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2/25/10

HOME DECOR: WHITE KITCHENS

WHY I LOVE COUNTRY KITCHENS

Country has changed a lot since the 80's.  Today's country is clean lined, crisp, neutral and beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.  If the word 'country' still conjures up visions of heavy oak furniture and cluttered counters, let me show you what today's country looks like.

I admit, I like a white kitchen.  This country kitchen features simple doors, a country farmhouse sink, hardwood floors, honed granite countertops, bin pulls and glass front cabinets.  The coffered ceiling as an architectural element gives a feeling of elegance and age - like an old country farmhouse - but truly this is a very efficient kitchen. 


Clean lines, minimal accessories - warm wood floor.  I love the beadboard ceiling.


Butcher block topped island with big chunky country legs, a stone floor, simple lighting and the almost industrial look of the stainless appliances


Country kitchens should have a little of the rustic thrown in - like the weathered beams on the ceilings and  the washed brick backsplash.  The polished granite contertops provide a nice contrast to the weathered finishes - and I love the lantern styled lighting

An in-kitchen eating area and slipcovered upholstered chairs and checkered flooring are wonderful country elements.  I love the addition of the industrial style lighting and the stainless range with the steel backsplash.  It's all about the contrasts. 
Hardwood flooring with white cabinetry and wonderful columns and millwork.  The upholstered checkered barstools add a little fun.


Today's country is all about the feel of vintage without the inconvenience.  Vintage style subway tile creates a country backsplash in a slightly modern way.  An antique country table in this kitchen works double duty as a work space or an in-kitchen eating area.  Architectural vintage style range hood and simple cleaned line cabinets - it looks fresh, clean and uncomplicated.


I love the alcove above the range.  It creates a great architectural focal point and brings in that country vintage feel, as do the butcher block counters, beadboard and warm wood flooring.  The island features a curved seating edge - perfect for friendly conversation.     
Todays country - the elements remain the same:  farmhouse sink, simple hardware, simple lighting and simple cabinetry with a vintage feel, clean lines and no clutter.  Adding a little black brings a little drama and elegance to the table, but keeps the palette neutral
This country kitchen has a rustic feel - but at closer look is a kitchen for a very serious cook with double ranges and double sinks.


Its so easy to change the mood with a neutral palette.  Add a soft pop of color and you have a whole new look.   Floor to ceiling plate rack in this kitchen adds vintage country flavor, as do the rush seats on the stools.

Elements of a country kitchen are timeless.  A stone cooking alcove, stone flooring, honed granite counters and vintage styled lighting are set off by an island that looks like a piece of furniture was set in the middle of the room.  That was a common practice in a country farmhouse kitchen back in the day, and adds a true country element to this kitchen. 





Modern convenience combines with rustic travertine in this cooking alcove
Another country element - painted upper cabinetry and wood toned lower

Still keeping in the neutral palette, this elegant kitchen has a dramatic backsplash and simple honed granite countertops.  Rustic beams, vintage styled lighting  and beadboard add more country elements, while modern styled steel barstools add a playful element.
Again, simple vintage styled cabinetry, simple hardware, and serious appliances

This kitchen makes me smile.  Even without the cow.  Industrial stools and light fixtures combine with rustic table, beadboard and stainless steel.  This is NOT your mother's country-style.

Love these light fixtures and highly polished floor, subway tiles, country vintage style barstools
LOVE the top cabinets
Great cabinet - store your dishes and display treasures

Rustic island with stainless steel counter - a little bit of a contemporary backsplash with vintage styled cabinets and great lantern style lighting - contrasts - they are wonderful aren't they?

Meet the master cabinetmaker - Christopher Peacock.  This is inspired by Swedish country - light wood floor, dove grey painted chairs, rustic vintage table, black granite counters -  wink to the Swedish with the candle ring styled lighting fixture

A stone floor and stone wall surrounding the stainless refrigerator - and a pop of color.

So todays country - NO clutter, NEUTRAL palette, INDUSTRIAL/MODERN elements, EFFICIENT appliances, VINTAGE STYLED cabinetry and millwork, CLASSIC wood or stone flooring, SIMPLE lighting.  It all adds up to comfortable, usable, family style living
A neutral palette doesn't mean just white
I couldn't resist one more by the master:
Christopher Peacock.  Beautiful cabinet details.

what do you think of country now?????

