Posted in Accessable Design, Home Automation, Kitchen Automation, Luxury Kitchens, Modern Kitchens, New Products

Fully Automated Cabinets

Just when I thought I have seen everything, the latest innovations in kitchen automation never ceases to amaze me. Anvil Cabinet and Mill, a long time leading provider of custom cabinetry, recently launched Anvil Motion, the world’s first fully automated cabinetry system. For centuries, cabinets have opened with a hinged, swinging motion.


Not so with Anvil Motion’s patent-pending technology, the first system with doors and panels that open on command. Simply wave your hand and cabinet panels and doors rise and fall vertically with precision, concealing or revealing contents. Take a look.





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Posted in Kitchen Sociology, Kitchen Storage, Modern Kitchens, Planning, Small Kitchens, Style Notes, Ventilation

At a moment’s notice entertaining: dinner for twenty or thirty people…

I find some people absolutely fascinating for their ability to be so well organized. I revel at the idea of a well organized, well stocked kitchen and pantry. Oh, that’s right, I am a kitchen designer, it goes with the territory, call me crazy but I happen to love this stuff. The ability to pull off your holiday entertaining and make it look “effortless” is not by accident.

As the holiday’s approach, I do not want to be running around “last minute” and neither should you. Large or small kitchens, everyone can benefit from knowing how to organize their kitchen space. For some inspiration, who else to turn to but legendary entertaining expert Colin Cowie. I pulled my copy off the shelf, “Colin Cowie Chic: The Guide to Life As It Should Be”.

His video is just as inspiring. See the side bar at the left to play. In the video, “The Efficient Kitchen”, Colin explains with grace and confidence, “literally at a moments notice I can have dinner for twenty or thirty people. That’s the way I like it.”

Talk to me baby, talk to me. How cool is that! Did you see his video? Imagine your freezer flush with several particular types of ice cubes ready to pair with the drinks being served. If you are as organized as Colin, then you know about Couture Cubes. Scotch on the rocks? Reach for the wonderful big round ice ball to keep your drink from watering down. A dark and stormy? Freeze your ice in tall Popsicle shaped ice cubes. Tequila? Nothing else will do but the tall shards of ice served in a champagne flute. Are you looking at last summer’s stale ice cubes and wondering where you went wrong? Don’t despair, there is hope yet for my ice cubed challenged friends. See page 145 of his book. A tip from the book: make your own “couture” ice cubes this holiday season. Look for star shapes, jewels, and flowers for mixed drinks. This is not just for alcoholic beverages, more ideas abound for the designated driver refreshments. Use ziploc bags to keep your ice cube shapes from shattering and picking up freezer odors.

Whether planning for a holiday party or planning to remodel your kitchen, make a true assessment of your space. Think about your lifestyle and design your kitchen around you and your family. An entertainers kitchen, a family kitchen, whatever it is, build in features that make your space special to you and your family. Clear out items that make no sense to hold onto.

My top ten favorite features in Colin’s contemporary kitchen and beyond:

