Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Buildings Are Top Cause of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

I just read something in Lightsearch Magazine online that I didn't know.

If you had asked me what produces the most greenhouse gasses before I read the article, I would have answered vehicles.

AIA Survey: Only 7% of Voters Know Buildings Are Top Cause of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

We humans really need to get our act together.

It blows me away that we HAD an energy crisis back in the late 70's and it's taken us till now to realize we've got a problem.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Stop Using Plastics and Save the Earth!

Today in the San Francisco Chronicle Mark Morford, the irreverent columnist, opened my eyes about where all the plastic is going, after it leaves my kitchen and home, in his column entitled Come see our giant toxic stew!

Horrified, I followed Mark's links to the LA Times site called Altered Oceans

If you dare to look, be sure to do Part 4, on Seaborn Plastic Debris.

Then tell me what you're going to use next time you have a choice.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Latest Kitchen Trends Hot off the Presses

I have just completed an on line panel discussion with 11 other kitchen designers from across the country for (unknown) manufacturers. The firm doing the study was RICKI, authors of a previous study featured in Kitchen & Bath Design News recently: Study Reveals Consumer ‘Pain Points’ for Kitchens.

Our effort was a followup to their "Pain Points" study to see how we designers address the "issues" raised by the twelve families, who were the study participants, working in their kitchens.

“Observing people in their kitchens identifies opportunities for solutions for manufacturers and retailers."

“In particular, annoyances or ‘pain points’ found in the kitchen highlight potential opportunities.”

While many participants had issues specific to their individual kitchens, some common “pain points” emerged. Among them:

Organization – Better methods for relieving clutter and improving accessibility.

Cleanliness – Easier-to-keep-clean appliances and other kitchen products.

Space – Additional space or ways to maximize existing space.

Product Design – Issues specifically related to product design improvements.

Noise –Ways to minimize noise.

We were also asked our opinions on various subjects to ascertain coming trends in kitchen design and products.

I have permission from the originators to discuss the results here.

So here goes:

1. Consumers are committed to opening their kitchens to surrounding rooms.

We have gone from pass-throughs and pony walls to eliminating wall cabinets entirely, and walls of windows. This is a BIG DEAL, because we also need to find storage space for many more kinds of household items in, or adjacent to, the kitchen.

2. Kitchens have become multi-tasking spaces where homeowners do everything from watching TV to computing to family interaction and entertaining friends.

Oh, and incidentally they store, prepare, serve and eat food in there too! A strong and common request from consumers is for a comfortable kitchen on top of all of the above. Homeowners want it all! Comfort and convenience, organized storage and functionality, personalized, warm and enticing, all in the same space: The kitchen of today.

3. Contemporary styling will come on even stronger in the next year and beyond.

This means European style, or frameless, cabinetry will be used in the U.S. far more than in the past two decades. Frameless has been pretty peripheral since it made its big splash back in the mid 80's. That will end, and frameless will be used for both traditional, transitional or "fusion" (a more streamlined version of traditional), and contemporary kitchens.

4. Stainless steel is on its way out.

Consumers are just looking for the next big thing. Is it oil rubbed bronze or floating glass panels? Something else? I'd love to have some further opinions here.

5. Focal point appliances are coming on.

Manufacturers are intriguing consumers with appliances, mainly ranges, in strong colors. Right now it is only the high-end maker, like Aga, that offers such options. I think this is a trend that will move down to the mainstream...at a premium.
Focal point hoods are already here and will continue to be desirable.
Focal point faucets are up and coming.

6. Cabinet finishes are going deep and rich.

This is already happening. Though it may just be the island, with lighter perimeter cabinetry to keep an airy, open feel; especially in smaller kitchens.

7. A place for everything and everything in its place.

This doesn't require much explanation, except that organized storage is a strong reason for consumers to consider changing out their existing kitchens.
A further consideration is that the kitchen is much more a multi-tasking space. So designers need to incorporate space for a laptop and brooms; a mixer and cell charger; a TV and pet feeding station. This goes way beyond the everyday silver and pots and pans of 20 years ago.

8. Consumers are CONCERNED about energy efficiency, products in the home that can impact health, and green remodeling concepts.

We designers must take the lead and educate ourselves and our clients on best practices in green design for kitchens. There are some Energy Star rated appliances that are more efficient than others. Some manufacturers are addressing off-gassing issues better than others. Kitchens consume a substantial portion of the energy and water used in the home. Designers must keep up with the latest and best information in this fast-changing field and make sure our products and specifications measure up.

9. Consumers demand more individuality and personal customization.

The high-end market is KING right now and for the foreseeable future. High-end consumers want their kitchens, and everything about their living spaces, to be different and highly original. They challenge designers to step up to the plate and give them something MORE.

