Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kitchen Islands

Since  I am talking about kitchens this month, (see post dated 11-24) I can not help but talk about kitchen islands.  Islands can come in many sizes, purposes & styles. It is is true that an island can be a simple box cabinet with a top to be functional but what fun would that be. How much better to get  a little creative & create a truly beautiful addition to you home  Here are a few pointers about islands.

First, if the island is an addition to your existing kitchen, figure out what functions the new island will be handeling. Will it be providing extra storage, housing new appliances or sinks, providing additonal eating space or will it be a work space only?  Depending on your answers, you will need to consider how to provide lighting, plumbing & electrical service to the area..

Second, you need to define the amount of space dedicated to the island.  If the island is being added to an existing kitchen remember that 36" is the absolute minimum space you should have between existing cabinetry & the front edge of your island.  I like about a 48"  or even more myself. You will also want to take into consideration whether a dishwasher or oven door will be opening downward in front of the island.  This is really important to think out because you don't want to create an "accident" zone.  Determine whether the oven door could be too close to other cabinetry & cause a tripping situation.  You can see how this would be a problem area if it is too close with no room to get around it.  Same thing with a dishwasher door. You will get a lot of bruises if there is not enough space to get around the door when it is in the down position.  Changing the placement of the dishwasher or oven will need to be considred if adequate space is not available

Third, you also need to determine an appropriate length for the island.  Too short & it will look like a chopping block (which is great if that is what you need) but not so great if it is out of proportion to the rest of the kitchen.  You will also want to consider how far you want to walk to get around to the other side of the island.  I have done longer islands that were up to15 feet long at the request of the client but in my opinion that is pushing it for overall length.  It is at least an  8.5 foot walk to get to either side from the center (you also need to add in the 3-6 feet of depth of the island ) The complete kitchen design will determine what is best to the eye & good planning will be the key to a successfull project..  You must do a layout on graph paper or have your kitchen designer provide a cabinet layout prior to any work being started.

Fourth, you will need to determine the proper height of the island.  Working height will usually be 36". However, there are instances where that may not be the best choice.  If the kitchen is being remodeled or custom built for wheelchair accessability, heights will vary as to function.  Space requirements between and around cabinets would also change to accomodate wheel chair or walker turn around space.  A professional designer will be able to help with the proper heights etc.

If the island is to have an eating bar on one side, a split height might be chosen.  This is also often done if you want to hide a sink or cooktop from view.  A 12" eating bar overhang is usually adequate for bar stools to slide under but more may be added to accomadate  more leg space etc.

I will be talking more about islands in my next post.  Materials, functions, counter tops, legs, styles etc.  Check back.

This is an example of a free standing island that has many functions incorporated into it.  I will talk about this island in my next post.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I LOVE Kitchens. Induction Cooktops

It seems that in the fall my kitchen takes on a new place in my life.  Summer time cooking is usually outside or on the run but fall and winter kitchens are the best.  Kitchens can be a gathering place for family and friends, a learning place for our children, an exciting place for the family cook to try out new recipies. and a really warm and happy place to be.  Its no wonder that so many people who want to upgrade their home decide to start with the kitchen.

Whether it is going to be a complete remodel or just a simple face lift it will be money and time well spent.  In future posts I am going to focus on kitchens since I really love them and the function they perform for our families.  I will be sharing  great ideas large and small  so keep posted.

Today I am going to include some interesting information on induction cook tops.  Is that a new one for you?  Well, it's not really so new.  Induction cooking has been used in Europe for decades by professionals and homeowners demanding the best in performance. Induction cooking is so efficient that it out-performs gas and electric cooktops. There is no wasted heat because energy is supplied directly to the cooking vessel. Info from

How Does an Induction Cooktop Work?

Induction cooktops have many advantages over other cooking methods, including efficiency, controllability, and safety. These advantages are easily explained by discussing how they work. Each hob contains one or more coils made of ferromagnetic material. When an alternating current is passed through these coils, a magnetic field of the same frequency is produced. If a magnetic-based pan is placed on the hob, the magnetic field induces a current in the pan. The internal resistance of the pan causes heat to be dissipated, following the Joule effect. Thus it is the pan itself, and not the cooktop, that heats up and cooks the food. Once the pan is removed from the cooktop, the energy transfer stops. The result is a flame-less method of cooking in which it is nearly impossible to start a fire by forgetting to turn off the stove.

Parents won't have to worry about their child touching a hot burner because the cooktop surface remains cool. Changing cooking temperatures is achieved quickly because there is no wait for the hob to heat up, only the pan. Since there is no transfer of heat energy between the hob and the pan, less heat is lost into the air, resulting in a more efficient means of cooking, not to mention a more agreeable cooking environment.

How Does an Induction Cooktop Compare to Other Cooktops?

