08 December 2009

Sensible Style - Your 8 best holiday helpers

Sensible Style launched in July to answer your questions about how to get the most out of your kitchen. ...

That's especially crucial at this time of year, when many of us are entertaining friends, family and colleagues in our homes. That makes it stress time for your kitchen! Here are some handy helpers to make the holiday season easier on you, your schedule and the hardest working room of your house.

Maximize cooking capacity

Most of the kitchens I've remodeled have started out with a single oven range with four burners on top, and a separate microwave oven. This is the sum total of their cooking capacity. Here's how to increase yours without tearing apart your kitchen this holiday season.

1) Replace your standard microwave oven with a convection microwave. This will turn your micro from a simple reheating, defrosting, popcorn-making machine into a top-flight cooking and baking appliance. They're available in both over-the-range and built-in models, and ideal for doubling oven capacity in compact kitchens.

2) Add additional capacity by choosing a convection microwave with warming oven capability. This will build in some flexibility to your cooking and serving schedule.

3) Add a fifth burner to your kitchen with a portable induction cooktop. These single-burner appliances boil water quicker than your current gas or electric versions and can sit on a spare foot of countertop to increase your capacity.

A portable induction cooktop, like this one from Viking, can increase your stove top cooking capacity.

Simplify prep and clean-up

Meal prep and clean up never garner any gourmet points, but occupy a significant part of your holiday entertaining time. Here's how to streamline the process and get you out of the kitchen quicker.

4) Select cookware that can go from the freezer to the oven to the table to the dishwasher. This will reduce your clean-up time considerably, (and the amount of water you use cleaning up after your big holiday dinner). There are several attractive brands you can choose from. Find the one that fits your budget and style.

The most attractive quality to this Emile Henry cookware just may be its extraordinary convenience.

5) If you were looking at replacing worn-out, broken or warped wood cutting boards, consider a color-coded (meat, vegetable, fish, etc.) set that can go into your dishwasher instead. This is much more sanitary and convenient, as well.

6) Invest in an immersion blender. This handy tool requires less clean-up than a standard stand mixer, takes up no space on your countertop and builds some flexibility into your prep process.

7) Keep your cookbooks cleaner and your countertops cleared with a cookbook holder that mounts below your wall cabinets.

This Under Cabinet Cookbook Holder is available on Organize-It.com

Tread lightly

Most of us have tiled kitchen floors that are extremely hard to stand on for the hours it takes to prepare, cook, serve and clean up after a holiday dinner.

8) My favorite holiday helper is a cushioned floor mat that make this season as merry for our feet, back, hips and legs as for our hearts and bellies.

Choose a size, color and pattern for a GelPro mat that fits your kitchen and takes the stress of holiday entertaining off your body.

Visit the Sensible Style box on the right column for links to all the posts in this ongoing series.

02 December 2009

MOLTEN GOLD - Classic New Corian

MOLTEN GOLD is another new Gold Notes feature. Launched last month, MG will focus on hot new products or companies that can add luster to your home. Today, we'll look at a beautiful new countertop series by Corian called Private Collection.

Same quality, new style

I first mentioned this collection when I spotted it at the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show last May. I thought the new colors and patterns were a huge aesthetic leap forward. My issue with Corian has never been its material properties, which have a lot to offer, but its often plastic-like appearance.

Private Collection offers a richness of color and movement I haven’t seen on Corian or its competitor tops in the past. These are great-looking counters.

Why Corian?

Why choose a Corian countertop for your home? Concrete and stone have gotten all the buzz in recent years. I’m a huge quartz fan myself, as regular readers (and my design clients) know. So what would make me recommend an acrylic surface to a client when it lacks the heat and scratch resistance of the hardier stones?

Corian’s greatest attribute, in my opinion, is that it’s completely repairable. This makes it an ideal surface for kids’ rooms. It also makes it ideal for rental properties.

I used to work in a design center where someone sat on a large Corian overhang and completely cracked off the two-foot end of our desk. When the repair pro came in and worked his magic, you could not see where the damage had been. It looked like new. How much more affordable would that be than replacing an entire section of damaged top that a tenant or tyke dinged, scratched or burn? Small scratches can even be buffed out by the homeowner, for just the cost of sandpaper.

Another popular Corian attribute is its seamless appearance. That makes it a good choice for oversized or irregular tops where you might otherwise see the joints of a stone or laminate top.

Clients who like Corian often choose its integral sink option. Unlike standard drop-in sinks, apron fronts or even undermounts, there are no edges or crevices around the sink where food can get caught. This makes for a very easy clean-up process.

The coved backsplash option – where the splash flows seamlessly into the top – is pricy, but also easier to clean and better looking than a standard four-inch splash, shown above. (I’m much more partial to full-height tiled splashes anyway.)

An additional, seldom-mentioned Corian attribute is its softness. The softer-than-stone surface is a good choice for aging in place homes, especially for clients with balance or coordination issues.

The Brand

Corian – and its entire solid surface category – were created by DuPont more than 30 years ago. Many competitors have emerged on the scene as Corian grew popular with builders, designers and homeowners, but most just imitate, rather than innovate.
The 207-year-old DuPont is not resting on its inventive laurels. It has continually improved and updated its brands. Private Collection is just the latest step.

The Facts

Warranty: 10 Year

Pricing: Estimated $45 to $55 per square foot installed

Purchase through a local countertop fabricator, kitchen showroom or home center

Website: Corian.com

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