Kitchen & Bath Design News, an Industry publication, published a study on trends in the cabinet industry today.
Here are the highlights with some comments:
Clean lines and classic styles dominate today's kitchen cabinet choices, with value, sustainability and organization key priorities among consumers.
I have long urged my clients to choose cabinetry styles and finishes that fit with their homes, and of a quality that will endure for a lifetime of use.
Maple and alder are popular wood choices, while bamboo and lyptus appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. For the more budget-minded shopper, laminates in wood grain patterns offer an appealing option.
I only recommend true hardwoods, like maple, birch, cherry, hickory, and oak for my clients' kitchens. In my mind alder, while a beautiful wood, is too soft to stand up to the rigors of kitchen use. Reserve it for the family room or library if you want to save the cost of cherry. Lyptus is a newer wood species that deserves attention. It is very hard and has the same characteristic of reddening or mellowing with exposure to sunlight as cherry. Because it grows very quickly, it is considered more "green" than most other woods. Bamboo also makes a good green cabinet surface IF you choose a maker that uses high quality material (like Plyboo or Timbergrass). Laminates have long been used in cabinetry, but users tire of the look long before they wear out in many cases.
Interior storage accessories are more relevant than ever as they maximize cabinet space and accessibility - particularly critical as consumers increasingly decide to remodel within their kitchen's existing footprint rather than expanding the space.
Custom components are becoming more affordable, allowing consumers at all price points to create a more personalized look for their cabinetry. However, excessive ornamentation has fallen out of vogue, with cleaner styles that minimize clutter reflecting the new consumer mindset.
In my mind, fussy corbels and monstrous moldings are simply a waste of space and money and add to the task of keeping the kitchen clean.
Painted finishes are gaining in popularity, while contrasting paint and stained finishes in one kitchen is a great way to add visual interest and character.
The San Francisco Bay Area, with our many Victorian homes, is a nexus for painted cabinetry. We use it here, in fashion or out.
Consumers are showing greater awareness of green issues as the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association's Environmental Stewardship Program grows in scope, yet the added cost to “going green” presents an obstacle that is difficult to overcome in a challenging economy.
There are so many ways to enhance the greenness of our homes that also save us money down the road, that I can't imagine why we wouldn't pursue at least some elements of green in every remodel. As long as we remember to question the payback of every green idea that comes our way and only do those that have a defined and measurable payback, we should be just fine.
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.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Kitchen & Bath Design News, an Industry publication, published a study on trends in the cabinet industry today.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I just got the word that Vetrazzo, the famed Richmond, CA maker of recycled glass countertops, is having a clearance sale this weekend, September 19-20, 2009.
Prices are 50-70% off the retail cost of slabs for material that is not their regular line (They do a lot of experimenting there).
This is your chance to buy a green countertop at bargain basement prices.
Greetings Friends of Vetrazzo. We're having a huge Factory Sale this weekend to clear out two years' of off-spec material. There is some stunning product being sold direct at huge discounts. Think of it as the Crate & Barrel Outlet but for countertops.
Thanks. Hope to see some of you there!
CEO & Co-Founder
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Industry publication Kitchen & Bath Business has an article in this month's edition about the 1961 kitchen, now in the Smithsonian, from Julia Child's home; where she created her daily cooking program.
The new film, Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep playing Julia Child, is such a smash hit that interest in The French Chef is reaching a fever pitch.
Julia Child's kitchen, on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
Meryl Streep as Julia Child, on set in Julie & Julia. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Wenk, Sony Pictures Entertainment.
In the article, Ready, Set, Remodel, kitchen designers from around the US are asked how they would change Julia's kitchen today, to bring it into the 21st Century.
Me? I wouldn't change a thing.
Friday, September 11, 2009
It's been a long time since the first European faucets struck me with their ugliness and then sold me with their functionality. Seldom am I brought to my knees over a faucet design. But the new TriFlow Concepts kitchen and bathroom faucet designs by Zaha Hadid do just that.
I don't know what these babies cost, but they truly look like a work of art for your island. My compliments also to the photographer who took these shots. They make my mouth water.
As described by Zaha Hadid:
“Our starting point was a series of formal studies on the conceptual terms of ‘fluidity’ and ‘seamlessness’ as we wanted to generate the fluid geometries of water in motion. By applying advanced 3D software to our experiments into the viscosity of liquids, we were able to explore complex forms and their productivity for domestic environments. A major benefit of this design language is that you can create something that not only appears continuous, but also blends seamlessly with the ergonomic needs of a tap.”
Featuring Triflow’s exclusive, patented three-way technology, the filtered drinking water is delivered through a dedicated waterway thereby isolating it from the hot and cold water streams. The latter are controlled by the tap’s discreet handle, while a touch-sensitive electronic button activates the filtered water. A green halo light glows when operational, turning to red when the water treatment cartridge requires replacement.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Until now, the LED bulbs designed to replace the little reflector-type PAR or MR16 bulbs were a disappointment to buyers. That's a shame. A shame that manufacturers jumped the gun with products that weren't the equal of the incandescent bulbs they were designed to replace.
