Is The Kitchen Work Triangle Effective?

Granite island and perimeter surfaces

Create a snack zone prep area between major appliances. This usually involves a micro & refrigerator nearby.

Since most homeowners now admit there is more than one person working in the kitchen, the inefficiency of a basic “work triangle” (sink, fridge, stove) is rather obvious. Where do you put an army of small appliances and still keep adequate counter space? Balancing the choices of large appliances is also a challenge since the goal is to accomplish a floor plan that doesn’t seem “forced”. Here is a small quick list of pet peeves (more politely called design challenges) that I see out there in all different kinds of kitchen spaces. Try to avoid these.

1- A giant microwave over the range or on the counter

2- A dishwasher trapped in the corner/fridge up against wall

3- A refrigerator that is too deep and sticks out into the room

Another negative that you may want to avoid …… anything that cannot be wiped down with a sponge doesn’t belong in a kitchen.

The best kitchen is an uncluttered kitchen, no matter what your style choice is, and creating “work zones” rather than a strict triangle. Here are a few that I like:

A) Snack zone or nook

B) Mail drop

C) Electronic device charging station

D) Two prep zones

E) Medicinal/vitamin separate storage

D) Cooking zone properly scaled for the space

E) Smaller appliances zone created with cabinetry

Do You Need To Replace Your Lighting To LED?

Darker Countertops Require Good Lighting

Darker Countertops Require Good Lighting

Do you need to replace your bulbs to LED? Not necessarily, but eventually:)

Most of us will still be confused in the lighting aisle, where you can still purchase halogen bulbs because of the low price and  these bulbs “feel” like the old incandescents …. yet halogen bulbs are still only approx. 25 percent more efficient which is just enough to meet the EISA standards set.

LED lights are truly getting better and more exciting. (Can you tell I’m the daughter of a life-long electrician?) Because LED lights are so efficient, they will take a VERY long time before you’ll need to replace. I like that concept! According to Popular Mechanics, “Replacing a 60-watt incandescent with an LED equivalent will save you $130 in energy costs over the new bulb’s lifetime. The average American household could slash $150 from its annual energy bill by replacing all incandescents with LED bulbs.”

Here’s more info:

-LED lights are dimmable

-LED lights are getting “warmer” in color tone (LED’s now have CRI’s in the 80’s….Color Rendering Index)

-LED lights are getting cheaper to buy (manufacturers are more efficient in producing LED’s and demand is high)

Replacing certain kinds of older fixtures and housings take a bit of research and “trying on” lightbulbs can be a chore, but in the end, an updated look is achieved and the energy savings will be realized.

Have a great summer!

Four Ways To Update Your Kitchen in 2015

Transitional Style in the Kitchen includes color and eclectic lampshade island lightsing.

  • LED tape lights are the latest to add to highlite just about any place in the kitchen. With up to 50,000 of lifespan and low heat output makes LED tape my choice for lighting underneath wall cabinets, or underneath the toekick space. Applying this “tape” to the sides of cabinets with glass doors or above crown molding to reflect light off the ceiling is easy and modern. This professional modular lighting system features a variety of control options. A few manufacturers of LED tape include JESCO, Juno Lighting and Nora Lighting. They also carry LED puck lights.
  • INDUCTION cooktops have incredible instant response. Induction is the best cooking technology on the market. From instant simmering to a high setting for bringing to boil any liquids to an extremely low “melt” setting on many models makes cooking enjoyable. The worktop surface stays relatively cool since it’s magnetic technology. Induction cooking also eliminates the need to use a powerful hood vent. Heat is transferred only to the cooking vessel.Check out Wolf’s induction cooktop in various sizes with 4 or 5 burners.
  • TRANSITIONAL KITCHEN DESIGN is strong in interior design and with good reason. This style has been made popular by homeowners who are trending toward a simpler way of life, or homeowners who still respect and enjoy the familiar traditional looks in furnishings but desire a fresh take on kitchen design with less clutter, clean lines and modern innovative appliances. It’s easy to respect the architectural style of a house and decorate in a transitional style. In kitchens selections include simple door styles, smooth painted or stained finishes which include new gray colors and more modern styled faucets with stainless, nickel and black finishes. Even a vintage piece or flea-market find can be used in a contemporary updated transitional kitchen. Studio 76 Kitchens and Baths blog includes additional information on this kitchen style.
  • EARTHY COLORS for cabinetry is the approach for updated kitchen design, including mixing white paint or black accented islands or upper wall cabinets for effect.Pops of color in frames of cabinets or colorful walls add the interest in kitchen design. Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer or ColorSnap app are great tools to use for deciding what looks the best when painting kitchen walls. Medallion Cabinetry now offers new stains and paints that lend to current design trends in kitchens. Expand your culinary skills, entertain and enjoy an updated kitchen!

