Kitchen Clarity Adventures in Kitchen and Bath Design

Lighting Jackpot – my lucky week

05.19.2011 · Posted in Kitchens, Sustainable Design

Woohoo -  the lighting gods are all on my side this week. I’ve just heard from the delightful folks at that I won a Tolomeo Micro Desk Lamp from Artemide – how cool is that? All I did was drop my card in a basket at the NKBA Industry Showcase in Oakland, and now I get one of these classic little beauties to call my own:

Tolomeo Micro Desk Lamp by Artemide

I hope it will be well behaved – if you’ve been around here for a while you’ll know I worry about some of its larger siblings, with their lifelike appearance and apparent tendency to take over – as posted in Lighting Trend and especially in Tolomeo (Tolomeo):

Tolomeos reaching for the fruit bowl? Photo Boligmagasinet

Still, “mine”  will be just a baby…if I train it right, there’ll surely be no problem? As long as I don’t let it read this blog, I probably won’t have to call a Tolomeo Whisperer:

Found on Flickr - by mrtnk. A Tolomeo Whisperer is needed here

The second part of my lighting jackpot takes the form of a little box of light-bulbs arriving in the mail from GE Lighting – I wrote about some of their energy saving features here after learning about them at GE’s fabulous “Fine Food and Light Conversation” do during KBIS , but I wasn’t expecting to receive the lamps to try out myself. It’s definitely my lucky week. The energy smart LED, with its clever cooling fins for protection and its all around light distribution, is  providing lovely crisp light in my reading lamp as I type this:

GE Lighting's Energy Star rated 9 watt A-line LED

Check back in 22.8 years to find out how it fulfills its longevity promise – I can only hope I’ll have sufficient staying power myself to report on it for you…

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Kitchen Centric by Mick De Giulio

05.18.2011 · Posted in Kitchens

I just got back from a presentation by designer Mick De Giulio – brought to us here in the Bay Area by CLCID and Northern California NKBA as part of an Industry Showcase event. I’ve definitely come away fired up and inspired – Mr. De Giulio’s new book  “Kitchen Centric”  would make a great addition to your kitchen design library:

A light-filled kitchen by Mick De Giulio

It’s intended to be as much an art book or a fantasy book as a field guide – no cookie cutter kitchens here, but an inspirational selection of 18 of the designer’s favorite kitchens.  The book’s title sums up the important place kitchens now have in our lives – the center of the home, and the center of family life too, calling for comfortable seating areas, generous kitchen tables, places where family and friends are happy to just “hang out”. The projects are “a lesson in dreaming” and the discussion of the decisions involved in their creation is fascinating for anybody contemplating a new kitchen.

A lesson in dreaming - Kitchen Centric by Mick De Giulio

You’ll certainly recognize some of the most fashionable materials of the decade in these pictures (carrara marble, stainless steel and white subway tile a-plenty) – there’s really no such thing as timeless design. But while the materials come and go, the principles and the processes of design remain the same, and it’s the insights into those that make this book a keeper.  Though the gorgeous pictures certainly don’t hurt in the short term!

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Traditional tiled kitchen style

05.16.2011 · Posted in Kitchens, Sustainable Design

Guaranteed to lift your heart, the kitchen in this 17th century Mexican home. The almost matching gas stoves flanking the tiled range and alcove are an ingenious way to a bring a semblance of modern practicality to an ancient design:

photo Tim Street-Porter, Elle Decor

I know, a big shiny range would be more efficient – but sometimes form just has to trump function. Especially when the form is this cute.

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NewWood – 100% recycled & recyclable construction material

05.13.2011 · Posted in Sustainable Design

Have you heard of NewWood yet? I hope this 100% recycled material will be coming to building projects near you very soon. It may not be the most beautiful thing I saw at KBIS, but it has to be among the greenest:

NewWood sample - photo via Jetson Green

I’m not suggesting anybody should use it as a finish material, but, as your grandmother probably told you, it’s what’s on the inside that matters, right? NewWood is made from 100% recycled materials – 50% recycled wood, and 50% recycled plastic bags. But it’s not one of  Cradle to Cradle’s monstrous hybrids, where the components can never be separated for efficient recycling – when it has served its purpose it can be ground up and made into more NewWood, over and over again.

