Here is an Italian Cabinet Manufacturer, Valcucine, with some truly original ideas.
I love the countertop backsplash accessories.
They have also integrated the cooktops into the countertops, even though they do not provide them.
They are also doing some really unusual cabinet doors out of such thin veneer or laminate that they are able to create sculptural "bumps" on the surface.
They are touted as a green product too! And available in North America.
Kitschy Kitchens is a blog where I critique the worst of the worst in kitchens. Poor design, an assault on the eyes, wrong colors, wrong materials; they all can be found there. Take an amusing detour to discover what you DON'T want in a kitchen.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Here is an Italian Cabinet Manufacturer, Valcucine, with some truly original ideas.
Browsing around on HomePortfolio I came across Specialty Stainless, a stainless and copper countertop manufacturer that creates some really unique finishes in metal.
They also make wall panels that would make really unique panels to back up an island.
This stuff has my creative juices flowing.
Posted by Peggy Deras, CKD, CID at 12:03 PM
This just in from LightSearch Magazine's on line newsletter LightNow.
If you have a question about lighting, you can have them answered by experts, free of charge, at the website of the National Lighting Bureau.
By clicking on the Bureau’s new “Information Desk” feature (displayed prominently on the website’s home page), visitors can ask any lighting questions they wish and tap into the NLB's network of lighting experts.
To have questions answered, visitors need only indicate their name, the name of the organization they represent (if any), the organization’s or their own address, a daytime telephone number, and an e-mail address. Visitors also need to indicate why they need the information, which permits a more specific response.
Questions will be answered by National Lighting Bureau staff or staff will forward questions to National Lighting Bureau sponsors for a more effective reply.
I'm never one to shrink from controversy. As my regular readers can attest.
I recently aired my opinion on a couple of studies by J.D. Powers on consumer and contractor satisfaction with some low-end cabinet lines.
My opinion is that dealers know which cabinet lines offer the best value and are least problematic better than anyone else.
I also often get emails from consumers uncertain about their choices in cabinetry. They ask my opinion on their choices and I respond with what I know.
Every kitchen designer is going to have brands we prefer, because most of us are also kitchen dealers who represent and sell cabinetry.
As a former dealer who has renounced selling product for pure design, I am in a unique position to critique cabinet lines in ways that dealers wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.
I have long encouraged my clients to use one of three cabinet lines that I have personally represented and found to be reliable, consistent and a good value for the money. These products are, in alphabethical order, Crystal, Woodharbor and Wood-Mode.
All are custom manufactured cabinets in the upper end of the price spectrum, but not ultra-high-end. Wood-Mode and Crystal also offer mid-priced and frameless lines. Woodharbor has three price point offerings (no frameless). All meet or exceed every iota of my minimum cabinet standards. All, except latecomer Woodharbor, are considered in the top tier of desirability by dealers.
Dealers COMPETE for these brands because of their desirability and cachet. Usually only the best dealers carry them.
Now. Because I have been using these product lines for 20+ years, and have dealers in my area with whom I like to work; I do not usually specify anything else. Therefore I am in as much of a rut as almost any dealer who represents a grouping of cabinet products (A dollar range of: usually low - middle- high; or sometimes middle - high- and ultra-high).
Therefore, I propose we do a survey of designers who frequent this blog asking them what cabinet lines they prefer and why. I would also like respondents to categorize the cost of the products as low-end, mid-price- high-end and ultra-high-end. ONLY preferred products are to be proposed for inclusion.
After I get some answers I will conduct a poll in the industry to rank the cabinet manufacturers according to several criteria suggested by the survey.
The winners will be the Top Ten in each price category.
There is another issue: Some great cabinet lines are regional, only selling within a few state area. Somehow I will have to deal with that, by separating the country into regions, if those manufacturers receive a lot of votes. Let's just say too, that cabinetmakers serving a small geographic area are not to be included. The manufacturer MUST be multi-state.
Please either comment here or send me an email to vote your choices. Consumers, this is not a poll for you. But you will benefit from the results, if I can pull it off. We'll see how the dealers respond.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I just received this notice from NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association).
KBIS is the annual show. This year held in Vegas in May.
Tune into HGTV tonight at 9pm (Eastern/Pacific time) for a special presentation on Kitchens & Baths in 2007. The show will feature a recap of K/BIS 2007 and also highlight what's new in the industry.
If you miss tonight's show, a list of future airings is provided below. The episode will run four times during October, which is National Kitchen & Bath Month!
