17 December 2008

ISLAND FEVER III - STYLING YOUR ISLE

'Tis the season of decking halls, lighting menorahs and Auld Lang Syne. Why not add styling a kitchen island to the traditions list? If you're putting one 'under your tree' this season, make sure it does your home proud!

I'm often asked, "Does my island need to be the same as my other cabinets?" It doesn't. But it needs to look like it belongs in the same space. Here are a few cabinetry dos and don'ts on achieving this effect:


DO...

* Match the island's door style to the other "peripheral" cabinets. If you've always loved bead board style doors, an island is a great spot to add them, (as a little bead board goes a long, long way!), but match the rails and stiles, (the door's "frame") to the peripheral cabinets in terms of size and shape.



* Use the same door style if it's available in a different wood - e.g., stained cherry peripherals and painted maple island; white peripherals and stained maple island.

* Consider using the same style and wood species, but in a colorful stain. For example, your peripheral cabinets are a golden oak; choose a moss stain for the island.



* Match the knobs or pulls on the island with those on the surrounding cabinets. If the same finish works on both, go that direction. Otherwise, find the same style in a finish that looks better on the island's coloration.


DON'T...


* Use an island to change your kitchen's style. It will just look out of place.

* Add elements to an island that look out of place with the rest of the kitchen - e.g., fluted columns, steel legs or grape corbels that don't tie into anything else in the room.



* Try to pair new cabinets of an almost - but not exact - finish. It will probably look a bit "off kilter," especially if one is real wood and the other laminate.

Here are some countertop dos and don'ts to consider, as well:


DO...

* Feel free to use a different countertop material or color on your island, especially if you're upgrading. This is your kitchen's focal point, and a great place to add a style statement and material improvement to your kitchen.



* Coordinate the color of the island top to another element in the room. For instance, cherry tops on a painted black or white island will look great with cherry peripheral cabinets topped with granite.

* Factor in the pattern of the peripheral tops when choosing your island's counter. If the peripherals are topped by a granite with flowing movement, choose a quieter, more solid-colored material for the island - perhaps a quartz or concrete.

* Consider your lifestyle when choosing a hard-working top for a busy island. If you're a busy, low-maintenance gal, choose a low-maintenance top. If you're a gourmet guy with sleek style, know that absolute black polished granite is going to compete for attention with your Beemer.


DON'T...

* Go overboard on countertop drama. Too many focal points equal no focal points, just eyestrain. If you've got one strong style point on the peripheral tops, go quieter on the island.



* Overlook the island's function when choosing your tops, or the material's essential properties when considering that function. For example, let's say you opted for an entertaining center island and equipped it with a wine captain. Understand that at some point in its life, a glass of red wine or a Bloody Mary will either spill or leave a ring on that counter. If you were inspired by your honeymoon in France and opted for creamy marble tops, please remember how darkened and mellowed those café tops were and don't cry over spilled guilt.

* Blow your budget on island cabinetry and be forced to settle for tops you wouldn't otherwise choose. Save up for a time when you can afford what you want in both, along with qualified, professional installation.



* Don't choose your countertop fabricator from a flyer left on your windshield, or because someone is offering the lowest price in town. Ask for recommendations from friends or a designer, builder or contractor you respect.

Don't miss Island Fever I - Sizing up your options or Island Fever II - Equipping the dream if you're new to this blog.


PHOTO NOTES

In order of section, top to bottom:

CABINETRY DO (Green islands) - This kitchen works because the beadboard style on the peripheral cabinets ties into the reeded legs on the island and the cream and green coordinate beautifully. Matching stone tops unify the look. Bertch Cabinets.

CABINETRY DO (Blue island) - The island's blue relates beautifully wtih the blue tiles in the backsplash, and shares a door style with the white maple surrounding the room. The wood top provides a rich accent. Craft-Art Wood Countertops.

CABINETRY DON'T (Black island) - This kitchen avoids being a "don't" by matching the island's heavy legs with the pair flanking the range. The door style on the black island also matches the surrounding cabinets. Crystal Cabinets.

COUNTERTOP DO (Glass-topped island) - The island is clearly the focal point in this kitchen, with its curved lines and glass top. The island's curve mirrors the pantry and soffit curves and the glass top becomes the stand-out star. Bertch Cabinets.

COUNTERTOP DON'T (Maple island) - This island's white top whispers, rather than shouts, and its whiteness coordinates with the backsplash tile. The effect is clean, modern and pulled-together. Kraftmaid Cabinetry.

COUNTERTOP DON'T (Black island) - This homeowner -- a client of mine -- wanted practical but stylish-looking tops. She opted for quartz by Cambria and got both. Cambria and Jamie Goldberg Kitchen and Bath Design, LLC.

09 December 2008

ISLAND FEVER II - EQUIPPING THE DREAM

Aruba. Bermuda. Barbados. Microwaves and wine chillers. Wait, what??? Yes, it's island season, that time of year when your thoughts turn to holiday entertaining and holiday escapes.

Maybe you're looking for an escape from an over-crowded kitchen, too. Will adding an island provide an idyll for this hardest-working room in your house? Let's consider the possibility.

Last week, you read ISLAND FEVER I: SIZING UP YOUR OPTIONS, and determined that you can make an island work and that you're going to make the investment. You also determined how you want that space to function. After proper sizing, function planning is the most important aspect to making an island pay off for you.


AGAIN, ASK YOURSELF WHY

In Island Fever I, I mentioned the following reasons for adding an island to your kitchen:

* Increase your kitchen storage
* Add an additional work zone
* Add a specialty function - e.g., baking center
* Facilitate a Kosher lifestyle
* Add an entertaining center

Read no further before you decide what role your island will play in your kitchen improvement. Any one of them is fine - you can even come up with something else on your own - you just need to define its job before you proceed.




INCREASE YOUR KITCHEN STORAGE

If increasing your storage capacity is your primary goal, determine what will "live" in that space and how best to access it. For example:

* Your existing drawers are overflowing: A trio of four-drawer banks, each with built-in organizers, tame the clutter.

* You just got married and need room for your beloved's cast iron skillet collection, your Calphalon set and your wedding registry's All-Clad: You opt for base cabinets with roll-out trays in each, and a ceiling-mounted pot rack for the ones you use most often.

* You got a juicer to get healthy and need space to store it, along with all the fruits and vegetables you're going to blend: One base cabinet with a built-in knife holder drawer and roll-out trays for the juicer's accessories, one with a lift for the heavy juicer itself and a dual drawer under-counter refrigerator for the fruits and vegetables you'll be juicing.


