Showing posts with label cabinetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cabinetry. Show all posts

17 March 2015

Practical yet stylish bathroom design ideas

Image by Ines Hegedus Garcia, Used under a Creative Commons license.

Deciding to renovate or redecorate the bathroom is considered by many to be a difficult and demanding task. Some people believe it takes a lot of exertion and a large upheaval to make any real difference to the room’s look and feel.

However, there are quite a few practical yet stylish changes you can make, which have the potential to transform any bathroom. Best of all, they don’t require much time, effort or money either.

Put up some shelving

This might seem like a straightforward step, but it is surprising just how many people don’t put up shelves in their bathroom. In addition to improving organisation, shelving units can be incredibly decorative too. Floating shelves look clean and crisp, but ornate options will suit more traditional bathrooms.

Introduce more storage

Certain bathroom items can be rather unsightly and not very attractive, which would be better hidden away. This is a great opportunity to enhance the room’s aesthetic, so think about introducing storage containers such as glass jars for cotton swabs or wicker baskets for toilet rolls.

Change the cabinet

If you don’t have the budget to update your entire suite, consider changing the cabinet instead. This piece of bathroom furniture has the potential to revamp and rejuvenate any tired looking space but isn’t that difficult to fix-up. What’s more, it will increase practicality and improve overall tidiness.

Upgrade the small details

It is easy to overlook things like towel racks, toilet roll holders and sink taps, but if you upgrade these small details, you’ll end up with a much more decorative bathroom. Even if you don’t have these furnishings in the first place, it will undoubtedly increase overall functionality anyway.

Improve the sights and smells

There is nothing quite like taking a nice relaxing bath after a stressful day. But this can be improved even more by adding some scented candles, which smell great, create the right ambience and reduce your energy footprint too.

Put up more mirrors

This is a really good idea if you have a small bathroom, as mirrors can make a confined space look much larger. On top of that, adorning and alluring mirrors are bound to enhance your bathroom’s appeal while providing greater functionality at the same time.

All of these design ideas are sure to be within most budgets and don’t require much work or effort to complete. But most importantly, they’ll improve the style and practicality of your bathroom and day to day living.

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.

08 September 2014

Enhance the aesthetics of your bedroom with a contemporary, sliding wardobe

A bedroom looks best when it has less furniture and more space to walk around freely. Apart from the necessary things, there should not be anything in the bedroom. However, in a typical house, you will never find such an ideal bedroom. There will be closets, wardrobes and whatnot, making the bedroom as much like a store room as anything else. Wouldn't it be nice if you could actually find the secret of getting the ideal bedroom in your house?

Well, the secret is a sliding wardrobe. So what exactly is a sliding wardrobe? These are wardrobes that have sliding doors to create more space in the bedroom. If you have seen a traditional wardrobe, you would have noticed the swinging closet doors that often created an obstruction and needed more space to make way for the whole door to be opened. But with innovation and new style, the sliding wardrobes have become very popular among families especially, because they can keep all their clothes in one place.

Types of sliding wardrobes

With the introduction of sliding wardrobes, various experiments were done with their design and style and ultimately three different types of sliding wardrobes were introduced. The following are the three types of sliding wardrobes that are swarming the market these days:

  • Glass-type sliding wardrobes - These wardrobes blend well with any bedroom and if there is a theme for the bedroom, then there's nothing like it. If you go to an interior designer, this is probably the first thing that he or she will suggest you to buy. If you want to add a unique style to the doors, then choose from the smoked glass panels - they look gorgeous on these wardrobes. However, while choosing the glass do ensure that you choose Plexiglass and not some other glass. Plexiglass is known for its durability and would suit the wardrobe to perfection.
  • Mirrored sliding wardrobes - These wardrobes are made of glass materials and have a reflective film on the back of the glass panel. The whole concept of this wardrobe is very smart as the big mirrors are crafted to act like sliding doors. It makes the wardrobe look so much bigger due to its reflective nature and the craftsmen that designed this feature did nothing extraordinary, but simply replaced a few parts with glass and played with the reflection; as simple as that.
  • Wooden sliding wardrobes - These are the most common type of sliding wardrobes that you will find in the market. These are simple, yet elegant and are made of dense wood such as teak, mahogany and maple. Unlike other sliding wardrobes, you will find a lot of designs in this one. The doors can have an additional touch of beauty with crafted wooden panels or louvered closet panels. But, it all depends on the manufacturer whether he can put these innovations in his work or not.

