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Jan 07 2016

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Creating Ripples to “Sustain” Interest

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Image from zirconicusso, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sustainability is key. This message is everywhere – your inbox, social media, the news and workplace conversations – but how often does it change behavior? If you’re like many people, you may wonder, “What difference can one person make?” Maybe your actions alone won’t change it all, but the monumental shifts that need to occur won’t happen if we as individuals don’t do our part.

Mother Teresa once wrote, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” And that’s what this situation calls for – some serious ripples.

What Can We As Professionals Do?
As kitchen and bath professionals, we face a similar challenge. How much focus do we put on green initiatives, and will the results make a dent in the global scheme of things? Whether selecting more sustainable product materials, reducing flow rates or designing a greener space, there are many decisions and implications that go along with each of these changes. As our favorite fuzzy frog has been reminding us for decades, it’s not always easy being green, but it is critically important.

Just as one person’s actions create ripples, so do one company’s actions. We have a responsibility as the trendsetters and thought leaders of the industry to set a strong example for our peers, consumers, employees and the future leaders of the world by caring enough to invest the time and resources in creating healthier, more efficient kitchens and bathrooms. The incremental changes we make to our products and designs cause ripples of their own in the minds and behavior of the end user.

The Future Looks Good
The good news is that we are making progress and shifts are happening. In a recent conversation with Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and co-founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and author of the recently released book Greenthink, he shared the following insight: “With regard to sustainability in kitchen and baths, I think that there has been tremendous progress over the past 10 years in particular in electrical, gas and water efficiency, as well as the materials and technologies that develop those product categories.”

Fedrizzi believes that “the future holds even more promise,” and that “along with traditional environmentally focused design goals, we will begin to see a greater emphasis on human health and wellness. The lighting, air and water quality and material selection will be backed up by Health Product Declarations that more and more manufacturers will offer as the market becomes more aware and begins to demand them. Where we live is really the only place we can control – and making that place as healthy as possible will be a goal for most homeowners.”

Being on both sides of the fence – as a professional and a consumer – we have the unique power in our businesses to positively influence the decisions that will improve the health and efficiency of our own home. What greater example to set and what greater gift to be able to give yourself and your loved ones?

So as you think about “being green” in 2016, don’t think of yourself as one person or one company. In the case of sustainability, the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. Our actions and decisions do make ripples and those ripples do make a difference. Commit to making a few changes – no matter how small they may be – that will create a greener environment in your little corner of the world. And with the convergence of our collective ripples, we will see the bigger shifts taking hold.

– Tracy Dacko is the head of marketing for VIGO Industries (www.vigoindustries.com), a kitchen and bath products manufacturer, and a longtime advocate of sustainable practices.

Aug 27 2015

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Beautiful Renovations in a Florida Summer Rental

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And the owners were TRULY proud of those renovations – both in the kitchen and the two bathrooms. I know this because when we tried to talk them down a bit on their rental rate, they abruptly refused – letting us know their new design is not something at which to scoff.

And it definitely was not.

My friend and I walked into an airy, open, shades of gray and white summer beach rental and never wanted to leave. Each room had a queen bed with its own master bath. The choice of master bath really depended on whether you wanted a tub or a shower. The kitchen was decked out with lovely countertops, a HUGE Sub-Zero refrigerator and some glass-fronted cabinetry.

Here are some photos for you to see:

This refrigerator was definitely too large for the space, but we loved it.

This refrigerator was definitely too large for the space, but we loved it. It was great to be able to see what was inside without having to waste energy opening the door each time. 

One bathroom had this large, barrier-free shower. I love the glass blocks - even if they are old school.

One bathroom had this large, barrier-free shower – accessible by pretty much anyone. I love the glass blocks – even if they are old school.

Both bathrooms had this sink/vanity combo, and this one had lots of charming storage.

Both bathrooms had this sink/vanity combo, and this one had lots of charming, vertical storage.

The second bathroom had a small but workable tub and a handheld shower spray. Again, loving the glass blocks.

The second bathroom had a small but workable tub (in case  you needed to bathe a child or a pet) and a handheld shower spray. Again, loving the glass blocks.

The second bathroom had a little less storage space, but the white marble on the wall was truly remarkable.

The second bathroom had a little less storage space, but the white marble on the wall was truly remarkable. It took me a few shots to get one where you could not see me in the mirror!

The owners store handmade bowls and plates from their kids in the glass-front cabinets.

The owners store handmade bowls and plates from their kids in the glass-front cabinets.

