24 June 2010

Design Inspirations

I'm often asked where I find inspiration for my designs. The answer is almost everywhere, almost every day. I find inspiration from travel, from art, from nature and from architecture. I'm inspired on my daily morning walk and on my weekends away. I'm inspired by visits to Barnes & Noble or relaxing on the patio of a local restaurant.

Here are a few examples, and how they can emerge in a finished room.

I love the art deco lines of the Deca condos along Park Boulevard.

The building's metal "bracelets" may show up in matching cabinet jewelry. This metal Mosaic knob by Siro Designs is available on IKDD's Miton MT900 series or at European Bath Kitchen Tile Stone in Solana Beach.

My daily walk also takes me past a Craftsman home that looks quite like this one.
I call it "curb candy!"

Craftsman style inspires me to use cabinets like these Miton MT500s, also at IKDD. They're the ones that will probably go into my next home -- in painted white.

In the neighboring community of Hillcrest is a succulent garden like this one. I love its year-round, hardy style.

This hardy, all-weather fabric from Sunbrella captures the garden's colors and could show up on a banquet or counter stool cushions in one of my kitchens.

I recently visited the Sierra Club's Foster Lodge in Pine Valley, Cal. I shot this rugged view from a hike there on my iPhone. (Puts life in perspective, doesn't it!)

The rocky view inspires my frequent use of stone countertops, especially easy maintenance quartz. This Sienna Ridge is by Silestone.

This local Greek Orthodox church reminds me of the ones I enjoyed in Santorini years ago.

I suspect those white walls and blue accents were the original inspiration for my love of white kitchen cabinets against blue walls. These Del Rays are from American Woodmark.

The building I'm living in at the moment has a courtyard filled with pink-flowered boxes like this one. They make me smile as I head out on my morning walk and return, tired but happy.

I love the whimsy of pink hardware dotting vintage-style cabinets -- perhaps in a butler's pantry or bathroom armoire. This one comes from CoolNobsAndPulls.com. They make me smile, too.

16 June 2010

Go-to Gold: Fixtures and Faucets - Part II

As I wrote in Go-to Gold's pilot post last month, all designers have their core brands - their go-to-first sources for consistently great products that fit their style and needs. That entry focused on faucets and fixtures from the large, well-known plumbing companies.

This one focuses on the smaller brands that you may not yet know, but that consistently produce good-looking, well-made and innovative products.

Affluence Seamless Sink

Inventor Dan Sullivan approached all the majors with his concept of a sink sans the ugly drain ring. Not a problem that needs solving, they replied. He disagreed, persisted and came up with a KBIS award winner. It's sleek, it's practical, it's as sexy as a sink can be. And it's got Sensible Style points out the window! (A Molten Gold pick last November.)

Can a sink be sexy? When it's this sleek and stylish, it can. This is Affluence Seamless Sink's SR3019-8

Since I loved it so much, the company sent us one for our new IKDD working kitchen display.

California Faucets

This is the firm that brought high style to the lowly shower drain, first with its StyleDrain line, (Molten Gold pick), then with its CeraLine, (another Molten Gold pick). They also make some really nifty bathroom faucets.

Even without the wet woman, the StyleTherm by California Faucets looks great!


A bathroom project I designed employed Danze faucets and I really liked their quality and style. I continue to look to their brand when I'm seeking bathroom products with Sensible Style! In fact, Danze faucets showed up twice in Details #2 - The Faucet Edition.

Danze offers serious style with its new Sirius widespread lav faucet.


Their Luna wall-mount vessel faucet literally stopped me in my tracks at the 2008 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show. What incredible style! At the San Diego NKBA's recent Industry Showcase, they showed some of their newest products which were also really, really good-looking!

Sade Faucet by Graff practically sings with style!

Native Trails

Their copper sinks are traditional, transitional or contemporary, depending on the finish and style you choose. All are incredibly handsome and lend a luxurious, artisinal quality to your design. I also spotted them first at KBIS 2008.

Farmhouse Duet in Brushed Nickel by Native Trails brings quality and style to your kitchen projects

09 June 2010

Sensible Style - Easy Makeovers

This month, Kitchens.com focuses on Sensational Kitchen Makeovers, so I decided to tie in with an Easy Makeover post - Sensibly Stylish, of course.

There are different reasons to make over your kitchen. Here are some of the most common:
  • An appliance breaks down after years of faithful service and you decide to replace the entire suite with stainless.
  • The cabinets are falling apart, so new ones are required. Often, this results in an entire kitchen remodel.
  • Your laminate countertops are blown out by a slow leak. Stone tops replace them.
  • You can't fit even one more item into your cupboards... Additional storage is desperately needed!
Do any of these feel familiar to you? Let's look at easy make-over options for each scenario.

Appliance updates

Many a kitchen remodel has started with a dishwasher failure. That doesn't mean you have to go into debt to redo your entire kitchen. Here are some Sensible Style tips for appliance replacement:
  • If you don't want to replace your cabinets, too, opt for appliances of the same size, but with improved features. For example, an over-the-range microwave can be replaced with a convection/microwave/warmer combination. Both use the same space but the combo gives you a second oven and warming "drawer" capability, too.
  • Replace your antique dishwasher with a water- and energy-saving model.
  • Replace a 30- or 36-inch electric cooktop with an induction model.
  • Replace a standard refrigerator with a designer-style countertop-depth version, (but note that you decrease your food capacity in the process).

One of the most versatile appliances on the market: The GE Advantium microwaves, cooks and keeps food warm all in the space of a standard over the range opening.