ADD AN ADDITIONAL WORK ZONE

What tasks does that work zone need to perform. Will it cook? Clean up? Prepare meals? Re-heat? A well-equipped work zone will encompass strategic appliances, appropriate counter top material and well-appointed storage, (as shown in the juice-making example, above). Here are two examples:

* Your island clean up station has a deep sink, garbage disposal and pull-out faucet, a dishwasher and pull out dual trash bins for garbage and recycling. The cabinet holding the sink has a rack for your cleaning supplies. A narrow, open cabinet next to that features a pull-out rack for your dish towels. If space allows, you also have a divided, deep drawer bank for your Tupperware collection, so that left-overs can be conveniently gathered and sealed.



* Your island cooking station is equipped with an induction cooktop, countertop-mounted pot filler, convection-steam oven, (my December '08 Gold Nugget Award winner), ceiling-mounted ventilation hood and warming drawer - everything you need to get dinner on the table, at whatever time everyone eats. It also includes a base cabinet with top drawer organizer and roll-out trays to keep your cooking essentials at hand.


Both of these work stations feature quartz countertops for durability and easy maintenance. Despite their well-respected heat resistance, you keep a trivet nearby for hot pots and pans if all of your induction burners are occupied.


ADD A SPECIALTY FUNCTION

These are always fun to plan, because they cater to the homeowner's passions and bring together the client's inspirations and designer's knowledge in a true partnership. Here are two examples:

* The island baking center has a convection-steam oven, base mixer stand cabinet, tray base for cookie sheets and three-drawer base with top drawer organizers to separate measuring spoons from whisks and whisks from spatulas and dividers below to hold your measuring cups, mixing bowls and other baking favorites. You also opted for a non-porous, engineered stone countertop for rolling your dough and easy clean-up afterward.

* The entertaining center features U-Line's ice maker/fridge/freezer, which I featured in my Multi-Taskers posting last summer, and a dual-zone wine captain. It also includes a bar sink and a three-drawer bank for accessories like wine charms, corkscrews and bottle openers (above) and deep divided drawers for non-refrigerated bottles below. If desired, shallow storage on the back allows for a raised standing bar and spot for serveware. If seating is preferred, factor in serveware storage in a more accessible spot. A decorative glass top, like those from ThinkGlass, offers a splashy focal point for an entertainment center island. It also offers easy clean-up. Handsome focal point alternatives could be wood or concrete. Unlike glass slab, both require some maintenance to preserve their integrity and beauty.




STYLE NOTES

An island gives you a great opportunity to upgrade your kitchen and even add some much-needed style to a dated space. However, since the island and the rest of your appliances and cabinetry share the same visual space, you're best served by coordinating looks, not clashing.



Here are a few tips for the most common builder kitchens I've encountered:

* Let's say your kitchen has golden oak cabinets, dark green laminate countertops, dark tan floor tiles and black appliances. Your island can feature dark green or black painted cabinets and paneled appliances in a similar door style. The dark green cabinets would look great with black tops, and vice versa. Select hardware for your island and add it to the cabinets on the periphery. If the island features a prep sink, choose a bar faucet and a companion main faucet to replace your existing one.

* Let's say your kitchen has white laminate cabinets, white appliances and a light, flecked laminate countertop. Your floors are a beige tile. Choose one of the accent colors in the laminate flecked top, (e.g., light blue or light green) and opt for painted cabinets in that color. Choose a light, solid-color top and paneled appliances.

* Let's say your kitchen has faux walnut cabinets, almond appliances, beige tile tops and floors. If your budget doesn't allow for tearing it all out, replace all your appliances with stainless ones to add some brightness; choose painted black island cabinets to tie into the darker tones in the walnut-grained ones surrounding it, (and coordinate with future replacements), and opt for a solid-toned cream-colored slab countertop. Update all the hardware and faucets with stainless, as well, for more shine. A nifty - extremely durable - sink to consider is one of Blanco's Silgranit models in its handsome Café Brown. It'll tie in with your existing brown cabinets and remind you of how far you've come when you finally replace them!


FINAL THOUGHTS

Adding an installed island to your kitchen is likely to invoke local code issues. Be sure to engage a local professional to ensure that your island is properly wired, plumbed, equipped, sized and planned. This will provide you and future homeowners with a safe, enjoyable addition to your home.


PHOTO NOTES

AGAIN, ASK YOURSELF WHY: This island really cooks. It features a hood, oven, cooktop and Brookhaven semi-custom cabinetry from Wood-Mode, featured on the company's web site.

ISLAND CLEAN-UP STATION: This large island that I co-designed for a local family features a dishwasher, trash center, sink and convenient storage for baggies, tin foil, Tupperware, etc.

ISLAND COOKING STATION: This island features a Miele DA424 hood that elevates when not in use, preserving views and conversation sight lines for the cook.

THE ENTERTAINING CENTER: This island features a bar sink, a full suite of entertaining-friendly appliances and a strikingly-beautiful ThinkGlass countertop, shown on the company's web site.

STYLE NOTES: Your island doesn't have to match the rest of your kitchen, but it should coordinate. Here's a beautiful example featuring Dynasty by Omega semi-custom cabinets from the manufacturer's web site.

02 December 2008

ISLAND FEVER I - SIZING UP YOUR OPTIONS

This is high season in Hawaii, the Caribbean… and your kitchen. All three experience heavy traffic and potential burn-out during the holidays.

If you’ve got island fever, let me break out a few planning tips before you raid your piggy bank.


ASK YOURSELF WHY

Some clients want an island (or two!) because everyone else and every kitchen magazine has one – or more.




Even these clients need to figure out what they want to do with these structures, and how they want to equip them. There are wonderful reasons to add an island:

* Increase your kitchen storage
* Add an additional work zone
* Add a specialty function – e.g., baking center
* Facilitate a Kosher lifestyle
* Add an entertainment center

Decide what you want your island to help you achieve before you purchase or install one. Knowing your goals in advance will get you the best outcome.





SIZE UP YOUR SPACE

Not all homes were designed for islands, and trying to cram one (or more) into an inadequate space will make working in your kitchen worse, not better. You can, potentially, pull down a wall to make an island work, as some clients do.

If you’re not up for that scale of project, grab a measuring tape, use the National Kitchen & Bath Association planning guidelines noted below, and see if an island will fit into your existing kitchen.

Then, check out Jamie’s Proven Island Test.

6. Work Aisle

The width of a work aisle should be at least 42” for one cook and at least 48” for multiple cooks. Measure between the counter frontage, tall cabinets and/or appliances.




3. Distance Between Work Centers

No work triangle leg intersects an island/peninsula or other obstacle by more than 12”.


7. Walkway

The width of a walkway [behind an island] should be at least 36”.


