31 March 2010

Details #1 - The Lighting Edition

This begins 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.

In the next four months, we'll look at hardware, fabrics, faucets and accessories. We'll also be giving away a fabulous faucet from Brizo and a room full of new Italian collection hardware from Topex. Trust me, you won't want to miss out on those opportunities!

This segment is probably the most critical. If you're not sure what I mean, imagine this remodeled kitchen with a florescent light box on its ceiling.

Kitchen designed by Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS

Not only would the outdated fixture detract from the elegant cabinetry and granite countertops, it wouldn't deliver the light quality a kitchen deserves.

Here are some great fixtures to consider for your kitchen and bath, even if you're not planning a remodel.

Good-looking Melrose Pendants by Tech Lighting

Brand, striking new Banja Mini Pendant from LBL Lighting

Transitional style showcased in Rejuvenation's Whitaker Island Fixture

One of my long-time favorites, the Hundi Lantern at Pottery Barn

The Jefferson delivers retro style, also at Rejuvenation

Brighten your vanities with Metro Bath, also by Tech Lighting

Holtkoetter's 2980.1 Sconce, a sexy VML Design & Lighting suggestion

Kalco's Asiana LED Module delivers energy efficiency and exotic allure

Minka-Lavery brings sleek chic to the bath with its 5994-84 collection

Here are three essential points about kitchen lighting that you should consider:
  • Do you need to augment the room's natural light with general room lighting? This is often achieved with recessed can lighting - now available in energy-efficient LEDs.
  • Is there enough light shining on your work spaces? Consider adding under-cabinet lights and an island fixture or pendants, if applicable, to illuminate those key spots.
  • Is there sufficient light at your eat-in space? This doubles as homework central in many homes. In others, it's the spot to enjoy a cup of coffee with the morning paper.

And a couple for the bath:
  • Do you have enough light for shaving and make-up application at your vanity? A small upgrade can make a big difference in functionality and style.
  • Is there a water-resistant light above your tub or shower? Consider adding one if there isn't already.

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

23 March 2010

12 Easy ways to save water at home

Yesterday, March 22nd, was World Water Day, an international initiative created by the United Nations to spur awareness of the 2.6 billion people who lack basic sanitation. Most of us take for granted that when we turn on a tap, clean water instantly emerges. It has for as long as most of us have been alive. We clean ourselves, our homes, our laundry and our cars with it. We cook with it. We water our lawns with it. And, most important of all, we drink it. I'm not sure we know how very lucky we are.

That doesn't mean our luck will last forever. The purpose of this post isn't to make you feel guilty. It's to help you save water for your future and ours. A happy short-term outcome is lower water bills, which isn't a bad thing at all. In the long run, conservation will help ensure that the next generation can enjoy clean water, too.

Some of these12 steps are free and easy, though they may require some of you to change long-held habits. Others involve an investment in your home. This can potentially increase its value to future owners, also not a bad thing.

In order of ease and cost...

  • Don't run the tap while you're brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • Lather and rinse, but don't repeat when you shampoo. (Your hair will thank you, too.)
  • Don't run the water while you condition your hair.
  • Take showers, not baths.
  • Water your lawn one day less per week, and not at all in the rainy season.
  • Don't rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. Switch to a detergent like Cascade Complete that works better on dirtier contents.

When I started using this product a few years ago, it saved me time, aggravation and the expense of replacing my dishwasher... It's the detergent, stupid!

  • Pay close attention to the water settings on your clothes washer; small loads need less water, but some machines require you to adjust the water level manually.

Low cost, high returns
  • Repair or replace any leaking or dripping faucets.
  • Replace your existing faucets with hands-free models. These are available now for both kitchen and bath.

Ryohan EcoPower Bathroom Sink Faucet by Toto offers sleek style and water savings, too

Brizo's Pascal offers hands-free functionality and hot looks for your kitchen

You'll also benefit from hands-free AKA sensor faucets with less germ transfer between family members.

Larger investment, greater returns
  • Consider replacing your existing toilets with dual flush models.

Kohler's Reve stints on water use with its Dual Flush technology, but definitely not on aesthetics

  • Consider replacing your existing top-load washing machine with a front load model. Most use less water.

This WM2010C Washer by LG is one of the most water-efficient models on the market

  • Consider adding a tankless water heater for bathrooms far from your main water heater. You'll run less water waiting for it to get hot.

Rinnai makes some of the industry's best-selling tankless water heaters.

If you have additional ideas to share, please post them in the comments section. When each of us saves water, everyone wins!

17 March 2010

St. Patrick's Day edition - The sharing of the green

Gold Notes is celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a celebration of design offerings in the holiday's official color: green. Hope you enjoy this light-hearted look at The Emerald Style.

Caesarstone's Vivid Green quartz countertop will brighten your kitchen or bath

The Sophia Chair at Cost Plus World Market brings affordability to Mid-Century Modernism

I absolutely adore this Walker Zanger wall tile!

This Stow Green Leather Storage Ottoman at Crate & Barrel flips its tray bottom lid for you

CB2's Hyde Wall-Mounted Cabinet has no style hang-ups

Garnish your great room with Pottery Barn's Manhattan Recliner in Parsley

Last but definitely not least...
Miton MT300 Series at my Italian Kitchen Design and Distribution showroom goes "Irish" for St. Patrick with Olive Lacquer!

