Archive for the ‘Design Tips’ Category
In our last post, we covered 3 makeover moves that will ensure your kitchen improves with your age. In this follow up post, we want to address the kitchen work triangle: sink, oven, and refrigerator. You don’t need a degree in geometry to design a kitchen work triangle, but thinking ahead now will deliver long-term convenience, usability, and safety as you age.
A good, well thought out work triangle makes kitchen tasks easier and more efficient. When designing an aging in place kitchen, the oven, sink, and refrigerator should be as close together as possible. If necessary, have a secondary sink installed. Try to keep these three appliances/fixtures on the same level for ease of transfer of food, pots, baking pans, etc. Always choose appliances that are easy to use, easy to read, and have nice large buttons.
As we grow older our chances of sustaining serious burns increases. Fortunately, companies are hard at work designing appliances and faucets that can greatly diminish the chances of injury. One of the most hazardous appliances in the kitchen is the oven. But three companies—GE, Viking, and Bosch—now have French door or side door wall ovens to greatly enhance safety in the kitchen.
Wall ovens, microwaves, and cooktops
Wall ovens should always be placed at a comfortable height. For some, that’s in a base cabinet. For others, it’s about waist high. Side by side is the safest configuration. A landing space beside or across from an oven is mandatory according to building codes. But one of the best designs for an aging in place kitchen—or any kitchen– is a pullout shelf right under the wall oven, just low enough to allow closing of the oven. It’s these small things that can make a big difference.
A cooktop is usually a much safer option than a range. In general,
electric cooktops are considered more senior-friendly than gas options. An open flame is never a good idea in an aging in place kitchen. One of the very best gas alternatives is an induction cooktop, which heats the pan but not the cooktop itself. These are far less likely to cause burns. Always choose one with front mounted controls—no reaching over the cooktop. Also, choose a model that makes it easy to see if it is on or off.
Placement of the microwave can also spell the difference between a safe kitchen and one that may cause a serious accident. Microwaves should be about counter height whether they are built-in or not. One type of microwave that comes highly recommended for the elderly is the microwave drawer. Some companies who sell these are Sharp, Jenn-air, and KitchenAid. Although they are usually installed a little lower than counter height they are easier to use at this height than the door style.
Safety tip: Protecting against scald burns
Scald injuries are common among the elderly. While 42% are due to hot food, a significant percentage—32%– are due to hot water. Here are two simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of scald burns.
- Have a sink located very close to the cooktop. And install a pot filler at the cooktop. Also use the large pasta type pots with a lift out strainer in the pot.
- Turn down the hot water heater. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the setting should be no higher than 120 degrees fahrenheit
The most recommended faucet for aging in place kitchens are the hands-free type. Touch faucets are very easy on arthritic hands. An anti-scald device should be on all faucets used by the elderly. When planning your kitchen design, request that the faucet placement is located on the side of your sinks, rather than the traditional center location. Reaching over a hot pan or getting too close to the hot water spray can be dangerous.
Refrigerators and other modifications
Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers are the easiest to use for seniors. Look for storage in the door, especially for large items, like milk jugs. Also look for sturdy, easy to use pull out shelves for smaller items. These make it much easier to find what you need.
Other modifications include under counter lighting, countertops with rounded edges, and non-slip flooring. Everything in the kitchen should be chosen with an eye toward easy cleaning and upkeep. Improving your kitchen’s functionality can be done all at once or little by little. The final takeaway will be a beautiful kitchen that is a joy to work in now and functional for the future when motor skills, balance, mobility, sight, and other physical functions become more limited.
I hope you learned some useful design applications that will help add exquisite form and innovative function to your renovation plans. Please contact us if you have questions about an upcoming renovation project that relates to adaptive kitchen designs or other projects you’re contemplating.
— Jennifer Howard, owner + chief designer, JWH Design & Cabinetry
Homeowners contemplating a kitchen renovation are often triggered by a living space that no longer accommodates their family’s needs or preferences. The kitchen may be excessively outdated, lack sufficient cabinet and/or counter space or the room may not be optimally configured to maximize space. These are all sound reasons to plan a kitchen renovation, but before you get seduced by “all the pretty colors” and a virtually limitless list of options from captivating cabinet styles and configurations to tony tiles and backsplashes, take your foot out of the showroom and put your future goggles on.
Gen Xers and Baby Boomers Plan on Staying Home
If you are among the 43% of 45- to 65-year-olds that anticipate remaining in their current residence throughout their retirement (source: USA Today), you may want to make some additional nips and tucks to your kitchen renovation blueprint. Here are three key elements to take into account to ensure your kitchen retains its functionality and usability as your physical abilities moderate over time. Remodeling with an eye to the future can not only provide you with peace of mind and a beautiful kitchen now, but a future that is safe and comfortable.
1. Custom cabinets with removable fronts
Cabinets that are universal design capable are no longer ugly or institutional. Beautiful custom cabinets with stunning finishes and fashion conscience door styles can be designed with a view on the horizon and the physical limitations the future may bring.