Sliding wardrobes are available for online order as well since the reputed names like SKON Design have marked their presence online. Depending on the colour theme of your room you can browse the internet and order the best sliding wardrobe. Suppose you have a white theme for your bedroom, and you happen to live in Dublin. Simply, go online and search with white sliding wardrobe in Dublin and you will find the names of the companies who have the wardrobe with the specification you just gave. Searching on the internet helps you see the entire structure of the wardrobe very easily, and you also get to compare the price with other online stores providing the same thing. Sliding wardrobes have immense benefits, and it is the latest trend in the market. It would be wise to select this wardrobe if you are looking to buy a new one.  

04 December 2013

Old techniques, new furniture

My friend Patrick Shilling is a master woodworker in Bethnal Green, London. Over the years he's carved out a niche for himself as a creator of exquisite, one of a kind interiors. Here are some examples of his work.

Never one to sit still, Patricks's been turning his hand to fine furniture and over the years has perfected a technique that uses an adze and a saw on English oak. The texture carved onto these pieces is done entirely by hand and that's something that's utterly unique in the world.

The finishes he's developed for this line mimic the appearance of stone, leather and charred timber but the attention to detail he employs never lets you lose sight of the fact that his pieces are made entirely of oak.

His passion for and love of his craft shine through this entire collection and I invite you to take a look through the gallery on his website. Whether it's a wardrobe, a table, a room divider, a larder or any of the pieces in this collection, all of it's breathtaking.

If you're interested in Patrick's work, you can contact him through his website. He's also looking for dealers in the UK, the EU, The US and anywhere else in the world you might be. So if furniture's your thing, drop him a line.

It's an easy cliche to fall back on the idea that no one makes high quality furniture by hand anymore and people like Patrick Shilling are living proof that the cliche's simply not true.

23 October 2013

Yes, you can buy cabinetry online

Say you’re working with a design-only designer on a kitchen renovation. Say that said designer puts together a plan to end all plans. A plan that takes efficiency and good taste to levels previously unimagined. Then what?

Since the lion’s share of kitchen design involves cabinetry, what do you do with a set of completed plans? How do you get from paper to a room you can cook in?

Well, one really simple way is by taking the plans you have and generating a list of components if your designer hasn't done that already. With that list you can go to a website like Cliq Studios, and place an order. There are a number of websites out there that’ll allow you to fulfill a cabinet order. A few more such sites are The Cabinet Factory, Kitchen Resource Direct and Kitchen Cabinet Depot. If you’re a homeowner buying cabinetry for the first time, each of those sites have staffed, toll-free numbers to hold your hand through the process.

These sites are set up to allow just about anyone to order semi-custom cabinetry. You choose the components you need in the dimensions you need them from an interactive catalog, just about the same way any industry professional does.

Ordering cabinetry is complicated but it needn't be overwhelming. There are a lot of parts to consider and to take into account but if your needs aren't too complex and you’re diligent in your approach, ordering cabinetry online may be the answer you’re looking for.

Explore the sites before you make a final decision though. Look for testimonials and look for details and descriptions about how the cabinetry’s constructed. Check to see where the cabinetry’s manufactured and for how long it’s warranted. Buying online is like buying anywhere. Ask a lot of questions and kick the tires as best you can before you take a leap.

Many online suppliers sell what are called RTA cabinets. RTA means flat-packed and ready to assemble. Be sure you’re up to the added labor if you buy RTAs and if the site doesn't define that term clearly, don’t buy from there. Similarly, look for details about the types of hardware used for hinges and drawer guides. If that information’s not listed on the site, call the 800 number. Good value kitchen cabinetry isn't just in the finish. It’s the hardware used that makes them last.

See too if they have a sample ordering program and what if any the charge is to get samples. Seeing color accurately on the internet is impossible, absolutely impossible and you have to see the actual product if you’re going to get an accurate preview of how things will look in your home. Again, if the site you’re on doesn’t have samples available or if they charge you for them, leave that site.