10. Men have become more involved in the selection of appliances and products and design decisions.

It used to be that the woman of the house made all the choices and the man had the final financial decisions. Now they are sharing the process more, and sometimes the man is taking the lead. This can also make for some delays while they fight out difficult decisions and emphasizes the role of designer as mediator.

11. Designers' Wish List:

Cooktops and sinks that can be lowered and covered up remotely with a movable remote countertop.
Faucets that lower into the countertop and disappear.
Oven that can be completely concealed.
Appliances that can alter their height.
Truly quiet ventilation, disposers and dishwashers!
An aesthetically pleasing replacement for a dish drainer.
A high tech kitchen that does most of the work for you.
A glass tile that would provide illumination in the backsplash.
Integrated cabinets, appliances, sinks and countertops from one manufacturer, as the Europeans have.



Seems like EVERYONE in the K&B business is blogging these days.

Ed Pell, Market research manager for NKBA just emailed me with a link to his new blog, K+B DELTAVEE, on economic news and research results in the building/remodeling arena.

It's a great resource for all the bad news in the industry right now (I WISH I were kidding). Just take a look at Ed's Consumer Confidence category.

Below is Ed's "About Me":

Ed Pell is Manager of Market Research for the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Before that, he was president of ESP Ventures, a full service marketing consulting and communications firm. He is a leading expert in the kitchen and bath industry. Known as one of the industry’s leading researchers, he functions often as industry moderator and speaker. He’s been quoted by media such as Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN, etc. as an authoritative voice on the kitchen and bath and building products market. He’s also written four books for children, served as editor/writer for an international software company, written a humor column for a nationally known website, and won a national screenplay contest.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Free Kitchen Design Services? NOT!

I received the below question today by email:

I have 40 year old “mod” house. I want to remodel the kitchen but here is the dilemma:

1. I have a cooktop on peninsula with overhead cabinets.

2. I want to take out overhead cabinets to open up area.

3. the kitchen has cathedral ceilings and I can’t see an overhead canopy type hood over the peninsula if I stayed with a cooktop. I wanted some pretty pendant lights over the peninsula. I also wanted to make the peninsula a breakfast bar.

4. I need ventilation – so I would put a range on counter directly opposite of cooktop with overhead micro with ventilation

5. putting range in this area would have the following effect: 9” of counter, range, 3”filler, dishwasher, sink.

My question is would #5 be feasible from a design outlook?
The peninsula would remain only counter space.
My husband has a problem with the range, dw, sink being all in a row.


Stephanie really needs to hire a designer to help her lay out her kitchen.

Her issues require fresh eyes to take her out of her assumptions about what can, and should be done, to bring her kitchen into the 21st Century. Her questions are really too specific to her own kitchen design issues to be of use to other readers.

I also received a call last week from a woman in Pennsylvania who wanted me to specify her lighting in her (being) remodeled kitchen. She kept me on the phone for at least a half an hour, pressing for further details on what sort of lighting to use in her kitchen.

I politely answered her questions feeling more and more used and abused by the imposition. I finally told her I usually charge $125 an hour for such consultations.
I'm sure she was miffed at my impertinence when she finally hung up.

Both of these readers, for some reason, seemed to think that I have offered to provide design services for FREE. Granted I offer to answer questions, both on my web site and here on my blogs, but the offer only extends so far as answering questions that will benefit the flow of information about professional kitchen design on the web.

I spend a lot of time on this endeavor. The idea is to show what goes into kitchen design to the layperson.

Not too long ago, before the web, and now blogs; kitchen design was a mysterious piece of work. We designers did some interviewing, took some measurements, and went away for a while. When we came back we presented the dream you were asked to finance.

We still do all those things, and some of us charge for our time to do those things, while others build the design costs into the sale of products.

Our industry was built on "FREE KITCHEN DESIGN". Many cabinet showrooms still advertise "free" design to this day (though fewer and fewer). Many others offer to do design work on retainer and then apply the dollars to your cabinet purchase.

Guess what folks? It ain't free. You are paying for kitchen design, whether you like it or not, whether you KNOW it or not.

You either pay it outright, or it is built into the price of your cabinetry, and/or other materials and services.

If you don't want to pay for design, then walk into a kitchen dealer's showroom with a LIST of the cabinets you want to buy, with all the details like finished sides and rollout shelves laid out on that list. No plan, no measurements, just the list.

Hand your list to the dealer and ask them to price it in the cabinet line, door style, and finish you want. Tell them you will take full responsibility for everything on your list fitting. They don't need to measure or concern themselves with delivery. You will pick the cabinets up and take full responsibility for checking for damage and transporting the cabinets to your home.

Take your credit card or checkbook out and lay in on the counter, and say you want their "best" price. On top of that, ask for a rebate if everything goes according to your promises. Then offer them a signed agreement stating same, and promising to pay 50% down and 50% on pickup, with the rebate (for unused design services) to be paid by check to you after the cabinets have been installed without complaint.

