22 July 2010

Go-to Gold: Appliance Pro Guest Post

In honor of Gold Notes' second anniversary this month, I've invited colleagues to share their own favorite Go-to design product sources for GN's new Go-to Gold series. For appliances, my own go-to gal was Julie Warner of Warners' Stellian. This 60-year-old, family-owned business has seven showrooms in Minnesota and nationwide shipping.

Julie is incredibly savvy and generous with her expertise. You can read her regularly at the informative Warners’Stellian Kitchen and Home Appliance Blog.
Here is Julie’s Go-to Gold list for top-notch appliances.

Warner on appliances

When Jamie asked me to choose my go-to brands for appliances, my first instinct was that I don't have go-to brands. I try to listen to the customer and then choose the product based on their needs. And I'm sure that many designers feel this way, as well. But of course, certain brands within an appliance category get specified into projects more often than others and end up arguably being my go-to products. Disclaimer: All the products I'm writing about, we sell both in our stores and online at our website.


Sub-Zero invented the built-in refrigerator. Its products prove the most reliable long-term because of their quality and design. Sub-Zero also offers the most models available to fit any installation needs, from columns, to all-freezer/all-refrigerators that can be placed anywhere, to refrigeration and freezer drawers. When I bring people in to look at a Sub-Zero, they're going to find what they're looking for.

The SUB-736TCI is probably our most popular model


Dacor ranges have become a favorite of mine because they're not overdone; you don't see them in everyone's high-end kitchen. Plus, I think they're more elegant looking in many cases. They're a family-owned company -- which we love! -- that makes its products here in America at a lower price point than other comparable brands.

Dacor lets design drive its styling, too. For instance, Epicure offers an entire line of traditional-style products, whereas Millenia lends a modern look throughout its products. Finishes include stainless, glass and colors. Aside from ranges, Dacor cooktops and wall ovens also offer phenomenal cooking performance.

Dacor's 36" Epicure dual-fuel range offers phenomenal cooking performance


If I sell someone Miele laundry, it will stay sold. Basically, this stuff's built to last. The capacity is good and Miele has all the features clients ask for. People spend a lot of money on their clothes, so I argue they should buy a product that's going to take care of them.
I also choose Miele for dishwashers, because they are built to last the longest. Miele dishwashers never let me down, client-wise. Clients love them, and then can't help but tell their friends about them, so we get a good deal of referrals specifically for these. Most of our showroom staff aspires to have a Miele dishwasher, which says a lot. Families will appreciate how intuitive the loading is, but I think it also makes sense for single people because of its versatility, quietness and energy efficiency.
A dishwasher gets used and abused, so it makes sense to purchase a well-built model. I'm comfortable selling it to anyone and everyone. And it's absolutely worth the extra money because it will last the longest.

Built to last: Miele's G2472SCVI


Vent-A-Hood invented the range hood. Its product line proves the quietest, safest and most versatile in its styling. Locally, we also like Vent-A-Hood because its blower systems match Minnesota's ratings for CFM restrictions.
I could go on: Vent-A-Hood products are powerful, easy-to-clean and efficient.

The BH140SLD is very popular for mantel-style hoods

13 July 2010

Go-to Gold: Lighting Designer Guest Post

In honor of Gold Notes' second anniversary this month, I've invited colleagues to share their own favorite Go-to design product sources. The first designer I asked is lighting pro Vicky Lodge of VML Design & Lighting. Vicky is a regular contributor on lighting topics for Gold Notes and a great friend, too. Here is her Go-to Gold list for top-notch lighting fixtures...

Lodge on lighting

Being in the lighting business for over 30 years, I've come across some great and not so great products. During my career I have had the pleasure of working at a few different lighting showrooms and, therefore, have had the opportunity to install fixtures for display. Because of that, I know how numerous fixtures are manufactured and how they are to be assembled for installation.

With that in mind, I give you my list of what I think are well-made, well-designed fixtures that are easy to maintain and clean, are a good value and are straightforward in their installation requirements.

