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Design Tips Inspired by The French Chef

Julia Child was a pioneer in the world of haute cuisine at a time when celebrity “chefdom” was a decidedly manly occupation.  She didn’t care.  The kitchen was her natural habitat and she had her own ways of making it work for her whether she was whipping up a soufflé or flaming a creme brûlée.

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Kitchen Love, Italian Style at Acheo and Poggenpohl

Ok so you got me, Poggenpohl is not Italian.  They are German, except when they’re in Milan, then they’re Italian.  Good enough? I can hardly believe I’ve been home for over a week!  Images and impressions are still swirling around in my head from the wonderful time I spent with Blanco and some fellow members of the Blanco Design Council in Milan.  Design Week was not limited to the extensive exhibition at the Rho Fairgrounds but also included events all over town.  We visited two memorable and cutting edge showrooms on our visit. Read more



As a kitchen designer I am frequently asked about the wisdom of installing wood countertops for food preparation. The warmth and natural appeal of wood tops can be both a focal point as well as a functional advantage for the heart of your home. Just as with anything else there are a few things to be aware of if you decide to go this route.

Many people wonder if wood surfaces are sanitary. Laminate and solid surfaces such as quartz and Corian, due to their non-porous nature, are considered safe for preparing meat or vegetables. Wood, because of its porosity is commonly thought to be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. However in the 1990s researchers discovered that wood naturally exhibits strong antibacterial properties. According to these studies, and to others that followed, bacterial populations disappear quickly and without help on wood surfaces, while on plastic surfaces they persist and actually multiply. In fact the term “butcher block”, another name for wood counter tops, was coined because in days past it was the popular choice for butchers! Although these bacteria resistant properties vary among wood species, wooden cutting surfaces are gaining popularity especially with the advent of the green movement.

In general wood countertops are more expensive than laminates. The price can vary widely depending on wood species, thickness, how the wood sections are arranged and which grain of wood is visible. Keep in mind that nicks or damages can always be repaired by resanding and resealing.

Some wood top fabricators will include a durable safe sealer finish or some prefer a natural mineral oil finish. A good countertop finish should retain the moisture of the wood and keep food residue and surface moisture out within reason.

You don’t have to install wood tops throughout your entire kitchen. Sometimes a wood top in just one area such as an island (as in the picture above courtesy of  Holiday Kitchens) is a popular choice creating a pleasing focal point and gathering spot for your family. Next post: Art in the Kitchen

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