8. Traffic Clearance at Seating

In a seating area where no traffic passes behind a seated diner, allow 32” of clearance from the counter/table edge to any wall or other obstruction behind the seating area.

a. If traffic passes behind the seated diner, allow at least 36” to edge past.
b. If traffic passes behind the seated diner, allow at least 44” to walk past.





NOTE: These are NKBA Planning Guidelines. State or local codes may apply, as well.


KEEP GOING


If you’re adding an island opposite a 36” single-door refrigerator and/or freezer, you’ll constrict your traffic flow dramatically in that area, even using the guideline.




Many folks like the idea of an island with seating. My emphatic recommendation is not to seat anyone between your island and work zone – particularly near a range or cooktop – even if that means giving up seating altogether.

If you can fit seating on the non-working side of your island, here are the planning guidelines that make sense and comfortable arrangements.

9. Seating Clearance

Kitchen seating areas should incorporate at least the following clearances:

a. 30” high tables/counters: Allow a 24” wide x 18” deep knee space for each seated diner and at least 18” of clear knee space.

b. 36” high counters: Allow a 24” wide x 15” deep knee space for each seated diner and at least 15” of clear knee space.

c. 42” high counters: Allow a 24” wide x 12” deep knee space for each seated diner and 12” of clear knee space.

In one of the showrooms where I used to work, my design clients used to regularly bang their knees on the back of my desk. It was 30” high and had barely a 12” overhang. I never had to justify following the guidelines to this clientele!

Here's another one to think carefully about:

2. Door Interference

No entry door should interfere with the safe operation of appliances, nor should appliance doors interfere with one another.

This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to overlook such details in the fervor to fit everything in. I’ve seen it done.


JAMIE’S ISLAND TEST

When clients come to me wanting to add an island to their existing kitchen, I assign them this exercise:

Tape off the area on the floor where the proposed island will be installed. (Many lesser tests stop at this point – don’t!) Next, using weighted boxes, “build” a full-height, full-width, full-depth model of it in the planned space. Live with this structure for a week and see how it affects your work flow. If you’re planning island seating, add chairs at the desired spots. If it’s a comfortable fit, great – we’ll add an island to your kitchen. If not, we’ll look at other size, seating and storage options to achieve your goals.

Check back next for Island Fever II - Equipping your Dream




PHOTO NOTES (Top to Bottom by SECTION):

ASK YOURSELF WHY:

(1) The architect/home builder said, "one island is obsolete" about this $2 million beach home whose kitchen I designed.

(2) The island shown here from U-Line's website features the firm's fridge/freezer/ice maker combo that makes for a great entertainment center.


WORK AISLE

This kitchen on the CWP Cabinetry web site features two large islands with ample work and walk space between them.

TRAFFIC CLEARANCE AT SEATING

There's clearly no traffic crunch behind the counter stools at this sleek Kraftmaid island from the firm's web site.


KEEP GOING

This kitchen I designed for an active family featured side-by-side refrigerator/freezer that called for an extra wide walkway/work aisle between it and the island opposite.

JAMIE'S ISLAND TEST

The hard-working island I designed for this remodeled kitchen was made possible because of the client's desire to remove a wall where it now stands.

18 November 2008

GET STEAMED... OR HOW I WENT TO GREENWOOD, MISSISSIPPI AND FELL IN LOVE WITH AN OVEN

“Steaming is great because of its speed and minimal impact on [the] flavor and texture of food. The method is particularly appropriate with ingredients that bring a delicate flavor. Fresh vegetables are perfectly suited to steam cooking, as they have subtle, delicious flavors that are lost to more aggressive heat. Poultry, pork, and many kinds of seafood are also beautiful matches with this form of cooking.” FamilyEducation.com

“Steam ovens, (often called ‘combi ovens,’ because they cook with a combination of steam and dry heat), are a chef’s secret weapon.” Food and Wine Magazine


Last week, at Viking Range Company’s designer open house program, I had some of the best stir-fried rice and cheesecake I’ve ever enjoyed – prepared in its Steam/Convect Oven™, (shown above right). Now I seriously want one! This baby:

* Steams
* Roasts
* Bakes
* Browns
* Reheats

It even multi-tasks! The Steam/Convect Oven can cook two dishes on two separate settings at the same time to get dinner on the table faster. How perfect is that for busy homeowners?

Here’s a 10-second video Viking has prepared to show the S/O in operation.


OTHER RESOURCES

Many major manufacturers make combination steam ovens. Here are a few links for your convenience:

Gaggenau
Kitchen Aid
Kuppersbusch
Miele

The Gaggenau offers the unique feature of a side-opening door, which is ideal for wheelchair users. I have not had the opportunity to evaluate or use any of these competing combination-steam ovens on the market, so I can’t comment on them with any authority.

If you decide that this is an appliance that would enhance your kitchen – as I have – then compare and contrast. When I start shopping for my own Casa de Goldberg combi-steam oven, these are the Viking benchmarks I’ll be using:

* Doesn’t need to be plumbed for less expensive installation and easier maintenance.
* Multi-tasks for cook’s convenience and faster cooking time.
* Alerts owner to run self-clean (de-scale) function so I don’t have to worry about it.

Here are a few related considerations for adding a combi-steam oven to your kitchen:

* Will it replace an existing second oven?
* If so, does it need or come with a trim kit?
* Do you need a new cabinet to accommodate an added appliance?
* Do you have a licensed electrician to run the wiring and install it?
* What is the most convenient location in your kitchen for this new appliance, based on your cooking plans for it?
* Where can it be safely installed?
* Do you have trusted local appliance and remodeling experts to guide you?


BLOG BONUS

Here, compliments of Viking Product Training Manager and hostess extraordinaire Dorothy Gates, is the recipe for the best cheesecake on the planet:



CHEESECAKE

Crust:

3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Using a [Viking] Food Processor, combine ingredients until blended.

Press into a spring form pan, pressing halfway up the sides of the pan.


Filling:

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 cups sour cream

Using a [Viking] Stand Mixer, cream cheese and sugar until smooth on medium speed.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until smooth, scraping down bowl from time to time.

Mix in vanilla and sour cream until combined.

Pour into spring form pan.

Place rack at level 1 and level 3.

Preheat oven using Truconvec™ cooking, 300°F.

Bake until center is set but not firm, at 300°F, 1 hour 10 minutes.

Let set in oven for 10 minutes with door open.

Cool completely before removing from pan.


Enjoy!