The makers of NewWood are firing up a plant in Elma, Washington, to produce NewWood from locally sourced recyclables, eventually saving millions of pounds of wood and plastic from entering landfills.. They’re creating 150 jobs in a region that badly needs them.  Applications for the NewWood building materials include fencing, utility board, and underlayment, just for a starters.

NewWood actually surpasses conventional materials serving the same purpose, as it is not only durable and easy to work, but waterproof  (except on the cut edges) and bacteria and insect resistant. To quote my grandmother one more time, “handsome is as handsome does”.  I expect NewWood to “do” very handsomely, even though we won’t actually be seeing it in our finished kitchens and bathrooms.

NewWood - magnified view

Visit for more information.

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Bathroom style – green grandeur

05.12.2011 · Posted in Baths, Color

I have developed a passion for green bathrooms. Logic tells me green is not the ideal color – you really want nice warm hues to reflect flatteringly on your skin first thing in the morning (and last thing at night). But this green is glorious:

Green grandeur - photo Virginia Del Giudice, Marie Claire Italia

Well, maybe it’s the marble accoutrements that are glorious, really. Not to mention the floor , the windows, the shutters,  the light fixture… just about everything. But the green walls definitely add an unexpected punch. This Argentinian bathroom is just the sort of place I’d like to retreat to, were I a deposed dictator – can’t you just imagine a latter-day Napoleon dreaming of past grandeur in that tub?

Fit for an ex-Emporer - photo Virginia Del Giudice Marie Claire Italia

via Marie Claire Italia

I suspect my entire master-suite could easily be lost in a corner of this bathroom, in the Argentinian home of artist Joaquin Molina. All the more reason to dream…

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Outdoor dishwasher from Kalamazoo

05.10.2011 · Posted in Kitchens, Random thoughts

Just in time for Summer, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet – the people who brought you their outdoor pizza oven last year -  are first to market with a truly outdoor rated dishwasher. Wrapped in stainless steel, it’s ruggedly handsome – the innards are made by Asko, so you know it will wash the dishes well, and what makes it unique is the Winterize cycle, which drains the machine completely so you really can keep it in your outdoor kitchen all year round with no worries about freezing:

Kalamazoo's Outdoor Rated Dishwasher - available Summer 2011

Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

So if you are fortunate enough to have kitchens both indoors and out, you no longer have to schlep the dirty dishes from one to the other – you’ll have even more time to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

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Keep your hands off my favorite kitchen

05.09.2011 · Posted in Kitchen Calamities

What have they done to my favorite kitchen?

Designed by Ilse Crawford - Dinder House in Somerset

I was definitely happier with it before the stylist got his/her irreverent paws on the accessories. Is that very boring of me? Although I can see it might suffer somewhat in the practicality department, (where is the fridge?) it was still one of my all-time favorite kitchens:

Minimal design, maximal beauty - Artichoke ltd

Artichoke Ltd

It’s probably already rather disrespectful to turn an 18th century ballroom into a kitchen, but the beautiful simplicity of the island works so perfectly with the elegant proportions of the room, don’t you think? And OK, let the kids set up their train set on the parquet, there’s certainly space for it. But the lamp and the picture are so out of scale they make me sad. I get it Ilse, you have a sense of humor, you’re not taking the room too seriously:

The kitchen table? - Dinder House, designed by Ilse Crawford

(more pictures and article here)

I just happen to think some spaces deserve to be taken a little bit seriously. Even though I usually like a mixture of new and old, the particular combination of elements here makes me shudder. I don’t know which thing I’d get rid of first – I think it would have to be the pinball machine cabinet on the left.

I suppose eighteenth century ballrooms and twenty first century minimal kitchens, however beautiful they are in their own right, are not easy things to combine with each other, let alone with contemporary family life. So I’ll just have to count myself lucky after all, that I’ve never had the chance to try it. Sigh…

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