Hubbardton Forge

My all-around favorite fixtures come from Hubbardton Forge. This company manufactures American-made, hand-forged fixtures that out shine (no pun intended) the others. There are different finish options, glass or shade options and they are also able to customize most of their existing fixtures or can create an entirely new fixture.

The Ondrian Pendant from Hubbardton Forge blends quality and contemporary style

Justice Designs

If you want the natural look of stone, but don't have the budget for actual alabaster, try Justice Designs. They use alabaster dust to create their LumenAria Collection, so, in essence, they are alabaster, (but at a fraction of the price). For a realistic burning candle affect, check out Justice Designs' CandleAria Collection. The shades are actually resin but the uneven tops and recessed socket gives the burning candle appearance.

Alabaster dust gives Justice Designs' LumenAria Collection affordable elegance

Arroyo Craftsman

For mission, bungalow or Craftsman style fixtures, the leader, in my opinion, is Arroyo Craftsman. They have several finish and glass options, and some fixtures are made out of real wood.

Dragonflys & Co

For unique, organic, Nouveau style fixtures see Dragonflys & Co. Their glass is Italian-made and the designs of the metal have a natural earthy feel.

Ethereal charm embodied in Dragonflys & Co's Exa 23/10 chandelier

Oggetti Luce

For hand-crafted Italian art glass pendants, sconces, chandeliers, etc. there is nothing like Oggetti Luce. The colors are vibrant and the size and proportion of this line make the fixtures impossible to ignore.

Gotta love Oggetti Luce's Amore Italian glass chandelier


For contemporary, Holtkoetter is one of my favorites. These are fine German-engineered fixtures. Most styles are available in different finishes and have multiple glass shade color and shape options. They also have traditional chandeliers and sconces.

Holtkoetter's 2980 bath sconce brings light and luxury to the 2980 bath sconce

06 July 2010

SENSIBLE STYLE - Due consideration

So you've been reading this blog for a year now and are still not totally sure what Sensible Style actually means. Let me share some definitions and considerations.

First, Sensible Style means a matching of form and function so that your space works to meet your needs and looks good while doing it.

Kitchen ROI

It also means spending wisely to get what you want at a price point that fits your home's value. It's just as easy to under-spend as it is to overspend, and both can bite you in the resale process. Consider your kitchen remodel an investment in your home. Putting a $100,000 kitchen in a $250,000 home won't give you a good return, as you've majorly overspent. But neither will putting a $30,000 kitchen in a $3 million home.

Even if you plan to stay in your home for 10, 20 or 40 years, you never know what circumstances might arise in your life that could create the need to move much sooner than planned. That's not the time you want to discover that you're not going to get much back for the new kitchen.

Tip: Get advice from local appraisers or Realtors on what buyers in your price range and neighborhood are looking for - e.g., stone tops, built-in appliances - and consider the ones that make sense for your home and family. If, for example, everyone else is investing in quartz or granite, look-alike laminate tops are not going to build any value for you.

Engineered stone tops, like this Black Anubis from Silestone, bring great form and function to a kitchen project.

Open plan considerations

Most of the designs I've worked on in the past five years involve opening up the kitchen to the adjacent rooms. These are usually a great room and/or dining room. Open plan designs are wonderful for entertaining and relaxed family living, but they do involve special Sensible Style considerations.

First, open plan kitchens tend to have fewer wall cabinets. So the designer and homeowner need to consider where the dishes, glasses and other typical upper storage items will go in this new plan.

Tip: Dish drawer organizers are great for storing serveware in base cabinets. They can be purchased through many cabinet brands, or after-market from accessory sources. Also consider siting your everyday dish storage near the dishwasher for more convenient unloading.