August 21, 2007 9:00 PM ET/PT
August 22, 2007 1:00 AM ET/PT
August 28, 2007 11:00 AM ET/PT
September 17, 2007 11:00 AM ET/PT
October 7, 2007 9:00 PM ET/PT
October 8, 2007 1:00 AM ET/PT
October 14, 2007 5:00 PM ET/PT
October 17, 2007 11:00 AM ET/PT
For more information on Kitchens & Baths 2007, please visit http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/spcl_prsntn/episode/0,1806,HGTV_3909_51400,00.html
Monday, August 20, 2007
There is an interesting blog post on latimes.com's Pardon Our Dust called Is a down real estate market the best time to remodel?
Four well known remodeling contractors in the area comment on the current climate in residential remodeling and how it impacts homeowners contemplating a remodel.
I think the biggest impact is the influx of builders into the remodeling sector tempting homeowners with low-ball pricing.
If you are one of those households with enough savings to consider remodeling in this environment of sinking home values and difficult financing, you need to be very careful to vet your choice of contractors by asking for extensive references IN YOUR AREA.
Builders are a different breed who are not accustomed to working on homes with people living in them and having to deal with the homeowners on a day to day basis. Supervision, to them, means an occasional visit from the architect or building inspector.
Major residential remodeling is typically a 3-6 month commitment between the homeowner and contractor. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a project, with your home in shreds, and in such a confrontational situation with your contractor, or his employees, that you don't want to open your door when they get there in the morning.
Best to be sure that those who represent themselves as remodeling contractors really are what they say they are.
There is an article on my web site called "How to hire a professional contractor" that I prepared for my clients years ago. All the advice holds true today. The criteria for selecting your contractor hasn't changed. But the potential for hiring the wrong contractor in an effort to save money or out of ignorance has changed a lot in the current situation. Buyer BEWARE.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Kitchen & Bath Design news, an industry publication, has an article this month on two studies by J. D. Power and Associates. These studies both involved LOWER-END cabinet purchases, but some results extrapolate to higher end purchases as well.
The first study asked consumers about their satisfaction with their cabinet purchase decisions after their projects were complete (previous 12 months).
The study found that consumers initially were attracted to their choice in cabinetry by the LOOK AND FINISH OF THE CABINETS.
After their experience, however, the important issues became OPERATING PERFORMANCE, EASE OF ORDERING AND DELIVERY.
“While buyers may be drawn to the aesthetic features of cabinets as they make their purchasing decisions, it’s important for them to also consider durability and how smoothly the cabinets operate,” said Jim Howland, senior director of the real estate and construction practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Customers are looking for ease and convenience in the ordering process, as well as timely and accurate delivery of their cabinet orders, especially since late or incomplete deliveries can delay or add costs to construction or remodeling projects.”
The second study questioned builders and remodelers about their experiences with cabinet purchases over the previous 12 months. Their problem areas turned out to closely mirror the consumer study. TIMELINESS, ORDER ACCURACY, and billing topped their lists.
"The occurrence of problems in these areas negatively impacts overall satisfaction and, ultimately, the bottom line".
J. D. Power was rating customer satisfaction between specific cabinet lines, but the message you should take away from these two studies is that you need to ask more questions of your chosen cabinet dealer than "how much and how long?".
Reading between the lines tells us the 842 consumers, and 1,416 builders and remodelers in these surveys, learned after the fact that quality issues and errors, omissions and delays, caused them memorable headaches in a stressful time.
Further, the studies laid these problems at the feet of the cabinet manufacturers studied...
No mention of the cabinet dealers, home centers and big box stores that ACTUALLY ORDERED AND SUPPLIED AND DELIVERED THE CABINETS.
In fact, as every experienced cabinet dealer well knows, the responsibility for these problems lies squarely on the dealer's shoulders.
Consumers expect that a cabinet showroom experience is WYSWYG (what you see is what you get).
But dealers know better: They deal, day in and day out, with the cabinet manufacturers they CHOOSE to represent.
When there are problems with quality control from a manufacturer from delivery to delivery, they know first. When their employees make mistakes from job to job, they know it. When their warehouses consistently damage cabinets or are lax in their inspection procedures, they know it.
A competent cabinet dealer dumps, or stops selling, a product line that causes such problems before the damage reaches more than a few customers. Or provides more training and supervision of an employee who is not following proper procedures of check and double check. Or fires a warehouseperson who damages too many cabinets.
A competent cabinet dealer monitors his or her cabinet lines, watching for signs that the manufacturer is slipping in quality control, and provides feedback to keep them on course.
A competent cabinet dealer doesn't even take on cabinet lines known in the industry to have "issues".
Cabinet dealers, home centers and big box retailers spend huge dollars creating showrooms to showcase cabinet products for the consumer. Cabinet displays are not free. Neither are the countertops and flooring and accessories free. It costs in the hundreds of thousands to set up a new cabinet showroom.
