31 May 2011

Food Preservation Tips from Sub-Zero

You've got containers full of ribs, chicken, burgers, salad, corn and other goodies from the weekend's barbecue. Would you like to see them last longer?

The Freshness Card below can help! (Click on each side to read more easily.) It comes with Sub-Zero's built-in refrigerator line. I learned about these cards, and many of the other food preservation features built into their products when Sub-Zero Wolf brought me to their Madison, Wis. headquarters last month.

You don't need a Sub-Zero refrigerator in your kitchen to use the tips on these Freshness Cards, reprinted here with their permission. But their dual compression system and NASA-based air filtration technology can certainly help! When you calculate the amount of grocery dollars lost to food spoilage, the investment makes even more sense. When I build my next home, I expect it will have a Sub-Zero refrigerator in the kitchen.

Keep food fresh in a stylish Sub-Zero BI-36UG built-in refrigerator

24 May 2011

Ode to Nola!

The last time I was in New Orleans was Memorial Day weekend of 2001. I got married on May 27 of that year in the Beauregard-Keyes House in the French Quarter. I loved that this historic residence was home to both a writer and a military man... Seemed perfect for us!

Much has happened to me and New Orleans since then. The city went through Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. I went through two relocations, a career change and a divorce. My 10th wedding anniversary would have been this Friday. Thinking about that makes me a bit sad.

Thinking about Nola, though, makes me smile. It's one of my favorite cities in the world. My genealogist uncle says one of our historic relatives may have been a New Orleans area pirate. I find that possibility just a little thrilling.

I love the city's architecture, history, festivals, literature, music and food. I love the mighty Mississippi and hum "Old Man River" whenever I find myself crossing one of its bridges. I love Nola's stores, churches, squares and street life. (Where else can you find a voodoo shop a few steps from a prominent cathedral?) Mostly, I love its unzipped energy, its bonhomie, its endless spirit.

Here are a few Nola images for your viewing pleasure -- and mine. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Sully Mansion in the Garden District
Photo Credit: Sully Mansion

Sazerac Bar
Photo Credit: Roosevelt Hotel

Jackson Square - The "horses" are really mules!
Photo Credit: Virtual Tourist

Brennan's - World's best Bananas Foster!
Photo Credit: Brennan's

Garden at Beauregard-Keyes House - Where our marriage ceremony took place
Photo Credit: Beauregard-Keyes House

Beauregard-Keyes House - French Quarter classic!
Photo Credit: Beauregard-Keyes House

Beauregard-Keyes House - Dining Room

Cafe Du Monde - Beignets to die for!
Photo Credit: Cafe Du Monde

17 May 2011

KBIS 2011 - Kitchen Concept 2015

One of my favorite moments at the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas last month was a futuristic presentation by German hardware manufacturer Hettich. The forward-thinking vision of this 123-year-old firm on how we'll be using our kitchens in the next five years was incredibly exciting, and I want to share it with you. This maker of glides, hinges and other cabinet fittings is integral to the creation of new kitchens, and sees them increasing their role in our homes as living and learning, not just cooking, centers.

This is the first time I've ever taken an entire post directly from a corporate press kit. Their material was that compelling. I loved its Sensible Style approach, blending integration, ease of use, aging-in-place, convenience and technology. I hope you agree that this was worth sharing, and I hope you don't mind this departure from my usual posts.

Here are the highlights, in Hettich's own words, (except for my parenthetical inserts, where I thought they'd be helpful), from the firm's online KBIS 2011 press kit:

"In terms of design, Kitchen Concept 2015 interprets the kitchen as the hub of the home. It is integrated in the home environment, rather than claiming to be the center of attention. It is the essentials that count, with the technology – appliances, sinks and taps (faucets) – disappearing behind fascias (cabinet fronts) when they’re not needed... On demand, they are electrically retracted and, in doing so, free up the work surface. An extremely shallow sink discreetly blends into the kitchen landscape and reduces the consumption of water. Retracting faucets underpin the trend of reducing kitchen design to what's needed without compromising on function.