As you navigate the sites, look for endorsement logos from other entities. Such entities as HGTV and DIY Network don’t let fly by night organizations use their logos and only legitimate suppliers can be members of the NKBA.

Some sites have budgeting tools that will help you in your planning too. This tool from Cliq Studios is particularly helpful. Use budgeting tools as you plan and to help you keep a handle on costs as you move ahead on your project.

If you’re a design-only designer have you ever recommended an online resource to your clients? And if you’re a homeowner, have you ever used one of these suppliers? In either case, how was your experience? What advice do you have for someone who’s considering an online cabinetry purchase? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear some stories.

24 April 2013

A Kitchen Worthy of a Chef

Is your food starting to taste a bit gritty? If your paint is chipping off and landing in your boiling pots, the marble countertop has seen better days and the cabinets keep swinging open and banging you on the head it might be time to give your kitchen a little fixer upper.

Your kitchen space needs the same amount of attention and care as the rest of your home. In other words, it should be more than a place where you cook your meals and eat. Let’s see what you can do to wow anyone who comes in for a midnight snack –

Liven it Up with Crown Molding
Sometimes, little touches of creativity are all it takes to turn a run-of-the mill kitchen into a masterpiece of interior design. For instance, you can replace chipped wall paint with an impressive layer of crown molding. The molding is typically added to add a formal touch to living spaces but there is no reason why it can’t work in the kitchen. Crown moldings are designed to gracefully flare out to a finished top edge thereby making the area look unique.

A lot of manufacturers offer crown molding that resemble the finishes of cabinet lines. In the end to all comes down to personal taste. For example, four or five inches of crown molding will be a perfect touch if your kitchen includes dark cherry colored cabinets or a sophisticated theme.

If your kitchen has some space to spare like an empty wall you might want to consider installing some shelving. You can put some favorite knick knacks on display or shelve any cookbooks that might have been cluttering the kitchen table.

When it comes to replacing a broken countertop, going with one that will last longer might be a better option than a countertop that looks pleasing but cracks easy. In cases such as these, installing a stainless steel countertop is a good idea.  Why go for the stainless steel variety? Stainless steel countertops are non porous and metallic. This means that it they are antibacterial and do not need to be sealed.  Stainless steel countertops are a great way to add a modern and unique flair to your kitchen.

Butcher Block
This particular countertop adds a warm and timeless element to any kitchen space, and can be a very practical addition to your kitchen. By installing a butcher block countertop, you’re giving your kitchen a nod to simpler times when cooking was an all-day activity not handed out to microwaves and food processors.  If you’re a chef, be it professional or aspiring, butcher block countertops are a great platform to show off your skills.

It seems that every home in a neighborhood resembles the one next to it. Your home association may not let you make many changes to your exterior, but you can add a lot of individuality to your home by investing in your kitchen space. Now that you know what you should do to make your kitchen space something that will inspire delicious and tantalizing culinary delights out of you it is time to get cracking and incorporate your own style in it. Bon appétit!

About the Author

Jake Kaufman writes on behalf of America’s Floor Source, a flooring and installation specialist headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.  America’s Floor Source is committed to providing the highest quality carpet and flooring products, top-notch customer service, and customer satisfaction.

24 January 2013 you're killing me

I haven't written for for a year and a half, yet every day I wade through no fewer than five e-mails from Houzz members. To a one, those emails are asking questions that can be answered by clicking on the "more info" link next to a photo I posted, or they're asking unanswerable questions such as "what color is that?" or "what's the name of that granite?"

Again, judging precise color based on an internet photo is impossible, especially if it's in a product photo. Product photos tend to be heavily Photoshopped and actual colors get lost in the mix. Never mind that you're viewing everything on an uncalibrated monitor.

What prompted this post was an e-mail I received a half an hour ago. Here's the question and the photo:

Clicking on the "more info" link would have told this person that what's in that photo is a cork floor from US Floors in Atlanta. Those floors aren't sold retail and are only available from a showroom at around $8 a square foot. I get it that most people don't buy things like new floors every day and that the general population doesn't have the product knowledge that people like I do. But still, think and be respectful. Houzz's links are clearly identifiable and they're there for a reason.

