Hold Up!

Hold Up!

 Oh yes… The island with seating. It’s what all dream of in their new kitchen! That place for company to flock to, stand at, lounge on, drink their coffee, eat their snacks, and children do their homework on. It is so much for so many things! The community table!

The necessary components to make it work is the counter overhang. That is the piece of counter that extends past the cabinets. It is the invitation, the level playing field to the islands purpose. In most cases today the counter of choice is stone. And stone requires support! It may be legs, brackets, or hidden supports that hold it up.

So how will you hold up your counters? Here is the opportunity to make your island say something about you! No need to limit yourself by requirements of stone.  If stone is not the choice, make a statement! Will it be traditional? Contemporary? Or something in between? What material? Wood, stone, metal? Peruse island photos and you will see legs of all sizes and thicknesses, brackets that just to do the job or corbels and shapes of animals or clusters of grapes. Take the opportunity to hold up your counters with style. Your style!

 

We love wroughtironcorbles.com   Our favorite is Willow!!

Feeling Lazy?

Feeling Lazy?

The corner of the kitchen can be a catch-all on the counters and a haven for the cookie jar. What about beneath, inside the cabinets?  For many it is the land of the lost. The deep cavern with a small opening leading back to 10 years ago when you bought that small food processor that hasn’t seen the light of day sense.

If that’s not your lot, then maybe it’s the Lazy Susan. That wonderful idea that unfortunately has been poorly made for so many years! The plastic shelf and metal pole are the common folly. Crooked, unreliable and yellowing with age, this product has failed us!  Bringing us to our knees to retrieve the fallen.

So what is todays solution? There are many offerings…from the practical to the lavishly expensive. But the apparatus of choice is still good old Suzie. Not the make, but the idea. Good solid materials have taken the place of rickety parts. Wooden turntables without poles! No more of  rotate and load. Just the simple slide of material as you push them in.  If you have the pie shaped corner cabinet, then there is the luxury of turning and seeing your storage emerge from the cabinet in front of you without reaching in.

So here is a salute to Miss Susan who is making a come back like she was always meant to. (pun intended)

 

To be, or not to be…

To be, or not to be…

So what’s the question?  Well, in the kitchen design world there are your AKBD’s, CKD’s, kitchen architects, and interior designers.  But, is there another profession in association with design that can prove to be the necessary component to create the best of kitchens?  Yes there is:  THE BACKGROUND.

“The background” is not the back drop of a movie space or the extended perspective view in a design, it’s the person.  Who are they?  Where have they been?  What necessary components make up the fact that they became someone who could continually and successfully designs kitchens without causing problems or failing in the attempt.

My personal schooling in the matter comes from the Hard Knocks Academy.  Starting by actually installing, sanding and finishing floors and then from there went ground up to a millwork factory making cabinetry and installing it.  But, deep in my soul burnt the creative personality that had existed from my beginning.  It pointed me in the direction of using what I know to create something more.

So after asking the millwork office how long before I could get the chance to be in the design driver seat, the response nudged me to visit my local kitchen design studio to find their reaction.  To my surprise they quickly hired me and put me in “the chair”.  “But I have not prior design experience!” I exclaimed.  “Let’s see how it goes” was the response.  That is when all prior knowledge an experience fell into place.  Hands on with flooring, cabinets, and art school gave me the fuel and confidence to throw myself in head first.  The constant from then to now has remained my side kick…NEVER STOP ASKING QUESTIONS.

I found that my background and continued resolution to “ask and make sure” is what has made me a capable kitchen designer for over a decade.

There are others out there, like myself, whose backgrounds have made them a great success in their profession.  So is it necessary “to be” a CKD or AKBD?  No.  My experience tells me it is the experience…the background.

Three steps to planning a successful kitchen remodel

Three steps to planning a successful kitchen remodel

Remodeling a kitchen can be a daunting task! To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed or disappointed during the remodeling process, there are three major things to consider.

[wpsr_pinterest]

IMG_6039

1. BUDGET
In most cases clients will come to me without a budget, not knowing what to expect in connection with the expense of their dream kitchen. Below are a couple of things to consider when formulating the scope of your project.  If you would like to use an easy formula to figure out how much should be spent in your kitchen remodel, consider this: A kitchen will take up somewhere near 15% of your home in terms of the amount of space used. So use at least 10% of the overall value of your home to give you a budget idea to start with.

For example, if the value of your home is $500,000 your kitchen remodel should be somewhere in the vicinity of $50,000. This is a good starting point for a kitchen remodel. This budget method will get you quality materials, but not necessarily the most high-end products on the market.

2. DON’T GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL TO ASSESS YOUR SPACE
We live in the age of do it yourselfers …but this is not necessarily the best course of action in regards to a kitchen renovation. It is so fun and helpful to gather ideas, but don’t get ahead of yourself! You may love an idea and even have your heart set on it, but your space needs to be assessed first!

Take for instance, certain glass partition doors on cabinets may cost up to $500 per door…a professional will be able to assess your current home and advise you as to what your space and budge will allow for. Can you fit that dream island in your space or not? Make sure your kitchen designer is a good fit and can help you to coordinate the project!

3. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
When do you want your kitchen project completed? In time for summer entertaining, a family reunion, graduation, wedding, or baby? What is your date? Work backwards from there, remember it takes sometimes two months to receive certain customized materials, namely cabinetry. With that being said, give yourself at least three months to plan for a custom kitchen with a kitchen designer. If your desire is to have things done in the non-winter months, then plan accordingly. It’s always easier to use the grill on the deck than cook on a hot plate in the living room…or wash dishes with a hose outside rather than in the vanity sink in the bathroom. Remember, the amount of time without a kitchen is could be about five weeks…but should be no longer than seven weeks!

This is more of a P.S than a line item, but try to have fun during the process! Don’t stress over things you can’t control. Take plenty of pictures of the stages, and have a nice party to show off when everything is done!

Three cm

Three cm

The imperial measuring system has long been our mathematical course here in the states and there is no indication of that ever changing. Of course, that could all change if Trump is elected. The fact of the matter is, that with the rest of the world chiming in with their materials we have to adjust to the occasional metric measurement thrown into the mix.

 ruler-1479782-1919x1444

In a kitchen design our biggest adjustment is with measuring countertops. Custom made laminate, solid surface or concrete tops are made in a shop where they are also using the imperial system, so no problem there.  Now here is where things can get tricky. Have you ever seen the garage cabinet that sits on the counter, housing the coffee maker or another appliance? Well that cabinet has to reach the same top height as the rest of the cabinets. The only problem is the counter it sits on may not be the imperial standard 1 ½” the cabinet company planned for. In fact it almost always is not. The big reason for that is most of all counters done today are either granite or quartz. And guess what….they come from other counties where their standard for counters is 3 cm. A measurement that is not really even close to the 1 ½” mark. Depending on what has been done to the material it will start at 1 ¼” but could be 1 1/8”. This can be a problem in hanging a cabinet that will sit on the counter since there will be an obvious gap between the counter surface and the bottom of the cabinet, a gap that could be about 3/8”. Here is where the devil is in the details. If the cabinet line doesn’t allow for changes in heights, you can patch in material on the bottom of the cabinet. If by chance they do offer a height change the simple solution is to make the cabinet that sits on the counter ¼” to 3/8” taller. You could change the tall cabinets to be shorter but just remember that all of the wall cabinets also have to be hung ¼” to 3/8” lower than the standard.ruler-1474829-1600x1200

Battle Plan

Battle Plan

The Kitchen Living business plan is simple but broad. Our goal is to help where we can even if it is outside of what we do, but to always do what we do best and let the other trades do the same. We work directly with the client on kitchen design, cabinets, counters and the installation of those items. Outside of that we help by suggesting and coordinating other trades like tile, flooring, electrical, plumbing and architectural elements.

tools-1-1526475-1598x1023

 

Deciding on a business model for your company is one of the hardest decisions you have to make, it may change over time…evolving into a smarter approach, or may regress when you lose a key member of the team. The one suggestion I can certainly make is BE FLEXIBLE and DON’T LOWER YOUR STANDARDS! To say you do “everything” can be a trap and a false statement.

However having other tradesmen that can fill in the gaps can make you or break you. Be ready to take them off a job if they aren’t getting it done in a quality manner. I am a firm believer in giving people a chance to fix mistakes but when it comes to having someone on a job who clearly does not know how to accomplish or fix a task, be sure to act fast. You can literally watch your profit line dropping as they continue to work. Trim cut incorrectly, cabinets not level and cabinets installed at the wrong height, are just some items I’ve dealt with. The battle really is with you to tell the person in a tactful manner that plans have changed concerning their services. This is very hard to do for a reasonable business person. You do realize that you are burning a bridge and that person may not want to work with you again, but your name is on the line.

Another business plan approach is to have the client find the other tradesmen to fill in the gaps. They may have their favorite electrician or plumber. This is a tough situation, especially since some of them may want to replace you from the roster. You are subject to whomever the client chooses and you have no power to remove them. However, the client’s happiness is the end result goal. You can be sure that the homeowner will get the results they paid for.

Deciding which approach to take may depend on the client or may depend on your backlog of contractors. In most cases I bring in a GC to fill in all of the above and have him worry about making sure everything is accomplished outside of what I do.  Just make sure your GC holds to the same standards as you and do what you do best.

da Vinci

da Vinci

There is a time, I believe, that any moderately successful business person feels that they have experienced enough to give others advice…and be confident enough to write it down for all to see.  I’m almost there, but we are doing this anyways!

My experience didn’t start early in life, but I do feel that it always existed in me in some form. Kitchens are a central part of everyday living, and I have to tell you that being able to be creative in a central part of a persons life is very gratifying. There are certainly ups and downs during a kitchen remodel, but knowing that you exceeded the expectation of your client in a room that they will be in every day, creating their own happiness, brings me great joy and honor.

PortlandKitchen-14

So here we go, the first of many blogs to those who may be interested in what I have to say. We will talk about the creating of functional kitchens and life that exists around them.

For me, the creating of a kitchen is a work of art that combines beauty and engineering. My wife and I recently visited Florence, Italy and viewed several inspiring da Vinci paintings. Just before we went away we visited Hartford’s Children’s Science Center with our two kids. We walked through da Vinci’s invention exhibit where his creative mind showed the extent of his empathy for mankind. Necessity is the mother of invention. An inventor is the fulfiller of need. So the question is, would da Vinci be a kitchen designer today? I believe he would. He may even have his own HGTV show that combines his medical practice with the redesigning of practical everyday living. And where better than in the KITCHEN.

20160303_172741
Ahhhhh! Beautiful Florence!