24 September 2009

Color Notes: Green Day

Welcome to the latest Color Notes posting. The purpose of this series is to share inspiring products and helpful ideas for the many hues you might want to incorporate into your home's design scheme. This posting covers one of my personal favorites - green. I've always incorporated green into my home. When I painted my open floor plan condo in LA that color, my brother said he felt like he was sitting in a bowl of guacamole. In my Florida home, our master bedroom is a soothing shade of green... and I have never felt like breaking open a bag of chips. (The green shown here is Benjamin Moore's Green with Envy.)

Why green?

Green is a cool, calming color that evokes images of nature. In fact, the very word "green" has come to mean natural and environmentally-friendly.

I love green in spa style baths and bedrooms, but it also works well in kitchens, offices and dining rooms. Green enhances most wood floors and cabinets - like leaves enhance a tree. In fact, as I recently shared in a Woman's Day interview, if colors work together in nature, they'll work together in your home. After all, there's no better designer than the Creator, is there?

Where not to go green

There aren't any rooms that couldn't go green, but if your purpose in a space is to create a mood of intensity and energy - perhaps an area where you home school - rather than calmness and relaxation, it wouldn't be your first choice.

I love green with...


Kitchy together here on Jonathan Adler's Bamboo wallpaper

Orange and Cream

United in pretty paisley on Pottery Barn's Brooks Chair


Glamming up a bed with Kenzie Bed Linens at Neiman Marcus

Dark brown

Pretty together on a paisley wallpaper by Candice Olson for Kravet


Circling a super-fun dog bowl by Jonathan Adler

Grey, yellow and blue

Pulled together on Pier 1's mod Abacus Chair

Red and tan

Elegant together on my own china pattern - Oberon by Wedgwood

Green scene

It was great fun finding cool green gear to share for this posting. (I have a collection of green pottery at home that I keep adding to.) Hope you enjoy these!

A piece of greenware I'd love to have in my collection:
Ephraim Faience's Seven-Handled Vase

Go retro with Noguchi's Free Form Sofa from Design Within Reach

Or old school with Anne Selke Home's Green Leather Chair at Neiman Marcus

Dress up your door with Anthropologie's Sly Fox Doorknocker

Delight your bath with these Celadon accessories at Pottery Barn

Create captivating countertops with Cambria's ethereal grey-green Hyde Park engineered stone, as I did in my client's master bath update

Divide and conquer with Pier 1's Plantation Floor Screen

Green your kitchen with KitchenAid's Artisan Stand Mixer in Lemongrass

07 September 2009

Sensible Style: Small Kitchens, Big Splurges

Sensible Style launched in July to answer your questions about how to get the most out of your kitchen. …But what if your kitchen is totally teeny-tiny? Consider yourself lucky. Kitchens like these give you the opportunity to splurge on higher-end products, even on a smaller budget. While it’s more challenging to squeeze the storage and work space you need into tighter kitchens, it’s much, much easier to add style without breaking the bank.

Let’s take a look at making your small kitchen live large, stylistically-speaking.

Custom Cabinetry

In a medium or large kitchen, custom cabinetry can be a tremendous expense. In a small kitchen, this expense is far less, since there are fewer cabinets to order and install. So the benefits start to outweigh the costs. These benefits typically include:

  • Soft-close, full-extension drawers and roll-out trays to maximize storage usability
  • Soft-close doors for quieter operation
  • Custom widths that increase storage capacity and reduce unsightly fillers
  • Exposed furniture-style ends
  • Deluxe joinery
  • Superior, multi-step, hand-applied finishes
  • Lifetime warranties on construction and finish

This small kitchen features Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry’s Brookhaven series

Performance Countertops

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big proponent of engineered stone countertops. They offer the heat and scratch-resistance of granite, but with a non-porous, stain-resistant finish that never needs sealing. Sensible Style is all about easy maintenance and these tops, often called quartz, offer that feature. They also offer a manufacturer’s warranty, which I consider an added benefit. The only drawback to these engineered tops has been their cost. Typically higher than granite, they are a large expense in a large space. For those clients with smaller kitchens – and less counter space – they move into the affordable range.

Engineered stone countertops like this one from Zodiaq offer easy maintenance, stain resistance, durability and a manufacturer’s warranty

Backsplash Bling

Backsplashes offer a phenomenal, high-visibility way of adding style to your kitchen. And with less square footage to work with, you can splurge on designer tile without breaking the bank. To create a Sensible Style-oriented focal point, be sure that the look and colors of your new backsplash integrate well with the overall feel of your kitchen.

Backsplashes add a style note to your kitchen. Shown here is Cappricio in Tasmania Green by Ann Sacks

Heavenly Hardware

Fewer cabinets also means fewer knobs and pulls. That means you can splurge on great-looking hardware without burning through your budget. Use knobs or standard-spread (3 to 4 inch) pulls to introduce some creativity into your kitchen. If you tire of them later, (or want to take them with you when you move), it will be easier to replace them with something else down the line.