Visit my Green Day Color Notes posting for more great green goodies and the many shades they work with!

You may also enjoy my 2009 Irish Design post in honor of St. Patrick's Day, featuring great room scenes and products from Ireland-based pros.

And if you're partying tonight, please drink responsibly!

09 March 2010

Sensible Style: The 7 most underrated kitchen products

Some products get all the attention! They supplant older offerings in consumers' minds and those unfairly fall out of fashion. That doesn't mean they're no longer functional or a good choice for your kitchen. They're just not getting good press any more. Here are some products I consider underrated, and why.

30-30 vision

Everyone wants 42 inch wall cabinets these days. They look better in many applications, I'd agree, and their greater height allows for more impressive molding. There are two problems with 42s, however. One, most people can't reach the items on the top two shelves without a step ladder. And, two, design is shifting toward simpler, pared-down looks that just don't call for elaborate trim any longer. In fact, the contemporary European brands I work with typically offer metric sizes closer to our 30-inch height than our 42s, leaving blank space on the wall above. Modern American kitchens are moving in that direction, as well. So bear in mind that good things can still come in small packages.

Contemporary European kitchens, like this one by Miton, typically feature wall cabinets closer to our 30 inch models than our 42s

Reconsider Corian

Granite often comes first to mind when homeowners are looking at replacing their kitchen countertops. Not everyone craves stone, however, or should have it. For clients who want a softer, warmer top, I typically specify Corian. This acrylic-based surface can be easily repaired if it scratches, making it an exceptionally family-friendly counter, and it's also warrantied. Like quartz, Corian is nonporous and stain resistant, which add to its family friendliness. I like it for seniors, too, as its softness is more forgiving of aging eyes that might misjudge how far the plate or glass must travel to reach the top. As an added benefit, Corian allows you to create integral drainboards and sinks, both of which look great and have practical benefits. One cautionary note: Because stone has supplanted all other materials as the luxury top du jour, not using it could impact the short-term resale value of your project.

Pretty meets practical in Corian countertops... As good as they ever were!

Taking stock

Custom cabinets get all the magazine layouts, but stock cabinets can meet many project needs. They won't deliver the deep rich finishes that semi-custom or custom cabinets can. They won't offer all the bells and whistles of their pricey competitors. They can't be customized for luxury detailing. And they're mass produced for affordability. That doesn't make them bad.

I've worked on some beautiful projects with limited budgets that took advantage of stock cabinetry's recession-friendly price points. My role as a professional designer is to generate the best outcome at whatever investment level the client wants to make. Stock cabinetry can help me achieve that when funds are tighter. My go-to brand for quality, affordability, features, selection, customer service and warranty is sold in Home Depot as American Woodmark and in Lowe's as Shenandoah.

Style can be affordable, too, as shown in this American Woodmark stock cabinetry kitchen

The kind side

Like the popular new kid in town, French door refrigerators are getting all the attention these days. If the budget mandates a freestanding, rather than built-in model, I prefer side by sides. Style-wise, I think the water through the door dispensers on the French models throw off their symmetry and just look awkward. I also dislike bending over to reach anything I want in the freezer. Side by sides give users the option of storing their most frequently-used items at a more comfortable, easier to spot level.

The Linea by Bosch offers good form and functionality in a sleek side-by-side

Crock steady

Branding them as Crock Pots probably hasn't helped the slow cooker's image as an outdated, second string appliance. Don't be fooled; this countertop appliance can be a busy person's best friend. It seals in meat's moisture and works with even the toughest cuts. It prepares your meals at home while you're at work. It creates appetizers, entrees and desserts. It can even keep foods warm while your dinner guests are caught in traffic. The latest, most deluxe models let you brown foods on your cooktop in the same insert they'll cook in for the next few hours, rather than requiring a separate skillet. That translates to more time enjoying dinner and less time cleaning up afterward. Works for me!

Countertop Candy 2010 style: All-Clad's Deluxe Slow Cooker delivers high performance in a low expectation category

Get gellin'

Yes, you can get a GelPro mat at your neighborhood bath store. That doesn't mean you should look down on these foot, hip, back and knee savers. There's a wide range of sizes and styles that work with more upscale kitchens and make meal prep and entertaining a much more comfortable activity.

Happy feet stand on GelPro mats

Vinyl style

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not a fan of sheet vinyl with simulated grout. I've never seen one that meets my style standards, and over time, their edges tend to curl. Ugh. What I do like in certain very limited scenarios is self-adhesive vinyl tile. Here's where I'd consider specifying it: A rental project where the budget is limited, for a retro-styled room, or for a client who likes the look of tile but detests maintaining grout, which no sealer will protect forever. There are attractive options available at very affordable price points and it's easy to install for a do-it-yourselfer. Tip: Avoid styles that try to look like wood. They don't. The best application is to show it off for what it is -- kitsch for the kitchen. Pair it with a metal-edged Formica counter and 50s style appliances for a great old-fashioned space.

Pair this Armstrong Excelon Cherry Red Vinyl Tile with white to create a diamond dandy retro kitchen floor

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

Found Gold: Popular Posts from the Past!

Don't miss out on any gold -- subscribe by email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner