Posted in Giving Back, The Education of a Kitchen Designer

I’m with Coco!

2010 is looking like a very good year. There I said it. Recession, so what? Last year was probably the toughest of my entire career with jobs downsized, coming to a halt or put on hold indefinitely.  There were so many of us in my industry here in Southern California that never saw it so bad. It felt like a depression. 


So where am I now? I will sum it up by saying I’m with Coco! Yes, I took the lemons life handed me and made lemonade. If Coco can do it, why not me I thought to myself.  


What’s that you ask? If you haven’t been following television media news about The Tonight Show and The Late Show, let’s just say Conan O’Brien relationship with NBC ended abruptly.  In Facebook terms, Conan O’Brien’s relationship with NBC just went from “it’s complicated” to “is single.” (MSNBCNews.com The Scoop). The same theory that applies in Conan’s relationship applied to me as well. I am not too proud to say I took my lumps this year with lack of work. I have always enjoyed working in  Kitchen and Bath Design Showrooms, but with showrooms barely surviving, I had to figure out how to reinvent myself, take my job skills and love for all things kitchen and bath related and figure out what I could do with all this experience I have. 


My qualifications and skill set doesn’t translate well into medical or insurance work. Now what? 


I got my degree in something else entirely, attended design school soon after that and then learned everything I know about my industry from on the job training and additional courses and studying. I love what I do, but where do I go from here when everything is at a standstill?  I can keep showing up everyday as an independent salesperson but that ain’t paying the bills. 

O’Brien’s public statement goes on to say ” For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky.” 



A NEW ERA CALLS FOR A NEW PARADIGM
I too considered myself fortunate for 14 years getting paid to do what I love most, in a world with real problems, I too have been absurdly lucky to have had the opportunities that have come my way. I have learned the business inside and out, from selling plumbing fixtures to helping out in the custom shop learning how to sand, stain and glaze doors. (Thanks L. Landsman! You are the best!), to designing and managing a design showroom. I have done it all and I love it! 


Someone (who does not understand the nature of our business) once asked me why I was concerned about what the plumber was doing. It is because what you do not know puts you in a position for getting in trouble. It’s not that I want to do the contractor’s or plumber’s job, but you have to know the language of the business to communicate with your trades. It’s that simple.  


Although I would like to say I came away with the same $32 million dollar golden parachute that Conan did, I came out of this recession stronger for it and with my sense of humor intact! I scrambled when I saw the market drop out. With the Expo stores closing, thousands out of work and even Home Depot maintaining hiring freeze’s it didn’t look good. I felt like Rose in the movie Titanic holding on to the railing for dear life before the ship went under.  I am proud to say I have worked hard to stay off of unemployment and have taken several temporary part time jobs to keep my self going when times where toughest. 


Despite the hard times of this past year, I have been fortunate to have met many wonderful designers throughout the country, no- strike that, through out the world, and have been fortunate to form lasting friendships. One of the great experiences I had this past winter was being invited as a guest of Brizo to attend the Jason Wu Fashion Show in New York City sponsored by Brizo. I wrote about it here. I am grateful for the experience and I owe Paul Anater of Kitchen and Residential Design a great deal of thanks for being part of that brain storm session that resulted in bringing so many of designers from around the country together for the Brizo event. Paul has the right idea, what you put out there in the world comes back to you. I wish the best success for Paul and for all my Blogger19 pals. It’s really great to be able to share in each others joys and success stories. This is the right type of thinking and has kept me positive during the harder days.


My New Life as a Cabinet Sales Rep. 
First let me say I have nothing but respect for outside sales reps. This is one of the hardest jobs ever. There is a lot of rejection and a lot of competition. But that’s OK because I am in it for the long haul.  I now understand why sales reps just show up unannounced. Otherwise you would never be able to book an appointment with some people. So I am still in the biz., still loving what I do, still passionate about good cabinet design, and excited about meeting so many more great designers to come. My new motto: My goal is to make you look good! I will do what it takes to provide the best service to you as your sales rep. Return your calls and get back to you in a timely manner and make sure you are well represented.

