“There are no facts, only interpretations.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
I've always seen the world a little differently. I'm very interested in colors and shapes and how the two co-mingle. And I have felt I have a kinship with dyslexia because I, too, see things backwards sometimes. But that's not always a bad thing.
It took me a while to figure out what this bright child had done...but that was only because I wasn't thinking like him/her. HOW CLEVER of this kid to truly follow the directions explicitly!! Just another example of seeing something from a different perspective.
It's important, in my life, but also in my role as a designer to be able to view things through another's eyes. Sometime I think it's easy to make the leap from what we think someone wants to what we want for them....but the two aren't always aligned.
....and taste is honestly a matter of opinion. Not everyone likes the same things I do....wouldn't it be a little boring if they did??
As a designer often it's our job to find the beauty in what's being presented.
Listening to clients is very important, granted, but understanding what they're saying is key. Like an investigator, one needs to ask the right questions to garner the meaning of what's being said.
I like to ask lots of questions. I like to visit their home and understand their surroundings. This can give a sense of their style, and color palette. It's just as important to understand what isn't working for them as what is. Ask about what bothers them most. Investigate. How many kids? What are their ages? What are their roles in the kitchen? Ask about entertaining vs. every night events. Ask about what other tasks transpire in the space. (crafts, homework, etc.) See if they can provide you with a variety of images (on-line or in magazines) of things they're attracted to....they may not see it, but you might see a trend common to all of them.
The inspirations for my designs come directly from the clients themselves. I have never felt the need to leave a "signature" in the design; the sign of a good design for me is when the homeowner says, "It's so ME"
Here's a great example of looking at something from different directions....how amazing is this? I just love that the designer had the ability to 'see' more than just one perspective of it...and brought it to fruition!
Not everyone has the same taste as me, and, quite honestly, being in this industry is quite difficult because your taste changes every day....what once used to be beautiful to me is now too much for me.
....and while I love contemporary design
I think my taste has morphed to a more eclectic style:
...this beautiful design is by Bennett Frank McCarthy Architects...
....but the reality is: it's not MY kitchen, and while I love when my style aligns with my client's; it's not necessary. What is required is that I hear what they're trying to convey and develop a plan that reflects their perspective!
Since Halloween is just around the corner, I thought I'd write about what scares me the most: Shocking Kitchens! (I know; shivers down my spine and everything!) ....well, maybe not for you, but it has that effect on me.
....and there are many types that scare me...there are the ones that are too cluttered:
Where do I begin? I stress just looking at this.
Clearly they like their crafts, but I'm not quite sure where they find the room to do them...
Sadly it looks as though the liquor bottles are empty...I'd be drinking too if I had to clean that up!
Then there are kitchens that are just dated:
I'm sure it was meant to feel sunny, but all it feels like to me is sad....note the Avocado Green range...thank goodness that trend has passed.
While it is all coordinated, it's definitely passed its prime; I feel like any moment now Suzanne Pleshette and Bob Newhart will walk in....
This kitchen is actually not the offensive part of this kitchen...Grandma, you hottie!
It can also be creepy when kitchens are designed with poor color choices:
We get it; you like fuscia!
Is that Crayola's "Mullbury" I see?
Clearly someone took a Sharpie to these cabinets; no one PAYS for that look.
There are also looks that are alarming only as a matter of taste:
I'm sure the owner of this kitchen thinks it's beautiful...
I'm sure the owner thinks...No, the owner MUST know this is Ugly!
But the most hair-raising of all in kitchens is bad kitchen design:
True, some out there can "plan" and install a kitchen that simply doesn't function properly. Place the cabinets on one wall and just drag the range and fridge over to the nearest outlet. (I think Grandma's vitamins will store nicely in the cabinet over the window)
Cannibalized yard sale find perhaps??
Most don't think about the traffic patterns of their home and how the placement of their cabinetry effects (for good or bad) the functionality of the space and the people within it. It's important to consider all of the things you and your family do in the kitchen in order to create a kitchen that functions to its highest level.
So make the scariest thing about your home the Jack O'lantern and leave the kitchen design to a trusted professional!
This is truly my favorite time of the year. I love when the air gets crisp at night and I get to pull out all my cozy sweaters from hiding. (My pumpkin-colored cashmere hoodie is one of my favorites!!)
I love the sound of the leaves rustling about as I walk through them, clearing a path as I go.
...and the colors! For a kid who always said she wanted to be a professional "colorer" when she grew up, the spectrum of colors that surround us in New England this time of year are absolute heaven to me!