Custom cabinets could be designed with removable fronts to become wheelchair or scooter -friendly. island cabinets can be designed to use sitting down. Eating counters should be table height with chairs or low stools. Counter height stools can be dangerous for seniors—both feet on the floor is the safest way to go. Some cabinets, such as dishwasher cabinets, can be raised to make loading and unloading easier on the back.
2. Keep it safe and within arm’s reach
The safest place to store anything in the kitchen is in base cabinets. Falls from step
stools are a major hazard in the kitchen and pulling items down on top of oneself presents another risk. Tall pullout pantries are a good place to store dry goods, but the pantry cabinet should be no taller than the user.
Dish and glassware drawers eliminate the need for hard-to-reach wall cabinets and can open up a wall for more
windows to provide natural light and a nice view. Studies prove that bright sunny rooms prevent depression and improve mood overall– a real plus for aging in place design. A bright sunny kitchen also cuts down on the electric bill and helps those with low vision.
3. Minimizing frustration with open and pullout shelving
Open shelving in islands or base cabinets is another way to keep dishes and glassware within reach.
Frustration and impatience are two common complaints of the elderly and inability to find things is a number one cause of frustration, so organization in drawers and cabinets is vital. Pull-out shelves can help find items that would be otherwise lost in a dark and not easily assessable cabinet.
Anything heavy should be on a pull-out shelf such as the mixer, blender, slow cooker, bread machine, etc. This type of shelf protects your back and maximizes storage space. Even your kitchen garbage pail and recycling bins can be equipped with a pullout system. Anything that makes life easier, safer, and less frustrating will be worth it in the years to come.
I hope these tips inspired you. Come back for part two of this series where I’ll cover other aspects of the kitchen, particularly the “work triangle”, appliances, and other clever construction design applications that will both beautify and add comfort and safety to your kitchen long into the future.
— Jennifer Howard, owner + chief designer, JWH Designs & Cabinetry
Appliance Panel or Stainless Steel?
Deciding where to add an appliance panel in a Kitchen or leave as exposed stainless steel? The visual effect can make a big difference in the overall style and feel of the space. Are you going for a streamlined look of cabinetry with matching finishes and hardware? Or does the punch of stainless make you feel like you are a chef in a commercial Kitchen? (This can be a good or bad feeling, depending on your love-hate relationship with cooking.)
There are a few key guidelines we explain to our Clients in helping them make these key decisions. The first one is painfully obvious: a stainless dishwasher doesn’t look great most of the time. After being touched by wet hands loading dishes, and the endless parade of kid fingerprints, a stainless dishwasher can become an unwanted focal point. The cost of adding a custom appliance panel is close in price to paying for the upgraded stainless steel. But if you are re-using an existing dishwasher—not a big deal—just keep the can of Stainless Magic on hand. But if you have the option at the time of your renovation, or when then the existing unit runs its natural life, buy the panel-ready dishwasher that can be fully concealed for custom, streamlined look.
The bigger decision is the refrigerator/freezer, in terms of cost and aesthetic result. The high-end units like Sub Zero, Thermador, Monogram and Viking all take panels beautifully. They fit flush with the side panels, hide most of the metal, and accept matching hardware pulls. You may still prefer the look of a stainless model, but in this price range, at least you have the option of adding custom panels for a finished look.
The next tier appliances like Kitchen Aid and Jenn Air offer lower prices, deeper projections, more exposed metal and hardware and they just don’t look great with a panel attached to the front. A quote I shared at my last Client meeting: “a bad appliance panel looks like lipstick on a pig”– not the desired look in your new Kitchen!
Hope this helps! Jennifer & the JWH Team
Home Accessories that Pop
While staging a recent photo shoot in a Client’s newly constructed home, we were faced with the challenge of accessorizing the expanses of countertops, table surfaces, and comfy couches. Choosing the right accessories is the last step of the project and overlooking it is not seldom. Perhaps this challenge seems daunting and the choices are endless. Or the Client just needs a breather after a long project… all of the above are reasons to postpone. Nonetheless, the effort is worth it. The right home accessories make the biggest difference in a room’s appearance, and once they are properly in place, they become part of the overall look and need no more attention.
Take Time to Chose
When choosing the right accessories it is important to keep in mind the style of the room you are decorating as well as color schemes and scale. The goal is to find pieces that complement the room without overpowering it and making it feel cluttered. Houzz.com describes a designer’s definition of a vignette as a “pleasing picture formed by grouping several objects — think of it as a pocket-size table arrangement that tells a story about you and your home.” The rules for designing a vignette are similar to those of accessorizing an entire room.
