Home, Home On The Range

Zucchini Shrimp Scamp via laurel bledsoe at littleblackdomicile.com


Professional Series Gas range
via Pinterest


A BTU (British thermal unit) is a measure of heat output and applies to the power generated by gas stovetops and ranges.  The capacity of gas burners is measured in BTU per hour.  Residential ranges, patterned after commercial units, have BTUs of 12,000 to 25,000.  If you have one, or are planning a kitchen design, you no doubt know what these are.  But do you really know why you need these?  It’s gotta be for a better reason than bragging rights.

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Ok Monday…Let’s Do This!




Designers are just like everyone else.  We sneak in some weekend internet time to save photos of all kinds of inspiration for our homes.  We are trained, and have years of experience, that help us see things others might miss.  In our minds, there is always a “what if” churning.  Some concepts take time and money.  All good.  Plan the work and work the plan.  But what can we do now?  Personally,  I’ve found that small accomplishments in our home keep me motivated.  Something that can be done quickly, like “right now”!  Basically for sweat labor  free and make me feel like I have made a positive difference in our life.   Tall order…easy fix!

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Even Wonder Woman Has Secrets


vcg Canada Flag

I’ll say it…”Sometimes Canadian’s are just much more cool than Americans.” Yes, this is my opinion and before you agree or disagree, let me show you what I mean.

(Before you click over to read this fun “how to post”…care to share littleblackdomicile with a friend?  Share buttons are below!)

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Kitchens!  Is there another room in our homes that pulls at our heart strings more than our kitchens?  No matter if we love them, or hate them…we think about them nearly every day.  So what can we do to make them look their best?


Gut Reaction



Done right….a kitchen can handle any decor you can dream up.  The question is are you ready for the renovation of the most important room in your home?

Most of us have a kitchen.  Many say it is the heart of the home.  We want to suggest it is more than that…it is also the brain.  Kitchens of today have to function at warp speed.  They are our grand central stations allowing everyone to meet before dispersing for the day. They are busier than any restaurant, offering everything from a quick pop tart to a 5 course “I want to be a chef!” labor of love.  Daily homework, craft projects and bill paying take place somewhere in the vicinity.  Too many of our electronics are charging all over the counters. Pets are hanging around hoping someone remembers it is their kitchen too.   Kitchens are usually full of both laughter and tears.  We can’t think of any other room in our homes as important.  Because kitchen projects are number one on everyone’s to do list, it’s safe to say we might also have a little “kitchen obsession” going on.

During initial consultations, with clients centered around kitchen projects, we hear one of two things….

 “I love my kitchen and want the rest of the house to feel as welcoming!” 


(more likely)

“I hate my kitchen.  I am exhausted spending all my free time online looking at ideas.  Help!”

If you are in the later group and considering a major kitchen renovation, you are in a large group.  Full kitchen renovations are expensive.  Even kitchen facelifts can be costly.  Planning and implementing a kitchen renovation requires more work than showing a contractor one of your many inspiration photos.  Here is our shameless plug…this is a good time to hire a full service designer.  Someone who will be the “glue” in the project to make sure all goes as planned.  Architectural Digest recently published this wonderful article (questions below) about what to ask yourself (or have your designer ask you) if you are considering a kitchen renovation.  Let’s look at some great kitchen examples as we consider the “gut” of your most important space.




1. What is your objective?

“Are you planning to sell your home in three years?  Are you intending to spruce up for that sale?  Or are you looking to have all the bells and whistles?”


2. How long do you plan to live in the home?

“If you’re going to be living there for one or two years, you probably want to consider a different type of renovation, something that’s maybe not as costly or something that’s more timeless and traditional in the aesthetic that’s chosen by your design team.” “If you’re going to be living there a little bit longer, then naturally you’ll be spending a bit more and designing something that you really love.”

Like Appliances -See Here


Mommies Magazine

3. Do you have children?

“If so, where are you going to store everything?  Are you going to have a kitchen with a magnetic board; do you hang your children’s artwork?”  Resilient, easy-to-clean materials, whether wood or stone, are also ideal for kid-friendly kitchens.

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Rutland, UK

4. Do you have allergies and health issues to consider?

If someone in your family suffers from asthma or other breathing issues, let your contractor know. “Things that are important to stay away from if you do have any of those concerns are high-gloss lacquers and urea and phenol formaldehyde, which are used in the adhesives of most plywoods.”

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Boswell Construction

5. Will you be living in your home during the renovation?

“It adds to the lead time and the construction duration, so that’s something that’s very important to know.  It also adds to the level of protection and cleanliness that needs to be maintained in the renovation.”



6. What is your budget?

“This question has to be something that’s first answered for yourself, so you understand what amount of money you want to spend, but it’s important to be honest with the people on your design team, and your contractors, about what that number is.” Once you have a number, add a 10 to 20 percent contingency.