Make a design statement with your cabinet hardware. This installation showcases styles by Soko

Finer Faucets and Fixtures

Sinks and faucets are often selected later in the design process and so they may be subject to harsher budget cutting. Smaller kitchens with their smaller budgets give you the chance to get higher-end items in this category.

If you’re going to undermount a stainless steel sink in stone tops, you’re going to want a better quality fixture as they’re very difficult to replace later on. Look for an 18-gauge or 16-gauge model. (The builder-grade stainless sink you once had and detested was likely a 20 or 21; the lower the number, the better the quality.) Other great sink options include durable, easy-maintenance granite and fireclay.

Faucets can be stylish as well as functional, and a terrific splurge opportunity. Look for added-value features like integral filtration, sensors, coordinating soap dispensers, hot water dispensers and high-arc pull-outs for easier pot cleaning.

Silgranit Performa Sink by Blanco offers durability, easy maintenance and optional clean-up accessories

Upgraded Appliances

The larger kitchens I design often have two dishwashers, 48" or 60"-built-in refrigerators, double ovens, warming drawers, along with specialty cookers like steam ovens and convection microwaves, wine captains and ice makers. Simply stated: Small kitchens don't! A typical condo or cottage kitchen will have a range or cooktop with single oven below it, 30" to 36" fridge, single dishwasher and, maybe, a built-in or overe-the-range microwave. The bad news is, your wine and ice need to fend for themselves. The good news is, with the shorter appliance list and smaller appliance sizes, you can afford higher-end selections.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Select a microwave oven that also includes convection cooking and warming capability, to combine three appliances into one efficient unit.
  • If you're not a serious, volume chef, consider a 24" range, rather than the standard 30" model. This will give you more storage and counter space. If you occasionally like to delve into cooking, you can shop for a portable induction cooktop burner that can be stored when you're not using it.
  • If your household is very small, consider an 18", rather than standard 24" dishwasher for the same space and countertop enhancing purpose.
  • Consider a French door refrigerator, rather than a side-by-side or single door model. The French door will maximize your fresh food storage capacity, (and handle catering trays, which a 36" side-by-side won't do). Its narrower door swing also works better in tighter spaces.

French Door refrigerators, like this countertop-depth freestanding model from GE Monogram, can be ideal for small kitchens

Luxe Lighting

Your smaller kitchen needn't feel like a cave. Enhanced lighting will give it the illusion of greater size, while improving your ability to work in the space. You can opt for a luxurious ceiling fixture, as you'll likely need just one, rather than two to four to top large double islands. You can also go for high-quality LED lights below your wall cabinets to illuminate your counter tops. They are pricier, but you'll need fewer of them, and they may outlast your stay in the home. You can also look for the types of LED lights that install just below countertops to illuminate drawers, and those that go into deep, dark base cabinets to make it easier to find your stored items.

Small kitchens typically call for just one dramatic ceiling light, rather than multiples. This one from Rejuvenation

Elegant Embellishments

Another advantage of small kitchens with fewer cabinets is that you can opt for some of the luxuries that would be far pricier in a large kitchen. These include stacked moldings to the ceiling, glazes, distressed finishes, decorative glass inserts and corbel-style bar supports for traditional kitchens. Small contemporary kitchens can take advantage of exotic woods, stainless accent pieces, and premium lacquer finishes.

The stacked molding, fluting, and furnished cabinetry ends would have been much pricier in a larger kitchen. I designed this one for a client's island getaway home

Final Thoughts

I expect that my next kitchen will be much smaller than my current one, as I anticipate downsizing in the next year. With some clever planning, I know I can overcome the storage shortcomings. And I'm actually looking forward to the design opportunities described here! (Look for a future series on the remaking of a designer's own kitchen!)

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

03 September 2009

Outdoor Entertaining Wish List - A Labor Day Weekend Special

Labor Day weekend is almost upon us and many Gold Notes readers will be enjoying the holiday outdoors. Being the inquisitve blogger I am, I asked some of my favorite design industry colleagues and friends to share their must-have item for outdoor living and entertaining.

I'm absolutely thrilled with the ideas and products they shared... As a result, my own wish list has grown far longer, too!

The thrill of the grill

Grills are a must-have for outdoor entertaining, and a couple of my colleagues, I discovered, share my love for the Evo line.

"I think it would be cool to have an Evo Affinity 30G outdoor cooktop! It is so different from what everyone else has, and can be a very healthy way to cook, as well. It is versatile, too, in that you could have several people around the unit, all cooking their own dish, their own way. I have recommended this product since I first found it."

Robert Sadler
Calgary, Alberta

"There is an outdoor appliance that is a must for any foodie. It's called Evo and is an outdoor flattop grill that totally changes the idea of an outdoor grill. My client who introduced me to this has cooked every type of meal on it from breakfast to dinner. The unit is also ideal for a party where [guests] cook for [themselves.]"