FINAL THOUGHTS

This is my second entry in a Gold Notes holiday entertaining series. Last week, I focused on wine storage. I haven't decided on next week's topic yet. (If you have a request, don't hesitate to let me know.) I also shared some holiday entertaining tips with my Tampa Tribune Flair Magazine readers this month. Click to page 41 to read this story, which includes tips from an appliance pro, caterer/cafe owner and wine expert.

12 November 2008

WINNING WINE STORAGE

Thanksgiving is, unbelievably, just two weeks away. For many of us, that means wining and dining friends and family. The dining topic I'll leave to other sources. I personally enjoy selecting wines, and thought I'd address the subject of storing them.

There are great, good, OK and really, really terrible ways to store wine.


GREAT

If your collection is large and valuable, protect it with a climate-controlled “wine cellar.” Strictly speaking, a wine cellar doesn’t have to live in your basement. They’ll work just fine in a main floor area near where your wine will be served. Ideally, you'll have a system to index your collection for easy bottle location. If this space doubles as a tasting room for you and your guests, you'll want to include comfortable chairs, a table and perhaps a mini-fridge for palette-cleansing accompaniments near -- but not inside -- the chilly wine vault.


GOOD

If you entertain frequently, but don't consider yourself a serious wine collector, consider incorporating a wine bar or butler’s pantry near your kitchen and dining room. This is easiest to accomplish when you're building a new home, but it can also be factored into a remodel, or just added to your existing space. It will ideally include wine racks and a dual temperature zone wine captain, along with storage space for wine glasses, corkscrews, wine charms, decanters and related wine paraphernalia.


OK

When you're building or remodeling, factor in space for a base cabinet or countertop-installed wine rack. Place it near to where it will be consumed, but avoid any heating vents or intense, direct sunlight. I give this approach an "ok," because it doesn't factor in the added storage for all the goodies in a wine bar or butler's pantry, or the climate control of a wine captain.

If you're maxed out in your entertaining zone, wine expert Charles Visalli of Time for Wine in Tampa, Fl. suggests the following alternative:

"Simple storage of wine requires two things: 1) An area that is temperature neutral...i.e., it does not fluctuate more than a few degrees and 2) It's kept away from sunlight. Therefore, I recommend that wines can easily be stored in a hall closet or spare bedroom closet/home office closet."

Alternatively, you can incorporate a wine rack into your wall-mounted cabinets – especially in a butlers’ pantry or wine bar area – but be sure it’s not too high to reach, not close to a heating vent and out of direct sunlight.


REALLY TERRIBLE

Please don’t store your wine above your refrigerator. That puts it where heat rises and step stools are required. Storing your wine close to your range, cooktop or dishwasher is also generally a bad idea.

Please drink – and store – responsibly!



PHOTO CREDIT

A handsome wine bar with wine captain, granite countertops and CWP Cabinetry's custom cherry cabinets.

03 November 2008

IN PRAISE OF MAN CAVES... WITH A PRIMER FOR WOULD-BE CAVE DWELLERS


My husband will leave the room if I turn on a TV design show. But he totally enjoys DIY’s Man Caves, a program about men getting personalized rooms created just for them. In fact, he likes the show so much, he records each episode. So when my future cave dweller suggested that I write a “Man Caves” blog entry this week, I decided to take him up on the challenge. (Who knows, maybe it'll boost my male readership!)

So, what is a man cave, you ask? In short, it’s a room that showcases a man’s hobbies and allows him to relax and enjoy them by himself or with his buddies. In other words, it’s a no-potpourri zone where a guy can put his feet up anywhere he darn well pleases. The episodes I’ve watched crafted a private putting green and a baseball-inspired rec room.

If you’re inspired to create a man cave for yourself or a loved one, here’s how to make it happen if DIY hosts Tony Siragusa and Jason Cameron aren’t around to help.


CHOOSE YOUR SPACE

Find the right room for the purpose at hand. It needs to be the proper size for the main activity – be it billiards or home theatre – and properly insulated if noise and vibrations are likely to impact neighbors or other family members. Potential rooms include unused bedrooms, finished basements, garages, even oversized sheds with windows.

If there is to be equipment or large furniture moved into the space, like a billiards table or sectional sofa, for example, make sure that this is achievable given current access to that space. There also has to be sufficient room to maneuver around large objects.

I highly recommend creating a scale drawing of the space and moving paper furniture around to ensure everything – and everyone – will fit, as desired. (Your back and buddies will thank you later.) Also, if an extremely heavy item, like a billiard table, will be moving into a second floor room, be sure that your floor joists will handle the extra weight.


LIGHTING

Having the right lighting will ensure that the cave men will be able to enjoy their space. You’ll need task lighting for most activities, as well as ambient room lighting, probably dimmable. Work with a professional to make sure that the lighting plan will love up to the room’s planned activities.


FLOORING

Make sure that the flooring is appropriate to the room's main function. Home theatre spaces benefit from easy-to-clean carpeting or area rugs. An exercise room’s ideal flooring is rubber. Consider the room's purpose and find a flooring option that will provide the best look with the easiest maintenance.



ROOM GEAR

What goes into the man cave will depend entirely on the cave man's preferences. A few generalities apply, though. One, if the space will be used for lengthy social visits or strenuous physical activities, it’s ideal to have a beverage source within or very near the room.

Additional electrical outlets may be needed to handle the demands of a repurposed space. These may accommodate a beverage cooler, a fan or a new television. Additional plumbing or internet access may also be called for, depending on the room’s function. Be sure to plan for these in your budget and space planning.


PERSONALIZATION

The best part of a man cave is its personalization. Posters of the owner's favorite films will greatly enhance a home theatre cave. Sports memorabilia will make time spent in a sports bar cave that much more special. This is where the man gets to show off and enjoy his sentimental stuff – the stuff Mrs. Cave couldn’t stand cluttering up the master bedroom or kitchen.


DIY

If you’re a DIY type, you’ll love DIY Network’s Man Caves section with full-length episodes and project pages. If you’re a 'hire a pro' kind of guy or gal, consider a professional designer and contractor for your project.

28 October 2008

AGING IN PLACE: LAUNDRY ROOMS GET EASIER... AND ACCESSIBLE

This is the the latest entry in my Aging in Place Series, designed to help homeowners with lower back or flexibility issues, or a household member in a wheelchair, remain independent and fully-functional at home. These suggestions will not only increase your laundry room's functionality, it can increase your home's value to a larger pool of buyers.

* Replace your standard washer and dryer with a front-loading pair on pedestals. (Shown here are GE Profile's SmartDispense set.) These make it much easier for someone with back issues or in a wheelchair to load and unload clothes at a more comfortable height. They also use less water and save electricity, which is helpful to every household.

* Replace a standard ironing board, which is awkward for someone in a wheelchair to handle, with one that folds down from a wall or out of a cabinet. Make sure there's enough room on one side of that board for the user to do the ironing, and a nearby outlet.

