30 October 2012

MOLTEN GOLD - Mock Croc Totally Rocks!

I love a luxurious crocodile accessory as much as the next gal... Maybe more. Crafted into a fine handbag or sumptuous pair of shoes, this distinctive leather feels sensuous and exotic, (two of my favorite flavors). 

So imagine my glee when I discovered mock croc in a bathroom line! This brand new series of bathroom furniture from Topex Hardware came into my in-box last week, and I just couldn’t resist sharing it with you! 

Leather Collection in Dark Crocodile
(Photo:  Topex Hardware and Armadi Art Aqua Collection)

The series is called the Armadi® Art Aqua Collection and comes in Dark and Light Crocodile.   (Boy, would I love to see red, black and a few other shades!)  Here’s another tasty tidbit: these sexy sets also come complete with hardware, countertops, sinks and mirror.  

In addition to the vanities, there are also coordinating storage and medicine cabinets, (sold separately). 

Leather Collection in Light Crocodile
(Photo:  Topex Hardware and Armadi Art Aqua Collection)

Armadi® Art Aqua Collection

For the Leather collection, Topex uses a leatherette similar to the one you'll find in nicer cars. The entire collection is scratch-resistant, waterproof and humidity resistant, making it suitable for even busy bathrooms.  In other words, you don’t need to limit it to powder room use, though it would look sensational in that setting.  I can definitely see specifying a pair of these for a modern master suite.

Even the cabinet interiors are water-resistant and – cool factor, here – lined with faux leather, too. The glides on these one- and two-drawer vanities open and close with silent, soft-close technology, (which is a sweet, sleep-friendly feature for an en suite bath). 

Delicious Dark Crocodile Vanity
(Photo:  Topex Hardware and Armadi Art Aqua Collection)

About Topex Hardware

These fab furnishings are brought to market by a new, unlikely player. Topex Hardware is an international company providing high-end decorative hardware products, including Swarovski Crystal bath accessories.  (Love those knobs!)  I consider this debut series a great expansion of a quality brand and hope they continue to croc on, bringing even more colors to market. 

Light Crocodile Vanity Close-up
(Photo:  Topex Hardware and Armadi Art Aqua Collection)

The Facts 

Specifications:  Available sizes: 24-, 28-, 36-, and 42-inch sizes  

Price: Range from $3,185 for a 24" vanity with one drawer to $4,025 for 36" two-drawer vanity. 

Warranty:  Five year limited warranty.

Web Sites:  Armadiaqua.com  and TopexHardware.com.

23 October 2012


My first book, New Kitchen Ideas That Work, (Taunton Press, 2012) is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com and will hit store shelves the first week of December. (You know all of those kitchen books at the front of your neighborhood Home Depot and Lowe’s store? Mine will be among them!) 

New Kitchen Ideas That Work - Look for it at a Home Depot or Lowe's near you
(Photo:  Taunton Press)

Here are some Sensible Style tips that you can find handsomely illustrated and explained in this full-sized, full-color volume. 

Layout enhancements 

It’s much more affordable to improve an existing layout than it is to change it entirely. Moving vents, electrical and plumbing often require permits, demolition and skilled trades persons. You can increase your storage potential, improve your appliance performance and update your style, all while keeping everything in its current place.     

  • Increase your storage potential with cabinet accessories and backsplash organizers.
  • Update your style with new hardware, refacing, paint and lights, all while keeping everything in its current place. 
A backsplash organizer adds storage without remodeling
(Photo: IKEA)

Fixture enhancements 

Do you have a builder grade kitchen sink and faucet? These are fairly easy to upgrade, unless your sink is under-mounted in stone tops. As so many older homes still have laminate counters, there’s a good chance you have those, too, and can easily upgrade your fixtures. 

  • Improve your prep and clean-up efficiency with a modular, accessory-equipped sink. 
  • Add convenience and reduce germ spread with a hands-free, sensor faucet. Multiple spray functions improve its usability, too. 
Enhance your clean-up zone with a hands-free faucet
(Photo: Moen)

Appliance enhancements 

Everyone wants performance appliances, but you probably don’t have the space for a 48 inch pro range. The good news is, you don’t need one to get better cooking capability. 