Remodeling the Kitchen in Stages

AFTER showing the new fridge and ovens....nice!

AFTER showing the new fridge and ovens….nice!

I used to tell homeowners that they couldn’t remodel their kitchen in stages… but I’ve expanded my view of this option, with caution. Here are 5 possible steps to remodeling over time, keeping in mind that the entire process shouldn’t be dragged out over years of time. Lets make this a 2-3 year plan (at the most!) okay?

1-DO THE PLAN. Most people now understand, through the plethora of homeowners education TV programs, online forums and digital media (along with following their favorite celebrity designer!) that a detailed floor plan and design board can always be accomplished first. This IS the no.1 stage for your kitchen remodel. Get a professional to help you… or simply start with your own journal of notes and decorating samples.

2-BUY YOUR APPLIANCES. Usually a homeowner is “forced into high gear” when one of their appliances breaksdown. You can live with old countertops and cabinets for a while longer, but you can’t operate without your main appliances. Go ahead and purchase the main ones, even if it’s just your fridge that went kaput. Most appliance manufacturers have a better deal when purchasing more than one. Even high-end makers (ie. Subzero and Wolf) have rebates when you purchase more than one. Oh…and don’t stress about which finish to choose. Choose STAINLESS please! or a finish that mimics the stainless look. I just don’t want to see you “outdate” yourself from the start!

Eliminated closet for more kitchen space.

Eliminated closet for more kitchen space.

3-PAINT THE WALLS. I know, I know…normally that’s the last step. But I find that homeowners are energized when they can paint in a fresh, updated color. It helps to finish, at least mentally, what the rest of the kitchen’s colors and patterns will be. It’s a great atmosphere and very inspiring to live for awhile in your kitchen, while saving bucks for the big items.

A great storage option when you order new cabinets!

A great storage option when you order new cabinets!

4-REPLACE CABINETS. Now if you think your existing cabinets are worthy of stone tops, and IF your existing cabinets are less than 6 years old, this 4th step could be my no. 5 stage below. Being logical, if you intend to get a new floor, you really can’t do that until the final stage, simply because it’s most likely going to RAISE your floor to finished ceiling height. So since you have your floor plan done (that was no. 1 above) get some quotes in the finishes and doorstyle that is current, appealing from a design point of view, AND functional. That means the latest closures and drawer systems. Don’t skimp because even very basic “stock” lines of cabinets (ie.Medallion Silverline)offer the latest in hardware and glides. Be looking at flooring at this point …. at least select your main items on your design board.

4.5-ARE YOU KEEPING YOUR EXISTING FLOOR? or replacing it? If you are going to keep a wood floor, for example, set up an appointment with a flooring refinisher that can do this AFTER step 5. If you need new flooring, specify the height, and make sure to shim the cabinet installation accordingly …. then you’ll be able to put the flooring in last, since your main appliances sit on top of it.

5-NEW COUNTERTOPS & SINK (possibly faucet unless you can safely reuse your existing). Please don’t do this step on old, outdated cabinetry. There’s no temporary approach for great surfaces on great looking cabinets. You’ll need to get the plumbing updated at this stage, since your new sink will mostly likely be undermounted and drain location may change slightly. NOTE TO HOMEOWNER: please don’t purchase laminate tops as you will outdate yourself immediately, and eliminate much of the value of the kitchen remodel, okay? I write this from my 20 years of experience…

Stay tuned for my 2014 Favorite Kitchen Products, and a closer look at the new lighting available.

Call me for help in setting up your kitchen remodel budget.

I know what things cost these days 🙂

Deb S.

Kitchen Designer Storage Favorites!!

Spices stored in a pantry cabinet....labeled on the tops.

Spices stored in a pantry cabinet….labeled on the tops.



Vertical storage for trays, sheets, boards. Nice!

Vertical storage for trays, sheets, boards. Nice!

storage 02
base roll-outs to store pots & pans & lids

base roll-outs to store pots & pans & lids

People have so much stuff! My favorite part of a kitchen remodel is when my customer gets to organize all of their “things”. Sometimes, I enjoy designing open spaces and shelves for dishes and serving pieces but usually us American homeowners want to minimize the clutter and hide our stuff. Start gathering ideas from (are you on Houzz yet?) and if you’re planning on remodeling and getting it done before Christmas….I suggest you get going with planning, like now!

More later!


Best Budget-friendly Kitchen Remodels

2-wall kitchen bright with white!