And while it's so sad to be on dry land instead of in the Ocean (my first love) for the next EIGHT MONTHS, the Fall marks the beginning of all the indoor activities I like to do: Canning, Baking, and Nesting!!
As we near the end of October, it's also time for some serious Halloween Décor. First, I made a wreath for the back door:
and gave my attention to the front door:
I think it gives the right hint of what's to come....
Next is the Living Room, which has a warm fireplace. ...as much as I could have gone a little more to the dark side, I liked this because, once Halloween is over, I can sub out the Jack O'Lanterns for various pumpkins and gourds and move straight on to Thanksgiving!
Enter: The Kitchen. Where all the action takes place REGARDLESS of where you had planned for everyone to hang out.
Of course we'll offer our guest something to eat and maybe a drink or two
but decorating the room is what really sets the tone for the gathering
...and I think this sign warns guests to be appreciative!
All that's left is to sit and eat!!
Here's wishing you more treats than tricks this Halloween!!
Just like the Old Sinatra song, many folks have regrets on a kitchen project. In fact, I often tell people that if they really want to get opinions from family and friends, the best thing they can ask them is what they regret not doing rather than what they did.
Six months after you buy a new car, doesn't it just figure that the newer version of your car comes out?? So, too, can be the case with kitchens. New accessories, new finishes, new versions of your cabinets....and that's life, and cannot be avoided....but the real regret comes when someone says, "Why didn't you do such-n-such" and your reply is, "What's a such-n-such?" That's the heartbreaker! You missed out on something that WAS available, you just didn't know about it!!
One of two things could have avoided that: 1.) HOMEWORK. LOTS OF IT. Search, scan, read & learn about the latest in kitchen design. Figure out what's a fad and what's essential. Survey friends to determine their impressions of the latest innovations.
or, 2.) Hire a good designer. Your designer will be able to tell you about all of the newest trends and discern for you whether or not they are right for you based upon your space and your lifestyle.
As beautiful as we want our kitchen to be, if it's not fully functional than it's missed the goal. Form must follow function. When I visit a friend with a new kitchen, the first thing they want to show me is not the look of the exterior of the cabinets, it's what's inside! Invest in some key organizational accessories that work for you.
A worthy investment for me is something that better utilizes the dreaded corner cabinet. this unit pulls out into daylight to give full access and visibility to all inside.
Here's another favorite. Knives at the ready but because this is 2-tiered, there's no waste of space and the sharps are concealed from the little ones in the house.
....then there are spices....do you even know how many you have?? Are they all the same size? How often do you use them? these are the questions a good designer should have the answers to before designing. ....with these answers, the designer will know which storage solution is best for you:
As you can see, the choices are many and it takes work to know which works best for your needs.....and that's just spices!!
I know; it's overwhelming! But that's why I believe option 2 is best. Find a designer that asks the right questions; digs a little deeper to understand how you live in your space now and what will make the room more efficient and comfortable for you and your family for years to come.
Okay, so if you've been following along...I mentioned that one of the most overlooked items in kitchen design is often lighting, the second, I think, is ventilation.
There are a few goals of good ventilation: Proper ventilation covers the entire width of the cooking surface, removes the smoke and steam efficiently and provides good lighting for the pots below. It also keeps that annoying smoke detector from going off!!
Seems simple enough, but it's a little more technical than that...
As you can see by this image, smoke and steam don't go straight up--they billow out. This is why it's so critical to have a ventilation system that both covers the area AND has adequate capabilities. ...and this is where it gets a little confusing. In order to pick the proper vent, you first need to determine what kind of cooktop you'll be using. For instance, will you be cooking with gas? Electric? If the answer is gas, what are the BTU's of each burner?
The general rule of thumb is to add up the BTU output of each burner and divide by 100. (A 5-burner gas cooktop with a total of 60,000 BTU's should require a 600 CFM motor) That means that the hood can pull 600 cubic feet of air through its duct each minute, ensuring that the smoke and steam are cleared from your kitchen and purified in one way or another.
Over the years, I've heard many people tell me, "Well, we don't do a lot of frying"...that's not truly important. Even steam can be your enemy in the kitchen! I've heard that the amount of steam coming off a pot of spaghetti once a week for a year would equal over 5 gallons!! ...and the steam, if not contained, will travel throughout the kitchen and rest everywhere: on your cabinetry and walls (risking damage to your paint finish) and attracting dust in the air (this is what truly creates that 'grimy' feeling)
The best way to use your hood is not simply for the lights; you need to turn the blower on too. ...and people: make it your religion!! Turning the hood on as soon as you turn on the burner gets the flow of air moving in the right direction BEFORE you begin cooking, so it doesn't have to work overtime to catch up to the cooking you've already begun!