* Add a table for folding laundry at a comfortable 30-inch height. If space is tight, consider a fold-down table instead of a standard one.

* Add a rolling hamper with removable bags that can be wheeled to the washing machine for ease of loading. I find that divided hampers save the most time on laundry day, as clothes can be tossed into their respective "lights" and "darks" hampers as they're shed and avoid the time-consuming sorting chore.

* If there's a plumbing hook-up for a sink in the laundry room, look for a fixture that mounts to the wall or otherwise allows roll-under access. Kohler has a very stylish model called Harborview that blends style and function with accessibility.

* Choose a faucet with lever-style handles, rather than knobs. These are easier for someone with arthritis or Parkinson's to operate.

* Make sure there's sufficient light in the laundry room. A typical center-mounted fixture may not be enough. A track light or multiple recessed cans that focus beams directly on the task areas for folding, ironing, loading and unloading clothes will be helpful for someone with vision challenges.

* If you're planning on adding cabinetry for laundry room storage, consider base or tall cabinets with roll-out shelves. This will make it easier on your back or household member in a wheelchair to access laundry detergent, bleach, dryer sheets, etc. (Someone in a wheelchair is unlikely to be able to reach a cabinet above the washer and dryer, even with pull-down accessories.) If there's no space for such storage, consider one of the units that can sit between the washer and dryer for holding laundry essentials. Some appliance companies make them to match their washer-dryer sets. Less expensive versions are available from housewares and storage specialty retailers.

* If you have cabinetry in your laundry room already, change its knobs to pulls. They're easier to use for someone with less hand strength or flexibility.

* If someone with balance issues is using this laundry room, replace loose throw rugs or mats with non-slip versions.

Photo Note: The laundry room shown here is NOT fully accessible. Someone in a wheelchair would not be able to reach the cabinets above the washer and dryer, and would have a difficult time using the standard 36-inch high counter next to the washer and dryer for folding. (A 30-inch height works far better for the seated user.) However, the rolling laundry cart, cabinets immediately next to the washer and dryer, (especially if they're equipped with roll-out shelves), and pedestal-standing washer and dryer would be very helpful for the wheelchair user. Additionally, GE's SmartDispense sytem means pouring the laundry detergent down into the pedestal, which may be easier for some users, than pouring it up into a tray near the top of the washer, which is the typical detergent location.

If more modifications and updates are needed in your home or a local friend's or relative's, please let me know. In addition to being an NKBA-certified kitchen designer, I'm also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. You can email me or call (813-810-0467).


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Style List #4 - The $150 Max Laundry Room Edition

21 October 2008

AGING IN PLACE: UPGRADE YOUR KITCHEN

As I wrote last week, many Americans are helping their parents cope with aging issues. If you’re one of them, here are some ways to help them function more effectively in their kitchens, without a major remodel. These suggestions will not only increase the kitchen's functionality, it can increase its value to a larger pool of home buyers.

Many of these tips will work well in your kitchen, too, especially if you have lower back issues that make it hard to get into some of your cabinets.
* Replace base cabinet half shelves with roll-out trays. This will also increase the storage of that cabinet by about 25 percent.

* Add roll-out trays to the bottom of base cabinets, as well. This will make it easier to reach items at the back of the cabinet. (Shown above right, Rev-a-Shelf's roll-out tray in wood keeps items organized and accessible.)

* Add a swing-out or lazy susan accessory to hard-to-reach base corner cabinets. Corner cabinets can be the toughest to access, especially those called "blind corner cabinets" that are typically placed next to a range or a dishwasher. Unless you have great knees and a flashlight, you're going to be hard-pressed to reach anything stored in that cabinet! Thankfully, there are now accessory systems that bring the back items to the front and save your back and knees!

* Replace cabinet knobs with easier-to-use pulls. These are especially helpful for older users with arthritis or Parkinson's. You'll probably have to add a back-plate to cover the knob hole, but there are some attractive ones on the market.

* Replace a knob-style faucet with a lever-handled faucet. These are also easier for older hands to operate.

* Replace a gas or electric cooktop with an induction cooktop. Induction cooktops use magnetic energy and only generate heat directly below and next to the pot. They can reduce the chance of someone with vision or memory challenges from burning themselves on a hot surface. For the same safety reason, they're great for kids, too. Induction cooktops offer additional benefits for all of us, too: they use far less energy and, because they don't heat up your kitchen, save on youf air conditioning bills, too.

* Add task lighting to your kitchen by illuminating your countertops with under-wall cabinet lighting. Brighter work surfaces can mean the difference between a perfectly-julienned carrot and a painfully-jabbed fingertip -- especially for those with vision challenges. As an added benefit, under-cabinet lighting can make your kitchen look bigger.

* Treat super-slick floors with an anti-slip treatment. Polished travertine is incredibly beautiful for high-end kitchens, but presents a risk of serious falls to older residents and visitors. To avoid this potential hazard, look into an anti-slip treatment like SureStep.

If more modifications and updates are needed in your home or your parents', please let me know. In addition to being an NKBA-certified kitchen designer, I'm also a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. You can email me or call (813-810-0467).

14 October 2008

AGING IN PLACE: BATHROOM SAFETY WITH STYLE

Many adults are doing their best to help parents remain safely and independently in their own homes as they age. Others are moving parents into their houses, both for safety and economic reasons.

If you’re facing either of these issues, here are some ways to be proactive on safety in one of the most accident-intensive rooms in the house – the bathroom.

* Replace a standard toilet with a comfort-height version.
* Add grab bars in the shower, tub and toilet areas. (Moen Kingsley Oil-Rubbed Bronze shown here.)
* Replace knob-style faucets with lever-handled faucets.
* If your parent is in a wheelchair, replace a standard vanity with one specifically designed for this user’s needs.
* Replace counter tops in the bathroom with rounded-cornered versions that contrast sharply with the vanity color beneath it.
* Increase the bathroom’s lighting.
* Replace a pre-code shower valve with a non-scald version.
* Replace a wall-mounted shower head with one on a slide bar. If there are two shower users, and only one has a disability, it is ideal to add a second valve attached to a slide bar shower head for the seated user and keep the original one for the standing user.
* Add a bench to the shower stall.
* Replace a tub with a shower and make it curb-less if the user is wheelchair-bound.
* Check that the vent fan is working properly to help avoid mold hazards.
* Replace smooth, slick flooring with a less slippery textured tile. If this isn’t possible, have a slip-resistant treatment applied to the existing floor.

If your parent is under medical care, it is crucial to involve his or her medical team before making any living arrangement changes.

