Saturday, April 28, 2007

Color Preferences

Here's an interesting treatise, by Joe Hallock, on COLOR...I know. Not my bag. But I found it very compelling nevertheless.

He studied male/female differences in color preferences, as well as age-related differences and color associations. Also the psychological effects of different colors.


Windows in Kitchens

Designer and blogbuddy Susan Serra has a great article on windows in kitchens on her blog The Kitchen Designer. Go Large - Designing Kitchen Windows

I thought about commenting there, but decided to do it here instead. Susan has great observations about how important windows are and how they should match those in other parts of the home and be as big as possible to let in lots of natural light and views (170 rose bushes, and three more on the way, IS over the top Susan!).

One thing I like to do when the window can't be as wide as we would like (to allow for a few wall cabinets in our often smallish Bay Area kitchens) is to make the window over the sink longer instead of wider by using a bay or bump-out window and setting it at counter height.

This sleight of hand,with horizontal counter going out behind the sink,carries the eye right outside. The effect is to bring the outdoors in. And to visually widen the room, without an addition, as well.

I use bay windows in cases where the architecture calls for them, bump-out windows in Arts & Crafts bungalows, and occasionally even a bow window.

Here's an image of a bump-out window from the outside so can you understand what I mean.

I also love to use roof windows or skylights in creative ways, stashing lighting up above openings in the ceiling, where it can bounce off the vaulted ceiling after dark. The added volume in a small room can be quite arresting. This kitchen has both a bow window and a vaulted ceiling recess with roof windows.

Some of these techniques are a distinct departure from the ways windows were historically used in kitchens...but I like to think we designers can improve upon history in some respects.


A Real Departure in Toilets

The LavCare 750 is a disappearing toilet designed for use in a hospital patient room.

I can think of lots of residential bathrooms that would benefit from a hidden toilet too!


How to Cook When Your Kitchen is Gone

Here's a great blog series on how to set up cooking and cleanup while your kitchen is being remodeled, from parent hacks.

When I had my retail store I used to keep a few hot plates for clients to borrow. They were always much appreciated.

The best possible approach is when your contractor sets up a "field kitchen", in a room away from the remodeling activity.

A field kitchen can consist of some of your old cabinets, the sink and counter, and whatever existing or new appliances that can be made to work in the new location.

It's not that hard to do; and really, REALLY, eases the wait until your new kitchen is done and ready to use.


A Departure

I just discovered a delightful blog post that EVERYONE should read. You'll find it at
The Smart Woman's Guide to a Simple Life.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fluorescent Light Colors

What bulb has replaced the "warm white" fluorescent? Is it kitchen &bath or "sunshine" or something else?

Warm white is still out there. There are many new alternatives to warm white now.

To help you decide which are best for you, you need to think in terms of "color temperature".

Fluorescent bulbs are marketed in "temperatures" running from 2700K to 5000K for residential use.

2700K is closest to incandescent (think warm fire glow light color). 5000K is closest to sunlight.

Viable options for residential usually fall into the range of 2700K to 3500K. A lot depends on the colors used in the room and personal preference.

To see the colors for yourself, you will need to find a lighting store (or lab) that displays a fluorescent color box. Such a box has several different fluorescent lights in it in the most popular colors. You can put a fabric swatch, a wood sample, a paint chip, your hand, etc. into the box to see the effects of the different colors.

Very few lighting stores have these boxes right now. You will need to call around to find one and, if you are not in a metropolitan area, you may not find one at all.

Ask each outlet to get one. They are somewhat expensive so retailers will try to avoid the expense. Only demand from consumers will put this tool into our hands.

I had to send my clients to the City or to San Jose to look at a light box. Therefore, last year, I spent $500 on one myself and now keep it in the back of my car to help clients visualize the colors available.

Since I don't sell light bulbs (or anything at all) I regard this as somewhat of an imposition...but a necessary one. ;>D


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Think Zinc!

Here is a company in Tulsa Oklahoma that makes the most beautiful zinc countertops. They are to die for (I believe these cabinets are probably chestnut).


CJ Design Kitchen Countertops uses 48 oz zinc to provide a zinc counter top and zinc sink that will last a lifetime.

All zinc countertops can be built with integral zinc sinks that are custom built to the customer’s over all size, depth and with one or more compartments.

Zinc has an old world charm and is really beautiful alongside antique woods.

Zinc is a soft metal.

The surface of the zinc countertops will naturally oxidize into its patina finish, which is a dark gray.

If various chemicals are used on zinc countertops, it can accelerate the patina and create unusual effects.

All zinc countertops can be fabricated with custom integral back splashes at different heights

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Are LEDs Ready for Prime Time?