Dish drawer organizers like this one from Rev-A-Shelf are ideal for open plan kitchens

Another consideration in open floor plan design is coordinating the style of the kitchen with its neighboring rooms. They should flow together seamlessly and look as though they belong in the same home. When someone goes for a French Country kitchen in a Craftsman home, it doesn't usually work out well. Ditto for a Tuscan kitchen in a California contemporary. What happens when that new off-style kitchen is in place is that everything around it looks out of place.

Here's the Sensible Style approach to open floor plan design... Take your kitchen cues from the surrounding rooms' permanent elements. If you're not going to change the fireplace mantel with its dentil molding, for example, use dentil trim in the kitchen cabinetry's crown molding.

If you have a large furniture piece that's valuable and staying in the space, choose kitchen cabinetry that will coordinate well with it. This means factoring in its finish, as well as its door style. They don't have to be a match; they just have to look good together in the same open space.

Tip: Bring a door from an important furniture piece to your design selection meeting so you can see how the new cabinets will work with what you already own.

Notice how the family room cabinetry in this kitchen I designed coordinates with the kitchen island for a pulled-together open plan design.

Open plan flooring considerations

Flooring can also be an issue in open plan designs. Sensible Style means choosing a floor that is right for your household, not just right for a magazine layout. Considerations include its durability, especially with active children in the home, along with its maintenance requirements, safety and comfort underfoot. Polished travertine is beyond elegant in an empty nesters' pied-a-terre, but can be a nightmare in a busy family home, or for a senior citizen with balance issues.

The other consideration for your new kitchen flooring is how it will look next to the rooms it opens up to. If you're keeping that flooring in place, select new kitchen floors that look good next to it.

Tip: If you minimize the contrasts between the kitchen floor and the adjacent rooms' flooring materials, your space will look larger and more cohesive.

01 July 2010

Details #4 - The Hardware Edition

This is the fourth 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 fabrics. This segment focuses on hardware, in particular, the knobs and pulls that adorn cabinetry. (There's also great hardware available for your paneled appliances, pantry and entry doors.)

Never underestimate the power of heavenly hardware to enhance the look of a room. For example, consider how the simple, curved cabinet door handles echo the curve and finish of the appliance handles and tie in with the coastal simplicity of this kitchen.

Kitchen designed by Jamie Goldberg, AKBD, CAPS

Try to imagine this kitchen with naked doors and drawers, or with cheap plastic hardware. Either would totally detract from the otherwise pulled-together room. Cabinet hardware is one of the simplest -- and often most affordable -- ways to dress up a kitchen or bath or change its style to fit your new decor.

Here are some great knobs and pulls to consider, even if you're not planning a major redo. Small touches can make a big difference!

Wood and Metal Collection pull from Topex can take a plain jane door and turn it into a stylish slab style contemporary.

This Traditional Violet Glass Knob from Restoration Hardware can dress up painted white doors with cottage charm.

The new Italian Design Collection, also from Topex, can take your basic kitchen cabinets from blah to bellissima.

This Simple Bin Pull from Rejuvenation is timeless and will coordinate handsomely with a transitional Oil Rubbed Bronze faucet and creamy white cabinets.

At the other end of the style spectrum is Anthropologie's Mother-of-Pearl Knob. This beauty would elegantly bejewel a traditional style master bath.

I love the eclectic geometry of Du Verre's Marcel collection. Use it to add some fun and style to your standard kitchen or bath cabinets.

Consider alternative materials to add texture and taste to your stained wood cabinets. Here's a great look in leather by Atlas Homewares.

Consider these essential tips when updating your cabinet hardware:

* Buy at least one extra piece per style so that if you have an issue later, (which inevitably happens right after the series has been discontinued), you won't have to replace the whole room's hardware.

* Pulls are measured from screw to screw. Measure your existing holes before hardware shopping so that you can find new ones with the same spread. This will keep you from having to cover old holes with wood putty or backer plates.

* Consider the styles and finishes of the other hardware in your room -- e.g., appliance handles, door handles, faucets -- and consider coordinating your knobs and pulls for a more consistent look.

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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