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5 TIPS TO IMPROVE THE LIGHTING IN YOUR KITCHEN

Friday afternoon I had the pleasure of sipping a Starbucks pumpkin spice soy latte while chatting with my favorite local lighting expert Marcia (that’s MAR-see-uh) Exelrud .  (Click here for previous guest post by Marcia.) As we discussed how to save the world from poor kitchen design and bad lighting , I asked her to come up with  a list of the TOP 5 Lighting Fixes for your kitchen. Here’s what she had to say:






Matching white trim blends recessed light fixtures into this crisp white kitchen ceiling. Photo by Apartmenttherapy



1. Replace trims and bulbs in existing recessed fixtures. New trim will give you a fresh updated look.  Replace bulbs so that they are all the same type for uniform and even lighting. Remember that the most up to date fixtures and bulbs will usually also be more energy efficient.  The initial investment is greater but they more than pay for themselves and save you time and aggravation in the long run.

2. Move or add fixtures to add direct light where you need it. Take a moment to study your kitchen both during the day and at night with the lights on.  Does your current arrangement work or do you need to make some changes?





Note pendant fixtures over island, cove lighting above cabinets and lights below upper cabinets. Photo by Apartmenttherapy


3.  Add cove lighting with an LED or xenon strip light fixture. Do you have space above your cabinets?  This is a perfect opportunity for cove lighting.  LED or Xenon strips are perfect for this area.





This kitchen has good "bones" i.e. storage and counter space. The plastic covered fluorecents need to go. New cabinets (or just a reface) and tops will give this kitchen a totally updated look. Photo by picdigger




4. Remove unsightly dropped ceilings.   You know what I’m talking about, those plastic squares set into a metal grid concealing fluorescent tubes.  Yeah that’s them.  Remove them and you instantly create an open feeling!  Replace those tube lights with some recessed high hats for better light. Welcome to 2010!  A word of caution, if you have a concrete ceiling you may have to lower it just enough to recess lights.  If that’s not in the budget consider a surface mounted fixture.





Recessed lights provide main lighting. Red pendants add task lighting over the island and a punch of red in this black and white kitchen. Photo by Apartmenttherapy


5. Install lighting under the upper cabinets and above islands.. Never install open fixtures such as pendants, spot lights or recessed lights witout lenses directly over cooking areas.

If you have questions about any type of lighting you can contact Marcia at

http://marcia@brightlightdesigns.net/

You can also find her listed under LOCAL RESOURCES  at Kitchens for Living

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TAP INTO YOUR CREATIVE ZONE

I live in a hectic family household  but Sundays are sacred.  Joe is off at work and kids sleep late, sometimes really late.  That is when I am blessedly alone.  That is when my spirit flies.  I catch up with all the blogs I haven’t been able to read during the busy week, maybe I do a little art and I dream.  Despite all my financial responsibilities,  my parenting realities and my work I get into a place where, for a moment,  I think just because I’m alive I can do ANYTHING.  Here are some things I become capable of on Sunday morning:

1. Going back to India to take up where I left off.


Glo in India 2001

2. Buy and decorate a hip Mid-Century modern apartment in Miami


My MCE Dream, Courtesy of Apartmenttherapy

3.Become a full time artist exploring and developing my many ideas and musings at my leisure. This is one of my collages.  If you want to see more visit www.papermoongoddess.blogspot.com


This is Hope

4. Go back to California to study more art


Glo at Encaustic Workshop in Carmel Ca. 2008


Ok, you get the picture.  When you want to create or remodel your own kitchen or design a kitchen for a client this is a very good space to be in.  Get in the mood and the ideas will come.  This is truly the first step in the Intuitive Kitchen process. When you have returned to earth you can edit.  Trust me it works.  Now tell me, don’t be shy (that’s counter intuitive). How do you get in the zone?