For more ideas on increasing your home's accessibility, please read my whole-house article published online at BobVila.com.

07 October 2008

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE

You may notice that my Style/File feature has been updated. The new one features a wide array of good-looking countertops. I call this slideshow, “Counter Intelligence,” as it focuses on the many wonderful choices available to add style and functionality to your space. Let me elaborate…


Corian

Pros
Seamless appearance, integral sink capability, repairable, easy maintenance, new Illuminations line is semi-transparent, allowing it to be beautifully backlit.

Cons
Easily scratched or burned, usually unnatural in appearance, less market appeal than natural stone.


Onyx

Pros
Rich and elegant in appearance, no two are identical, natural stone is highly desirable.

Cons
Needs to be sealed, easily scratched or chipped, expensive.


Wood

Pros
Natural beauty, durable, high market appeal.

Cons
Care needs to be taken in wet areas, expensive, needs to be well-maintained.


Glass

Pros
Environmentally-friendly, dramatic appearance, easy maintenance.

Cons
Expensive.


Tile

Pros
Tremendous selection, do-it-yourself installation possible.

Cons
Natural stone tile needs to be kept sealed, grout can be difficult to maintain.


Granite

Pros
Naturally beautiful, each slab is unique, heat- and scratch-resistant, durable, high market value in many areas of the country.

Cons
Needs to be kept sealed to avoid staining, higher maintenance, radon concerns for some styles, typically no warranty available, can be expensive -- especially for exotics.

Concrete

Pros
Wide range of styles, personalization possible, seamless appearance, integral sink capable, high market value.

Cons
Needs to be kept sealed. Expensive.


Quartz

Pros
Easy maintenance, excellent durability, long warranties, stain-resistant, high market value.

Cons
Often unnatural in appearance, expensive.


Stainless Steel

Pros
Choice of chefs, seamless appearance, easy maintenance, stain-resistant.

Cons
Scratches easily, expensive.


There are more choices, of course, including limestone, copper, pewter, soapstone and other exotics. Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in a material that isn’t profiled here – including laminate.

“Counter Intelligence” wasn’t meant to be all-encompassing, just darned eye-catching and, hopefully in this accompanying posting, informative.

01 October 2008

OCTOBER IS NATIONAL KITCHEN & BATH MONTH

October is National Kitchen & Bath Month. Betcha didn’t know that! Betcha don’t really care – except

If you live in Central Florida, you could get a totally free, in-home kitchen or bath consultation from a professional designer!

These consultations are being offered to local homeowners by qualified members of Central Florida’s National Kitchen & Bath Association. Yes, I’m one of them. I'm also a member of the group's Executive Committee. Several of my Execo colleagues' firms are also offering free consultations this month. These include Signature Kitchens of Vero Beach, The Kitchen Director in Lakeland, S & W Kitchens in Longwood and Maitland, Duncan's Creative Kitchens in Bradenton and Deem's Kitchen & Bath Showrooms in Springhill, Homosassa and Ocala.

While I'm including all my fellow Execos' sites, I might as well include mine, too. I'm Tampa-based, but the zip codes I’m covering in this promotion are: 33647 (New Tampa), 33543 and 33544 (Wesley Chapel), 33617 and the Temple Terrace zips immediately surrounding it.

All of us providing this service will be looking for ways you can enhance your functionality, storage and style – and using NKBA’s highly-respected Design Guidelines to do it.

If you’re in one of my coverage zips, feel free to call me at (813) 810-0467 or email me to set up an appointment. If you live outside my coverage area, but want to take advantage of this month-long offering, click on the chapter’s NKBM page to find a provider near you.

If you're reading this outside the Central Florida area, visit the National Kitchen & Bath Association web site to find a local professional, request a Kitchen & Bath Workbook, read top-notch articles on design and remodeling and much more.



A local kitchen remodeled by NKBA member Jamie Goldberg.

23 September 2008

S IS FOR SEPTEMBER'S SMART & STYLISH KITCHEN STORAGE

Last week, I kvetched about the hurricane and financial market havoc and indulged my retail therapy craving. So I did some shopping for smart and stylish bath storage. I warned that it could be a two-parter. This week, I conclude with smart and stylish kitchen storage. I hope you enjoy! (BTW, if you're interested in this topic, please refer back to my multi-taskers posting for more storage tips.)



Back It Up

Don't let those unused inches between your countertops and wall cabinets go to waste! Put them to work with the Linero Backsplash System that frees up cabinet space with spice, wine, utensil, lid, plate and knife holders. I absolutely LOVE this concept! (Hafele)






Basket Case

Another often untapped storage source is the space above your cabinets. I love tall baskets for those spare inches. Like the Michael's samples shown here, hey look great and hold all those items you need to keep but don't use all that often. Other affordable sources often include: Marshall's, Ross, Pier1 sales, CostPlus World Market and sometimes Target. Shop around!





Top Drawer

If you've ever hunted for a mixing spoon or a particular Tupperware container, only to come up empty and frustrated, you'll love these wood drawer organizers from Rev-A-Shelf. I always incorporate storage accessories into my client projects, and have added them to my own kitchen, as well. Drawer organizers are available for utensils, knife storage, pots, lids and plastic containers and even small spice containers. (Rev-A-Shelf)





Splashy Trasher

This Stainless Steel Compost Keeper will store handsomely under your sink while saving your septic tank and the environment. It looks great and, from what past purchasers say, smells great, too. Plus, it's from my all-time-favorite discount chain -- who'da thunk! (Target)




I Was Blind... But Now I See

I detest blind corner cabinets. You know, the kind where you have to get on your knees with a flashlight to see what's back there? If I absolutely, positively have to use one in a remodel or new construction kitchen, I always go for the unit with swing-out shelves. These Pivot-out Blind Corner Units are now available for existing kitchens, so that you, too, can re-discover the darkest reaches of your most inaccessible cabinet. Note: Be sure to read the specs carefully before ordering! (Knape & Vogt)




Swing Low, Sweet Casseroles

If you have a low ceiling, you probably didn't think you could have a pot rack in your kitchen. And you probably have an older, smaller kitchen that could use this cabinet-liberator, too! Enclume has made several Low-Ceiling Pot Racks that let you have the best of both worlds: ready-access cookware and more space in your base cabinets. (Amazon)






Oh So Pretty Powder Kegs

So maybe you don't have a few thousand spare dollars hanging around the house for stainless steel appliances right now. That doesn't mean you can have a bit o'bling in your kitchen. All-Clad has a nifty set of three stainless steel canisters that will brighten your countertops and keep your flour, sugar and coffee safe and dry at the same, stylish time. (Amazon)


Final Words

As I noted last week, I didn't include page links or prices with this posting. That's because items occasionally go on sale or get discontinued and I don't care to mislead my readers. So, I'm supplying links to the company sites instead and citing related product names.