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Westmere House

7. What have people in similar homes accomplished, and what have been their limitations?

“What I always encourage on first meetings, in New York City especially, is that you invite your building’s superintendent,”.  “Getting to the answer of ‘Can we do it?’ sooner rather than later is very, very helpful in the process.” Research local zoning laws, landmark preservation rules, and yard setbacks, too.

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HJ White

8. Can you remove that wall to open up the kitchen?

“It’s very easy to ask the building’s superintendent or other people within the building that may have completed renovations. It’s also great to schedule walk-through with those people to see what they’ve done.”

Opening closed floor plans is what 75% of owners and prospective buyers want.  They’d like to be able to have each area connected to the next.  Completely removing walls can be costly.  Making openings wider or adding large pass-through can achieve open concepts without the expense of a total gut and rebuild.  Plan the openings on paper in a scaled plan before talking with a tradespersons.  This is not a good time for assumptions.



9. What’s behind those walls?

“Are there utilities that limit the amount of wall that can be removed safely?”



10. When can we get started?

“I always say that a well-planned project is a well-executed project,” “Take the time with the architecture and/or design team to properly plan everything that you’re doing. Source your long-lead materials and purchase them in advance.”

To recap, yes, we understand the kitchen is the room in our home that always pulls at our heartstrings. We want it to look great as it takes care of us everyday.  To all the kitchens out there …we say thank you for sharing your love.

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S Zarin Goldberg

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Practice Makes Perfect



The definition of cookery is the practice or skill of preparing and cooking food. It’s a British word and one I thought meant the actual place of the events.  Something that could be used as a sub for our word kitchen.  However, it’s a verb not a noun. Cookery certainly sounds more continental than cooking, and conjures up visions of  kitchens a tad more unconventional than ones in the U.S.  Wouldn’t you love to practice cookery in any of these simply savvy kitchens?

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My kitchen doesn’t “WOW” me.

Kitchen Weekend Warriors



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You’ve bought a new home in the neighborhood you want to be in.  The kitchen has a pretty good layout, lots of storage and you were sure the stainless appliances and granite counter tops you added were going to make you happy.  You’ve spent a tidy sum of money.

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Counter Attack


More decisions today are made in our kitchens than in any of the board rooms across this country. This is especially true as life becomes more digital. How many times have you paid bills, planned trips, checked school assignments and synchronized calendars working off your kitchen counter? We confess, much of this blog gets written in this exact way. Early mornings and very late nights standing doing last minutes edits or notes for the next great idea we have. With our kitchens being the command hubs, counters have to take on so many different functions.  Because this is a design blog…we say those counters need to look good while doing it! So what better way than to make a counter look good than to have a cake on it?!

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What If There Were No StSt Appliances


A Pretty Nice Kitchen

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kitchen by  slimrandles

Before anyone gets upset and starts hyperventilating, this is not going to happen.  If it did, the HGTV shows of house hunting would have to look for all new clients.  I can count on one hand the shows where buyers were NOT looking for “stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops”.  Manufacturers have enjoyed a really long run of this most desired metal.  In the U.S. 123,000 appliances are sold daily.  I can’t find the number of how many of these are stainless but I know its high. There are many, many kitchens that are just outstanding using stainless…but what if we stretched outside of the box a little and said no to these finger printing  gleaming machines?

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Love It- After a Few Bucks

This time it really is a Before and After for only a few bucks!  Certainly in comparison to the national average cost of even a minor kitchen update.  As kitchen renovations go…this one looks like it was not too disruptive as well.

This is a kitchen of caterer (yes you read that right) in Southern California.  The article was in Houzz. The “after” photo caught my attention first.  Let’s take a look….we can’t see it all but enough for the chef in me to be inspired and the designer in me to applaud this accomplishment.


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This kitchen offers really good function for a cook.  Counter space on each side of the range.  Sink close enough to range to make corner usable.  Daylight.  Almost everything you need is in reach, accessible while looking so Julia Childish.  The range…oh my this is a chefs dream!  Specially with an exhaust hood that looks like it could suck the hair off your head so fish smell should be no problem.  On top of all this,  I bet many gather in to have a glass of wine and chat with the cook.  Pretty nice right?

Hold On

Before I show you the before photo let me point out a few things that many of you may think are not good to have in your dream kitchen.  (Bet  at first you didn’t even notice them and are scrolling back up to take another look at the photo.)

  • There is a circa 1950 scalloped valance.
  • Looks like a similar vintage wall mounted sink faucet.
  • Hinges on the cabinet doors.  Painted hinges at that.
  • 2×4 built base for the peninsula right of the range.
  • Mix matched counter tops.
  • Old, painted cabinets.  Doors and drawers are probably stuck. If they close at all.
  • No protective material as a splash at the range.
  • Skinny little Lowe’s track light over the sink.
  • Blender on counter top.
  • I’d estimate its between 100-200 sq feet at the max.

If you had not seen the after photo, and I gave you the above list as the items we would keep in your kitchen renovation, would you be excited about a kitchen update?  Probably not.  Perhaps a look at the before photo will give you even more appreciation of updating without gutting a space.


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Bon Appetite

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