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PEACE IN SIMPLICITY

From sushi to soduko Asian is all the rage.
Look at any design magazine and you’ll discover that the west is looking to the east for design inspiration.  Kitchens and baths have found new expression and streamlined function through the clean lines of Zen design.  (Think sushi bar?). the simplicity and organic features of zen design are at the forefront of kitchen design today.  The newest appliances are integrated in dark rich woods and exotic wood veneers such as Wenge and Zebra Wood.with Asian details including metal and shapes reminiscent of the pagoda.  An emphasis on natural materials such as stone and bamboo, exotic woods and simple symmetry are the order of the day.
Ken Charbonneau, a color marketing consultant whose clients include Benjamin Moore Paint says, “More people are looking to create Zen-like spaces.  To achieve this means to use carefully edited color palettes, pare down the excess and use the color to bring out the true essence of a room instead of letting it dominate a space.” There is another added benefit to paring down and that is saving money.  If you have a place for everything it’s perfectly acceptable, even desirable to leave a little open space. 
The Japanese architectural aesthetic is one of straight lines, no muss, no fuss.  It’s pure, simple and elegant.  But can a zen kitchen work in your Mediterranean-style home or a Lake Worth cottage-style?  The good news is no matter what your style you can incorporate the simplicity, organization and organic finishes that make zen design so appealing today.    If your house is a Mizner showpiece you can still pare down in the kitchen.  The trick to making it work is to include a common element.  For example you could keep the same palette but just simplify the details for a more uncluttered feeling of simplicity.  De-cluttering is something we can all do to reap the benefits of the  Zen aesthetic in the kitchen.  Organize it.  Put it away with state of the art cabinet accessories that pull out divide and categorize for convenience and high function.


This kitchen by Holiday Kitchens, Inc. exemplifies the zen principles of simplicity and straight line.
High art and function coexist with the peaceful ambiance of Zen design. Next post: Quickies for your kitchen
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HEART OF YOUR KITCHEN

No matter the size or style of your kitchen, sink selection will be one of the most important decisions you make as you plan a new kitchen or update your existing one.
With an abundance of new technology and materials the choices can be overwhelming!   To the average homeowner – a sink may look like – well – just a sink. But there’s a lot to consider.  While the kitchen is the heart of the home, it is probably safe to say the kitchen sink is the heart of the kitchen.  Unless you have a separate prep sink, your sink will serve in both the clean up and food preparation roles.  With this in mind, here’s what I look for as a kitchen designer:
1.       Quality– The adage “you get what you pay for” has never been as true as in this case.  Your kitchen sink is heavily used on a daily basis so good quality will certainly pay off.  Some choices include cast iron, natural stone and, the most popular, stainless steel.  If opting for a stainless steel finish the gauge, or thickness, of the steel is the most important consideration.  The lower the number the thicker the steel and the better the quality.  This means it will not ding or spot as easily as a lesser quality product.  If you opt for one of the other materials make sure to do your homework.  Speak to a professional and research the wealth of information available on the internet.  Always get the highest quality your budget will allow.
2.       Design– Next you will have to decide if you want a drop-in or undermount design.  The advantage of having your sink mounted underneath the countertop is that you can simply wipe your crumbs away without the lip of the sink being in the way.  This option can be used if you have a granite or solid surface countertop and will add a little to the price of your countertop and installation. Drop in sinks on the other hand are easier to install and replace. Blanco has just introduced what they’re calling MicroEdge technology. MicroEdge represents the first breakthrough in stainless steel sink design since the introduction of the undermount sink more than 10 years ago. MicroEdge (shown above) is a sleek drop-in overmount sink technology that creates the illusion of an expensive flush undermount installation. Achieve the flush look for less time and money as MicroEdge can be installed over virtually any counter material.  For more information, visit www.blancoamerica.com
3.       Configuration– The large single bowl sink is becoming more and more popular.  It is the most versatile when it comes to accommodating large pots and platters.  If you are washing dishes by hand however you’ll probably still prefer the double bowl variety.  Really think about how you use your sink and don’t be afraid to make a change to something that better suits your lifestyle.

            This is just a beginning but good enough to get you started and    thinking in the right direction. 
Next   post: Secret to a Dream Kitchen…               

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