Dealers get discounts buying their displays, but still have to pay a lot of money out every time they change a display that has become obsolete or "tired". In return for their cash outlays and commitments they are entitled to expect certain performance standards from their manufacturers, along with some "territory" protection from competition.
In return manufacturers offer training and advertising support and, most importantly, quality products, predictable deliveries, and accurate communications.
If any of the promises break down, on either side of the partnership that brings you your cabinet order, YOU and your contractor are the ones who will suffer.
So, if you are shopping for cabinets, ask the dealer how they handle problems with their manufacturers, with delivery, and with warranty issues. They'll be surprised at the question, but the thoroughness of their answer might give you an idea how they will handle YOUR problems down the road.
And remember: MARGINAL CABINETS ARE REPRESENTED BY MARGINAL DEALERS.
Some other best practices:
Stick with known brands. Their success tells you something about their performance.
Avoid new cabinet showrooms. Their owners need to gain experience before you let them "learn" on you.
Listen to your contractor, if he or she advises you to stay away from a particular dealer becuase of past problems.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Kitchen & Bath Business Magazine has scored another hit with its new KBBGreen Blog by Jeff Holloway, CKD, CBD.
Jeff is blogging on all things green in kitchen and bath design and products.
Especially useful in his current articles is one on countertops, COUNTERTOPS: 12 materials to choose from…which are eco-friendly? where he compares ALL commonly used countertop materials and analyzes their relative green-ness...Credit where crdit is due. This article originally appeared in the GetWithGreen.com blog (another great resource). Thanks to "dput" for the correction.
I LOVE the concept and reality of glass countertops in the right kitchen or bath.
ThinkGlass really does them right:
"Single seamless pieces made up to 7' x 10'."
And there's a showroom right here in Concord, CA!
Tip: Mounting mirror under the glass will eliminate shadow lines of cabinets showing through, which distracts from the beauty.
Blog cruising today I came across Eleek, Inc. out of Portland, OR.
I don't normally go gaga over knobs and pulls (with the exception of the Manhandles).
If you've seen one pull you've pretty much seen them all.
But Eleek's pulls are something SPECIAL.
Eleek also makes very cool sinks and lighting fixtures.
Or anything else your creative mind can dream up.
Best yet: Eleek uses recycled metals for its products.
"Eleek castings are made of recycled metals whenever possible, with the highest possible post-consumer content. Pewter, bronze, cast iron and aluminum remnants are utilized in casting. We recycle all other scrap metal."
I hate to have to write this: But I really think it's about time to contact the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke to tell him what's going on underneath the brouhaha about sub-prime lending.
It's awful enough that hundreds of thousands of homeowners are losing their homes and the greedy lenders are dropping into bankruptcy like flies.
Worse yet is the impact this debacle is having on homeowners who are securely ensconced in their homes, have a goodly amount of equity, and are able to pay their mortgages with ease.
These are the people who are my clientele. Not the wealthy, but the middle class homeowners who formed the bedrock of our economy...until now.
They have kept the economy going, ever since the horror of 9/11, by spending their money on making their nests as comfortable as possible. The trend spotters call it cocooning.
In the process they have funded the livelihoods of contractors, architects, designers, suppliers, like Home Depot and lumber yards, appliance manufacturers and stores, cabinet makers and dealers...on and on.
Most of this economic activity has been funded, not from savings, but from home equity loans.
Now, as a result of the sub-prime debacle, there are no funds available for home equity loans for anyone with the eensiest stain on their credit record...as much as 9 years and 364 days ago.
And even those with impeccable credit are finding loans to be less affordable and harder to come by at all.
And, now that the wealthy with their pocketed tax cuts are driving the economy, nobody is even noticing that the trillion dollar remodeling industry is grinding to a HALT!
If this doesn't scare you enough, have a look at Kathleen Pender's 7/31 column in the San Francisco Chronicle, Expect more woes with prime home-equity loans.
And, I suggest, if you are contemplating financing YOUR planned remodel with an equity loan; you may want to check into the availability of same before you spend any dollars.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
More blog-browsing today.
Daughter Lisa, (the J.D., almost-a-lawyer daughter) put me on to this organizing site by Half Moon Bay, CA professional organizer Jeri Dansky.
Here's Jeri's great piece on Taking Small Steps Toward a Large Goal
(image from the great Brownstoner Blog, thank you)
Now, if I can just file away these piles of client files on my desk...
For you Do It Yourselfers out there (I used to be one and still dabble when called upon), Wikipedia has a listing of Tool Lending Libraries that lend tools to local residents.
This is a great resource! I read a while ago about one in Berkeley, CA, and thought "What a great idea!".
The right tool for the job is everything in efficient DIY.
Not have to BUY the right tool is priceless.
Wish we had one in South San Francisco.