Cabinet concerns

Are the cabinets really falling apart, or is it just that the doors and drawer fronts have gotten dinged and dingy over the years?
  • If the issue is cosmetic, rather than structural AND you don't need to improve the layout of your kitchen, then refacing may be a better option than replacing. Refacing companies will put new drawer fronts, doors and matching skins on your existing cabinets. It will cost a bit less than a remodel, take less time and create less disruption in your home.
  • If the cabinets are otherwise OK, but multiple knobs or pulls have broken or gone missing over the years, then now is a great time to update your hardware.
  • If your cabinets are literally falling apart, you're going to have to replace them. Your simplest option is to keep the same layout to avoid flooring or appliance issues, but that doesn't mean you have to keep the same cabinet types. For example, two 15-inch drawer over door cabinets can become one 30-inch pan drawer cabinet. One blind corner cabinet can become a blind corner with swing-outs or, if there's space around the corner, a lazy susan cabinet.
  • If your cabinets just need a facelift, you can opt to paint them and add crown molding, space allowing. If you're painting the insides, too, you can have some of your wood fronts replaced with glass by a professional in that industry.

Caption: Dress up your cabinets with hardware, like these Top Drawer knobs and pulls from Rejuvenation.

Counter intuitive

So your laminate countertops have finally surrendered. There's no disguising the water damage around the sink any longer and they've got to go. You have numerous options available to you, depending on your needs and budget.
  • The easiest, most affordable fix is new laminate tops, especially if your kitchen is a galley, L or U-shaped configuration with no bar top or island. In this instance, you can use some of the good-looking models sold in stock at Home Depot or Lowes. If you do have an island or bar, you can have those two pieces special-ordered and buy the others in stock.
  • Corian gives you the option to include a seamless sink. This is an easy-maintenance choice worth checking out.
  • Granite, marble and stone give you the option to undermount a sink. This is a great look and easier maintenance than a standard drop-in sink.
  • You can also upgrade to Corian, granite, marble or engineered stone. Please take a look at my Gold Notes Counter Intelligence post for a full list of pros and cons on each option.

Quartz countertops, like this Capri Limestone by Silestone, are a sensible and stylish makeover.

Storage forage

So your cabinets are bursting at the seams and you just inherited your grandmother's cookware set. Where the heck are you going to put it all?
  • Ditch the semi-useless half shelves in the middle of your base cabinets and replace them with roll-out trays. This increases the storage capacity of each base by almost 25 percent.
  • You've got a skinny base cabinet that holds almost nothing. Pick up a set of tray dividers and make it a very useful storage spot for your pizza stone, cutting boards and cookie sheets.
  • You've also got tremendously under-used space between your countertops and wall cabinets that can handle multiple backsplash organizers. These can hold counter-robbing paper towel holders, knives, utensils or spice jars. You probably have enough room for all of these great space savers!
  • If you have space to park one when it's not in use, add a mobile cart to your kitchen. This can add prep space on top and storage space below. If your kitchen doesn't have an island, a cart can stand in for one. It just needs a place to be stashed when it's not in use as there probably isn't enough room for it to remain in the middle of your kitchen. (If there were, they probably would have put an island there instead.)

Make your existing cabinet space more efficient with organizers like this Tray Roll-out by Omega National Products on Amazon.com.

01 June 2010

Details #3 - Fabrics and Fibers

This is the third of a five-part, first week of the month series with The Decorating Diva. Each of the five Details editions will focus on a single room detail that can make a huge difference in the success of that space's style.

Last month we looked at faucets. This segment focuses on fabrics and fibers. Never underestimate the power of terrific textiles to enhance the look of a room. To see what I mean, try to imagine the chandelier in this kitchen with naked bulbs.

Kitchen designed by Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS

Such an unfinished look would totally detract from the otherwise pulled-together room. Fabrics can quickly, easily and often inexpensively update a room. Consider replacing your oven mitt and dish towels, your tablecloth, place mats and napkins. You can get yourself "new" kitchen chairs by slipcovering them. You can minimize an unappealing floor with a throw rug. You can dress up a basic light fixture by adding shade covers to your bare bulbs. You can even swap out the shades seasonally.

Here are some great fabrics and fibers to consider for your kitchen, even if you're not planning a major redo. Small touches can make a big difference!

Outdoor rugs like this Crewel Floral from Ballard Designs offer easy-clean Sensible Style for your kitchen!

Soften the look and feel of your kitchen chairs with a new cushion, this Tempo pad is from Pierre Deux

Coordinate your window covering to the style of your room, as this London Fabric Shade from Smith+Noble so beautifully does for this kitchen.

They're going to get seen at some point, so pick out pretty oven mitts. This Marseille style from Williams-Sonoma has coordinating dish towels, too.

Give your old chairs the slip! A great camouflage like this Dining Room Loose-Fit Slipcover from Pottery Barn gives you a new look for less.

Dress up your breakfast nook with new napkins and placemats from World Market's Krishna Medallion Textile Collection.

Or go contemporary with these texture-rich, neutral Z Gallerie Hyacinth Placemats.

Here are three essential points about kitchen textiles that you should consider:

* Are the table linens or chair slipcovers you're considering machine washable? If they're dry clean only, they may not fit your lifestyle.
* If you're updating your window coverings, keep in mind the amount of privacy and light control that you require, as well as the overall style of the room.
*If you're adding a throw rug, be sure to include a nonslip pad underneath to minimize the chance of a slip or fall.

Enjoy the entire Details series!

Details #1 - The Lighting Edition
Details #2 - The Faucet Edition
Details #3 - Fabrics and Fibers
Details #4 - The Hardware Edition
Details #5 - Finishing Touches

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