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In the classic bar song Closing Time by the Semisonics, it says “every new beginning is another beginning’s end”.  It’s that time of year again and for me it’s always a bittersweet mix of what could have been and hope for what could be.  It was a banner year for us here at Brendan Donovan Furniture & Cabinet Co.  We have broken every record in the amount of business we were blessed with.  Thank you to our amazing clients and all our partners in the business who help us get it all done.  Personally I want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading my blog.  I know there are thousands, probably millions of blogs and I am honored.  Thank you also to Blanco, Bosch and Brizo who give me a rare opportunity to learn about their products in depth and the chance to interact with some of the most talented individuals in the industry.  Which brings me to a big thank you to all my fellow bloggers.  I learn from your excellence everyday.   We survived the end of the world.  Now we look forward to a fresh new year sure to be filled with new challenges, changes and chances.  I’m looking forward to sharing with you some changes you will see at Kitchens for Living in the new year. More later!



Slate appliances by G.E.

As you know, I’m always on the prowl for the latest in the kitchen and bath industry.  You may have noticed all the articles lately about the decline of stainless steel as the “go to” finish for kitchen appliances.  Everyone from the Wall Street Journal to The Daily Beast  is touting the hunt for THE new finish that will supposedly unseat stainless.  Yes, stainless steel does have a reputation, and rightly so, for being fingerprint prone and hard to clean.

Tip:  Never clean your stainless with any product containing ammonia or chloride.  For best results use mild soap and water and dry with a dry cloth.  For tougher jobs you can also use find stainless steel wipes at your local grocers.  Never use steel wool as it will scratch the finish.

This said, there have been lots of improvements and attempts to address these issues with special coatings and claims of “finger print resistance”. True or not, we’re ready for a change and several major manufacturers are taking a stab at what will be the next big thing.  Personally, I think stainless will continue to be a predominant option but I also believe we’re going to continue to see many new choices.  Here is what 5 major players are doing:

G.E. Slate is one of my favorites.  I like it because it’s fresh and different yet not SO different that it will clash with existing stainless steel.  Brushed metal touch points can also tie a new appliance into the mix  in case you’re not in the market for a complete suite.  They also claim the Slate finish is fingerprint resistant and easy to clean.

Slate Fridge by G.E.

This neutral “slate” color plays well with other finishes.

SubZero Wolf– The Mercedes Benz of appliance brands introduced the “Black Glass E Series Ovens” a year ago. Clearly not the best choice for households with children!  Built in ovens are available in 30” standard or flush inset application, the Black Glass model comes adorned with a black glass tubular handle and, wait for it, a COBALT BLUE interior!

Black Glass by Wolf

In addition  to the oven, Wolf also offers black glass trim kits for Warming Drawers and 30” Convection and Standard Microwaves. Glass may be print-prone but it’s also one of the easiest surfaces to clean. No word on if this finish has been popular enough for them to offer refrigerators in Black Glass.

White Ice by Whirlpool

Whirlpool White Ice is hot.  It’s the new white.  I think in general, people are taking another look at white which is also hugely popular as a cabinet finish.  Just think how seamlessly it would integrate with white cabinetry. On the other hand a contrast highlights the best of both worlds.  I must spill the beans, however, White Ice isn’t really glass, it’s just metal that looks like it. If you want real glass Jenn-Air makes the “Floating Glass” collection & does offer a choice of white or black glass fronts to them. They no longer offer the contrasting stainless tubular handles however. The handles are now a euro curved powder coated finish (that won’t discolor like plastic)

Durable and colorful glass front refrigerators by Bosch haven’t yet made it to our shores.

Last but not least, my fave appliance maker Bosch featured a line of UBER glass finished appliances  just a few months ago at IFA,   the world’s leading trade show for consumer electronics and home appliances in Berlin.  This is strictly a European offering so far and I don’t believe we’ll be seeing it here anytime soon.  A kitchen designer can dream though.  Bosch has applied their good old German practicality and efficiency to create a seemingly indestructible and beautiful product. Here’s video filmed on location at IFA


Check out this line up, also as seen at IFA this year in Berlin.  Can you imagine a purple refrigerator?  I hear they also deduct calories, just kidding…

Haier foursome at IFC photo by





The "full monty" of Bosch appliances. A dream kitchen, no?

One thing I discovered during my Bosch Blanco Bloggers’ Retreat is that creativity cannot be contained.  It spills out of the box in all sorts of interesting ways.  It was a great experience.  It’s exciting and inspiring to learn about all the products, both the history and origins, as well as the very latest technologies.  Most of all, I loved hearing about  the design process and how these products come into being.  I enjoyed interacting, not only with the creatives at Bosch and Blanco, but also with my peers.  Whenever I could, I asked them about their typical days, how they work and what they do in their off time.  What I found is that there is no off time for a creative.  I should know that, right?  I discovered an editor who loves to knit, a kitchen designer who’s passion is ballroom dancing and a much admired kitchen blogger who loves to photograph roses.  She confesses to having literally thousands of rose photos lurking in her hard drive!  The creative process is also a big part of what I learned about during our two days at the BSH Design Center in Irvine, California.

BLANCO’s award-winning design team stripped the pro faucet down to its essence, leaving a beautifully simple solution to the iconic chef style

The process of developing new products begins with colored pencils and adventurous minds.  The team at Bosch endeavors to achieve just the right combination of precision German engineering and the latest technology to address the needs of the consumer.

All it takes to get started

Sometimes these needs are apparent but often they can be situations (observed and researched) that we may not even be aware of!  This is what makes the folks at Blanco and Bosch such a great team. They have a similar approach which understands that everything’s connected in our world and it all informs what we need to function comfortably and efficiently in our homes.  Kudos to them and thanks for the memories!




Where's Waldo? Ok, it's an easy one.

So where were we?  Ah yes, day 2 of my latest great adventure.  Friday, after an impressive little breakfast spread, we settled in for a guided tour of the new BSH Experience and Design Center and yes it WAS quite an experience.  We were outfitted in our very own custom and official looking lab coats (my first).  A camera crew toured with our group so someday I expect a film or two to make its appearance.

Walls of substance, engineering and quality.

Our first stop was THE WALLS (excellent use of hallway space, I might add).  These walls illustrate through shadow boxes, the details of materials, engineering and quality control that go into a Bosch appliance.  Each appliance undergoes not 25, not 250 but 2500 checks before being sent out into the world.  Yes, your new dishwasher may have a couple water spots and that’s why.  The Bosch design philosophy is inspired by German industrial designer Dieter Ram’s 10 principles of design .  They are in good company.    Apple Inc. is also one of the few companies designing products according to his principles.


Next on the hit parade was Designed for Life-an Interactive Design Workshop.  My group worked with a member of the industrial design team to design a range.  We looked at things like how it could work for people that have limited mobility, are visually impaired (just had to remove my spectacles) or victims of advanced pregnancy.

Nick from Cupboards online in a state of advanced pregnancy. He tested loading the dishwasher.

It was a real eye opener and I actually did come up with some ideas.  Here are my notes.  From sketches and notes the design team takes it to 3D imaging on the computer where they will tweak until its ready for the prototype stage.


From vision to hearing, the next experience was all about my favorite Bosch product, the quintessential dishwasher.  Bosch makes the quietest dishwasher in the industry rated at 39 decibels.  I know this to be a fact from personal experience.  I’ve been squirted a time or two from opening the door when I wasn’t aware that it was running (probably didn’t have my glasses on).  They have solved that problem.  In new models a red laser dot shines on the floor when the dishwasher is running.  You can’t miss it, even sans glasses.  In addition to the silence these dishwashers are rated the most water and energy efficient.  They are quite proud to have placed in Consumer Reports latest top ten in five categories including number one in value.  Speaking of value, you will spend anywhere from $549-$1,999 for a Bosch dishwasher.  The nice thing is that whether you opt for high end or entry level you don’t have to sacrifice efficiency or silence.  The differences are in the interior bells and whistles.

What does this green gizmo look like? Yes, an automotive air filter! Bosch is also known for its high quality car parts so this is a cross over being utilized also in dishwashers! This is Stephanie Hutaff, Director of Product Marketing, Dishwashers.



Time for lunch and a great opportunity to test drive all the Bosch appliances and Blanco plumbing fixtures .  Under the guidance of company chef, Kyle Jacobi, we collectively prepared a feast including fish tacos, stuffe chili rellenos, bacon wrapped shrimp, Spanish rice and more!

Cheryl Kees Clendenon of InDetail Interiors and I prepare tortillas for fish tacos!


After lunch it was time to learn about induction cooking and convection ovens.  If you’re not cooking on induction now, you will be in about ten years.  I’m not kidding.  Even the glass top electric range will go the way of those coil burner types we used to use.  Remember those?  The cool thing is you cannot burn yourself.  The heat only happens when the burner comes in contract with the bottom of the pan.  It uses a lot less power too!

If you had half a skillet and an induction cooktop this is how it would cook an egg. Coming soon, induction ranges too.

Convection ovens have been around a long time but I learned a couple of things about them too.  True convection, as featured in Bosch ovens, has its own separate heating element.  Then there is something called “Speed Convect”.  What that means is no preheating.  Zero to 350 in no time at all!  We finished the BSH Experience in some really comfy chairs learning about the Forces that Drive Innovation presented by Tim Maicher, Director of Marketing at Blanco America.  I loved that he expressed that there is an emotional as well as technical component to kitchen design.  I have always held that belief.


The final event of this two day adventure was dinner at The Cannery in Newport Beach.  Here I got another glimpse of the water but for the first time the sky turned gray. (Guess it was sad we were leaving).

View from The Cannery, Newport Beach

That’s it!  I have a lot more to share about new products at Blanco along with my random musings on stuff.  I hope you enjoyed your personal virtual tour.  I’ll be loading lots more photos to the On the Road with Kitchens for Living Flickr album.  I’ll let you know when they’re up.  Ciao for now!





Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts

Back to the real world!!  Got home around 11:30 last night.  Jet lag be damned. I owe you!  Here are my notes from Thursday which was officially day one of our Blanco/Bosch Blogger Retreat. So without further ado:

It’s beautiful here!  The sun is shining but no sweat!  They tell me it’s because it’s dry.  I could get used to this no humidity stuff.  Last night the first arrivals gathered for dinner at Bayside, a beautiful restaurant in Newport Beach.

Dinner at Bayside. You can't even tell I'd been traveling 100 hours! Left to right, Tim Maicher of Blanco, Leslie Clagett of KBCulture, Christy Emens of Blanco and moi. Photo courtesy of Lori Dolnick, Frank Advertising.

The main course, scallops on a bed of lobster mashed potatoes. Mmmmm

The food was delicious, the scenery beautiful and I was so excited to be in California with such an impressive group!  This morning we went on a walking tour of the amazing Segerstrom Preforming Arts Center which is right around the corner from our hotel.  It’s a world class venue for concerts, theater and especially dance. In fact it’s the largest privately funded performing arts center of its kind in the nation. The oldest part was built in 1986 and the newest twenty years later. The design is comprised of an interesting juxtaposition of triangles and undulating curves.

Firebird, by metal sculptor Richard Lippold, is a stainless aluminum and fiberglass sculpture, weighs over 2 tons and is 120' deep by 100' wide. I love how it appears to move through the glass. The grout you see on this wall is actually a silicone which allows movement in the event of an earthquake. Pretty cool, huh?

...and the undulating curves both outside Photo courtesy of Lori Dolnick, Frank Advertising

...and inside. Photo courtesy of Lori Dolnick, Frank Advertising

The 3000 seat theater is currently running the musical American Idiot featuring the rock group Green Day. We got a sneak peak back stage. I had no idea it was so complex behind the scenes!

Sorry no pix backstage. Photo courtesy of Lori Dolnick, Frank Advertising

After a delicious lunch at Seasons 52 it was time to descend on the brand new BSH Design Center located close by in Irvine. BSH will feature not only Bosch but also Thermador and Gaggenau appliances when completed. Blanco and Bosch are two German based companies who value fine German engineering so it makes sense that they are collaborating to offer consumers the whole package, sinks, faucets and appliances of unmatched quality and design.

After a champagne reception we got to participate in a panel discussion on kitchen design trends moderated by Dwell Magazine Contributing Editor Erika Heet.

Champagne reception at BSH Experience Design Center. Left to right, Linda Merrill of Surroundings, Ann Porter of KitchAnn Style, yours truly, and Andie Day,Design for Life.

Take note! These are the experts, all esteemed architects. The main design theme is a minimalist, efficient and integrated. Photo courtesy of Lori Dolnick, Frank Advertising.


Erika Heet Contributing Editor, Dwell Magazine moderates Design Trends for the Modern Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Lori Dolnick, Frank Advertising.

A little mingling after the panel discussion at BSH Experience Design Center, Irvine, California. Left to right Susan Serra, The Kitchen Designer and Bornholm Kitchens, Jamie Gold of Gold Notes and Alice Liao, Executive Editor Kitchen & Bath Business. Photo courtesy of Lori Dolnick, Frank Advertising.

As we mingled we got our first peak around the Design Center. I love this Silgranit sink by Blanco!

BSH is the world's third largest leading manufacturer of high-end appliances and sells under the Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau brands in the U.S. This sexy dishwasher is a Thermador model.

Meet the Bosch 800 Plus Dishwasher. She purrs like a cat, only 39 decibels, the best in the industry!

...and some bells and whistles you'll find in the Bosch 800 Plus. I love the extra cutlery tray on the top.

Caught in the act! Photo courtesy of Lori Dolnick, Frank Advertising

Thursday’s dinner was a real treat.  The event was titled Designed to Devour.  That was a pretty apt description.  True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach is a new restaurant specializing in a very “California” type of cuisine, very whole, healthy and organic.  I had the best panang curry ever (vegetable, of course).  The acai-pomegranite mojito was not too shabby either!

The first of many courses, True Food Kitchen, Newport Beach. Photo courtesy of Lori Dolnick, Frank Advertising

Enough for day one?  Day two we entered the “design lab” (lab coats and all, honest!).  We got a first hand view at the design process, materials and more.  Check back next post for round two where we really dig into the nitty gritty of what makes Bosch appliances so extraordinary.

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