  • Add another oven to your kitchen with a microwave that does more than reheat and defrost; it brings convection, warming and speed cook features to your home.
  • Replace an inefficient radiant cooktop with an induction model. It will give you professional class performance with amazingly easy clean up and improved safety. 

Improve cooking performance with an induction cooktop
(Photo:  Bosch)

More enhancements 

New Kitchen Ideas That Work covers the entire kitchen, from ceiling light fixtures to flooring options. Here are some additional Sensible Style tips to consider for your home.

  • Replace outdated incandescent track lights with LED-equipped versions for better style and energy savings. 
  • Replace a worn, stained rug with an outdoor-rated version that will freshen the kitchen’s style and be a breeze to clean. 
Add style and low maintenance with an outdoor-friendly rug
(Photo:  Ballard Designs)

I'm proud to share that my first book has 224 pages of Sensible Style-inspired tips, 370 photos and 14 case studies of real kitchen projects around the country to educate and inspire you.

16 October 2012

Molten Gold - Mad for Plaid

I love patterns in decor: Animal prints, florals, stripes, paisleys, checks and, of course, plaids. My own home is full of patterned elements, but it’s rare that I get to design them into client projects. 

This is not because my clientele is resistant, but because you seldom find patterns in the kind of built-in elements I typically specify. 

Well, that just changed. Big time.  Thank you, Sara Baldwin and New Ravenna Mosaics. (New Ravenna happens to be one of my favorite tile companies, too, so their latest release was a double-header for me!) 

McIntyre by New Ravenna

About the Collection 

Sara’s new Plaid and Gingham Collection is comprised of five classic designs -- Rory, Hamish, Bonnie, Conner, and McIntyre -- all inspired by her Scottish ancestors and rendered in jewel glass and natural stone mosaics. 

Each of the five designs was created by hand-cutting and assembling the individual pieces into mosaics. They are then customized for every installation. 

Rory by New Ravenna

Hamish by New Ravenna

About the Tile 

After being assembled, the tessarae, (individual pieces), are held together with clear tape. The mosaic is cut like a jigsaw puzzle with each section numbered. When it arrives at the destination, the tile setter applies it to the surface and then grouts it in place. This creates a seamless design, one of the hallmarks of a mosaic. In glass, the mosaics can be used for any interior vertical surface application. In stone, the mosaics can be applied to floors and walls, indoors or out. 

Bonnie by New Ravenna

About Sara Baldwin and New Ravenna Mosaics 

The mosaics are hand-crafted in Virginia, where Sara grew up, established her company and trained a team of more than 100 artisans in the ancient art of mosaic. In the process, she has provided job training, economic development and employment in her local community. 

More than 200 Sara Baldwin designs can be found in tile showrooms throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Dubai. More than likely, one or more of those designs will find their way into my next “forever” home, too. 

Named for the epicenter of Italian-Byzantine tile work, New Ravenna Mosaics are sold through exclusive designer showrooms across the country and internationally. The company also provides design services and on-site installation supervision. 

Hamish by New Ravenna

The Facts 

Specifications: On website 

Web site:  www.newravenna.com 


Starts at... 
Connor Glass: $58/SF 
Hamish Glass $ 104/SF 
McIntyre Stone: $86 SF 
Rory Glass: $ 91 SF 
Bonnie Glass: $48 SF 
Bonnie stone: $55 SF

09 October 2012

Dishwasher Discord

I thought this slightly edited (by me) info from Bosch's PR pro was rather amusing, so I thought I'd share it with my Gold Notes readers, especially the married and co-habitating ones! (Thanks, Heather!) I'm also going to share it with my relatives who insist on wasting water pre-rinsing.  


Bosch recently launched a survey that found that while infidelity and financials are frequently cited causes, a new culprit is creating tumultuous relationships in homes across the country—the dishwasher. 

In fact, the study found that more than 40% of Americans fight about loading the dishwasher. Is loading utensils into a dishwasher becoming a knife through the heart of your marriage? Is the bond between you and your mate disintegrating faster than a plastic container on the bottom of a dishwasher? The top five reasons men and women fight about loading the dishwasher are listed below. 