2/23/10

HOME DECOR: KITCHENS - APPLIANCES

THE TRUE WORKHORSES OF THE KITCHEN
ARE THE APPLIANCES THAT YOU USE ON A DAILY BASIS. 

Quality is most important, and the most obvious of concerns.  Beyond the function of the appliance, of course, and where this blog is going to go (probably also pretty obvious.. right?) is the form. 

And, for just a handful of items, there is quite a lot of variety. 

REFRIGERATORS

photo:  Heather Bullard

In a refrigerator we look for efficiency.  Efficiency of energy as well as cooling and food preservation.  Most major brands do a bang up job of both.  You can check Consumer Reports for realiability and performance factors, but beyond that, it needs to look good, too.

So, I've learned a lot about refrigerators this past month.  I was without one for 3 of the 4 weeks of last month, and it was an experience I would rather not repeat.  I now have a new shiny stainless replacement humming happily away in my kitchen. 
Refrigerators are generally available in black, white or stainless steel.  Stainless steel is the most popular today and is easy care, sturdy and beautiful.  The french door version (pictured) is a favorite for people who entertain often.  Its wide open interior holds platters of food exceptionally well.
Stainless models of the major brandnames are generally around $200 more than the black/white versions and range in price from below $1000, depending on features and size. French door styles are closer to $2000 and counter-depth models start at around $2,000.

In higher end versions, such as SubZero, technology meets versatility.  
The latest Sub Zero refrigerator features a "NASA designed filtration system that replenishes the air every 20 minutes while eliminating bacteria, odors, and microscopic contaminants."   You can expect to pay around $7,000 for the model shown below. 

They are true designer friendly appliances, being available in a wide range of widths and styles
This model features a see through door.
Counter depth for a custom or built-in look
narrow, with freezer on bottom
side by side with freezer and crisper drawers
see through doors that allow you to see what is available without opening the door
for the obsessively neat - which does not include our household

If you dislike the look of bulky appliances, you can make them disappear...
Many major brands, as well as designer brands, have counter depth models made to hold panels to match your kitchen cabinetry.

they blend into the surrounding cabinetry
looking more like furniture than sturdy kitchen workhorses
Imagine having to remember where you put your fridge.....

New to appliances are modules you can place anywhere.
These refrigerator or freezer drawers are stacked beneath a basic fridge module, but can just a easily be placed elsewhere, such as

hidden freezer drawers next to your hidden refrigerator
(now you have to remember which drawer the freezer is in, as well)
or under your wall oven . . .

or stacked refrigerator drawers in your island . . .

a mini drawer for beverages or snacks at a level the little ones can handle

I love the dividers in this crisper drawer

white blue kitchen traditional kitchen
This kitchen, by kitchen designer Serra, is a beautiful example of the 'no appliance' look. 
So - as far as refrigerators go - do you prefer to see them or hide them?  It's completely up to you!


THE HOT STUFF
Cooking appliances come in basic electric or gas models.  Also available and preferred by many is a dual range with an electric oven and a gas cook top.  The thinking here is that electric ovens give a more even heat for baking.   Most models come in your basic black, white and the ever popular stainless steel - but there is a new trend to color ranges
Once you have decided on gas or electric, you must also choose to have a stand alone range (built in backsplash), slide-in range for built-in look, or a cooktop.  

 A cooktop allows deep drawer storage or cupboards beneath.  When a cooktop is chosen it is usually accompanied by a wall oven or dual ovens. 
White appliances blend seamlessly with the cabinets in this bright white kitchen.  The oven is placed in the island, and the cooktop on an adjacent countertop. 

Double full size ovens maximize your cooking/baking needs.  Great for when the turkey is in the oven and the pies need baking...


Wolf ovens, microwave/convection on top and oven on bottom




Stainless wall ovens - convection on top and regular oven below
The wall ovens can be a combination of oven, convection or microwave versions. 
This trio also boasts a warming drawer on the bottom. 
Wolf cooktop
A cooktop allows storage space for pots below

Other cooktop choices include induction cooktops - sleek and modern

In the designer or high end products, Wolf and Viking lead the pack.  Their quality is equaled by their price .  Expect to pay $7500 for this version.