So more news on this blog to come, still on kitchen and bath design, and more news from me but this time from the sales rep’s perspective.

Here’s to Coco!

This blog post is dedicated to a great salesman who just passed away. Lee Lubkin, it was an honor to know you. You touched a lot of lives and you will be missed!  

 



Posted in Giving Back, New Products, Sustainable Design, Water Filters

The World’s First Environmentally Friendly Home Water Filtration System

Consumers are most definitely interested in “good for your health and good for the environment alternatives.” It is with great pleasure that I am able to report news about manufacturers that have stepped up to the challenge. We have all seen news reports at one point or another on the state of the Pacific Ocean. If you have not heard, there is a section of the Pacific Ocean twice the size of the continental United States called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Within it, 100 million tons of plastic swirl in a vortex of currents. There is so much plastic in the water that it outnumbers zooplankton by six to one! Say what? To put a size landlubbers can identify with, marine biologists say the heap of debris floating in the Pacific is twice the size of Texas.

This plastic ends up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals. In fact, one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals die globally each year due to ingestion of or entanglement in plastics. What can you do? The simple act of reduce the amount of plastic bottles you use on a day to day basis. Fill up your glass or reusable bottle every time you need a drink. Now that is simple fact we can all manage to do.

Photo credit: The Ferris Files.

Body Glove, known as the ultimate water sports brand, has stepped into the kitchen with Water Inc., launching the first ever environmentally friendly 3M Manufactured Body Glove Water Filtration System. The Greenest Alternative in Water Filters.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Water, Inc. Partners with Body Glove to Introduce a 3M Manufactured Body Glove Water Filtration System – the Greenest Alternative in Water Filters

Water, Inc’s Body Glove Water Filters can save up to 9,000 plastic bottles annually

CARSON, Calif. -November 17, 2008 –
Water, Inc, along with Body Glove, introduces the Body Glove Water Filtration System the most advanced and eco-friendly water filtration products on the market. Manufactured by 3M, a leader in green innovative technology and the highly environmentally-conscious Body Glove, the Body Glove water filters are proven to provide the healthiest drinking water for your family, while reducing the overfilling of landfills and protecting the ocean from toxic pollutants.

“We are extremely excited to partner with Body Glove, a leader in green technology and environmental protection, with a 3M manufactured product,˝ says Rick Tarantino, Executive Vice President, Water, Inc. The launch of the Body Glove Water Filtration System will truly redefine the way homeowners consume healthy drinking water, while doing their part to protect the environment.”

The Body Glove product line includes four models to suit all lifestyles – BG-1000 (1,000 gal capacity), BG-3000 (450 gal capacity), BG-12000 (1,000 gal capacity) and an upgrade cartridge, the BG-3000R (350 gal capacity). Using a unique and patented Tri-Stage filtering design, the BG-1000, BG-3000 and BG-3000R combine three powerful filtering processes into one recyclable polymer filter housing. Water is first treated by KDF-55 media for bacteriostatic and scale control. Next, a Micro-Filter Wrap more evenly traps sediment particles while maintaining overall flow rates. Lastly, water flows through the patented carbon block filter. The most powerful of them all, the BG-12000 takes filtering one step further by running the water through a patented 0.2 micron pharmaceutical-grade membrane. Each of the Body Glove systems have a 50 percent increased flow rate over competitive systems.

While providing a safe and healthy drinking water alternative, the Body Glove brand also promotes protecting the environment. Each Body Glove water filter uses a patented corn-based biodegradable label, along with a 100 percent recyclable polymer filter housing. This product also helps eliminate the need for 2 million tons of plastic water bottles that end up clogging landfills annually. The Body Glove Water Filtration Systems have been developed with a built-in cartridge recycling program that allows filters to be recycled conveniently by calling 1-888-62-REUSE (73873). Fully committed to helping protect the world’s oceans, waves and beaches, Body Glove and Water, Inc. are donating a percentage of every sale to the Surfrider Foundation.

About Water, Inc.