Aside from that, the colors and patterns you see on the internet aren't real and the only way to select a color for anything is by looking at a sample in real life.

This vignette is from a showroom where I once worked. The cabinetry colors are Oyster Vintage over Maple and Harvest Bronze on Knotty Alder from Medallion Cabintry. The wall color is Sherwin-Williams 7037. The back splash is two colors of mother of pearl. The hardware on the cabinets is from Schaub and the finish is oil-rubbed bronze. The faucet is from Rohl and the counter is Tusk from Avonite. I know this because I designed this display.

However, this vignette was shot by a professional photographer who flooded the whole showroom with artificial light. In your home, colors such as Oyster Vintage, Harvest Bronze and Sherwin-Williams 7037 will look nothing like they do in this photo. Asking for their names is irrelevant  Ask instead for a white-ish paint color, a rich brown color and a strong neutral for the walls, because trust me, the colors shown here look very little like this in real life.

Similarly, natural stone patterns don't have formal names. What's Labrador in your market is Uba Tuba in someone else's. Not only that, those patterns change, often radically, over time. A stone labeled Crema Bordeaux today looks nothing like the same stone from the same quarry in Brazil five years ago.

I get a lot of e-mail from people who describe a room and then tell me about their dilemmas about how to furnish or paint said room. While I appreciate that strangers see me as an authority, I won't answer a question like that out of principle. My training as a designer taught me early that I need to see and be in a room before I can figure out what to do with it.

A designer sees things from a dispassionate, removed perspective and it's a designer's job to a) plan a space, and b) save you money in doing so. If you have a difficult room or if you've hit the wall, hire a designer.

Good design advice is never free in the same way that legal, medical, real estate or tax planning advice is never free. Designers make a living from their expert opinion, the same as any other professional. It's as true in real life as it's true online. has done amazing things in providing the public with a library of inspirational photos. They've done a great job of designer outreach too. But there's a disconnect in there somewhere. The people who write for that site aren't there to offer free advice. They're there to increase their presence on the internet and they do it for very little money. Please respect that. What you see on the internet isn't real and there's no substitute for a design professional. Hire an independent designer.

13 June 2012

SieMatic introduces the latest from Beaux Arts and FloatingSpaces

EuroCucina takes place in Milan every other year as part of the Salone Internazionale del Mobile. EuroCucina is Europe's largest kitchen trade show and it's attended by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe who descend on Milan to see the latest in kitchen design and innovation.

SieMatic Möbelwerke took the opportunity provided by EuroCucina to debut the latest iterations of its BeauxArts.02 and FloatingSpaces collections.

BeauxArts.02 is the result of a collaboration between US designer Mick De Giulio and I saw its first series at IMM in Cologne last year. I was blown away by it and the latest additions to the collection are even more impressive. What follow are some highlights from BeauxArts.02.

The first BeauxArts.02 kitchen shows SieMatic's Lotus Gloss Lacquer finish.

The second BeauxArts.02 kitchen shows SieMatic's Sterling Gray Lacquer with stainless accents.

The third BeauxArts.02 kitchen shows a custom Lacquer color with stainless base cabinets.

In addition to the newest additions to the BeauxArts.02 Collection, SieMatic dedicated a fair amount of its booth space to FloatingSpaces. FloatingSpaces is a variable panel system that speaks directly to the growing trend of an open kitchen. Here's an example of FloatingSpaces in Graphite Oak Matte Veneer.

The European version of an open kitchen is far more open than the North American idea of open kitchen. I think a better description would be to call it and integrated kitchen. The idea is to dispense with the idea of a kitchen as a separate, utilitarian space and instead, integrate it into the rest of the house.

The next FloatingSpaces example demonstrates that idea even better. This is FloatingSpaces in Lotus White Gloss Lacquer and Stone Beech Veneer. Where does the kitchen stop and the rest of the house start? Exactly.

Since its beginnings in the early 1930s, SieMatic has remained at the forefront of design innovation as a privately-held, family-owned company. Their products are now available 62 countries across five continents and you can learn more about these collections as well as the rest of their offerings on SieMatic's website.