Is there an alternative to CFL lights for residential lighting? I know CFLs are the alternative to traditional incandescent light bulbs, but is there another option to CFLs? I heard LED light bulbs are, but is that true?

CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and other fluorescent shapes are the only viable option at this point, and a very viable one at that!

LEDs are not "there" yet.
Eventually (within a year or two experts say) they will be.

But right now you get more lumens (light) per watt (unit of energy) with fluorescent than with LEDs.
If you match them watt for watt, the LED fixture will be too dim to give you enough light for your tasks.

That's why California's Title 24 does not yet recognize LED fixtures as equal to fluorescent ones.
You CAN get an LED fixture bright enough, but only by adding more LEDs...and that adds more energy usage and HEAT; making them less efficient.

You see LED fixtures are made up of many tiny LED light bulbs.
Just like you see looking at a traffic light...all those little green dots are individual LEDs.

A Japanese inventor just created the first bright white LED last year, which made them a lot brighter.
It's only a matter of time...but not yet.

On the other hand; fluorescent lighting, in the hands of a creative designer, is a very energy smart, cool and long lasting lighting choice.

In the last few years new fluorescent colors have become available that are very close to incandescent in appearance (very warm), or approximate sunlight, or several color stages in between.

Designers also have the option of using lenses and photographic gels ( like colored cellophane) to alter the color temperature of fluorescent lights. So even the wide range now available is customizable!

My web site has a great article on lighting at:


Earth Day To-Do List!

The bad news: Global warming is real.

The better news: there are real ways you can help.

In honor of Earth Day, here are three things we can do to make a cleaner planet and a better tomorrow. The best part is they are low-cost or free -- but have a huge impact.

1. Reduce. Here's a bright idea: Swap out five standard light bulbs for energy-saving compact fluorescents. They use 25% less energy and last 10 times as long. Other ways to save: unplug unused appliances and take public transit. For more cool tips, go to the Natural Resources Defense Council website.

2. Offset. Once we've done what you can to reduce our impact on the environment, offset the rest. We can make a donation to reverse the greenhouse gases we produce. Go to I requested this from my "gift exchange Santa" last Christmas. And I've felt really good about that certificate I received ever since.

3. Recycle. Have an old cellphone just sitting in a drawer? CollectiveGood can send these phones for use in developing countries, or safely recycles materials from them. To donate your phone today (the shipping is free), go to

Thanks to Working Assets for these great Earth Day ideas! I have my long distance service with them and feel positively angelic every time I pay my bill! What could be better?


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Knockout Armani Kitchen at 20 Pine

Oooh! What a stunner! And I couldn't even snag a picture to show here.

You'll have to go to 20Pine and wade through the rooms on the flash display until you get to the Armani kitchen.

A bit spare. But what do you do in a pied a terre anyway?


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Reduce Reuse Recycle!

Here's an entire UK bespoke kitchen (cabinets, countertops and sink anyway) made of recycled material.

I guess there IS a future for us yet! At least
Better yet.
The cabinet doors are made out of yogurt containers!


Saturday, April 14, 2007

More Fluorescent Candelabra Bulbs

In my web wanderings today I came across some more fluorescent candelabra-shaped lamps (light bulbs). They are very shapely and from Skyline Lighting. Very useful for chandeliers and such.

They come in 3, 5 watts for the candelabra base size; and 5, 7, 9, 14 watts for the medium base size.

A tip of my blogging hat to Residential Landscape Lighting & Design's blog for leading me to these. They have a very informative blog and even a new Forum for answering lighting questions. Very useful to bookmark.

The color temperature of these lamps is 2700-3000Kelvin.
Incandescent is 2800Kelvin.
You shouldn't even notice the difference.

Now everybody order some to swap out those energy-hog incandescents in your dining room and I'll do the same.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Some Bamboo Flooring Not All It's Cracked Up to Be!

I received this notice today from MarketWatch on a realtor's survey.

"If replacing floors, avoid bamboo. This flooring was popular when it debuted, but now users are saying it is easily dented and scratched. It is also more likely to warp due to weather and humidity. "

On further investigation it seems as though all bamboo flooring is not equal. Some homeowners are registering their disappointment in the green product on their floors.

Looks like some growers are harvesting their bamboo too early and the result is a finished floor that doesn't exhibit the hardness of bamboo grown for a longer period of time (which can be similar to hardwood in hardness and durability).

Here are some links to support my conclusions:
Berkeley Parents Network
Town of Portola Valley

And some do's and don'ts:
Bamboo Flooring Basics

The upshot: Choose your supplier carefully. Don't buy the cheapest product. Look for a minimum 10 year warranty on the material.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Get Green/Recycling Building Materials

We have a lot of period homes here in the San Francisco Bay Area. From San Francisco Victorians, to 50's Eichlers, and everything in between.