You may also be interested in knowing that I provide local design shopping services in the Tampa Bay Area. If you need help coordinating your kitchen or bath furnishings, you can hire me to shop with you, (and take advantage of my trade discounts at the same time). E-mail me at jamie@jgkitchens.com if you'd like to know more about this service.

16 September 2008

S IS FOR SEPTEMBER'S SMART & STYLISH BATH STORAGE



All this hurricane and financial market turmoil has got me down a bit. So I think some retail therapy is in order. Since I need to pace myself, I'm focusing this first shopping posting on bringing you smart and stylish bathroom storage. Next week, it could be kitchen, laundry or home office storage -- you'll have to check back to find out!


Sit N' Stash

This Hamper Stool gives you a nifty place to sit and put on your socks, then toss them at the end of a work-out. You can use one of their chosen fabrics, or pick one of your own. (Ballard Designs)








Cool Meds

These M Series with Cold Storage medicine cabinets have a refrigerated section for prescriptions, face creams or other items that need to be chilled. How cool is that? You don't have to run to the kitchen for your end-of-the-day needs any more. (Robern)




Roll With It

I love the flexibility that this Newbury Rolling Bath Cart gives you. I also love its style. If you've got some extra floor space in your bathroom, consider this sleek caddy. (Roll it next to your tub to keep your bath goodies and candles close at hand.) (Restoration Hardware)





Hotelicious

I've always liked the look and practicality of hotel-style towel shelves for traditional baths. Hammacher Schlemmer ups the ante with warming capability in its Luxury Resort Towel Warming Shelf. Who doesn't love a toasty towel at the end of a bath or shower? I do! I do! (Hammacher Schlemmer)



Bamboozled

If you love the look of bamboo, but aren't quite ready to remodel your bathroom -- call me when you are! -- these Bamboo Bath Accessories from Crate & Barrel can satisfy your cravings for a while. The line includes a soap dish, soap pump, waste can, tissue cover and tray. (Crate & Barrel)



Rustic Roost

Being a Designing Woman, I get scads of home decor catalogs. This week brought a catalog I'd never heard of before, which describes its global, hand-crafted goods quite accurately as "eclectic, whimsical and unique." As I was coming up with the bath storage idea for this posting at the time it landed in my mailbox, I was delighted to spot the Iron Tower, lovingly shown with towels and votive candles. It's handsome, versatile and reasonably-priced. (At West End)









Final Words

You'll note (perhaps!) that I didn't include page links or prices with this posting. That's because items occasionally go on sale or get discontinued and I don't care to mislead my readers. So, I'm supplying links to the company sites instead and related product names.

You may also be interested in knowing that I provide local design shopping services in the Tampa Bay Area. If you need help coordinating your kitchen or bath furnishings, you can hire me to shop with you (and take advantage of my trade discounts). E-mail me at jamie@jgkitchens.com if you'd like to know more about this service.

31 August 2008

HURRICANE HELPERS

THURSDAY UPDATE

Hanna, Ike and Josephine are heading to the U.S. after Gustav's recent rampage. (See details below.) Please check out the sections marked Generators and Hurricane Preparedness if you're in their path. The other sections offer longer-term solutions to strengthening your home against future storms, (and building a new home in a hurricane-prone area).


Track these storms at:
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/


INITIAL THOUGHTS (SATURDAY, PRE-GUSTAV)

As I write this, another major hurricane is heading toward Katrina-battered New Orleans. I hope to G-d the levees hold this time, and no one else is killed or injured by Gustav.

I remember the fear I felt as Hurricane Charley bore down on Florida’s southwest coast in 2004. I don’t wish that on anyone – anywhere! Two years later, I was doing design work on a
two-family home, (shown in the photo above), flattened by that storm when it took a last-minute turn and pummeled the coastline two hours south of us. Charley, Katrina and now Gustav remind us of wind and water’s power to destroy the homes we love. Here are a few strategies and weapons in the war against nature.


NEW CONSTRUCTION RESOURCE

If you’re planning on building a home, consider reinforced concrete construction. This building method is extremely energy-efficient, as well as being able to withstand wind and earthquake forces. An excellent book on the topic is PreFabulous by Sheri Koones. (You can purchase it through the Amazon Gold section in the lower right corner of this blog's home page.) In its well-illustrated pages, Koones not only shows how great prefab homes can look, but describes the different options, including concrete construction, in depth, with a resource section at the end. The National Association of Home Builders’ Concrete Home Building Council is another great resource for this building method.


REMODELING RESOURCES

Windows

If you’re planning to remodel your home, consider impact-resistant glass for doors and windows. According to one of my sources, Roger Hutson, millworks trainer for The Home Depot in Tampa, Fl., “Windows are now available to withstand the wind pressures of hurricane force winds. With the addition of IMPACT glass, the windows will protect the home from flying debris without the added time and effort needed to install shutters.” New windows can also improve your home’s energy-efficiency, if you opt for those with low-emissivity (or low-e) glass.

Garage Doors

Garage doors, especially those extra-wide double doors and older doors, are another vulnerable point in a storm. Home Depot, (and likely other sources, as well), carry new hurricane-approved garage door systems that are definitely worth considering. (A new garage door can add to your home's curb appeal, as well.)

Entry Doors

Entry doors – especially those handsome double door sets – are also vulnerability points. There are new door systems on the market that are Florida-approved and worth considering for your home’s safety. “Doors older than five years may not be designed or installed to withstand the forces of a hurricane,” Hutson says.

An interim step could be changing your in-swing double door set to out-swing, as this gives an extra measure of protection in a major wind storm, according to the millworks trainer.


GENERATORS

Many hurricane zone residents purchase generators to power their homes or businesses during an electrical outage. Here is some safety advice on their use from the American Red Cross. If you’re the owner of a generator, or considering purchasing one, please read this short page of information first! Your family’s or employees’ lives may depend on it!

http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/0,1082,0_565_,00.html


HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS

I’m not going to reinvent the wheel. Smarter folks who have lived here longer than I have put together top-notch hurricane preparedness lists. Here’s a short one for your consideration from our local newspaper, The Tampa Tribune:

http://hurricane.weathercenter.com/MGBGS2Y0J8E.html

The Trib also covered some intriguing new emergency “gadgets” you might want to consider:

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/apr/16/160012/na-new-wave-of-gadgets-comes-with-hurricane-season/

One of the most important ways you can prepare yourself and your family is by having an Emergency Plan prepared. The Red Cross has put together a Podcast on how to do this:

http://americanredcrosspodcast.files.wordpress.com/2007/06/brcr2plan.mp3


FINAL THOUGHTS

If Hurricane Gustav creates the level of damage that Charley, Katrina, Wilma and so many other storms before it have, please be generous. The American Red Cross will put your donations to great use, helping our fellow Americans survive the painful aftermath, as it always does.

http://american.redcross.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ntld_main

I was a volunteer in Los Angeles after the ’92 riots and ’94 earthquake and saw first-hand the great work this organization does.