What you didn’t see was the hidden loft upstairs – complete with a ladder entry and plush, white beds and lighting fixtures. There was a great screened-in porch looking out onto the street, where we saw our “neighbors” being visited by a cabinet company. Perhaps they intend to keep up with the “Joneses.” We will definitely be going back to this place! I miss it already!

 

Jul 10 2015

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Localizing Success

Atlanta’s upper class Buckhead neighborhood has a new addition to inspire its homeowners: the Cambria Gallery Buckhead. Slipped between the legendary Buckhead theater and across the street from the Buckhead Atlanta retail district and a newly opened park, the gallery takes advantage of local foot traffic and the up-and-coming area.

Showroom owners know that one of the most important aspects of a gallery is location. Here, on one of the busiest intersections in Atlanta, global companies pay huge amounts for advertising on billboards, and traffic moves at a crawl in the middle of the afternoon. While there is parallel parking out front, a full parking lot in the back offers two entrances into the gallery, as well as two ways to wow a client on the first glance.photo 1 copy

The front entrance has an open lobby area with wine on display and several set-ups that show off the glittering quartz. The select designs give the gallery the opportunity to display the aspects of the product that clients might not be aware of: waterfall edges, backsplashes made of quartz and various types of edges—even curved.

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This curved wall is on the bottom floor and is the solution to a problem the designers found in building. Originally an old closet (the space had once been a restaurant and then an art gallery) it looked just like a blank hole at first. Now it’s one of the highlights of the space, with its curved quartz, backlit wall and a fun quartz table that lights up with dots when touched. Coupled with a comfortable couch, this little spot is perfect for children or bored spouses when a client is touring the gallery.

Quartz lit-up table
Another different way the gallery shows off its products is simply by furnishing the restrooms with them. A small plaque in each list the products used. The men’s room has a slightly more masculine aesthetic, while the women’s showcases more of the white and glittering products. A small kitchen on the same floor also offers another opportunity to bring the products to light while also making the space available to host cooking events.

“We wanted to make this showroom more of a destination,” said Mitch Hires, co-owner of Construction Resources and owner of the gallery.

In addition to the kitchen below, the wine area in the lobby area (which had to be constructed by digging out an old asphalt road below) and a conference/TV room upstairs makes the space flexible for a number of events. Although it just opened July 6th, the gallery has already had an event with more than 500 people.

“Deadlines are important,” said Hires. “We made a deadline to have an event by this time, and so we were further pushed to complete the space in time.”
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The gallery expects to host a number of events, including a wine night on Thursdays, several cooking events and even Braves nights where a group is driven to Turner Field and back afterwards.

Attracting locals is the thought behind the layout, where flow through the space was an essential focus. Upstairs, skylights open up the space and the previously low ceilings. The 122 designs are set out on one wall, with a large table in front so clients can set out samples.

“We’re really excited about this location and being a part of the community here,” said Hires.photo 2[1]

Jun 04 2014

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Atlanta Food and Wine Festival – A Little Something for Everyone

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Being a member of the press definitely has its benefits. I was able to enjoy for the first time the Annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival this past weekend – it’s in its fourth year, and although it called for rain, we managed to escape it. My boyfriend accompanied me, and we both highly enjoyed ourselves. If you haven’t gone, definitely make it a priority next year.

Food samples

Restaurants and drink labels from Georgia, as well as several surrounding states, were on hand to give out plenty of Southern food and drink samples, including barbeque, fresh seafood, red and white wines, craft beers, bourbon milkshakes (my boyfriend’s favorite – he went back for thirds), sweets, cheeses – you name it, it was there. While we wanted to stay for the whole three-hour program, after 90 minutes, our tummies were just too full. We took a break at the 45-minute mark but then made our way back into the crowd – after all, there were still items to be savored!

Me getting wine sample

Big Green Egg – probably a favorite appliance a lot of designers and homeowners specify in their outdoor kitchens – was a sponsor, as well as Sub-Zero/Wolf, Kingdom Woodworks Cabinetry, Brumark Total Flooring Solutions, Calphalon Cookware and Le Creuset. After eating some sausage, BBQ, Indian cuisine, fried seafood, cheese, various salads and even half of a Patron popsicle, we left with our tummies full and a lot more knowledgeable about available local food and drink – as well as some of the appliances used to provide it.

Ribs

I plan to attend some of the available classes during next year’s programs so I can see how some of the exceptional talent prepares world-class dishes.