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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Help is Just a Digit Away


Chances are you have a smart phone or a camera and a computer.  These items combined with as little as one digit and you have the tools you need to work with a designer…remotely.  You can have your own personal designer on call, just an email, text or phone call away.

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Old Guys and Online Shopping Rule


When you get to be, say in your mid fifties, you start to think about the rest of your life.  Not in a morbid way, that it’s more over than not, but in a way that perhaps you could make some changes.  We start to evaluate the decisions we’ve made up until now.  Do we have a career we like, do we want to keep doing this or consider a change. Have we planned for the next steps in our lives, whatever they will be. Are our kids starting to need us less and are we happy about that.  How big of a home do we need? None of these questions have the same answers for everyone nor are they clear cut. So many of us postpone the decisions until…say about our mid sixties.  Then we panic and think we have to do something fast!  Part of this comes from the national push to “downsize”.  To many the idea of downsizing is not only overwhelming, but somewhat depressing.  We don’t want to go “down”! Choosing to make a change in your home can be fun and very liberating.  Lets look at one inspiring example.

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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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We Saw an Opening


New Opening from Kitchen to Dining Room

Recently we had an opportunity to assist our client in updating her family home and making it a bit more “her own”.  By that she meant she wanted to stay in the neighborhood she enjoyed, appreciate many of the wonderful amenities of her home and tweak the things that could work better for her role as grandmother of two precious girls.

As in most of our homes, the kitchen is always the anchor.  The place where we cram in as many people as we can no matter the occasion.  In this home the kitchen was indeed centrally located yet closed off to some of the larger rooms that were just calling out to be part of the action.   Thanks to our client for allowing us to share a small part of her welcoming home. Please enjoy a few of the before and after shots.

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Recycling on Steroids

Hmmm..what do you do with a centuries old monastery and you feel the passion to “save” it?

Fontevraud Abbey in France: A Loire Valley Landmark

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If you are Canadian architect Sanjit Manku and French designer Patrick Jouin, you create an outstanding hotel, retreat and restaurant. One catch…the project stipulated that none of the original white limestone could be disturbed. Since we are too busy to skirt off to France this week, thought we’d do a little arm chair traveling.

Happy Sunday!

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Agree, no need to try to improve on the Limestone.

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Check In seems simple.

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What a fantastic way to light this Stairway (to Heaven?)

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Each of the 54 rooms is unique.  This one will do just fine for me.

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Alfresco Breakfast

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Looking at the LavenderAbbaye de Fontevraud-Agence-Jouin-Manku-photograph-by-Nicolas Matheus-Remodelista-12.jpg

Can you see a wedding dinner here?!

If you are not too busy, and your passport is up to date, looks like the Almighty has his Airbnb ready.

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Gut Reaction


Done right….a kitchen can handle any decor you can dream up.

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. Pet’s are hanging around hoping someone remembers it is their kitchen too.   Kitchen’s usually are 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 every ones 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 that 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.”


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 artworks?” 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.”



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 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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Stainless Didn’t Work


Architectural Digest is a wonderful source for some truly great Before and After projects.  Here’s an example of when it’s better to plan a complete renovation, including a realistic budget, instead of small updates.  Even the big box store stainless refrigerator’s are expensive. In this case, spending a few thousand dollars did not make much difference in this kitchen.

After the Renovation


There are so many things to like about this renovated space!  First, it appears to be within the same footprint.  Using existing space is always less expensive and allows the project to take less time.  Next, the way the finishings are combined is interesting.   Much thought, care and attention to detail was part of this plan. There is a personality, almost a soul to this kitchen.  Finally, this space is not the oversized, open concept, white-white decor that seems to be touted everywhere right now. This decor is timeless. We can tell there is a family that just can’t wait to get here everyday!

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