Water, Inc., a premier distributor of luxury water products, decorative plumbing and high-end appliances for the home, specializes in the distribution and sale of premium brands including Asko, Perlick, Eurotech, HousePure, Enviropure, EverBrew, Brew Express, EverCold, EverHot and Body Glove Water Filtration Systems. For more information about Water, Inc., call 800-322-WATER (9283) or visit http://www.waterinc.com

About Body Glove

Founded in 1953, Body Glove is a leading, worldwide action sports brand specializing in wetsuits, swimwear, clothing, footwear, accessories, and technology accessories. The company sponsors one of the most respected surf and wakeboard teams in the industry with such powerhouse names as pro surfers Bruce Irons, Mike Losness, Alex Gray and Holly Beck and wake boarders Rusty Malinoski, Shelby Kantar and Jeff McKee. Through reef Check, SIMA’s environmental fund, and the Surfrider Foundation, Body Glove works to preserve the purity of the waters it loves. Body Glove products are sold in the U.S. by a network of independent retailers. Body Glove is also sold in approximately 50 countries internationally.

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Posted in Giving Back, Holiday Gift Giving, Quirky Design Details, Who Knew

Inspiration: Thinking "Why Not?"


Inspiration from people and places keeps my creativity flowing. I design residential kitchen remodels for my clients. I know that for many of my clients that the design they entrust me with is the kitchen of their dreams. My goal is to get this for them.

Inspiration and keeping my ideas fresh comes from everywhere and everything. Weather it is as simple as taking a different road on my daily route, a weekend drive, a journey to a new city or as simple as reading about another designer’s work, finding inspiration from multiple sources is as necessary to me as water.

Clodagh, a woman who was named after a waterway in Ireland, an award winning designer of international fame, with signature products inspired by nature, has tackled the world of fashion, architecture and design, and also has time to manage a burgeoning retail collection of lighting, fabric, carpets and decorative accessories. When you live by a life long motto of : “Why not?”, anything is possible with that state of mind. Her story is amazing and inspirational.

If you admire and are inspired by the zen like and environmentally friendly qualities in design, then you will be inspired by Clodagh’s signature “Four C’s of contemporary design: contemplating, cleansing, clarifying, and creating everything from sensual bedrooms to spa-like baths in her new book, Your Home, Your Sanctuary , by Rizzoli.
Clodagh says, “What I like to hear most from my clients is, “We feel good here.” I completely agree with her.

In a time where the news is so alarming, the best we can do is make our homes a peaceful and nourishing place. Turn off the news, turn to your loved ones instead. Our home should be a place of rest and tranquility, a way to recharge, calm and renew every morning and night.

Trend guru, Faith Popcorn coined the phrase in the 1990’s, “cocooning”, suggesting that modern people cocoon in their homes because work is busy, life is hectic, and the news tells us that it’s dangerous to be anywhere but safely ensconced in our castle.

But the identifiable departure from the trend of cocooning from the last decade is the shift in thinking globally and acting locally. Clodagh states, “it’s about making a better world”. Giving back to the community is an important part of Clodagh’s business. www.Clodaghcares.org. is a non-profit that pools donations for charitable organizations that provide education, health necessities, and other means of assistance to children around the globe.

On her website, ClodaghCares.org, you will find several very simple ways you can give globally by giving up a simple daily luxury we take for granted. Her website has a cause and effect chart with a donation reference amount and how your small financial contribution makes a difference in someone else’s life. This excerpt from the web site can be found at: About Us.

Give up a couple of lattes and a muffin a month. $10.00 a month (appropriately channeled, and by that we mean put your bucks here) will bring miracles to children far away in distance, but close to the heart. Again, why?
The money you give will make a difference.

To you a mosquito net is something to drape romantically over the bedposts. Nice design. To a child in Africa, a mosquito net can literally be a lifesaver, guarding them as they sleep, from Malaria, the number 1 killer of children under 5.

What else will your ten bucks buy? A uniform, a requisite for school. For many, it’s their only clothing. But it is more. Hope. Pride. Belonging. Opportunity. A road that leads beyond the village and into the world beyond, to become a valued member of the global community. Given education, given opportunity, one of these children might become an astronaut, or discover a cure for AIDS. Why not?

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Posted in Giving Back, Holiday Gift Giving, Quirky Design Details, Who Knew

Inspiration: Thinking "Why Not?"