29 March 2012

Installing kitchen cabinets

The kitchen cabinets were ordered and have arrived. After some long months you’ve finally got your shaker style kitchen cabinets staring at you in their plastic wrap in your garage. Now it's time to install them and in most cases some advanced planning is required. This especially holds true if the installation is for a remodeling project. We'll assume that the cabinets that were ordered are the correct ones so the first thing that I do is some checking.

Is the floor level?
The way I do this is by setting up a laser transit in the room.

Once this is set up it will spin and create a perfect laser level line on the wall. I then take a chalk line and snap a line that matches that one. I now have a level line to reference and by measuring from that line to the floor at various points I am able to determine if the floor is level. If the floor isn't level then I can make marks down from my reference line to create a level line with another chalk line. Now I know where shimming or trimming will be required.

Photo by Annie Gray on Unsplash

Are the corners square?
This is easily accomplished with a standard framing square and allows me to see if I will need to make adjustments. I also need to check the corners to see if they are plumb as many are not.

Studs and blocking?
As there is nothing on the walls yet I need places that I can secure the cabinets to. Putting a couple of screws into a Sheetrock wall won't cut it. If this is a new kitchen then critical blocking should have already been added. However in remodeling projects you'll need to locate and mark the studs so that you have a strong place to attach your cabinets.

Starting the installation.
I do my installations a bit different than many.  Many will add a ledger board at the desired height and install the upper cabinets first while they can get right up against the wall. I start with the base cabinets as this is the system that works for me.

The first cabinet is critical. It has to be installed perfectly in regards to plumb, level and square or every one after it will be off by an increasing amount. At this junction its check, check and re-check until you have fully attached the cabinet to the blocking or studs. Once that is done you can attach, shim, plumb and level the next one. As you move along you will also need to attach the face frames together. Here I clamp the two units together and drill and screw them securely to each other with a finish head trim screw.

Installing the upper cabinets.
The next step for me is to apply the chosen counter top material, which I'm going to gloss over for now.

When that is done I am now ready to use the same techniques as for the base units but with a couple of great jacks.

I have already marked the wall with a level line to show where the base of the unit will be. Now with two of the above jacks in position, I put the cabinet on top of them and with the squeeze handles I can micro adjust it to be exactly where I want it with no real effort. Once it is set in place you just apply the screws and move to the next unit.

The finished project!
Planning and installing kitchen cabinetry takes time but the finished product is well worth it.

29 November 2011

Starck towers over Warendorf

German kitchen manufacturer Warendorf just rolled out a new collection called Tower. Tower is the result of a collaboration between Warendorf and the design world's enfant terrible, Philippe Starck.

Tower consists of three components, two tall cabinets and an island.

Starck's forever deconstructing things and looking at every day objects and setting in a new light, hence his enduring popularity as a collaborator.

The towers are function-specific. One tower is for dish and pantry storage, the other holds a refrigerator/ freezer, a dishwasher, an oven and a steam oven. Each tower takes up a single square meter of floor space and they rotate to allow easy access to their contents. The appliance tower has electric, waste and water lines that run up into it through the floor.

The island holds a stainless steel sink and an integrated induction cooktop. Power and water run into the island from the floor and are hidden by the chrome leg under the sink.

Open kitchens are all the rage in Europe these days and this open kitchen takes that concept into the stratosphere. A set up like this could be installed in any open space. When it's not in use, it becomes just a few pieces of furniture but come meal time, it's a full kitchen.

It's a pretty wild idea and even though it's not for everyone, I'm curious to see how this idea trickles down into the rest of the industry and how it affects aesthetics on both sides of the Atlantic. What do you think? Is there any appeal to the idea of a kitchen not being in a dedicated room but instead being another furniture vignette in an open space?

Endless thanks to my brilliant cousin Tim for bringing this to my attention.

02 February 2011

A new hide-away kitchen from Valcucine

Italian kitchen manufacturer Valcucine chose Toronto for its North American roll out of Artematica, a new kitchen system that does a really clever disappearing act.

Here's my photo of the Artematica when it's all closed.

And here it is opened up.

