditional motor.

The Verona Wall range Hood

Am I getting too techie? I can't help myself some times, I know. Did I mention that they're pretty to look at too?

The Milano Island Stainless Range Hood

The Next Generation Europa Collection is a small part of Zephyr's large number of available models. Poke around Zephyr's website to see more and to learn some important terms about kitchen ventilation. There are even some online tools to help you determine the proper height for a range hood and how to buy the ideal CFM rating for your kitchen hood.

The Milano Wall Range Hood

28 July 2011

Meet the iWavecube

This is the world's smallest microwave oven, the iWavecube.

A couple of weeks ago, the company behind the iWavecube, iCubed International, contacted me to see if I'd be interested in test driving one of their small microwave ovens. I turn down many more of these offers than I accept but there was something about the description of this appliance I found intriguing. I was skeptical of course but I agreed to have them send me one of their models.

Right now there's a black iWavecube sitting on my kitchen counter and I've been putting it through its paces for a week now. As soon as it arrived I was struck by how small it is. It takes up .73 cubic feet of space, that's less than a square foot for the decimal impaired. Its actual dimensions are 10.5"W x 10"D x 12"H and I can see it fitting in all kinds of tight spaces.

The interior dimensions (8"W x 8"D x 6"H) are just large enough to accommodate a coffee cup, a frozen entree or a bag of popcorn. Considering that I use my microwave as a butter melter exclusively, it makes sense to minimize the space I devote to having a microwave oven. I think that holds true for a lot of people. Despite its small size, it's still a 600 watt appliance and that's plenty of power for its intended uses.

Another thing I like about it is that its controls and display are on the top of the unit. If I don't feel like setting the clock, its unset clock doesn't taunt me every time I walk into my kitchen.

The iWavecube comes in three colors right now, black, silver and white. There are more colors in the pipeline but for now there are three.

But back to its intended uses for a moment, iCubed International has been compiling user feedback on their website and they're uncovering all sort of neat uses for this microwave. Aside from the expected uses like heating cups of soup or boiling water for tea, iWavecube customers are using their appliances to do things like heating shaving soap or hair conditioner in a bathroom. Optometrists and dentists are using them to heat up moldable plastics. Physical therapists use them to heat up gel packs. These microwaves only weigh 12 pounds and come with a carrying handle so people are traveling with them or taking them camping.

I'm sure none of those uses were expected when the product was being developed but the iWavecube's definitely come a long way from the dorm rooms they were intended for.

The iWavecube retails for $99 and is available at Office Depots everywhere and you can buy them from iCubed International directly through their website.

Make no mistake, this is not an appliance you'll be cooking whole meals in. But honestly, how many people use a microwave that way? If you're looking for a compact way to heat up small things, the iWavecube may be a solution.

18 July 2011

New appliances from Fisher & Paykel

New Zealand-based Fisher & Paykel released some new kitchen appliances recently and they have some interesting innovations. First out of the gate is this dish drawer.

Fisher & Paykel developed the dish drawer dishwasher, but this one's pretty unique in that it's 36-inches wide and deep enough to accommodate a 12 3/4" dinner plate. Having access to a 36" single-drawer dishwasher is bound to add a lot of flexibility to kitchen designs from this point forward.

They haven't stopped with dish drawers. Fisher & Paykel has four new refrigerator models this year too. All four are counter-depth, 36" wide and less than 72" tall. Those dimensions ought to make retrofits a bit easier. All four models are Energy Star rated and feature Fisher & Paykel's Active Smart™ technology. Active Smart™ uses two separate fans to circulate air inside of the appliance. This allows for faster cooling and more constant temperatures.

The first two new refrigerators are counter-depth, bottom-mount French door models. They're available with or without water and ice, and both versions have door shelves deep enough to accommodate gallon bottles and jugs.

The third and fourth new models are are counter-depth, bottom-mount single door models. The difference between the two is the presence or absence of water and ice.

Just as is the case with their French door cousins, the single door models have door shelves deep enough to accommodate gallon jugs and bottles.

Fisher & Paykel keeps itself at the forefront of appliance innovation and the quest for ever-increasing standards of efficiency. If you're in the market for new appliances, be sure to include Fisher & Paykel in the mix of brands you investigate.