"As a focus of home living, Kitchen Concept 2015 is also synonymous with a positive feeling for life. This is where convenience plays a central part. Drawers that can be opened from both sides (front and back) provide access to contents no matter which side of the work center the user is standing. Electrical appliances are also set to provide greater convenience: separately-controllable drawers in the dishwasher can be opened from both sides, thereby making cooking with friends even more of a pleasure.

"From the aspect of ergonomics, Kitchen Concept 2015 shows height adjustable wall units. Control panels on the base unit provide the capability of raising and lowering cabinet elements independently of each other, ergonomically moving cabinet contents to a level that best suits the user. As such, the kitchen is increasingly fitting in with those using it. Older people, in particular, are becoming the yardstick for product design.

"In the future, multimedia networking will do much to boost convenience because in the Kitchen Concept 2015, different electrical appliances communicate with each other. The touch screen in the hob or large screen in the kitchen front can be used, for example, to display oven temperature and remaining cooking time. On top of this, Internet, television as well as other building services are operated and controlled from a central point."

Here are the accompanying images and captions from their press site:

Internet, television and other building services can be controlled at a central point from the hob.

A large screen in the kitchen frontage allows you to check cooking time and temperature and also look inside the oven. The screen provides the same multimedia capability as the hob.

Zone size and temperature can be adjusted by touch screen. The hob's multimedia capability not only provides Internet access but a recipe database, too.

Hardware ideas for flush-fitting fronts create new architectural options: On demand, they automatically retract and free up the work surface.

Height-adjustable wall units address the aspect of ergonomics. Cabinet elements can be lowered independently of each other.

Drawers, saucepan pull-outs and dishwashers that open from both sides of the work center afford particular convenience at the kitchen island.

All photos: Hettich

You might also enjoy my posts on top trends and top products from the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.

10 May 2011

KBIS 2011 - Top Products

I attended the 2011 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas the last week of April. As I mentioned in my KBIS trends post last week, this was the smallest I've seen the show since I started attending, both in terms of exhibitors and attendees.

Nonetheless, there were some worthwhile products to see and share. These are some of my favorites from the show.

My dear friend, colleague and Gold Notes contributor Dean Larkin, AIA, accompanied me to the show again this year. As an LA-based architect of luxury residences and commercial projects, Dean is a great second set of eyes to have along. Some of the elements shared in this post and the trend post that went live last week were pointed out by his expert eyes.

Game changer steps outside

Finally. At last. Hurrah! Someone has produced a dishwasher for an outdoor kitchen. Dean and I have been asking for one since the 2007 International Builders Show... Gold Notes didn't even exist back then. Surprisingly, it's not one of the established U.S. appliance leaders offering this breakthrough. It's from outdoor kitchen equipment manufacturer Kalamazoo. Their sleek entry is weatherized to withstand the pressures of outdoor living, and available in stainless to coordinate with their cabinets and with other stainless equipment. It will be available this summer. About time!

Better hang-ups

Innovative Product Sales International is bringing Nie Wider Bohren, a multi-purpose German mounting system that lets you secure heavy or light objects to walls without making holes in tile or stone. No Drilling Required, as it translates, can be used in wet or dry locations, even for grab bars. Best of all, whatever you install can be removed without leaving holes or marks. Pretty nifty!

Bath toys

American Standard
has found a new way to get your kids to take a bath! Their fun fire engine and princess shells fit over your standard tub and plumbing, while giving your young 'uns - and bath d├ęcor - a real kick. They don't call them FunBath for nothing! Their kid-friendly line also comes with a vanity incorporating a pull-out step for younger users.

Slip sliding away

As I mentioned in my trends post, sliders were quite the thing at this year's show. One of the sweetest was Salice's Bortoluzzi Sistemi. These allow cabinet doors to open across each other, rather than swinging out. They're also available with automation for a really slick effect.

Another great leap forward from the Italian hardware manufacturer are hinges that let an appliance garage door to open vertically. No slats to break or stick. No pocket doors that don't align with the standard doors above. This lets you get great, functional access to the space without compromising on style.

Light the way

Hafele's Loox LEDs makes illuminating your cabinets with energy-efficient lighting easy and affordable. Some were slim enough to mount in a frameless cabinet or under a countertop for better storage visibility. Others were still pretty slim, but battery-operated. I like the ones that illuminate a space when you open a door or drawer.