I had a hard time getting a decent photo of the scale of this thing so the following images are from Valcucine.

Here's a wide angle shot of the Artematica in its closed position.

The cabinetry and counters are all made from the same, acid-etched glass. The glass feels fantastic to the touch and doesn't show fingerprints. The cutting board the sits just above the counter is on a track and it rolls along the entire length of the base cabinets.

The lower doors on the wall cabinets aren't really doors, they slide down out of view when they're not in use. The upper doors tilt up an out of the way.

Once open, the kitchen reveals itself. There's a pot filler faucet behind the cook top, a proper kitchen faucet behind the sink, a ventilation hood over the cook top and storage galore.

There's a remarkable amount of thought and engineering that went into this kitchen. I'm really taken by the way it folds up on itself and disappears when its not in use.

What do you think? Is this a hit or a miss?

10 January 2011

Reader question: How do I know how much to spend on a renovation?

I get reader questions from all over the place and this one arrived some time around the new year. Usually, I answer reader questions with a quick note and sometimes, they need a more thoughtful response. The following came from a reader in Melbourne and there was no way a quick e-mail response could have done it any kind of justice. I learn as much from my international readers as I hope they learn form me.
My holiday reading included McCloud's '43 principles of home'. In this book chapter 15 is devoted to 'things at home not worth investing in' and one of the sections in this chapter is 'kitchen cupboards and doors'.

"The bits that matter in the kitchen are the machines that so the work and the bits you come into contact with." Chapter 16 of the same book is devoted to things worth investing in and include kitchen door handles, taps and worktops. Knives and pans are also important. But door cupboards aren't. And frankly, the best made kitchens in the world are still 'carcassed out' using orientated strand board, chipboard or plywood. Structurally there's negligible difference in quality between a $10k kitchen and it's $100k equivalent. Moreover, high-street merchants like Ikea have got wise to this and are now retailing budget kit kitchens that mimic the bespoke German ones. It also seems daft to spend vast quantities on an aspect of the home that the next owners will invariably rip out and replace. Which they will, because it's human nature to territorialise the new cave with a new kitchen.  All of which demands that you invest in kitchen units and doors that are ecological, recyclable and for that matter probably recycled in the first place. (McCloud then suggest a suitable company for sourcing your kitchen carcass from.)"

So to be fair this issues probably needs the context of the entire book. But this  little tidbit of advice worried me because it seems like sound advice, and yet I don't like the idea of a chipboard kitchen from Ikea or from bontempi for that matter. But does it make sense to get a carpenter in to hand make all my cupboards in native hardwood?

Intuitively I'd have thought this was the right thing to do. Although we're not planning on moving, are kitchens are so subject to trends and fashions, and am I so merely mortal  that 10 to 20 years the life span for a kitchen?  And if so, is chipboard ok?

I remember your post of kitchens through the ages... So the evidence is weighing in on the side of limiting the investment in the carcass.

Ikea carcass and doors tricked up with wolf appliances a subzero fridge an integrated stainless steel sink bench top on one side of the galley and a cool stone bench top on the other (for rolling pastry and for pasta making) on the other, and the best taps and handles to finish it off.... Would this work?

That was a long question I know, but I thought it was important to run the whole thing. The question came to me from Fleur, a reader from Australia and she raises a couple of good points. Before I could answer this I had to dig in a bit and find out about the source of her question, Kevin McCloud's 43 Principles of Home.

Kevin McCloud is a designer, writer and television presenter based in the UK. He has an enormous following there and in the rest of the English-speaking world. Everywhere it seems, except for the US. His latest book, 43 Things isn't available in the US and it drives me crazy that I can't get my hands on it. Maybe I'll find it in Germany in a few weeks.

The book's published by Harper-Collins-UK and they prepared this overview video I found on YouTube.

I like this guy's style and I like what he has to say. Sort of. I know more about the renovation scene in Europe than I do the scene in Australia unfortunately, but from what I've learned from other Australian readers, it's quite different from that in the US and Canada. As I understand it, there's a wide middle of the market here that's not quite so wide in your part of the world but there are a couple of things that hold true everywhere.