That's how to buy cabinets without paying for design services.

I'll be interested to hear how many of my readers take me up on this challenge.

In the meantime, there are no free design services here.

If you want to use my expertise to design your kitchen or lighting, please contact me to arrange payment for my services.

And Stephanie...Your husband is right.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Need Drawers?

I had the pleasure of replacing the drawers in our platform bed last year.
Well, the pleasure wasn't in the work of replacing the drawers; but instead in dealing with a Bay Area company called Western Dovetail.

As a former kitchen dealer I know that most companies that sell parts like drawers and doors don't want to deal with the public.
They prefer to deal only with cabinetmakers or dealers who will open accounts and order sizable amounts of product on a regular basis.

I lost all that when I closed my store.

So, when the drawers in our bed started to fail, I figured I was up a creek...

Still, I dutifully jumped on line to seek out a supplier when husband George sounded the alarm.

Much to my surprise I located Western Dovetail right here in Vallejo, in our own back yard! And I didn't even have to fib or open an account!

Even better, the drawers they made were absolutely superb! Beautiful solid cedar dovetailed boxes perfect for clothing and linen storage. And they were quite reasonable too!

Complete machining is available for Blum Tandem and other Under-Mount Hardware. We can also supply drawer slides with your drawers for your convenience.

Drawers can be ordered completely assembled or RTA (ready to assemble), with or without finish. These drawers are suitable for the finest kitchen cabinets, bathrooms, closets, entertainment centers, dressers, desks, home offices or any other furniture or woodworking projects that require drawers.

They have a wonderful online catalog that shows their full line of offerings.

They are even making BAMBOO drawer boxes for you greenies out there! Not to mention all the usual woods.

So, if you readers need to replace a drawer, or add rollout shelves to a pantry or base cabinet; give Max an email (max[AT]drawer.com) and tell him Peggy sent you.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

1000 Kitchens to Recycle!

The Re-Use People sent an appeal today in their newsletter.

They have 1000 condo kitchens coming into their Oakland California warehouse shortly that they need to find homes for.

They look pretty nice if you need a small kitchen for an in-law unit, apartment or condo.

Below is the scoop:


One Thousand Kitchens!
Logistics Moves to the Front Burner
By Ted Reiff

A couple of weeks ago one of our Northern California TRP-certified deconstruction contractors handed us a real test of our logistical capabilities: a contract to partially deconstruct two separate apartment complexes, one in Sunnyvale and the other a few miles away in Santa Clara. Each complex contains approximately 500 units, and the contractor's job is to remove all interior doors, kitchen cabinets and appliances, bathroom vanities, and some light fixtures, including fan lights.

The kitchens are typical apartment size, consisting of three base cabinets, three wall cabinets, floor-to-ceiling pantry cabinet, sink, countertops, stove, refrigerator and dishwasher. Some units also have washers and dryers.

TRP has known since its inception that salvaging building materials is only half the challenge in this business, and frequently not the most formidable half. The most difficult task can be finding a satisfactory way to dispose of the materials — to get them into the hands of people who can use them. This conundrum includes handling at the point of salvage, shipping to markets, interim storage or warehousing, consolidation, breaking bulk, trans-loading, and final delivery to the customer.

Our projected solution is to open a network of reuse facilities throughout the U.S. If we can easily ship materials from one location to another as supply and demand dictate, we can push the envelope regarding the size and scope of the projects we undertake. Only in this way will we become more effective at what we do and achieve our mission on a grand scale. The long-term goal is to have 20 to 25 regions in major metropolitan areas of the country. If we had these now, this project would be a slam dunk. But we don't.

So, how do we plan to manage the challenge at hand? With trailers — relays of them. At each site, over a period of about five weeks, the contractor will fill a 48-foot trailer with all the materials from approximately 20 to 25 units. TRP will take delivery of two semi-trailers every five weeks, at the same time returning two empty trailers to the sites. TRP is arranging for the rental of the trailers and the contractor is reimbursing us for the local drayage.

We estimate that our Oakland store can sell two of these kitchens per week. (They will have to compete for customer dollars with the kitchens and other materials we receive on a day-to-day basis.) Our Los Angeles outlet might be able to duplicate this volume, and our Colorado location can probably sell one per week. Consequently, at the end of one year, these two projects will add 150 to 250 unsold kitchens (and other items) to our inventory, and by the conclusion of the projects the number will be 300 to 500.

Assuming our warehouse sales estimates are correct, we will require space to store 10 to 15 trailers until the last of the materials have been moved to the floor of the warehouse.

TRP will be contacting nonprofit organizations throughout the Bay Area to offer these materials free of charge, as donations. However, we will be asking interested organizations to accept a minimum of one complete trailer load and to pay the transportation expenses to their location.