Inspiration from people and places keeps my creativity flowing. I design residential kitchen remodels for my clients. I know that for many of my clients that the design they entrust me with is the kitchen of their dreams. My goal is to get this for them.

Inspiration and keeping my ideas fresh comes from everywhere and everything. Weather it is as simple as taking a different road on my daily route, a weekend drive, a journey to a new city or as simple as reading about another designer’s work, finding inspiration from multiple sources is as necessary to me as water.

Clodagh, a woman who was named after a waterway in Ireland, an award winning designer of international fame, with signature products inspired by nature, has tackled the world of fashion, architecture and design, and also has time to manage a burgeoning retail collection of lighting, fabric, carpets and decorative accessories. When you live by a life long motto of : “Why not?”, anything is possible with that state of mind. Her story is amazing and inspirational.

If you admire and are inspired by the zen like and environmentally friendly qualities in design, then you will be inspired by Clodagh’s signature “Four C’s of contemporary design: contemplating, cleansing, clarifying, and creating everything from sensual bedrooms to spa-like baths in her new book, Your Home, Your Sanctuary , by Rizzoli.
Clodagh says, “What I like to hear most from my clients is, “We feel good here.” I completely agree with her.

In a time where the news is so alarming, the best we can do is make our homes a peaceful and nourishing place. Turn off the news, turn to your loved ones instead. Our home should be a place of rest and tranquility, a way to recharge, calm and renew every morning and night.

Trend guru, Faith Popcorn coined the phrase in the 1990’s, “cocooning”, suggesting that modern people cocoon in their homes because work is busy, life is hectic, and the news tells us that it’s dangerous to be anywhere but safely ensconced in our castle.

But the identifiable departure from the trend of cocooning from the last decade is the shift in thinking globally and acting locally. Clodagh states, “it’s about making a better world”. Giving back to the community is an important part of Clodagh’s business. www.Clodaghcares.org. is a non-profit that pools donations for charitable organizations that provide education, health necessities, and other means of assistance to children around the globe.

On her website, ClodaghCares.org, you will find several very simple ways you can give globally by giving up a simple daily luxury we take for granted. Her website has a cause and effect chart with a donation reference amount and how your small financial contribution makes a difference in someone else’s life. This excerpt from the web site can be found at: About Us.

Give up a couple of lattes and a muffin a month. $10.00 a month (appropriately channeled, and by that we mean put your bucks here) will bring miracles to children far away in distance, but close to the heart. Again, why?
The money you give will make a difference.

To you a mosquito net is something to drape romantically over the bedposts. Nice design. To a child in Africa, a mosquito net can literally be a lifesaver, guarding them as they sleep, from Malaria, the number 1 killer of children under 5.

What else will your ten bucks buy? A uniform, a requisite for school. For many, it’s their only clothing. But it is more. Hope. Pride. Belonging. Opportunity. A road that leads beyond the village and into the world beyond, to become a valued member of the global community. Given education, given opportunity, one of these children might become an astronaut, or discover a cure for AIDS. Why not?

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Posted in Giving Back, Table Top

Personalized Dinnerware

For the house proud, why not commemorate your new abode with a personalized plate. These are not the type of plates you would want to lay down in a Greek plate crashing celebration, these are for sharing special memories.


The perfect gift.
Personalized Dinnerware.
Imagine commemorating your first house together with an artistic monogram on personalized plates. Email a photograph to Jessica Rust about your special request and a few anticipated weeks later you will have your very own personalized dinnerware.

What a wonderful housewarming gift. Show off your family tree.

I love the concept of the family tree platter. This 12 inch platter makes a wonderful gift for the grandparents who have everything.
The first generation will be placed at the foot of the tree, with the subsequent generations on the branches.

And my favorite: Gift giving for a good cause. 100% of the proceeds for the sale of The Heart Bowls small and large will go to the American Heart Association.

How cool is this company. Bravo!

For more information:

www.rustdesigns.com

.

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The perfect gift.

Personalized Dinnerware.