They have also joined the new trend to color appliances
But the true gem of gems is the La Cornue range, a french darling in a range of colors, styles and components that are made to order - at a mere $36,000 for this version.

Ventilation is critical over the stove or cooktop and there are ways to either hide an exhaust fan or make it a design element.  There are also ways that make them invisible.  These applications range from the ultra modern to traditional cooking alcoves with a hidden ventilation system.
In plain sight and proud of it, this stainless hood makes a bold statement
The ventilation hood is well hidden in molding and millwork over this slide-in range for an old world and very traditional feel

This white and stainless Viking range's hood is installed in an alcove over the range.  Shelves in the alcove hold spices and frequently used items
A bold statement in a traditional kitchen, this hood extends from the ceiling over this cooking peninsula

A sleek and sophisticated look.  I could definitely hang out in this kitchen. 
Are there actually four ovens on that wall? 
A 'country' version of the stainless hood makes a design statement in this alcove over the stove

so french!  reminiscent of the stone fireplaces in Provence,  this hood in alcove has old world appeal

When an overhead hood isn't practical, or if you don't like that look, pop up downdrafts are efficient and disappear when not in use.
This exhaust becomes a sleek stainless bar at the top of the cooktop when it isn't needed
this ceiling exhaust is nearly invisible - great for a clean modern look

MICROWAVES
I'm not a true fan of the over the stove model microwave/exhaust vent.  I never feel comfortable cooking on the stove top and in the microwave at the same time especially if there is more than one cook in the kitchen - and I'm not crazy about the 'look' - but even in a small space there are alternatives.
There are sleek new models that can be attractive over the stove when space is an issue, but they can also be tucked into an island or a cabinet.  A microwave drawer is another option and one I think would be much easier to use.

this streamlined LG model's door opens up and is better suited for a higher installation
others can be conveniently located under a cooktop or in an island
 
but I have to say that my favorite is the microwave drawer
Now I just need to find out if they work well.


WARMING DRAWERS

a great appliance to have around if you have teenagers who are never home in time for dinner, or for serving when entertaining. 
Warming drawers are a great asset for your kitchen if you have the room
This Wolf version has individual compartments with lids for ease in serving and keeping food warm without drying out.

  
CLEANING UP
DISHWASHERS...

Beyond the obvious desire for an efficient dish cleaner, your dishwasher should blend in to your kitchen design and be whisper quiet.  Currently the Bosc model has the crown for the quietest operation in the wash cycle.  The Miele runs a close second, but great strides have also been made by more common brands such as LG and GE, sometimes separated by a couple of decibels - we may have to check to see if they are actually running.   Hmmm, does anyone know how to break a dishwasher? 
I like the clean lines and 'no buttons' look of this stainless version.  Streamlined versions like these are a little more expensive

Integrated dishwashers match the cabinets and blend into their surroundings
the integrated models are also available in modular drawer dishwashers, which look like deep drawers in the kitchen cabinets
and are also available in stainless
Upper and lower drawer dishwashers are convenient in two's - one can be washing while the other is being loaded after a dinner party.
Mounting them near the top of the counter reduces your need to bend over while loading and unloading.  Flanking the sink makes them convenient


That wraps up our appliance post ... so many things to think about!
I am very anxious to hear from you on your preferences and experiences


There are other appliances - trash compactors, beverage/wine coolers, coffee making centers, ice makers, etc., I won't go into them because this post is already realllllly long.

Just remember, when you are planning your kitchen make a list of the pros and cons of your current kitchen. If you hate having to bend down to load the dishwasher, consider a modular unit you can mount just under the countertop. Think of those frustrations you have now and brainstorm to eliminate them. Decide what is important to you and what you can live without. Would you give up the hardwood floor for that SubZero refrigerator?

Let us know if you have used any of these appliances and how you like or dislike them.
You are my greatest resource!

Best wishes,

Claudine

Next Post - Sinks and faucets

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