Can you help us find homes for these materials? If you have any solid suggestions, please phone Joe Feller, Operations Manager, The ReUse People of America: 510.383.1983 or 888.588.9490.

Special of the Month
At the Oakland warehouse this month we are featuring – you guessed it – kitchen cabinets. Receive 50% off on any complete kitchen (without appliances) until November 15. Normally a complete kitchen sells for $280 – we are offering them at $140.

Location and Contact Information

TRP ReUse Bazaar
9235 San Leandro Street
Oakland, CA 94603
(510) 383-1983; toll-free 888-588-9490
Hours: Mon through Fri 10:00 to 6:00; Sat and Sun 10:00 to 4:00

Whole wheat dosa

This time I am posting a dosa out of whole grain.

Whole grains are believed to be nutritionally superior to refined grains, richer in dietary fiber, antioxidants, protein (and in particular the amino acid lysine), dietary minerals (including magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and selenium), and vitamins (including niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin E).
Source-wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whole_grain

Whole wheat - 2 cups
Raw rice (Pacharisi) - 1 cup
Cumin seeds - t tspn

Soak wheat for 8 hrs.
Rice need to be soaked for 3 hrs only. Soak then separately.
Grind both wheat and rice together to a smooth batter. Since we are using whole wheat, u may find the skin of the wheat not grinded fine. Thats alright.
Add salt and allow it to ferment.
Before making dosas, add a tspn of cumins seeds and start preparing dosa.
The dosa will not be very thin but not like uttappam also.

You can serve dosa with any chutney of your choice

Monday, October 01, 2007

Kitchen Design vs. Kitchen Space Planning

There's a post over at Northjersey.com where Tim answers a question by a consumer, Sheila, looking for design help with her kitchen.

DEAR TIM: I need some help with the kitchen design for my home. I'm pretty sure I know what I want, but kitchen designs are as varied as faces in a crowd. How will I know what is the best design for this kitchen remodel job? What is the best way to approach a fresh kitchen design project? -- Sheila B., Hardeeville, S.C.

DEAR SHEILA: Kitchen design is very important, but it is sometimes confused with kitchen planning. Both planning and design are critical, and ignoring either one can lead to disaster and heartbreak. Let's make sure we are on the same page with respect to what you need...

The distinction between kitchen design and kitchen space planning deserves further explanation and discussion here:

Kitchen design is the placement and selection of cabinetry and appliances within an existing, or proposed, kitchen space. Your designer will help you choose a cabinet line, wood, door style, finish and accessories and some attendant interior decorating selection of finishes and surfaces and colors. Most kitchen designers are employed by cabinet dealers, lumberyards or big box stores, so their focus is on selling cabinetry. Many designers work from customer supplied measurements and have little or no concern about how the kitchen relates to the surrounding rooms.

Kitchen design training is rigorous in the areas of cabinetry and appliance planning. More emphasis is given to fitting the pieces together properly and minimizing mistakes, which can be costly.

Kitchen space planning is practiced by some kitchen designers with the aptitude and more education or experience than the typically trained kitchen designer.

As a designer gains experience, some designers progress from kitchen design to space planning by furthering their education. Or the designer starts out with an interior design degree and specializes in kitchens and baths. Either way gaining the requisite experience and becoming certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association are usually the goal.

I would say more kitchen space planners are CKDs than not, although there are some pretty famous designers in the US who have never pursued the designation. It is still a pretty good way to determine who is serious about their career and experienced.

There is study of the elements and principles of design, how a building is built, codes and standards, ergonomics, accessibility and Universal Design. Then a rigorous exam and ongoing education requirements.

A kitchen space planner looks at the kitchen as it is and how it relates to the rest of the home, especially the rooms directly adjacent to the kitchen. Traffic patterns are very important in space planning.

I have moved a kitchen to an entirely different area of the home to correct space or traffic problems. Such upheaval is not usually necessary, but most kitchens can greatly benefit from a critical look and some element shuffling, or moving a door, tearing down a wall, or adding on in the form of an addition.

A good space planner will see the opportunities in a dysfunctional space and how to capitalize on them. Correcting deficiencies during a remodel can vastly improve a home for its occupants, and (happily) increase value at resale (sometimes remarkably so).

Kitchen space planners also provide complete plan sets for a remodel, just like an architect does. Kitchen design plans provided by a cabinet dealer, lumberyard, or home center, don't necessarily include electrical and mechanical details that are required for a major remodel.

Architects and building designers also do kitchen space planning, but kitchen designers who do so are the specialists. We bring together our knowledge of cabinet systems, appliances, all the surfaces that go into a modern kitchen, and the ability to transform a dysfunctional kitchen into one you would proudly display to all.

This goes for other rooms in the home too. A good space planner doesn't usually confine themselves to the kitchen or bath alone.