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Walker Zanger Showroom in Cypress Creek, Florida
Walker Zanger Showroom in Coconut Creek, Florida
I already see some interesting possibilities!

One week ago I had the pleasure of attending the first South Florida Chapter NKBA meeting of 2013.  I was fired up by motivational speaker  Dawnna St. Louis   and her presentation about how to give your clients what they really want.    I’m looking forward to more great events this year and to working with the enthusiastic board on the communications committee.

Kind of like an art gallery for tile...
Kind of like an art gallery for tile…

2013-01-16 19.41.09
Dawnna lights a fire (and check out those awesome shoes!)

Not only was it fun to get together once again with all my old kitchen friends but the beautiful venue was an added treat.

We met at the amazing Walker Zanger showroom in Coconut Creek Florida.  Walker Zanger is filled with designer eye candy!  As soon as I walked in I felt an irresistible desire to explore every nook and cranny.  Then I decided, if I were to do that, why not nab a tour guide?  I found just that in Branch Manager, Drew Rust.

Branch Manager, Drew Rust gives the grand tour
Branch Manager, Drew Rust gives the grand tour

He explained that Walker Zanger has been around about 61 years beginning as a maker of marble tops  evolving into a chain (15 ) of designer showrooms offering all types of tile and stone slabs from around the world.  Their products can be seen at the Bellagio in Las Vegas as among many other notable locations.  The showroom featured beautiful examples of glass, marble and all the usual materials we’re used to seeing tiles made out of.  So I asked him, “what’s new”?

This is what's new, reclaimed Balinese teak tiles.  This is the "penny tile" version.
This is what’s new, reclaimed Balinese teak tiles. This is the “penny tile” version.

Some more of the AnTeak Collection at Walker Zanger
Some more of the AnTeak Collection at Walker Zanger


He promptly introduced me to the AnTeak Collection which is, you guessed it, tile made out of teak!  It’s new, gorgeous and can be used in both flooring and wall applications.  In addition to this they are working on a surface treatment that will allow it to be used on shower walls!


Gorgeous, I can see a border out of this.  The white field tile makes it pop!
Gorgeous, I can see a border out of this. The white field tile makes it pop!

The offerings at WZ are upscale to be sure but the nice thing is that often a little goes a long way.  Consider a border or an accent tile and you could get a lot of bang for the buck.  Sometimes less is more.  Speaking of budgets, WZ does offer some more affordable options as little as 2.50 per square foot.

These interesting three dimensional tiles are designed by Michael Bergman, known for his "old Hollywood moderne" style.
These interesting three dimensional tiles are designed by Michael Berman, designer for Studio Moderne Collection.

The price is right for this interesting tile that can be used on floors or walls if you want that 1000 year old look.  I happen to think it's very interesting and Bohemian, no?
The price is right for this interesting tile that can be used on floors or walls if you want that 1000 year old look. I happen to think it’s very interesting and Bohemian, no?


Hours are Monday-Friday 8:30-4:30.  You are welcome to have a look around but bring your designer if you want to seal the deal.  I’m sure Showroom Manager Deanna Dolfi would be happy to show you around!


Elements Converge In Dream Kitchen

The after effect

Another year is winding down.  We have been blessed  again with many interesting projects.  As we are in “finishing up mode” I thought I’d share with you one of the best of 2011.  This project was a true collaboration.  Our clients, a couple of sweet snowbirds from Chicago, were very hands on which made it fun to see this kitchen take shape.  The existing space was on the small side, the cabinets a little dated.

This is the before which is not the worst but these girls had bigger dreams...


Still before

Our assignment was to add a whole range of  state-of-the-art appliances and a clean unique contemporary feel that would flow into the existing family room.  Naturally storage and function were also of the utmost importance but the real challenge was in fitting it all in!!

Here's one of numerous perspectives during the design process.

They chose a rich coffee bean stain for the cabinets to match existing cabinetry in the family room.  The cabinet fronts were not ordinary doors, no way.  Together, with our clients, we designed the Soldono and the Soldono Pacifica Doors just for this job.  The Soldono custom door features a cherry frame around a horizontal grained oak center panel all stained in a rich espresso color.  The center panel is beveled on one end with stainless steel grip strip inset on the frame.  No hardware sticking out in this kitchen! A select few of the upper cabinets sport the Soldono Pacifica custom door which received center panels in olive ash burl veneer for a huge shot of “unique”.


Close up of the Soldono Pacifica door featuring Olive Ash Burl veneer center panel

Stainless steel serves as an accent finish and is found in the appliances and in the monster-multi-functional Hafele appliance garage.  Refrigerators are Subzero, ovens are by Gaggenau, cooktop is by Miele and the dishwasher drawers are by Fisher Paykel.  Thank you to Linda Roberts at House of Appliances for her guidance.   Counter tops are Caesarstone quartz by Stone Palace and the backsplash is painted glass by Florida Shower Door & Mirror, Inc. Clearly they do much more that shower doors!  Perhaps the “piece de resistance” however is the glass tile behind the hood.   It truly looks like water cascading down the wall behind the hood!  The sink is a Precision by Blanco and the glass theme is picked up again with the glass table.  You can find a listing of all the trades on the Local Resources page here at Kitchens for Living.



Blanco Precision Stainless Sink. We love the square bottom.


Counter between Subzeros offers handy landing space

Is it water or is it glass? I think it's sublime...



Panels around peninsula reflect architecture of the house. Cool bar stools by Kyle Wells Design.

