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Do your homework. (for my friends up north)

Seems like the consumer is a little leery lately.  Everyone’s radar is on high alert looking to avoid the big RIPOFF.   I can only speak for myself but I’m confident that I am in the majority.  All we kitchen and bath industry professionals want is to make you happy.  Do we have to eat?  Yes, and so do all the hard working people that make your life possible.  That said, I do understand where you’re coming from.  After all, I am a consumer too.  With that in mind I have come up with a cheat sheet for you.  Run through these 5 tips as a prelude to your decision making and you should be able to trust once again.  Oh and remember there is a difference between cheap and value for the money.  I know cheap is tempting but it isn’t cheap anymore if you have to replace a product that doesn’t make the cut.

1.  KNOWLEDGE IS POWER–  Today there is no excuse not to educate yourself before you go shopping.  There is a wide array of media at your disposal.   Use the internet and talk to people!  Yes, people, in person (ok can be online too).  Talk to the experts.   Read blogs.  Ask questions and talk to other consumers.  One of the best ways to feel good about your choices is to know other people who have made them before you and been happy.  No, you can never know for sure but the more knowledge you have the more equipped you are to make the right selection for yourself.


NKBA offers a wealth of information

2. RESEARCH-This goes hand in hand with #1 but it is really the next step.  Once you have defined the scope of  your project  you will be ready to select specific products such as appliances, counter tops, cabinets etc. that fit into the big picture.   Research the choices.  What are other people saying?  How long has a company been in business?  The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Consumer Reports and the Better Business Bureau are good national and local resources and can indicate if you’re headed in the right direction.

3. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE– Take a little time to find out what your style is.  Who wants to spend a butt-load of money on something they’re going to hate looking at?  The best way to find what floats your boat is to do something I call “kitchen scrap booking”.  Time to have fun.  Collect images from magazines, catalogs and the internet.   These don’t even have to be photos of kitchens.  They should be anything that appeals to you, a style, product or just a general ambiance.  In this way you will begin to see the patterns and perhaps even discover some things you never consciously knew!  For example you may find that 7 of 10 photos contain white cabinetry but maybe you never considered that.  Getting what you love is good value.  It just takes a little vision.

Okay this is a bit much but you get the idea.

4. LET THE PROFESSIONALS DO THEIR JOB- A WORD OF CAUTION: Don’t get carried away here.  You’ve all heard “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.   It’s true.  Never succumb to thinking you know it ALL.  That’s why there are people who have studied and spend a large part of their waking lives becoming certified experts so they can get paid to help you.  Use them.

5. COMMUNICATE FOR GOD SAKES! Once you’ve got some semblance of  a plan in your head it’s time to take it (along with your scrapbook) to the magician professional who can make it happen for you.  This is not about money.  You have to buy your products somewhere and that place should have a professional on hand to take your vision and translate it into your dream.  That’s all we do folks.  It is my experience that the best projects are really good collaborations between client and designer.   Getting what you want equates to good value for money invested.  The NKBA is a good source for qualified professionals in your area.  Many of us are also willing to work on a consultation basis, so ask!


If this is your idea of sublime you can recreate the feeling in your kitchen

Voila! Cabinets and photo by Holiday Kitchens

Holiday Kitchens



This modern kitchen features G.E. Profile appliances.

As a kitchen designer and writer,  my inbox is always filled with news of all the latest products, websites and all manner of things to do with our favorite room, the kitchen.  G.E. has always been known as the bread- and- butter of the appliance world.  Not only have they been around forever but they have evolved with the times.  Today they still offer the basic affordable options as well as higher end appliance packages under the names G.E. Profile,  Monogram and the new Cafe’ Series. These offer a wider variety of functions and integrated modern styling.

Early days (Note dangerous placement of stove! Sliding in between cabinets would have been better!)

Another thing that really makes them a 21st century contender is their state of the art website.  There is a wealth of information here whether you aim to use their products or not.  Of course they hope you’ll be seduced once you have entered their “web”, so to speak.

