K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Mar 26 2015

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Make a Seat…So You May Take a Seat

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Many readers know me as a contributing writer to WestSound Home & Garden Magazine. I am also a residential designer, remodeling contractor and an avid tennis player. Ten years ago, I had a mishap on the courts and seriously injured my left ankle.

At that time, the shower in our master bathroom was a 32-in. by-32-in. stall type. Needless to say, I had a dickens of a time showering in this confined space with no grab bar or seat.

A year later when my husband and I commenced a rebuild of our home, I vowed to make sure there was a multitude of places to sit down in our new home – and boy, am I glad that I did. Recently, I had an identical accident but this time my right ankle was injured.

When planning your next home build or remodel project, remember to incorporate seating opportunities throughout your home. A bench at the back and/or front door for removing shoes, a seat in the shower, a chair or storage bench in a walk-in closet, a chair or storage bench in a bathroom, a window seat at the landing of a set of stairs, a banquette or eating bar in the kitchen are just a few ideas to consider.

As inconvenient as my injury is, at least this time around I can navigate our home with ease and safety. A seat in the shower allows me to sit and bathe with the handheld shower and under average circumstances, it provides the ultimate in relaxation as the water cascades over me and all the stress of the day runs down the drain.

The chair in the bathroom is used for trimming and polishing toenails, dressing, as well as removing an ankle boot. (I will let you in on a secret; I sometimes pull the chair up to the bathtub and stream movies while soaking.)

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The cedar chest in the closet (a garage sale find from my college days) is a great place for putting on socks and shoes (and ankle boots), setting a suitcase for travel packing, as well as sitting and contemplating what I want to wear for the day. Warning: Chairs and benches in a closet often become a receptacle for clothes that need to be returned to a hanging rod or dresser drawer. Take this into consideration when selecting the size of the bench or chair.

With a little forethought and planning, you can make your home safe and comfortable and subdue whatever curve (tennis) balls life throws your way. Remember – make a seat, so you may take a seat.

- By Molly Erin McCabe, ADBD, CGP, CAPS. Reprinted with permission from WestSound Home & Garden Magazine.

 

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Mar 23 2015

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A Guide to Kitchen Countertop Options

A kitchen countertop is more than just a surface in a home – it’s the place kids do their homework and where people gather with friends and family over home-cooked meals. Choosing a new kitchen countertop is an important part of any kitchen renovation, and different homes will have different needs that a kitchen countertop will have to fill. Here’s your guide to choosing the right traditional kitchen countertop for your client’s home.

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Granite

  • Cost: Varies on type and availability of the specific stone
  • Durability: Medium to high
  • Heat Resistance: High
  • Food Safe: Easily cleaned if properly sealed

If you want a versatile kitchen countertop, granite is the right choice; it’s available in a wide variety of colors and patterns, and it can fit in any style of home – from traditional to contemporary.

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Marble

  • Cost: Medium to high
  • Durability: Low (susceptible to staining, etching and scratching)
  • Heat Resistance: High
  • Food Safe: Medium

Used mostly in traditional designs, marble should be properly sealed to reduce staining, and trivets or mats should be used to avoid scratching. Marble is easily cleaned with stone cleaner, water, or mild soap and water.

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Quartzite

  • Cost: Medium to high
  • Durability: Medium
  • Heat Resistance: High
  • Food Safe: High (less porous than some stone surfaces)

Although quartzite is an extremely hard stone, it’s susceptible to chipping. It’s also highly versatile with a variety of colors, and quartzite requires proper maintenance and care. Quartzite is easy to maintain with stone cleaners or soap and water.

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Quartz

  • Cost: Medium
  • Durability: High
  • Heat Resistance: High
  • Food Safe: High

For an ecofriendly option, consider quartz, which requires less maintenance and is a greener alternative to natural stone. Clean quartz with soap and water or Windex – you don’t even need to seal it.

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Soapstone

  • Cost: Medium to high
  • Durability: Medium (liable to chip, scratch and flake)
  • Heat Resistance: High
  • Food Safe: High

Since soapstone is naturally dense with low liquid absorption, it’s relatively food safe; however, it’s also soft and prone to damage. Soapstone’s aesthetic fits well with traditional designs, and it’s more often used on smaller countertops.

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Natural Wood

  • Cost: Medium to high
  • Durability: Low
  • Heat Resistance: Low
  • Food Safe: High

Over time, wood will show nicks and wear, which actually add a charming, unique look to the countertop. Anti-bacterial enzymes found in trees keep natural wood food safe, and wood is easy to clean with a mixture of vinegar and water. Natural wood is most commonly found in transitional and traditional designs, but it can also add warmth to modern designs.

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Glass

  • Cost: Medium to high
  • Durability: Medium
  • Heat Resistance: Medium to high
  • Food Safe: High

A non-porous surface, glass is easy to clean and maintain, as long as the proper care is taken to prevent scratches and chips. With varying colors and thicknesses, glass offers homeowners a vast amount of design options to complement any kitchen.