Now comes a new set of products by manufacturers that have already proven to us that they can provide LED downlights with the brightness to replace incandescent.
The new tiny, screw-in, reflector lamps (bulbs) are designed to replace energy hogging PAR lamps and MR 16 lamps. They provide light levels that are on a par with halogens up to 120 watts, and the light is focused much tighter than an LED downlight.
For further information on these new gems in energy efficient lighting see
LED Retrofit Lamps Now Viable as PAR Halogen and R-Lamp Replacements, by Kevin Willmorth, on page 58 in the July/August edition of Architectural Products Magazine.
There you will find information on the brands tested and approved (GE & CREE), and caveats: Not dimmable, no energy credits (because they can be swapped for incandescent).
Monday, September 07, 2009
I am having a discussion with another kitchen designer on an industry forum:
Charles is resistant to the idea of using fluorescent lighting; saying he can't achieve the drama with fluorescent that he can with incandescent. Just as we California designers had to learn how to use fluorescent, now the rest of the country is faced with the task. I can honestly say it has been YEARS since I specified an incandescent light in a kitchen I designed. Most of the kitchens I design use 100% fluorescent lighting, and lately, LED lighting.
Here is a kitchen I recently helped to design with 100% fluorescent lighting...There ARE a couple of LED downlights in the adjacent breakfast nook, but they aren't visible at all in the images (and LEDs are even more efficient than fluorescent).
Pretty dramatic, isn't it? Warm, isn't it?
This shows that fluorescent doesn't have to look ghastly cold and green. By carefully choosing the fluorescent lamps (bulbs), we can achieve drama, warmth, even the coziness that once only characterized incandescent lighting. And all the while saving precious energy.
The times they are a-changin'
P.S. The contractor on this Silicon Valley project was Ivan Martinovsky, of Martinovsky Construction. A superb remodeling contractor, in case you need one.
Thank you for providing great information on kitchen design, your experience and insight are very helpful!
I have a question concerning double oven cabinet placement.
1. When using a cook top with the double ovens in a separate cabinet, are there any rules about where to place the double oven? The reason I ask is, I have seen some designs with the double oven cabinet next to the refrigerator and others showing it placed outside of the main cooking triangle. How do you know "How far is too far?"
My kitchen is U-shaped, please see attached drawing, and as I plan for my kitchen remodel, I'm puzzled as to the best placement of the double oven should be. In the model home kitchens of my floor plan, one had the double oven by the refrigerator, the second located it in the left U corner. In both homes, the center island however, had reduced width and extended length to 40 W X 95 Long. They also extended the sink/half wall area.
What guidelines can you give to help determine the best placement for the double oven cabinet?
Thank you so much your time I appreciate any feedback you can share,
Without getting into the specifics of your design Jengi, which would entail consulting costs, I can comment in general about my philosophy when it comes to oven placement in the kitchen.
You have already mentioned some common locations for consideration:
1. Next to other tall cabinets like the refrigerator or a pantry.
2. Completely out of the "Work Triangle" in a remote area of the kitchen.
Here are some more options to consider:
3. Use two separate ovens and place them either under the counter, or in a pantry cabinet. One "handy" and the other remote.
4. Buy a range with one or more ovens...This option only makes sense for those who want a range and have enough storage space around it.
The ovens are statistically the least used appliance in most kitchens. You put something in the oven and it stays there until it is ready to be removed. Therefore, most cooks don't miss having an oven within the work triangle area, especially when counter space is tight.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule: The cook who broils every night; the cook who wants a combination microwave oven unit. But for most cooks banishing the ovens is no great loss in the overall scheme of things. You must weigh the relative importance of each choice you make in designing a kitchen against the other possibilities.
An experienced kitchen designer will take their client through a series of decisions to develop a kitchen design that is tailored to the individual and the space. There are almost always compromises because the space is not unlimited. But the result will be a kitchen design that the client knows is the best it can be, for him or her.
1. Because so many of the kitchens I help design in the San Francisco Bay Area are small, option 1 is something I do a lot. Burying the ovens next to something else that is tall seems to make the rest of the kitchen feel more spacious. Since there is usually counter space on only one side, I usually place the refrigerator next to the counter space. That counter space is the "sandwich making center". Devoting it to oven landing space doesn't make much sense when you compare refrigerator usage with oven usage.
2. Option 2 is used less often, but still viable when there are no other options (How far is too far? Outside the kitchen is usually too far, unless one oven can be placed inside the kitchen).
3. Option 3 is fairly common for those clients who can afford two separate ovens.
4. Option 4 is also common for those clients who like the "commercial look", or where the main cook is a man.
Another issue that often comes up in discussions about oven placement is back problems. Those clients who have back problems do not want to bend to use an oven. For such clients placement of the oven at a comfortable height is mandatory.
Another common question regards placing the oven in close proximity to the refrigerator. Some clients are concerned that the refrigerator will die an early death as a result. This has not been an issue at all. Refrigerators these days are so well insulated and ovens are vented out the front and well insulated as well.