Play with this design on the G.E. site. They left room for art. I love it!

One of my favorite features on the site is the kitchen design function.  Simply choose a kitchen which is similar to your own space.  Then simply click on the various color choices.  It’s a lot of fun and a great way to start to narrow your choices and make the big decisions like dark vs. white cabinets, black vs. stainless appliances.  You get the picture (literally).  You’ll also find lighting ideas, safety tips and even recipes.  Oh, and the “must have’ G.E. product in my book is the Advantium Microwave Oven. My clients love it.  You can use it as a regular oven or as a microwave, so it’s like two ovens in one!

This bachelor client opted for TWO Advantiums, one built-in to the pantry and one over the range!



Thank you  for the out pouring of love and concern for our family.  No matter what happens the sun always rises again and we begin another day.

White cabinets and a shiny blue glass tile backsplash lend a coastal feel. Photo by Southern Accents

As you guys up in the northern regions are beginning to crank up the heat,  I thought I’d share a little warmth from down here in sunny Florida.  If you love warm tropical beaches, even when there’s snow (instead of sand) on the ground, here’s how you can bring this ambiance to your “anywhere” kitchen.

Blue & White will give you an instant feel of sun and surf.  White cabinets are hot!  Blue calls  to mind the ocean and may be added to your backsplash, walls or even used as  accent color for an island or hutch cabinet.

A modern version with Balthaup cabinets. Photo by Elle Decor

A sea view is a must and you can have one even if you don’t live by the sea.  Think art!  That way you can choose the sea view of your choice.  It can be a painting, a photograph or even something more abstract like a mixed media work of art.

I wish I was at the beach by ABSTRACTINC from

Gifts from the Sea are fun ways to add a beachy feel.  Shells, starfish or even bits of beach glass are great accents.  Try using a shiny glass tile backsplash for a watery feel or tiles with more of a honed finish look like glass that has been eroded by the sand over time.

seashells, starfish and beach glass tell the story of the sea

Burled Beach Corian countertop by Dupont

Throw some sand into the mix with solid surface counter tops in colors like Dijon from the Elements collection by Denova or Burled Beach by Dupont’s Corian.

Dijon from the Elements collection Denova Solid Surface Counters

The nice thing is you can add a little or you can pull out all the stops.  If you have “Floridified” your kitchen sent me pix.  I would love to show and tell.  Oh, and by the way, it’s nice to be back!



Every year high end appliance manufacturer Subzero Wolf sponsor a kitchen design contest.  This year’s winner is Jose Eduardo Calma of Lor Calma & Partners, Makati City, Phillipines.  I must confess I LOVE this!  The juxtaposition of materials and calm yet sublime use of color puts me in a Zen state of mind.  Well done, Jose!  If traditional styling is more your cup of tea, stay tuned.  My next post will show you the winner in the traditional category. Photo is courtesy of Subzero Wolf.  



One of the myriad decisions you’ll have to make when considering new kitchen cabinets is STYLE.  What do you say when your kitchen professional poses the question, what style are you?  There are, of course, many but we can safely narrow it down to three categories.  The first one is known as TRADITIONAL.  Anything Old World, Country, French Country or Tuscan would come under that category.  You know you’re traditional when cabinet doors are ornate with lots of finish detail and moulding.  Because of this, a classic or traditional look is usually the most expensive to create.  The second category is CONTEMPORARY.  This style is usually very simple and streamlined with not a lot of detail.  This type of kitchen gets its beauty from the materials used.  For example a beautiful wood grain or color.  If you are careful about the materials used this can by your most inexpensive option.  Remember less can be more.  The third style is TRANSITIONAL.  A lot of us come under this category which could also be described as eclectic. The popular Shaker door is a good example of this.  It can be either modern or traditional looking depending on the hardware you select and the rest of the finishes in the kitchen.  If you’re interested in resale value this is the way to go as it will appeal to the majority. Now can you identify the style of kitchen in these three photos from Holiday Kitchens?

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