2-wall kitchen bright with white!

Add a white table and painted woodwork for a 2013 update.

Add a white table and painted woodwork for a 2013 update.

1-Cabinets are a big decision. Will you replace or paint your existing cabinets? Replacing can be budget-friendly as long as you’re (A) considering a stock cabinet line (“stock” is the buzzword for manufactured cabinets that are mass-produced) (B) Selections should be made in a standard stain, or a foil finish (C)The painter should understand proper procedure, safety, and quality level of your existing cabinets. To re-paint older cabinets is not as easy as it sounds. There could also be an issue with new countertops on old cabinets. A good kitchen design professional can give you advice on which way to go! For a smaller kitchen, plan on a moderate $3,000-$7,000 for brand new cabinets. Labor is separate.

2-Replacing your countertops will be necessary. There’s no way around it….new tops are the way to go. (A)The new high definition (HD) laminates are price-friendly and so very nice in the pattern choices. Check out the Formica brand and the Wilsonart brand. (B) If considering granite, select the more common colors usually found at home centers. Colors such as New Venetian Gold and Uba Tuba have actually gone down in price over the last few years. Stay with a standard edge treatment and no backsplash.

3-If changing your space plan, keeping your appliances in the same location will save you some electric and plumbing labor costs, and could also possibly save your flooring (only if your existing floor is wood or a well-done ceramic tile with clean joints) Update your lighting for code purposes and by all means, if you add any new lights, purchase LED. The cost savings over time will be advantageous.

Paying a qualified, experienced kitchen designer professional for a couple hours of their time can help you get started in developing your kitchen remodeling look, style and budget. I say this not just because this is my work experience…but because I know many design professionals who have helped homeowners not waste their money in remodeling. There IS a world of difference between someone who calls themselves “decorators” and those who are qualified, educated and experienced “Interior Designers” and “Kitchen Designers”. Trust me.

Choosing a Refrigerator – 6 Tips

French-Door Styling in refrigerators are still popular ... and stainless finishes are never trendy.

French-Door Styling in refrigerators are still popular … and stainless finishes are never trendy.

Buying a refrigerator is hard. The selections are overwhelming. The prices keep going up. There are so many brands and all the ads sound appealing because every brand competes for your business! Since you’re reading my own blog about kitchens, I figured that some of my tips ( even if I sound opinionated ) might help someone who has this daunting task ahead of them! Here goes:

1) Ask your friends, family, neighbors or anyone you know who has purchased a refrigerator in the past 2 years. Seriously, I think it’s the first step in your research before you start shopping. Opinions count.. and people either love or hate their refrigerators. Write the brands, model no’s, manufacturer, style and (if they divulge) price that was paid. Also ask people if they have had to call for service (not necessarily a bad thing) and how that all went.

2) Research online. Do your homework on different makes and models and see what each offers in size, configuration, and style. Save money by not traveling everywhere around town at first. I love love love the internet for research on refrigerators.

3) Prepare your opening and prepare for delivery. Sizes are SO important, especially if you’re remodeling and especially since refrigerators are being built taller. Don’t be surprized by the dimensions of the unit …. prepare for the delivery as well. I’ve seen homeowners not being prepared for getting a new fridge INTO their house (including making a turn or going up steps, header blockages and door trims with narrow doorways.

4) Don’t buy a fridge based on cubic feet alone. So many times, it doesn’t tell the story of how food will be stored. I encourage my clients to bring their containers or must used items that they keep in their refrigerators … and test out models at showrooms by trying out the way door shelving is configured and how easy it is to see items in the back. Accessibility is really important. That’s why I always recommend counter-depth styles.

5) Don’t be afraid of stainless finishes … it’s really not that hard to maintain. The only newer finish that has come on the design scene recently is “Ice White” which is a type of white metallic color. Whirlpool introduced it mid 2012. We’ll see if it catches on.

6) Look for the best quality hinging possible, and consistent temperature control. Air purification is one of the best improvements in refrigeration. Look for it in lines like Subzero with features like a NASA designed filtration system that replenishes the air every 20 minutes while eliminating bacteria, odors, and microscopic contaminants. Or there is a less expensive Whirlpool fridge with a replaceable air filter that Whirlpool claims “lets air actively pass through the filter, helping neutralize odor and bacteria. It reduces odors 15 times better than baking soda. Replace filter every 6 months.”

I recently had a good laugh while listening to Brian Regan’s humorous sketch on “buying a refrigerator”.

He had a good point …. refrigerators keep things cold! Simplistic, but it’ll keep you from getting too crazy when shopping for your new fridge!

Best of luck.