Then there is "landing space". An oven doesn't HAVE to have counter space next to it, but there must be counter space within easy reach. An island, or peninsula, often provides such a spot.
Lastly there is the issue of safety: Ovens are hot! Removing a heavy item, like a hot 25lb. turkey, from the oven can be dangerous if the open oven door is positioned too high to be safe. Kitchen designers are trained to carefully specify the placement of the oven opening height to be safe for all users.
Friday, September 04, 2009
There was an entirely new product shown at the National Kitchen and Bath Association Show (KBIS) this year. Attendees voted it the Best New Kitchen Product in the show.
PARAPAN®, by Element Designs, is a high gloss solid surface material, available in a 3/4" thick version that is fabricated into door and drawer fronts and a thin veneer-like version for covering exposed ends and appliance fronts.
Being in the K&B business a long time, I was reminded of the polyester cabinet doors that debuted with a big splash back in the 80's and then disappointed designers and buyers when they didn't hold up to the harsh environment a kitchen presents.
Intrigued, I contacted Element Designs and requested a sample to test myself. They sent me a beautiful, bright, Cobalt Blue sample. To request a product sample, call 800-631-5384.
To my surprise PARAPAN® proved to be up to every challenge I could think of. The only negative is the weight of the doors. Like Corian®, and other acrylic-based solid surface products, PARAPAN® is heavy. That means the hinges need to be extra heavy duty and watched carefully in use. I wouldn't want one of those doors to fall on my toesies. That's for sure!
The material is made in Germany, by Evonik Industries AG, and distributed here in the US by Evonik Cyro LLC.
Element Designs, of Charlotte, NC, seems to have an exclusive on the product, as cabinetry, here in the USA, at least for the time being.
This IS a high-end product - No doubt about that. And it MUST be seen to be appreciated. The colors are not done justice on a computer or printed page. But if you have the wherewithal and want beautiful clear color and high gloss, PARAPAN® is the answer.
"PARAPAN® doors are made of a revolutionary, highly reflective, solid surface material which is easy to maintain, water resistant, and UV and fade resistant. The solid surface doors are environmentally friendly, do not contain any VOCs or plasticizers and are also fully recyclable. The doors are available in 17 vibrant colors, are custom manufactured to 1/16", have quick lead times and no minimum order quantities, making them ideal for both new construction and remodeling projects."
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
I am an aspiring Interior Designer, currently studying at Modesto Junior College. In my Kitchen and Bath Design course, we have an assignment to research a designer.
If you have the time and would like to have your quote in a students essay:
What do you consider the most important aspect of kitchen designing?
Thank you for your time, and I love your work!
Thank you for your question Lauren.
The most important aspect of kitchen design, after learning the basics of the craft, is to learn to LISTEN to your clients or potential clients.
Listening is a skill that most people only develop over time, with trial and error. But missed cues are very problematic in the designer client relationship.
Clients often do not know how to articulate what they want. But they always know when a designer is not listening to them, and going off on wild tangents that have no relationship to their desires.
Novice designers often do most of the talking when interacting with potential clients. They have absorbed all that knowledge and they want to show it off! Then they wonder why the clients don't come back. It's because they have found somebody else who listens.
A designer who listens and asks questions to understand fully the client's true desires does not develop plans that are wrong for, and a disappointment to, the client.
Best of luck to you in your career Lauren.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Came across this article in the WSJ, by a noted lighting designer, who rants on compact fluorescent lighting being foisted on the unsuspecting public by the big, bad, government. I simply MUST respond.
* The Wall Street Journal
* AUGUST 30, 2009, 7:19 P.M. ET
Save the Light Bulb!
Compact fluorescents don't produce good quality light.
By HOWARD M. BRANDSTON
"The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 will effectively phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012-2014 in favor of compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs. Other countries around the world have passed similar legislation to ban most incandescents.
Will some energy be saved? Probably. The problem is this benefit will be more than offset by rampant dissatisfaction with lighting..."
I'm afraid Mr. Brandston is living in the past. A past where Edison lights cast a warm glow and the man of the house spent his evenings banking the coal furnace for a long winter's night.
One would think that a lighting designer who relit the Statue of Liberty would embrace new technology, especially when the world as we knew it is fast disappearing in a swirl of forest fires and hurricanes.
If everyone in the nation had been nudged into energy efficiency the way Californians have since the advent of Title 24 (California's energy code that has kept our energy usage at 1990 levels for decades), we would be well on our way to solving our energy conundrum, and less far down the road of global warming.
Fluorescent, and newly, LED lighting are revolutionizing the way residential spaces are lit. Designers who have embraced the technology and found creative new ways of lighting our homes and lives should not be intimidated by those who would take us back to the horse and buggy. Nor should those who still need to learn how to design with fluorescent lighting. We have blazed a path for you and the learning curve is not steep, nor the goal trivial.
Homeowners, don't fall for such drivel. You are the ones who are driving the expansion of demand for truly green homes with energy efficient lighting along with energy efficient appliances, solar, windows, HVAC, insulation, sealing, etc. Do not waver. The planet cannot wait any longer.