Kevin McCloud's opinion not withstanding, there's an enormous difference in the quality of a $100K when compared to a $10K kitchen. There just is. Whether or not a carcass is made from particle board, MDF or plywood isn't an automatic indicator of quality. There are plywood-sided cabinets I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy and there are particle board-sided cabinets I'l give a kidney for the privilege to own. What makes a quality carcass is the thickness of it and the manner in which it's joined. You make a $10K set of kitchen cabinets by making those carcasses thinner and less well joined. Another way you make a cheap set of cabinets is you skimp on the quality of the finish on the door.

A $10K kitchen will need to be replaced in ten years or less. A $100K kitchen will last forever. It's not possible to separate the doors from the carcasses, especially when you start customizing the sizes of things. Even when you don't customize, manufacturers build both together and they do so using proprietary sizes. A door from company A won't fit a carcass from company B properly. Part of that door and carcass package and what's usually a bigger driver of quality than either is the hinges. Hinges tend to be made by third party companies and they come in a wide variety of qualities and price points. A nice-looking, well-made cabinet door with a cheap hinge makes for a cheap cabinet.

So what there is to do is learn from the good stuff and find a more cost-effective supplier who uses as many of those quality points as you can find. Most people don't need or want a forever kitchen. However, nobody wants a kitchen that falls apart in five years.

So look for things like hinges and hardware from Blum, a German hardware manufacturer with plants all over the world. Pay attention to the thickness of the sides of a cabinet and the manner in which the sides join the back and the floor. Ask about things like rabbeted joints and catalyzed glue. You may get funny looks but those things are important. The US market is starting to become flooded with cheap in every sense of the word cabinetry from China. I'm sure that stuff hit Australia before it washed up on our shores. Avoid it.

Back to your actual question though, people do combine cabinetry from IKEA with Wolf/ Sub-Zero appliances all the time. There are a couple of pitfalls to this method though. Sub-Zero refrigerators are built in and don't come with finished sides. Better cabinet lines sell the parts to finish them off but cabinetry from IKEA can't panel in a Sub-Zero. So be sure the refrigerator model you buy and the design you choose for your kitchen work with the cabinet supplier you end up with.

The kitchen you describe sounds wonderful but be careful about spending too little on your cabinetry. When it comes to building products, price point is a pretty good indicator of quality. A $100 faucet is one you'll be replacing in a year. A $3000 faucet is overkill for most people, but you can rest assured that it will never need to be replaced.

Does that help?

15 December 2010

A visit with Scavolini Soho

Last Friday I had  a bunch of meetings in New York and I'd arranged them geographically so that I'd start in Soho and work my way north as the day progressed. I set everything up that way because one of my must-see sights was Scavolini's recently opened New York showroom. Scavolini's gallery is at 429 West Broadway, right down the street from the site of my first meeting.

Scavolini calls its Soho flagship a gallery and that's not an exaggeration. The space would be considered large anywhere but in Soho, it qualifies as expansive. It's open from 10am to 7pm Monday through Friday, 11am to 6pm on Saturday and on Sunday it's open from 12 to 5pm.

The Scavolini gallery in Soho is not just a showcase for Scavolini's exquisite kitchens, it's also a valuable trade resource. The Soho staff is there to help you specify Scavolini and there is ample meeting space for outside architects and designers to bring clients in for meetings and consultations.

If you are a professional in Greater New York and you're interested in Scavolini's new space, give them a call and they'll be thrilled to help you in any way they can.

My contact at Scavolini is the the showroom manager, Daniele Busca. Daniele was in Italy when I was in New York so I missed getting the grand tour from the man who supervised its construction. In his place, he left me in the capable hands of Maddalena Nicolosi. Maddalena gave me a tour to end all tours and I came away from the experience even more impressed by Scavolini than I was when I walked in the door. There was no question she couldn't answer or feature she couldn't explain. Thank you Maddalena.

So if you find yourself on West Broadway, drop in the Scavolini gallery. If you're a professional in the area and you're interested in Scavolini's professional support, just give them a call and they'll take great care of you. You can get more information from the Scavolini Soho website.

Scavolini Soho is an asset to the exploding design scene in lower Manhattan and a real credit to the Scavolini brand. Bravi!