Mitchell Levey
Tampa, Fl.

(Editor's Note: I personally love the Evo for its versatility and, being a strong proponent for Sensible Style, adore its easy-cleanability! It will be my next grill.)

"Lynx's 42-inch L42PSR-1 Built-In Grill with ProSear Burner and Rotisserie. It's a quality, top of its class grill, and I like its style and lighting."

Mark Warren
Owner, The Kitchen Director
Lakeland, Fl.

"I would like a Big Green Egg. When can I expect delivery?"

Ed Cholfin, CAPS
Atlanta, Ga.

More outdoor flavors

Outdoor cooking used to mean mainly meat on the fire. There are so many more options available today to the outdoor chef. Rev up your taste buds...

"I would enjoy having a Kalamazoo lobster boiler. They have a wok cook top and cabinetry configured to create a lowered burner, perfect for lobster or corn. Their cabinetry is stainless and so indestructible that this would be a great New England item."

Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD, CAPS
Principal/Designer/Author, Mary Jo Peterson, Inc.
Brookfield, Ct.

"This Labor Day I'm coveting a Forno Bravo wood-fired outdoor oven; their Primavera model particularly. I have always wanted to learn how to cook in an outdoor wood-fired oven and what better excuse than Labor Day weekend?"

Paul Anater
Kitchen Designer/Design Blogger, Kitchen and Residential Design
St. Petersburg, Fl.
"We actually have installed our outdoor item, a Perlick Beer Tap! We paired it with a double drawer refrigerator unit from Perlick which keeps the beer glasses and soft drinks cold. Perfect match for weekend barbecues!"
Susan Palmer, CKD, CBD
President, Susan Palmer Designs, Inc.
Design Blogger, Susan Palmer Designs Blog
Honolulu, Hi.

Other outdoor pleasures
Outdoor living means more than just a meal with family or friends. It's the entire experience of relaxation, comfort and, yes, even indulgence. Make your weekend special with these designer ideas for spiffing up your outdoor space.
"All Weather Flat Screen LCD TVs. This is my pick !! From SunBriteTV, these flat screen LCDs are designed to be protected from rain, dirt, insects, cratches and extreme temperature ranges and changes. These are a great addition to your terrace or patio, won't disturb your decor since they are very well designed, and most of all can bring a lot of fun to kids and adults.

Diana Luna
Interior Designer
Orlando, Fl

"I want a Laguna Waterworks outdoor, portable liquid gel fireplace. The open design makes placement more versitile and viewing is easier from multiple directions. Fireplaces add instant ambiance and are great places to gather socially."
Ann Porter, CKD
Designer/Owner, Kitchen Studio of Naples
Design Blogger, KitchAnn Style

"I would love to have an Atlantis Outdoor Kitchen with Teak door styling! Because the cabinet box is made of waterproof Perma-Panel, the cabinetry is perfect for the all-weather climate in which I reside."
Lindsey Haugh
Creative Director, Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens

Roanoke, Va.

(Confession: I asked Lindsey for her must-have item because I knew she'd mention Atlantis, and this fantastic line has long been on my own must-have list!)

"Nothing adds to a carefree party atmosphere more than paper lanterns. They come in many different shapes and sizes. Stay with one shape and color for a sophisticated look or alternate between round, square and pagoda shapes for a more playful result. They look great indoors or out and can be used to define different areas for eating, conversation, dancing etc."

Susan Jackson
Interior Decorator/Owner, Design Distinctions
Tampa, Fl.

"A retractable awning. My deck faces west and the afternoon sun beats on you...Come sit with me and I'll make you a nice cool beverage while we sit at the bar on my deck!"
Maria Stapperfenne, CKD CBD
Manager, Tewksbury Kitchen & Bath -a div. of Huston Supply Co., Inc.

Whitehouse Station, NJ

"I can't think of anything else I enjoy more than the sound of gently running water. Therefore, my favorite thing is a water fountain. The I-Ball [by Trevi Fountains] is my personal favorite. It incorporates three distinct shapes in a graceful, self-contained, monolith that allows the water to bubble over the top and then cascade down the sides and slowly trickle off the bottom. Very soothing."
Vicky M. Lodge
Owner/Lighting Designer, VML Design & Lighting
Lakeland, Fl.

Jamie's outdoor gems
In addition to coveting many of the items mentioned above -- especially the Evo grills and Atlantis cabinetry -- I also love outdoor rugs, especially ones that look as stylish as indoor ones.

Carefree, wicker-look furniture is also on my Sensible Style outdoor list. Shown in the photo at the top right corner of the posting is Grandin Road's Chatham series.

Photo Note: I have photos for each of the products mentioned above. However, Blogger's photo upload feature is mostly malfunctioning today. Hopefully, it will be working again soon, so I can get those pictures posted for you!

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