  1. The under cabinet lighting is concealed without a light rail for a contemporary elegant detail. The bottom of the wall cabinet is recessed to achieve this attractive detail. No clunky light rail.
  2. The return of the oak cabinet but in a very modern way. The cabinets are gray. Colin’s reason for this is that he wants the food to be the center stage in his kitchen. Color pops with the accent of all white dinnerware and color from the stemware.
  3. The everyday dinnerware is located directly above the dishwasher for ease of access.
  4. The silverware drawer is built deeper, “as it should be”to allow several sets of silverware to be stacked one above the other. I don’t know why more face frame cabinet manufacturers won’t give us this option without going to great lengths to customize. This should be a basic feature. If you order frame-less cabinets you can pick up more space with the absence of the face frame, but still not as much as it should be.
    One of my tricks I will share with you: instead of a drawer, order a base cabinet with a full height door and add several deeper roll out trays for cutlery. You can store much more in the same cubic space in stead of a standard door/drawer combo.
  5. The storage: a well stocked freezer with chickens, racks of lamb, frozen soups, chicken and beef stocks. If your kitchen is small like Colin’s, plan for a freezer in your garage to stock up on all the necessities.
  6. Organize your spices alphabetically with the labels facing out, (I know it is a little reminiscent of the eerie move, “Sleeping with the Enemy”, but to be ready to entertain, you want to see everything at once in a well organized spice cabinet or drawer. as for spice storage, I avoid designing with swing out spice racks in wall cabinets, because I don’t like small jars falling off the rack. I find most of my clients feel the same. I prefer a wide drawer with all the spices at easy viewing. Again, this is where slightly deeper drawers would come in handy. Or utilize the pull out wall cabinets that are so handy for seeing all your spices. Warning about decorative wall mount spice racks above a stove: spices should be kept in the dark and away from heat to preserve the freshness. Also watch the expiration dates. Use them or loose the flavors in your next meal. Buying Costco sized spices? Are you really going to benefit from that much? Unless you are serving 1000 people a day, the best bet with spices is to buy smaller quantities to enjoy the freshness.
  7. Zoning: keep all the foils, wraps, plastic, wax paper in a drawer close to the refrigerator for ease of wrapping up left overs.
  8. Music. I love to have music piped in to my kitchen as I prepare a meal. It can be as simple as a shelf mini stereo or when planning your kitchen, factor in a place to hold a reciever and install built in speakers from the ceiling. My client in the Hollywood Hills had a very small kitchen and we found the perfect spot in the wall cabinet over the refrigerator to house his small Bose system. The doors were removed for ventilation and to access with a remote. CD changing was not a problem as he kept his top 5 in there and changed them out at random. Music equipement needs air circulation. Be sure to factor that in your design.
  9. Shop for fresh produce. Get out to your local farmers market. It is cheaper than buying frozen and tastes so much better.
  10. Enjoy your holidays!

Laurie

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Posted in Blue Kitchens, Historical Influence, Kitchen Sociology, Modern Kitchens, Retro Kitchens, Who Knew

Looking back to look forward in kitchen remodeling.

(photos found at Retro Renovation)

I am a history buff. I love kernels of information so I can go off on a self discovery reading journey. Here is one that got me thinking about times of economic turmoil and how it affects everything we do, everything we buy and even what we eat. Did you know that during the Depression the U.S. Commerce Department proclaimed six standard colors in response to the chaos of various colors that previously existed regarding kitchen equipment? Is this not a wild factoid?

Hold on to that green frying pan. Yes, the US Commerce Dept formed the National Kitchen Modernization Bureau in 1935. White, delphinium blue, royal blue, kitchen green, ivory and red were designated as standard colors. Was the multitude of various colors in kitchen equipment really a problem? Could it be that the drive was to modernize kitchens? Out with the coal and in with gas ranges and electric refrigerators available in six matching colors for a lovely new modern kitchen.

For more information please take a detour to Retro-style suits older home for a very informative and quick read about the reactionary history of appliance colors based on economic hardships.

I found a reference to the National Kitchen Modernization Bureau, pulled from the archives of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.
Refer to the article: Newspaper’s institute raised bar on homemaking by Nancy Stohs.

Here is a snippet from the article:

In 1930, members could get free advice on kitchen remodeling through the institute’s Home Modernizing Bureau. A program announced in The Journal instructed women to mail in sketches of their woefully old-fashioned kitchens. Some of the old kitchens, along with suggested new designs, would be published in the Real Estate section. Owners of kitchens whose designs were not published would get a personal reply.

An article announcing the opportunity informed readers: “Pantries are out of date, be they large or small, and we must be rid of them to be modern.” Perhaps the pantry could be turned into a breakfast nook, or “a niche for the electric refrigerator.”

As for all those objects displaced from the pantry, “Closed cupboards are the modern, sanitary answer.” But don’t panic: “Building them is no longer a week’s long process.”

A thorough kitchen modernizing should run from $300 to $500, readers were told. “It is not necessary to have all of it done this spring.”

For more reading on Vintage Kitchens, reference the article:
Vintage Kitchens of the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s.

If you are loving all things vintage, then take another detour to Retro Renovations.

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Posted in Blue Kitchens, Historical Influence, Kitchen Sociology, Modern Kitchens, Retro Kitchens, Who Knew

Looking back to look forward in kitchen remodeling.

(photos found at Retro Renovation)

I am a history buff. I love kernels of information so I can go off on a self discovery reading journey. Here is one that got me thinking about times of economic turmoil and how it affects everything we do, everything we buy and even what we eat. Did you know that during the Depression the U.S. Commerce Department proclaimed six standard colors in response to the chaos of various colors that previously existed regarding kitchen equipment? Is this not a wild factoid?