Imagine commemorating your first house together with an artistic monogram on a dessert or salad plate. Email a photograph to Jessica Rust about your special request and a few anticipated weeks later you will have your very own personalized dinnerware.

What a wonderful housewarming gift.

I love the concept of the family tree platter. This 12 inch platter makes a wonderful gift for the grandparents who have everything.
The first generation will be placed at the foot of the tree, with the subsequent generations on the branches.

100% of the proceeds for the sale of The Heart Bowls small and large will go to the American Heart Association.

For more information: www.rustdesigns.com.

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Posted in Giving Back, Table Top

Personalized Dinnerware

For the house proud, why not commemorate your new abode with a personalized plate. These are not the type of plates you would want to lay down in a Greek plate crashing celebration, these are for sharing special memories.


The perfect gift.
Personalized Dinnerware.
Imagine commemorating your first house together with an artistic monogram on personalized plates. Email a photograph to Jessica Rust about your special request and a few anticipated weeks later you will have your very own personalized dinnerware.

What a wonderful housewarming gift. Show off your family tree.

I love the concept of the family tree platter. This 12 inch platter makes a wonderful gift for the grandparents who have everything.
The first generation will be placed at the foot of the tree, with the subsequent generations on the branches.

And my favorite: Gift giving for a good cause. 100% of the proceeds for the sale of The Heart Bowls small and large will go to the American Heart Association.

How cool is this company. Bravo!

For more information:

www.rustdesigns.com

.

Posted in Giving Back, Green Design, Outdoor Kitchens, Sustainable Design

How to Choose Patio Furniture: A.K.A. The Education of a Kitchen Designer

It is summer time and the news papers are full of ads featuring patio sets for sale. I want to remind you about the importance of avoiding tropical hardwoods for your patio furniture.

It’s funny the way things come about. Life is circular in so many ways. A cause and affect motion is set into place in our lives, like it or not, the same way a pebble hits a pond of water and has a ripple effect.

For me, my ripple effect was something as simple as shopping for a new patio bench last year. It brought my attention to the destruction of tropical rainforests. I was aware, yes, but it didn’t really impact me, so I thought, until it was about to impact me in my own backyard, literally. I felt small really on what impact I could have. Ultimately, I did not purchase a bench from Target made from nyatoh. What could I do, I am just one person among billions on our planet. Nevertheless, I researched this and wrote about it for the first time here in my blog October 15, 2007, Woods to Avoid and Alternatives. The impact to the environment is too big to ignore.

As far as my work as a kitchen and bath designer, well this is where I can have a bigger impact. Specifying materials for a project, I have an obligation to inform my client and my team on alternative options to exotic woods in a project. Where can these materials show up: hard wood floors, cabinetry, bannister’s, windows, timber, decks, siding and patio furniture.

As far as my patio bench realization, it was literally a benchmark in my education as a designer. Choose to take action, avoid local and global apathy, make good decisions when selecting materials for your own home improvement project.

Since my patio bench story last year, I am happy to check back with you and tell you who is making a difference and who is not. Source: Rainforest Relief.org.

  1. PROGRESS MADE: Significant progress had been made with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation over the last decade, in moving the agency away from the use of old growth tropical hardwoods. For the full article, read the New York Post article, Wood Free Boardwalk
  2. PROGRESS MADE: Watch dog groups like FSC-Watch were founded to highlight problems within FSC and help move FSC to clean up its system.
  3. PROGRESS MADE: Barnes & Noble ends the use of mahogany and other rainforest wood in new store construction. In 1996 Rainforest Relief targeted this bookselling giant for their ongoing use of mahogany and other tropical hardwoods in store construction. At the time, B&N was building approximately 100 stores a year using mahogany for foyers, doors & railings, jatoba for flooring and Shorea sp. for furniture. They now use domestic second growth for foyers, railings and flooring, and steel doors. Way to go Barnes and Noble!
  4. NO PROGRESS MADE: Banana Republic is not making the grade: Banana Republic, owned by GAP, has used Sydney blue gum for flooring, a temperate wood logged from the old growth forests of Australia. Banana Republic is now using jatoba (Brazilian cherry) for flooring in new stores.
  5. NO PROGRESS MADE: This Old House gets a failing grade. The PBS show, This Old House (TOH), promotes the use of tropical and temperate rainforest woods, thus encouraging the destruction of rainforests — the world’s oldest “house”. On October 23, 2005, TOH aired a segment promoting the use of tropical and temperate rainforest woods for siding in their current project. The materials suggested for replacing siding included only tropical and temperate rainforest woods, with the host never suggesting the use of more sustainable alternatives, such as recycled materials, salvaged or reclaimed lumber, or even certified domestic woods.
  6. PROGRESS MADE: Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Linens-n-Things and Improvements.com have announced that they will no longer carry nyatoh furniture and they are working with organizations to find more environmentally sound alternatives.

