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Design Inspirations








Appliance Garages - the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly

How many people have appliances that sit out on the counter?  Useful items such as toasters, rice cookers, juicers, and who can forget the espresso machine?  Many of these items are used on a daily basis, so keeping them on the counter is a matter of convenience.  But, let me ask you this, how many of you LIKE the look of those appliances on your counter?  Let’s go through your options:

a)     Purchase appliances that coordinate with the colors and finishes of your kitchen

b)     Allocate a ‘special area’ for them where they can co-mingle with other accessories, creating the ‘coffee station’ or the ‘breakfast station’  This gives them a ‘home’

c)      Create a lowered counter with electrical outlets specifically for this appliance.  Typically, this is done on the back side of an island effectively hiding the appliance from view.

d)     Incorporate a ‘lift up shelf’ within an existing base cabinet.  This is a shelf that lives within your base cabinet and can swing up with your mixer/juicer etc, already on the shelf.  This is good for appliances that will be used in small amounts of time, such as a mixer.  It is not good for appliances that use a long time such as rice cookers or crock pots.  This is because the shelf sits out in your walkway space in front of your cabinets.

e)     Utilize an appliance ‘garage’.  This is a cabinetry unit that has a door that hides your appliances.  This is almost always on the counter level.    Options for appliance garages are as follows:

  1. Standard counter level, swing open door style, 12” deep – you loose counter space (basically it is a covered counter)
  2. Standard counter level roll up tambour door in either wood or metal, 12” deep, still lose counter space
  3. Counter level lift up or tilt up door, 12” deep
  4. Corner appliance garage with either swing out, or tambour door, this can be a great use of dead corners, however remember those corners can be hard to reach…

What drives me nuts is that the appliances almost always need to be pulled forward to you to be used, whether it is because you are loading the food in from the top of the mixer, or because the unit creates heat or steam and you do not want it to affect the cabinetry above.  What we really need is a station specifically designed for use of countertop appliances.  We need a niche in our kitchen that has a 12-15” deep counter that does not have cabinets above for at least 30”.  The counter can be lowered if it makes the appliance easier to use.  How about this counter being in the shape of a U so that you actually have 3 counters appropriate for appliance use.  Designed in this way, the appliances will look like they belong there, they never have to be moved in or out and they can have outlets conveniently located right behind them.


Doorway to the rest of your life

How many people have to stay at a nursing home because their new wheelchair will not fit through the doorway to their bathroom?  TOO MANY

When you are remodeling your bathroom, I strongly advise that you spend the little extra money and enlarge the door to your bathroom.  32" of inside width is all you need to get a standard wheel chair through.  Almost all bathroom remodels entail tearing out the existing tile and adding new tile and plumbing.  While the walls are open, why not add bracing for hand bars?  Did you know that Kohler now makes hand bars in all of their finishes (even the new finishes)?  So your hand bars can be part of the design not an add on.

Many of you remember my foot surgery a couple years ago.  That was an eye opener, even for an experienced designer as myself.  I was off my foot for 4 months.  I now TREASURE  hand rails, 'comfort height' toilets and hand showers.  I simply love the carts that you drive around in the grocery store.  It is no picnic living without walking.  I have made a commitment to MY FUTURE that every remodel/change I incur in my house is going to ENABLE me to live in my house longer.  After all this remodeling, I CERTAINLY want to stick around to enjoy it!

Staying in your home longer starts with enlarging that bathroom door. Go ahead - Be Bold! Take the initiative to ACTIVELY PLAN YOUR FUTURE to LIVE happily in your home for a very long time.




The Value of Happiness

When discussing the possibility of remodeling, I am often asked how much the remodel would increase the value of the home.  If the house is only being used as a vehicle to make money, then the cost of the remodel in relation to the increased sales value of the house is a very critical issue.  However, most of us also live in our house.

I am a huge advocate of living in surroundings that make you happy.  Many people are surprised to learn that your surroundings influence how you feel, how you learn, how you think as well as contributing to your general physical health.  Besides taking be fore and after pictures of projects, I ask my clients to do a before and after evaluation of how they feel when then walk into the room.  The difference is always dramatic.  The JOY and HAPPINESS that clients feel when they walk into their remodeled room is priceless.  To be able to have that joy every day that you live in your home is huge

So, when evaluating the benefits and costs of your next remodel, remember to include the value of your happiness in the equation.  Remodeling is a LIFE choice, no just an economic one.


Using that empty corner in your kitchen

Most homes designed and built in the 60's-80's have a little empty corner in their kitchen.  It was assumed that home owners would put a table and chairs for informal meals.  The thing is, if you do put a table and chairs in that area, you find that there is not enough room to pull out the chairs on the wall side.

The solution is built-in banquette style seating.  This restaurant style seating reduces the amount of space needed for a workable eating area.  Also, because the seat is a continuous cushion, you can often fit more people at the table than you would with conventional chairs.

Families love this solution for ease of cleaning, safety and aesthetics.  Because this style is built with a solid base, there is no need to clean under the seating.  Banquette seating can (and should) be fabricated with non-staining fabric for the back and antimicrobial material for the seat.  This makes cleaning a breeze and stains a non-issue.  Because these units are built to your specific dimensions and attached to the walls and floors, parents do not have to worry about the chair rocking that often occurs with young children.  There are many stylish fabrics to choose from that help 'complete' your kitchen

Built-in banquettes are a good solution for utilizing the space in your kitchen with an added benefit of  child safety. :)



DIY - Under cabinet lighting

Want to glamorize your kitchen?  Under cabinet lights can provide task lighting for your cooking activities as well taking your decor to the level that says 'designed by a professional.' Most home owners would add this lighting in a second if it wasn't for the thought of hiring an electrician.  Depending on the type and number of lights, the cost of the product and installation could easily bust the budget.  Well, the lighting designers have heard your calls!

Introducing the new DIY under cabinet puck lighting from Task Lighting!

a)  THIN 3/8" profile means that you do not have to cut into the bottom of the cabinet to hide the light like you may have to for other lights

b)  LED lights that have a nice bright light, can be dimmed, take very LITTLE ELECTRICITY, and will last 40,000 hours before needing a bulb change.

c)  Cool temperature of the LED is safer than halogen lights

d)  Best of all, each puck light comes with the wiring pre-spooled on the circumference of the light, you can unwind the wire to the desired length, the lights plug into each other to create a string of lights, and at the end, you can plug in the power source into an existing outlet!  Of course, you can also have a professional electrician hardwire the the power source for you as well.

Let me know if you need more information on this product, it is available at electrical supply stores or you can also order it from me.  (  A professionally installed lighting system will always look nicer than the plug in style, however I know that budget is a big concern and a lot of people want to DIY - Do It Yourself!


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