The great entertainer

Lenova showcased a very innovative modular prep Entertainer Sink that lets you store drinks, condiments, dips and other party chow. It's got a built-in drain board and cutting boards that conceal the sink when it's not in use. This ties into a European trend of hiding your sink while yielding extra counter space. I wasn't familiar with this brand before, but am glad I discovered them here, especially since they're also offering a no-drain-ring PermaClean option in their sinks now. The only other brand I'm aware of that offers that is Affluence Seamless Sinks.

04 May 2011

KBIS 2011 - Top Trends

I just came back from the latest Kitchen & Bath Industry Show, held in Las Vegas last week. It was the smallest I've seen it since I started attending, both in terms of attendees and exhibitors. More significantly, fewer brands brought game changers to the show.

Nonetheless, there were some interesting trends to share, and that's what this first of multiple KBIS posts will cover.

My dear friend, colleague and Gold Notes architectural contributor Dean Larkin, AIA, accompanied me to the show again this year. As an LA-based architect of luxury residences and commercial projects, Dean is a great trend setter/taste maker to have along. Some of the elements shared in this post and upcoming KBIS entries were pointed out by his expert eyes.


I spotted some really nifty sliding mechanisms throughout the show, many contributing to the un-kitchen look that's growing in popularity. Hafele was showing mechanisms to slide countertops open on islands, as they did at LivingKitchen in Germany a few months back. This makes it possible to hide a sink, storage or TV out of sight when they're not in use.

NanaWall, famous for its accordion-style patio sliders, introduced a window-door combination that slides open to remove all barriers between indoor kitchen and outdoor living spaces.

Innovative Products showed off the S-Box system they're distributing in the US. It slides up from below a countertop, bringing a knife holder, iPod dock, electrical charging station, mini TV screen, key or spice holder into use when needed, and out of sight when not. Right now, they're showing it only in stainless steel, but it will be available as an integrated product later this year.

Hardware manufacturer Salice had several terrific sliders to share. One automated doors to slide open like the passenger doors on a mini van. A light touch opens a pantry, entertainment cabinet or other large storage space, and closes it again. The system is available with automation or manual opening mechanisms. Both include soft close operation.

The final element that illustrated the slider trend was Brizo's new Solna faucet. Its pull-down nozzle slides completely out of view, into its gracefully-curved neck, when not in use. Sleek!


Another trend that's not new, but showing up in more places, is tech-oriented personalization. You can now get a shower system that lets users pre-set features before they step in at a cost in the $1K range. Kohler introduced this capability in their affordable DTV Prompt system.

They also debuted a high-tech, high-line toilet called the Numi that does everything short of zipping your fly. You can choose your personal wash settings, accompanying music from your iPod, and about a dozen other features.

Another iStylish entry from Kohler brand Robern was the customizable medicine cabinet. Need refrigeration for your medicines or water? Build it in. Need a charger? Build it in, too? Need to watch TV while you brush and floss? You can build that in, too.

Technology for personalization was widespread at the show, and not just for the kitchen and bath. Lutron's technology now lets you automate most of your home from your iPad.

My favorite techno entry was by Hettich, which was previewing the kitchen of tomorrow at their booth. More on this in a KBIS post to come.

Warm and lustrous

On the decorative end, I saw a trend toward more decorative styles than I've seen at recent shows. Finishes got warmer and darker. Hardware and even faucets showed jewelry-caliber style. Cabinetry warmed up a bit - walnut has especially grown in popularity.

I particularly enjoyed seeing Native Trail's entry into the cabinetry sector. I've always loved their copper sinks. This year, they were showing off vanities and mirrors made from wine barrels... Not for everyone, but nifty for someone wanting a warm, casual old world look.

Rohl and Brizo showed off beautiful new faucet styles. Rohl's featured crystal-inspired knobs. Brizo's brought a matte, cocoa finish to the show, pairing it with polished nickel for a super-rich stylish look.

Everywhere I turned, decorative faucets and hardware were showing off more detailed, decorative, bejeweled embellishments - like the Top Knobs Passport Collection shown below - a noted, welcome departure from the more modern looks that have dominated recent shows.

Check back next week for more KBIS 2011 coverage.

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