According to CEG Electric Glass Company, a producer of induction cooktops, "power savings of 40-70% are realistically achievable in comparison to conventional cooktops." The following statistics are taken from CookTek Online. For the reasons discussed above, it is not surprising that induction heating results in the highest efficiency.

Efficiency of Cooking Methods
Method Efficiency
Induction 90%
Halogen 58%
Electric 47%
Gas 40%

This information shows that using an induction cooktop can result in reduced power bills. Other tests show that induction cooking is faster than using gas, halogen, or a microwave. As mentioned above, the induction cooktop is extremely safe. There is no risk of fire if food or grease overflows from the pan, no risk of burns from touching the cooktop surface, and no worry about dangerous fumes from gas or other cooking fuels. The ceramic glass surface can be cleaned by simply wiping off the surface with a damp towel. Although induction ranges are currently more expensive than their electric or gas counterparts, when all of these advantages are taken into account, the induction cooktop will definitely pay for itself.

Will You Have to Buy Special Cookware?
Induction cooking can be used with any type of cookware from frying pans to woks. However, the induction cooktop only works when used with magnetic-based materials, such as iron and steel, that will allow an induced current to flow within them. A simple way to find out if a pan is induction compatible is to use the "magnet test;" if a magnet will stick to the surface of the pan, it will work. Many companies produce special cookware specifically for induction cooking. These pans are designed to absorb magnetic energy and spread the heat quickly and evenly, resulting in higher efficiency and reduction of "hot spots," which can cause food to be burned in some areas while still uncooked in others

Why you should choose an Induction Cooktop?

The induction cooktop is a very practical device and can be used for any cooking application. It cooks food just as well as any comparable system but in a safer, more energy efficient manner. Protecting the world's environment and conserving resources is currently an important concern, and the induction cooktop is probably the most environmentally sound cooking device on the market, as it releases no fumes or chemicals into the air and uses no irreplaceable fossil fuels. Anyone thinking of purchasing a new stove should consider investing in an induction cooktop.  (This induction information is reprinted from Messenger Media)

My Personal Comments

I have not personally used an induction cooktop.  I have always loved the way the gas cook tops look & cook so I have always used gas.  I was really surpised by the efficiency data & will certainly consider using this type of cooktop in future projects. I have had one client purchase an induction cooktop .  It looked really nice and clean & she is liking it..

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I love this piece but have no place for it. It was purchased for a model home.  It is hand painted in China by an unknown art student.  Price $300.00.

I also have this really nice chinese style painted desk for sale.  It is located in my office in Salem, OR.  Shipping can be arranged if needed.  From the same model home as the art.. $400.00

This desk is "trapped" in my storage room. I couldn't get a full front view for the photo. Sorry.

Lastly from the same model home I have a chinese wedding chest with authentifiction papers. Purchased from Asian artifacts dealer in Portland. It has been modified inside to accomadate a TV. $900.00. Located at my office in Bend, OR


Tableaux by Fauxiron Solutions

I have come across another great resource for my clients called Tableaux. It is a really cool product. It looks like iron but it's not. It is a "faux" iron  product that allows the designer to create beautiful inserts for windows & doors, laid on panels for cabinets,  arches for entries, doors & windows, and cornices and toppers for drapes.. How about a ceiling panel or a medallion for your chandelier? Even exterior grade product is available. This product is much less expensive than real iron & much lighter in weight.  It can be easily installed.

It is very lightweight & can be carved on one or both sides depending on the application. If you can imagine it, it can be made. It is totally CUSTOM so any size, shape & pattern can be done. There are idea books available but we can also create a custom design. There are a variety of finishes available as well as custom finishes if we need to match something.. Best of all, it is a "Green" product so you can feel good about using it in your next project.

I will have a window panel at the Redmond OR Design Center on Hwy 97 in December. Come out and take a look. If you think this would be great in your home or office we can come & give you an estimate.

Monday, November 9, 2009

An update about the Design Center in Redmond OR

I am happy to say that my venture into the realm of  "Window Treatment " tenent partner at The Design Center in Redmond OR is well underway.  I have fabrics ordered & work rooms working to create some interesting & beautiful window treatments that you will NOT find at a chain store or box store.  I am excited about some of the new things I will be bringing in.  I hope to have some things ready in early December to have installed. One window treatment is by Hartman & Forbes using grass textiles & raw silk fabrics for a refined contemporary look.  Another custom fabric treatment being fabricated will be old-world looking layered fabrics, hand made wrought iron hardware & Fauxiron window inserts. This will fit beautifully in the Tuscan wine room. Please check in later for an update.  If you have not been to the Design Center I hope that you will plan to come out to see what local businesses have put together. It is really impressive.  

Lots of Changes.