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?

  1. Send a message to Wal-mart, Sears, K-mart, Target, Pottery Barn, Cost Plus and Vons. Tell them it’s time to join with other forward-thinking companies like Ikea, Improvements and others and cease selling furniture and any other products made with wood from endangered forests.
  2. Plant a tree. Look for service organizations to get involved with. Tree People. Trees for the Future
  3. Join Rainforest Relief. Donate to a worthy cause making a difference.
  4. Bring Rainforest Relief to Your School, Civic Group or Event.
  5. Watch video information on the rainforests to see what is happening.

You Tube Video:
Tropical Timber Imports.
The Destruction of Our Forests.
Rainforest Destruction and Human Apathy

MY RIPPLE EFFECT.
I can answer my own question on what difference one person can make.

If I can have an effect on one person this summer to avoid purchasing these beautiful patio furniture sets made from wood cleared from endangered forests, then my small contribution has made a difference. If you are on the fence, I challenge you to open up your patio catalogs and look at these while watching the video links I list above. It is pretty dramatic. What legacy do you want to leave your grandchildren. Make a difference, get involved, plant a tree, educate yourself before you buy. Apathy is not the answer.

As a consumer, and as someone closely tied to the design/build remodeling industry, I know it is real easy to be swayed by the sale and the beauty of nyatoh, available at many retail stores right now, but ask yourself this: is it really worth it? I hope you join me and answer no.

What to watch for when selecting Patio Furniture.
A fantastic source you need to know about is Rainforest Relief. They have a wealth of information on what to look out for when selecting wood.

From their web site, I have captured the following information from their outdoor patio furniture campaign:
Rainforest Relief began campaigning on outdoor furniture in the mid-1990s, starting with municipal and institutional site furnishings. They did this by engaging towns, cities and educational institutions, attempting to persuade them to end their purchases of benches and other site furnishings made mostly from teak and ipê.

More recently, as teak supplies have begun to dwindle and teak has become more expensive, other woods have come into vogue as replacements. As well, Rainforest Relief began to engage companies selling outdoor furniture to the home market. They began this phase of the campaign targeting those companies selling nyatoh, as they saw the popularity of this material rising quickly.

The demand for teak, mahogany, nyatoh, balau, kapur, keruing, jatoba, ipê, garapera, western red cedar, jarrah, cypress, redwood and other woods is driving the destruction of endangered rainforests in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brazil and the dwindling old growth temperate forests of Australia, Canada and the United States.

Rainforest Relief has begun to engage a number of retailers about their sales of furniture made from nyatoh. These entities include Wal-mart, Target, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Cost Plus World Market, Vons (Safeway) and others.

Nyatoh, balau, kapur and other woods are being logged from rainforests mostly in Indonesia but also in Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam. Logging in Indonesia is a nightmare of illegality, unsustainability and conflicts with indigenous peoples. In Malaysia indigenous people such as the Penan are being displaced by loggers. A recent study showed that much of the wood exported from Vietnam was being illegally logged in Cambodia.

Jatoba, garapera and ipê are coming from the Amazon rainforests of Brazil, where 80% of logging is being done illegally and loggers even employ slave labor. Loggers are bulldozing new roads into pristine rainforests, thus paving the way for their total destruction.

Jarrah is being logged from old growth temperate forests in Australia. Western red cedar is logged from old growth temperate rainforests of Canada and the United States. Cypress is logged from old growth sub-tropical forests of the southern United States.

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