Great, so we know we need a hood. But what kind?? Well, there are many options as far as styling is concerned, but my best wish is for something that is actually larger than the cooking surface and nearly as deep, too, so it can collect the steam as it expands beyond the pot. I also want it to be easy maintenance so I'll be more inclined to use it! Many hoods offer filters that have multiple layers of mesh (if you can see through it it's not doing as much as it could) that pop out easily and go right into the dishwasher. (I can do that!!) My hood even has a light that blinks to let me know when they need a bath!!
Wait! What about microwave hoods??? Yeah, I get asked that a LOT! Microwaves are necessary items in the kitchen, but my favorite place for them is NOT above the cooktop or range. Here's why: Most folks use microwaves to reheat leftovers...which come from the fridge. I'd rather place it adjacent to or nearby the refrigerator. Here's my logic: Busy families do a multitude of tasks each day within their kitchen. And many members of the family do them simultaneously. While one is emptying the dishwasher, another is prepping a meal, and yet another is heating something up. In order to eliminate cross traffic from these locations, I prefer to have the microwave away from the cooktop and the dishwasher typically on the opposite side of the sink & cooktop.
Think about it: if you're trying to cook and a burner is on, do you really want (or do you want someone in your family) to reach over that hot stove to retrieve something hot out of the microwave??
Additionally, microwave hoods are typically no deeper than 16-17"--so they're not even covering the front burners of your cooktop (which is why all that steam surfaces on the door of the microwave) Side note: moisture is bad for electronics (which is why the keypads on those microwaves begin to fail after a bit) ...and lastly they usually have a CFM rating that is less than 300. Did I mention those filters?? Nevermind. It's clear I don't care for them. You do your homework and decide for yourself!
But let's say we agree and we need a hood, what kind?? Well, there are MANY options:
This one is very subtle looking. Nice for a clean look. When you pull that glass portion forward you're effectively covering the front burners and protecting the finish on the cabinetry above. When not in use it recesses back into the cabinet façade.
this one is beautiful. (the ventilation is in the form of a "power pack" self-contained unit that fits into the wooden hood we've designed for our client) It makes a statement. A striking focal point to the room. Oversized for the cooktop, but perfectly to scale with the space. Here's a picture of the "power pack" before it's installed:
...then there are some amazingly unique designs out there....
Just plain fun!!
That crystal hood actually has filters that go in the dishwasher, but also THE OUTSIDE goes in the dishwasher too!! (okay, so it's not oversized as I prefer, but they show it over an electric cooktop (which is typically a lot less output, and what a statement!!)
Downdrafts!! You missed Downdrafts!!! No I didn't, I saved them for last. You want your cooking in the island, but hate the obstruction of an island hood. Yes Virginia, you can do a downdraft. ...but please bear in mind a few things:
The ideal downdraft needs to come up OVER the height of your pots so that it can collect the smoke and steam off of the top. The filters should come out and go into the dishwasher like before, and the duct work must travel the shortest distance to get outside, with the least amount of turns and connections possible. (each elbow and every 10 feet of ducting reduces your CFMs.) ...oh, and you might want to cook more on the back burners than the front to help gravity along. Even the hood manufacturers admit that they are only 60% effective....but for some folks that's the sacrifice they are willing to make.
Whichever you decide, consider it carefully. The underdog of your kitchen will be your hood as it keeps you in the clear for years to come!
....when designing a kitchen, one of the two most important, yet most neglected items in the project is often LIGHTING. (I'll get to the other most important item later) ....but for now, just take a look. You be the judge:
the lack of under cabinet lighting makes your work surface too dark to do any cooking....
with the under cabinet lighting you can cook with ease!
When you look at a pretty kitchen in a magazine or on-line, one of the most appealing things about the image is often the same thing you overlook: lighting.
In fact, the reason it's so overlooked I think is because, when done effectively, it's so subtle that it's not detected.
A well-designed kitchen should have three types of lighting:
Ambient lighting provides an area with overall illumination. Also known as general lighting, it radiates a comfortable level of brightness without glare and allows you to see and walk about safely.
Task lighting helps you perform specific tasks, such as reading, grooming, preparing and cooking food, doing homework, and working on hobbies..
Accent lighting adds drama to a room by creating visual interest. As part of an interior design scheme, it is used to draw the eye to specific parts of the kitchen, such as an island or eating area. It can also be used to highlight the texture of a wall, or window.
A combination of all three of these light sources, in harmony, creates a warm atmosphere conducive to cooking, entertaining and living within your new kitchen.
Stay tuned to find out what the second most overlooked item in the kitchen is.....