- Information from Drury Design’s Kitchen Countertop Surfaces Comparison and Care Guide, www.drurydesigns.com/blog/kitchen-countertop-guide.  

 

 

 

 

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Mar 23 2015

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Dads Gain More Respect with Regard to Home Design

Image from marin, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from marin, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Steve Kleber of Kleber and Associates, an Atlanta-based home brands specialist and marketing data company, says it just makes good business sense to pay attention to how homes and families are depicted in advertising, in pop culture, in the movies and on TV. His company conducts studies and plumbs research to more effectively market home-related products. Its data found that men are more involved than ever in home design and making appliance choices.

This renewed respect for and spotlight on fathers has ramifications for all areas of the home. The more casual, active lifestyles of families today have dad not only grilling outdoors, but also in the kitchen. With workout spaces in the home becoming more prevalent, men are also making design decisions for the bathroom, favoring multi-head showers and other high-tech features.

According to a study by the NPD Group, a retail and marketing data company, not only is the number of men involved in cooking and cuisine at a historical high, but today’s men “covet mixers, toasters and gourmet appliances just as much as navigation systems, mobile phones and audio components.”

Men are no longer relegated to man caves – the dark recesses of the basement (unless it’s converted into a world-class home theater) – but are actively enjoying the whole house. The modern dad also finds time to coach his child’s soccer or softball team, attend parent-teacher conferences, carve out a space for a home office and install a fully equipped outdoor kitchen with fireplace on the terrace – all with one hand tied behind his back. Just kidding; one project at a time.

The message is clear: Men matter – whether married or single, with or without children. Their decisions include all facets of lifestyle products and services for the entire home.

Hold on…it’s Manwich time!

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Mar 16 2015

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Five Criteria to Choosing the Right Cooktop

The choice of cooktop comes down to gas, electric and induction. But how do you choose the one that fits your client best? Let’s break down the three options based on five important factors.

#1: Cooktop space considerations

The first thing to consider is how much space is available. Today, cooktops come in several sizes, from the standard 12-in., 24-in. and 30-in. cooktops to the larger types (36 inch and 40 inch). However, the size of the cooktop is not the only factor when dealing with space constraints; the type of cooktop also matters.

If you have to go for a smaller cooktop with fewer burners and your client cooks a lot, you might want to consider an induction cooktop, which heats food more quickly than gas and electric stoves.

If the client still prefers a larger size cooktop but doesn’t want to sacrifice too much counter space, you should also consider an induction or electric cooktop with a smooth flat surface, which can double up as a counter when not in use.

bosch-electric-cooktop-30-inch-net8054ucCredit: Bosch

#2: Cooking habits

Your client’s cooking habits will determine the number and type of burners/elements they need and, consequently, the type of cooktop you should choose. If the client cooks a lot or prepares meals for different people with different dietary needs, you would want to install at least five burners/elements.

Gas cooktops are suitable to cook any type of food. Most products have a combination of low-output heat burners (simmer) and high heat burners (single or Power Burner), with some even offering one Triple Crown burner (great to use with wok cookware).

Electric cooktops can come with dual- or even triple-tiered elements to offer heating efficiency and versatility in power levels and also to fit cookware of different sizes. Material is also important for electric cooktops: ceramic glass surfaces are popular but they transfer heat more slowly than metal-top electric stoves.

Induction cooktops facilitate faster heating and can come with a “Bridge Function,” which allows you to turn two separate cooking zones into a large one. This comes very handy if you use larger cookware like griddles and poaching pans (please note, though, that induction cooktops only work with cast iron, enamel cast iron or stainless steel cookware).

electroluxCredit: Electrolux

#3: Safety needs

If safety is a top priority for your client, then the choice should be between electric and induction.

Electric cooktops signal heat by showing the glow of an active burner. The sensor stays on even after the burner has been turned off, until the surface cools down to a temperature that is safe to the touch. In addition, ceramic glass cooktops don’t get nearly as hot as the pots and pans, so the user doesn’t really risk burning themselves by accidentally touching the surface.

Even better is the surface of induction cooktops, which doesn’t get hot as the heat is only transferred to the pots when they get placed over the element.

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#4: Energy saving

If your client cares about energy consumption, then that’s another reason to go for induction cooktops, which save about 10 percent more energy than gas cooking. Electric cooking is the most energy-consuming option. However, compared to gas, the heat is channeled straight into the pan with less dispersion into the air.

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#5: Cooktop maintenance and cleaning

Any cooktop with a flat and smooth surface is going to be easier to clean than traditional gas stoves with grates. Stainless steel and enameled surfaces are very resistant and low maintenance, which is why they are still the most popular.

Ceramic glass cooktops are also surprisingly scratchproof and resistant to extreme heat, thermal shocks and corrosives. However, these surfaces do require greater care. Your client should avoid using abrasive cleaning products and make sure sugar-rich food, plastic and aluminum sheets are completely out of the way when the cooktop is in use – contact with the heat can cause these products to do permanent damage or leave stains that are much tougher to remove.

- By Amy Biller, Kitchen Trends Expert, Snaidero USA

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