New Orleans – the city in which I said, “I do,” seven years ago – you’re in my heart and prayers today.

26 August 2008

TOP BATH PRODUCTS FROM KBIS 2008

Every year, the leading companies in the kitchen and bath industry gather for the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show, the largest gathering of manufacturers, dealers and designers in North America. This year, the National Kitchen & Bath Association, which produces KBIS, decided to feature official bloggers to cover the show as it occurred. I was one of those bloggers. My beat was "luxury products," and I reported the show as it happened on Glam.com.

I’m looking beyond the luxury market for my own blog to products that could benefit any of our homes. Last week, I brought you the best of KBIS kitchens. Here's the scoop on KBIS bath products.


TOUCH-FREE FAUCETS

When I covered the International Builders Show in 2007, I spotted the same types of touch-free sensor faucets that one often uses in public restrooms showing up there for the residential market. They make great sense for home use, both from the avoidance of germ spread and for their potential water savings. They’re also great for those with arthritis, Parkinsons and other ailments that impact hand flexibility.

The problem was, the styles shown at IBS looked like they belonged in public restrooms, not in someone’s home. That deficit was clearly overcome at KBIS this year, and fashionable sensor faucets showed up in almost every plumbing booth. Shown here: Axor Starck X Electronic Faucet with Temp Control from Hansgrohe.

DUAL FLUSH TOILETS

Again, these are not new introductions this year, but very much in keeping with one of the dominant trends of KBIS 2008: environmentally-friendly products. If you’re not familiar with the dual flush concept, here’s a brief explanation: Standard flushing uses a lower water ration than our current standard, and is suitable for liquid/paper flushes. The alternate flushing mode uses a higher water allotment, comparable to our current standard, for bulk needs. Dual flush toilets may become code mandated in future years as fresh water supplies dwindle further and droughts threaten even more areas. The good news is, you don’t need to sacrifice style while saving water. More manufacturers are introducing dual flush models into their designer suites. Shown here: Kohler’s Saile Dual Flush Toilet.
NATIVE TRAILS BASINS

I love the hammered metal looks of the Native Trails product line. They evoke both contemporary and classic elegance and come in copper or silver finishes. I can definitely see myself incorporating one of their lavs in upcoming client projects. (They also make a line of tubs, bar and kitchen sinks.) Shown here: Tatra Basin in Antique Finish.




KOHLER BELAY

One of my design specialties is Aging-in-Place, which seeks to make spaces more accessible, comfortable and safer for older residents wanting to remain in their own homes. The image that comes to mind when you mention Aging-in-Place or Universal Design is a nursing home with white plastic grab bars. Not for my clients! I go more for Resort Spa than Rehab Hospital, and Kohler’s new integrated Belay grab rail system fits right into that plan. The front can be tiled to match the rest of the shower, tub or toilet area. The top edge is made to match the most popular Kohler finishes. It’s the grab bar system for clients who don’t like the look of grab bars. Shown here: Kohler 30” Belay with Brushed Silver edge.




HANSA COLOURSHOWER

If bath time in your family is a daily struggle, maybe adding some color to the experience will speed things along. The Hansa Colourshower lets your kids–or your spouse!–choose their favorite colors to shower with, as well as choose from variable pressure settings. The handheld body sprayer is super-convenient, as is the soap dispenser. You might want one of these for the kids’ bath and your own.



CAESARSTONE CONCETTO QUARTZ COUNTERTOPS

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m a quartz countertops enthusiast. One of my favorite versions of the product literally stopped me in my tracks at KBIS 2008. It’s a jeweled version from Caesarstone, one of the leading manufacturers of engineered stone tops and the only one I know of that offers a limited lifetime warranty on its countertop material. Called Concetto, this gorgeous stone would enhance any master bath or powder room. Best of all: while giving a high-powered impression, it's a low-maintenance beauty. Take a look for yourself! Shown Here: Blue Agate.




BAMBOO BASINS

I love the natural beauty of bamboo, and enjoyed seeing it in lavatories at KBIS 2008, rather than in its more common flooring application. Pair it with a soapstone, concrete or honed granite countertop for a knock-out powder room! Shown here: Solid Bamboo Vessel Sink from Totally Bamboo.



GRAFF LUNA FAUCETS

Tying into KBIS 2008's other major trend - modern style - is Graff's Luna faucet series. I featured it in the Bathing Beauties' Style File this summer, include it in my Amazon Gold list (so you can buy it easily for your own home!), and mention it here again. I can definitely see a Luna lav faucet in a show-stopping powder room. Can't you?




BATHROOM BONUS!

You probably don't think about washers and dryers when the word 'bathroom' is mentioned. Imagine for a moment, though, how incredibly convenient it would be to have a washer and dryer located where the pool towels pile up, or where the kids' hamper sits, or where your own clothes hang for convenient laundry day handling. Asko's new washer/dryer set can be installed virtually anywhere you have a water hook-up and power, as it doesn't need to be vented and has "shock absorbers" built in for second-floor placement. If you're planning a bathroom remodel, you might want to consider whether a second washer/dryer in your home would save your back and legs from lugging laundry baskets around the house. Many of the new home projects I've been involved with in the past couple of years have second/upstairs laundry rooms. This panel-ready set allows you to have that convenience, cleverly camouflaged in your bathroom or walk-in closet. (There are some nifty add-ons -- like a built-in ironing board -- available, too in its HiddenHelpers line.) If you're concerned that adding a second washer/dryer pair will hike your utility bills too high, Asko is known for its water and energy efficiency. Given that fact, and its more convenient location closer to the laundry source, you might find yourself using these more than your older set and actually lowering your costs! (Hmm, what alternate uses might that laundry room serve...)




FINAL THOUGHTS

If you're interested in more information about any of these products not furnished here or on the company's web sites, please let me know. I may be able to get your questions answered through my manufacturers' contacts.
Also, if you live in the Tampa, Florida area, feel free to contact me to run some local comparison pricing for you. I do long-distance consulting on fixture planning, too, but not price comparisons out of area. Feel free to contact me at (813) 810-0467 or jamie@jgkitchens.com.

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