No fights on this front... This Bosch 800 Series ultra-quiet dishwasher is the one I want next!

61% fight over whether dishes should be pre-rinsed or not 

Nearly two thirds of all men and women cited this issue as their leading cause for argument, proving the pre-rinse, rinse debate to be a universal annoyance. The truth is that you should not pre-rinse as the detergent needs to cling to food to avoid scratching your dishes. 

41% clash about separating dishes or cramming as much as possible to tackle a larger load 

Perhaps a case of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, Women (48%) are more likely to fight about doubling together dishes than men (33%). 

39% argue over placing sharp knives point down or point up 

Out of the group of women who were concerned with this issue, 43% argue about whether knives should be placed point up or down, compared to 34% of males. Using safety as your guide, the final say is to load knives point down for safety, while forks and spoons can be placed either handle up or down.  [JG:  I vote for forks down for the same safety reasons.] A third rack can separate utensils to make it safer and easier to clean, load and unload. 

34% insist on placing cups on the top rack and plates on the bottom rack while their mate believe it’s every dish for themselves 

The biggest division in the dishwasher deliberation comes in the form of organization: nearly one third (32%) of all females who fight about loading the dishwasher insist that cups and plates not mix. Like any good relationship where each person needs their space, each dish should be separated by a dishwasher’s tines. Often, couples can keep the peace by splitting up large loads of dishes into smaller loads. A half load option tackles smaller loads so dirty dishes don’t sit in the dishwasher. 

30% debate about placing plastic containers on the top rack to prevent a major plastic meltdown, or placing containers wherever space is available 

You may think that loading the dishwasher could smooth over a fight, but your efforts could have the opposite effect if your dishes are ruined in the process. If destroying an entire collection of plastic storage containers has plagued your marriage, Bosch dishwashers feature a concealed flow-through water heating element to prevent plastic containers from dissolving, no matter where they are placed.  [JG:  I left this specific "commercial" in because I thought it was worth noting.]

The survey also revealed that almost four out of ten men (38%) admit to finding excuses for getting out of loading the dishwasher altogether. 

Perhaps a tactic for avoiding the dreaded dishwasher dispute, the most common excuses included deferring the cleanup because they cooked the meal and demand chore equality (16%), blatantly admitting to being too lazy to clean the dishes (12%), and feeling as though their time is too important to be spent loading the dishwasher (10%).


FYI, I've specified more Bosch dishwashers than I can count... And they've won scads of awards, so I'd consider them a legitimate authority on this topic.  Wouldn't you?  

Furthermore, I'd like to dedicate this post to my lovely stepdaughter, Megan, whose dishwasher loading and unloading skills were beyond reproach and are greatly missed now that she's at college and I'm 2500 miles away, doing that chore myself.  

02 October 2012

Gold for Guys

I'm writing this on a Friday evening.  I talk to my favorite guy -- my 83-year-old father -- every Friday afternoon after the stock market closes.  (He still day trades daily!)  We talk about what he's up to, what the market is doing and what I've got going on. I look forward to these conversations every week.  Today, we talked about his house, which he has on the market in San Francisco.  (Anyone want to buy a lovingly-restored Painted Lady?)

This got me thinking about the spaces (and gear) men enjoy that you or your guy might, too.

My architectural advisor (and BFF) Dean Larkin, AIA, tipped me off years ago to the sex appeal of a great garage.  I don't recall the exact wording he used but a penthouse for your Porsche was the impression I came away from that conversation with.

Here's one for your consideration:

Most of the guys I know love watching movies and sports on big TVs.  And sprawling comfortably while they do it.  Here's a space they might enjoy if (a) the sofa fabric was stain resistant so they didn't have to worry about spilling beer or food on it, (b) there were some trays around to set glasses, bottles and snacks on, (c) there was a fridge nearby to keep the drinks chilled and (d) a bathroom next door.

Wanna play?  Whether it's billiards or poker, guys enjoy having a place to play at home.  Here's one with Bond-worthy style, don't you think?

Don't want a chubby hubby?  Give him (and yourself) a wonderfully-equipped home gym!

What "Guy Gold" would you like to see next time?

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