Hold on to that green frying pan. Yes, the US Commerce Dept formed the National Kitchen Modernization Bureau in 1935. White, delphinium blue, royal blue, kitchen green, ivory and red were designated as standard colors. Was the multitude of various colors in kitchen equipment really a problem? Could it be that the drive was to modernize kitchens? Out with the coal and in with gas ranges and electric refrigerators available in six matching colors for a lovely new modern kitchen.

For more information please take a detour to Retro-style suits older home for a very informative and quick read about the reactionary history of appliance colors based on economic hardships.

I found a reference to the National Kitchen Modernization Bureau, pulled from the archives of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.
Refer to the article: Newspaper’s institute raised bar on homemaking by Nancy Stohs.

Here is a snippet from the article:

In 1930, members could get free advice on kitchen remodeling through the institute’s Home Modernizing Bureau. A program announced in The Journal instructed women to mail in sketches of their woefully old-fashioned kitchens. Some of the old kitchens, along with suggested new designs, would be published in the Real Estate section. Owners of kitchens whose designs were not published would get a personal reply.

An article announcing the opportunity informed readers: “Pantries are out of date, be they large or small, and we must be rid of them to be modern.” Perhaps the pantry could be turned into a breakfast nook, or “a niche for the electric refrigerator.”

As for all those objects displaced from the pantry, “Closed cupboards are the modern, sanitary answer.” But don’t panic: “Building them is no longer a week’s long process.”

A thorough kitchen modernizing should run from $300 to $500, readers were told. “It is not necessary to have all of it done this spring.”

For more reading on Vintage Kitchens, reference the article:
Vintage Kitchens of the 1930’s, 1940’s, 1950’s.

If you are loving all things vintage, then take another detour to Retro Renovations.

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Posted in Ceilings, Glamour, Kitchen Tours, Modern Kitchens, Molding, Paint, Traditional Kitchens

Ceilings Need Attention Too.

Many times the ceiling is the overlooked surface in kitchen remodeling.
Here are some lovely examples of designing with the 5th “wall” in mind.
If you are graced with 10′ plus ceilings, there are more options available. But, if you live in a two story home with standard 8′ ceilings, take heart, there are still options available for you.

This space designed by one of my favorite designers, Patricia Gray, shows off a floating ceiling. What a fabulous technique.

Another view into the work of Patricia Gray. The wood tones adds warmth to the otherwise glistening reflective space with nearly floor to ceiling spans of windows.


In this rambling California Ranch with cathedral ceilings, rough hewn beams (the very top left of the photo), were added to ceilings. Additional accent lighting above the cabinets sends the accent lighting upwards. The focus directs your attention up.

A two story home, although the ceilings are standard height, this vintage inspired kitchen plays up the molding detail, wrapping around the angled details. This kitchen, designed by my associate, Liz Tiffen, will be on the Tour of Kitchens, October 19th. For tickets and more information about the Tour please visit http://www.NKBAccv.org.

For many of us who have had the 1970’s recessed 4 x 8 fluorescent light tubes covered with plastic panels, an interesting update to the ceiling is the use of coved drywall finished with crown molding accenting the inside perimeter. Additional recessed can lights can be run inside this recessed area or as shown here, pendant lights and accent lighting behind the molding.

In Southern California, our older Spanish style homes, Art Deco or Craftsman style homes built in the 20’s and 30’s had great detail included: coved, art deco tray or beamed ceilings . If you are lucky to have a home with good bone structure to start with, lucky you.

If not, there are so many lovely styles to select from, it’s a shame to neglect the ceiling.

Here are some more examples of great ceilings.

From ValeyTinWorks.com

A barrel ceiling by Capital Improvements, in Dallas Texas. (In Texas where they really do everything big).

From Euro Builders, Texas

From the Vaughn Group, Dallas, Texas.

From the Traver Group, Texas.
And of course, I cannot end this series of ceiling details without showing the lovely, over the top (literally) faux painted sky ceiling. This one feels like a trellis above with the vines trailing down onto the wall. This one is just faux you.

I have been holding onto this photo forever. I think the kitchen is charming.
This is from YesterTec. A furniture company that specializes in amazing workstations hidden in armoire designed furniture.