Ta daaaaa!  Another beautiful kitchen is complete, and yes it’s white with Shaker doors.  Surprise!  Not.  There were two main challenges about working in this home.  First of all the architecture is very unique and is an integral part of the space.  It’s comprised of posts and beams, angles and open lofts which remind me of a ship.  The second challenge was a lack of unity with way too much going on visually.  The existing kitchen had three different types of counter tops, two different types of cabinets and more stuff than space.  In addition, hinges and drawer slides were failing and paint was chipping.

The homeowners came equipped with the most valuable of traits, an open mind.  They were willing to see their kitchen and laundry area in a new way.  Every step of the design process we would ask ourselves “does this unify and simplify”?  Think “nautical zen”!

First off I decided to make peace with the posts and beams.  The layout remained the same and we didn’t even change the door style or color!  What we did was improve the fit and function.  Using all white counters unified the space and allowed the blue granite back splash to be the star of the show.  Here are some “before” pix and “after” solutions which will pave the way for smooth sailing in this new kitchen.

This was the peninsula before. See the new and improved above!


This existing refrigerator just didn't fit. It overlapped the casing of the door on the right. This built-in model was not built-in!


Before we also had a traffic jam on the left of the fridge with beams, posts and different ceiling heights!


The homeowners had to face facts and downsize the fridge. What they gave up in space they made up in style. Oh, and they kept the other one in the garage. Now it's built-in and it fits! We dealt with the beam by allowing the refrigerator cabinetry to stand alone.

Traffic jam on the left is also solved. By clearing the beam we were able to go higher with the upper cabinet plus we added an appliance garage below to keep things neat and tidy.

This is Mindi showing off her new kitchen.


Before, radius drawers were failing from weight and inadequate slides and guess what? The cook top didn't fit either.


We unified the space by using matching cabinets and creating a proper fit for the new Wolf gas cook top. Acid etched glass subtly conceals contents of cabinets.


This is Max. He's into hockey, he likes to dream big and he loves to cook so he's really happy about the new kitchen.


We added some hidden conveniences. This is the spice cabinet extraordinare!


This is the pantry/laundry room before


...and here it is after.


Last but not least, this cute little family member was very accommodating through the entire process.



I was too freaked out to take a photo of the actual specimen but here's grown up version

You’ve heard of Snakes on a Plane.  Well yesterday we had snakes in a Kitchen Design Studio.  Ok I exaggerate.  It was one snake, a juvenile black snake (according to Trevor’s iphone Googling).  I think he slithered in to tell me it’s high time I write a blog post so here I am with a topic that is especially near and dear to our hearts nowadays, saving money.

If you don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in a new kitchen, there are some small tricks that can make a big difference.   Whether you just seek to make your tired dysfunctional kitchen great looking and user friendly, or you want to up the appeal for a potential buyer, these smaller upgrades fit the bill.

Consumer Reports’ latest tests offers the home owner a variety of low investment ideas to freshen up the kitchen.    Here’s my twist on what they had to say.


“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”- Henry Ward Beecher (Love the quote and was going to find a way to work it in here no matter what) SO, how about painting your nature in your kitchen?  Paint is the most inexpesive low-risk investment you can undertake to make a dramatic difference.  Most of us can even tackle the walls ourselves.  You can be bold as there typically isn’t a whole lot of wall exposed in a kitchen (except this one!).  Don’t forget to consider adjoining rooms and how colors will work together.  I prefer a satin or even a semi-gloss finish that is easy to wipe clean in the kitchen.  If you’re more ambitious and want to paint your cabinets, do it right.  Remove the doors, drawers and hardware, clean all surfaces, sand or de-gloss, use a primer and take your time!

This person's nature is PINK!! Photo from

 Make it work! (As Tim would say)

You know what I’m talking about.  Are you tired of falling spice containers? Do you yearn for a convenient trash  receptacle?  If you’ve lived in your kitchen for a while you will probably have a few functional pet peeves.  Many of them can be addressed without breaking the budget.  There are all kinds of ways to store those unruly spices. Check out my previous post Spaces for Spices.     If you have a 15” to 21” wide cabinet to spare you can install a pull out trash container.  I’d say this is the number one accessory for a kitchen and every kitchen needs one!  How about roll out trays?  You can also purchase these and install them yourself if you’re handy.


A 50 quart pull out trash can you can install yourself from

Counter solution

One of the most visible elements in your kitchen is the counter top and a new one can make a world of difference.  Unless you’re going with a laminate, and there are some really nice selections out there,  you’re going to spend more than $1,000.  If that’s the case make sure your cabinets are worthy.  Check for damage, especially for water damage in and around the sink cabinet.  If the integrity of your cabinetry is compromised you certainly don’t want to set a butt load of money on top!  Did you know that once granite or quartz are installed no one will guarantee it can be removed without breakage?


Yes, it's a laminate counter top! Photo from

Create a splash

The back splash is another visible element with a lot of impact.  Here you can get even more creative than with the counter top because it’s purely decorative!  Other than being cleaner- friendly it doesn’t have to do anything but look pretty.  Tile, tin panels, or even wine bottle corks can make a unique statement on your back splash.


Glass is hot but these backsplash tiles will look cool 🙂

Cork your backsplash. Talk about character and conversation potential! Photo courtesy of sunnyvmd2b over at

Floor it

Wood flooring is hot at the moment and that’s because it’s a great look and it goes with almost everything but here’s the best kept secret in kitchen flooring.        Traffic Master Allure Ultra Resilient Flooring.

Trafficmaster Allure is available at Home Depot


It looks great, it’s pet proof, kid proof and water proof.  It’s really easy to install.  I know, my hubs installed it for us and it still looks great after five years!

No excuses.  I find that even the smallest project completed yields such a sense of accomplishment.  These are even things you can do to tide you over until you have saved enough for the full Monty!  (At which time you will call me) In the meantime, send me pix.  I want to see what you can do.


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