Remodeling these homes requires a lot of period "stuff", like mouldings and windows and doors, that can't be had without paying painful premiums for custom products.

For those of us who would rather put our precious dollars toward the latest in appliances for our new kitchens, there is:

"Whole House Building Supply & Salvage, based in Palo Alto. While there have been salvage yards like Urban Ore, created by Dr. Daniel Knapp, in Berkeley and Caldwell's Building Salvage in San Francisco for decades, Whole House Building Supply (founded in 1998) has become such a one-stop shop of construction salvage and reuse that it seems like an invention from a utopian novel. "

For the rest of this article by Carol Lloyd, from the San Francisco Chronicle, click here.

The great thing about Whole House is that they will notify you of upcoming sales and you can actually go to the site where the house is being demolished and remove the materials yourself - or pay somebody to remove them - then haul them home.

You can also tell them exactly what you are looking for and they will notify you when it is available. I was looking for used bricks and flagstone for a yard project and they kept notifying me until I had enough and told them to stop.

It's not quite like going to a retail supplier and walking out with what you came for. But if you have time to wait, the price is sure right!

They also do demolitions and buy quality building materials you may want to sell.

It is such a great feeling to recycle beautiful material, some of which is no longer available at any price.
They also have an enormous yard where they take all the "stuff" that doesn't get bought on site. The selection of doors is unbelievable!

They build things out of recycled material at the yard too. Here's a PDF of some common items they build and even stock on site; but they will make anything you want; from a gate to a birdhouse.

Check them out next time you have a need. Tell 'em I sent you.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Personal Secretary for the Kitchen

Tap a button on the SmartShopper, state your needs to its built-in microphone, and speech-recognition software turns them into text. SmartShopper recognizes 2,500 item names and common errands (“dry cleaners,” say, or “post office”), and lets you add items of your own. It also displays each new entry so you can correct it. When you’re going out to shop, it prints out the list, alphabetized, with errands followed by your list of things to get.
Available from, SmartShopper costs $149.95 and comes with three rolls of thermal paper. It also requires four AA batteries.
SmartShopper can be set on a counter, hung on the wall or magnetically attached to a refrigerator — wherever you’re most likely to be when you realize something’s running low.

I WANT one!


Wikipedia on "The Kitchen"

This is a kitchen hut in modern day Zambia.

I stumbled onto Wikipedia's treatise on the Kitchen tonight.

Click on the image for a fascinating detour into the history of kitchens around the world.

NKBA needs to do some editing. They are not even mentioned.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Hands-Free Faucets Move Into Homes

Here's a good way to cut the germs moving from person to person in your home. These faucets also regulate the temperature automatically. So no scalding hot water to burn your toddler.


"Hands-Free Faucets Move Into Homes"
Cleveland Plain Dealer (OH) Hebert, Melissa

Hands-free faucets, similar to those used in restaurants and rest stops, are becoming popular additions to the residential market.

Moen will soon unveil its stylish Destiny hands-free faucet, Delta has offered a hands-free faucet for residential bathrooms since 2001 and will offer a kitchen model next year, and Kohler recently made its touch-less kitchen faucet available.

Bob Rodenbach, senior manager of research and development at Delta, said the residential demand for electronic faucets is very different than that of commercial clients, which are more concerned about sanitation and water conservation.

The initial residential target was families, as hands-free faucets automatically regulate water temperature to avoid scalding and children would be unable to leave the water running.

Designing an automatic faucet for the kitchen was a challenge, according to Rodenbach, as kitchen faucets need to be able to perform so many functions; but a manual override allows for pots and vases to be filled without the water turning on and off, and the hands-free system is more sanitary for washing meat and produce.

Residential hands-free faucet systems range in price from $700 to $1,100, and increased competition is making a wider variety of styles available.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Inspiring Kitchens

Here is a collection of delightful photographs of retro kitchens from a great blog called ** Terramia ** "Living day by day, "Island Style", on the west coast of beautiful British Columbia... I love design, and this place called *home*"

Cuisine de Printemps

They are exotic and obviously foreign.

I especially love the exposed stove pipe in the first image. I have been dreaming of an adventuresome client who would let me run a red exposed pipe from a hood for years...Maybe someday.

Also the red stove kitchen. If you click on the image (on the Terramia site) you get a really large image to examine. My first recipe box (turquoise melamine) is sitting on the counter. I don't get the "jewelry box" hinges on the cabinets though. They could not possibly carry the weight of the doors.

I just HAD to save these for future inspiration.