The first step is to choose an anchor or a statement piece. These are typically larger accessories and the most important to the homeowner; the rest of the accessorizing is tailored to the anchoring piece. The formation of the rest of the accessories is the trickier step. Coordinating pieces should have complimenting elements of each other without appearing too similar. Elements to keep in mind are color, size and texture. While the size of the accessories should vary, be careful of the placement of different pieces that are not the same size. For example, when accessorizing a table, height should be matched on either end to prevent the vignette from looking lopsided.
Looking through the lens of a camera quickly identifies areas in need. Professional photography for magazines and websites offer great visual solutions. Choose the right designer to guide you in these finishing details or start experimenting by trial-and-error. And don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through your accessories!
Jennifer & the JWH Team
The Natural Look
Each piece of natural wood has its own distinct features—its own face—its own unique character. It’s no wonder that natural wood finishes have adopted their common reference: character wood.
People have been using natural wood in their homes since the dawn of civilization. It warms our insides, dazzles our eyes, and brings us closer to nature. To top it off, it acts as a powerful and sturdy building material that keeps our homes living on, well into the centuries.
There are dozens of character woods to chose from. However, with dozens of styles comes an infinitude of design possibilities. From the complexity of chestnut cabinets to the boldness of a knotty pine backsplash, character wood exceeds merely furniture and floors. A delicate French oak or a burly walnut makes for a great addition to any kitchen’s character!
The 4 Faces of Character Wood
There are four main different parts of a tree from where character wood derives. Each part of the tree provides its own customized aesthetic quality and accommodation in the designing process. However, if one looks deeper into the many waves and grains of character wood, one will dive into much more than just unique aesthetic value; they will delve into the natural wood’s unique story.
Have you ever pondered at a tree and noticed eye-like features running up its rustic trunk? Those are called burls. They are extremely condensed knots that a tree exhibits after a period of stress; drought, a storm, or maybe the relocation of a domesticated tree.
Correlative to their dense strength, burls or “knots” can be difficult to work with. They are commonly incorporated into custom-crafted furniture or accessories. The JWH Design & Cabinetry Team has taken on the challenge of building custom “knotty pine” cabinets in this wooded, lakefront home in upstate NY. The right amount of warmth and durability make this an ideal material to add character to the kitchen and baths in this special vacation spot.
The point where a tree’s trunk splits into two—or more—directions is called the crotch of the tree. Crotch wood is a heartily brawn gorgeous display. It is challenging to incorporate this form of character wood into a kitchen design. The finger-like figures are reluctant to be manipulated in shape or size. The pure natural essence of crotch wood, however, is enough to make anyone want to take on the tedious task.
Character wood coffee tables are frequently seen because they are smaller and easier to craft. Nonetheless, some designers take it a step further and incorporate these wood into hardworking surfaces like island tops. It doesn’t matter what shade the wood is, or what color scheme surrounds the space. One thing will be for certain: the natural beauty of a wood countertop is an astounding site, indeed!
Spalting Out Color
Have you ever found yourself lost in a mesmerizing daze when peering into the dark black grooves flowing through a piece of character wood? This deep and vivid color comes from a process in the wood called spalting.
When a tree is alive, it is prone to becoming infested with fungi. This fungus transforms the color of the grain in the tree’s lumber. Sometimes transformations manifest as luminous streaks throughout the wood’s texture, while other times it blackens the grain to an exquisite char. Each piece should be appreciated for its individuality.
Figure it to be Curly
Another form of character wood shines in the texture—especially cherry maple. When the texture of the wood proves to be inconsistent or has a curly figure character, many home design opportunities arise. The touch to the skin is one special part of the curly figure experience, but what catches the eye is the inconsistency of light. Since curly figure character wood has a bumpy, canyon-like surface—although slight in size—when one moves about the room, the light will shift and mutate in with the surface’s many grooves.
Character wood adds even more impact when repeated within the space. The contrast of a lighter stone floor and limestone countertop keeps the room feeling light and inviting.
Character Wood the JWH Way
The JWH Design & Cabinetry Team loves incorporating character wood into cabinetry designs, decorative beams, countertops and even custom furniture. Our Millshop in central PA has access to many species of reclaimed woods, often being rescued from local barns. Whether it be sleek countertops or a daringly rustic backsplash, we can customize any piece of wood to your specific liking.
Currently, our Millshop “Sample of the Month” is a breathtaking character chestnut that will compliment any room’s setting. Kitchens, libraries, even bedroom cabinetry takes on a whole new look when incorporating character wood. If you can quite imagine your spaces looking so great, check out these fabulous spaces from House Beautiful.
The Resurgence of Brass
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reached out to Jennifer Howard of JWH Design & Cabinetry about an emerging—or more specifically, reemerging—kitchen design delicacy. Brass fixtures have significantly grown their presence in the modern kitchen, and for good reason.
“The resurgence of brass in home design is bringing a new level of warmth back to kitchens,” says Howard.
This article by Megan McDonough presents a selection of “splurge” and “save” design options. Selected by Howard and the JWH Team, these design ideas are coupled with both pricing and sources. They’re fun ideas for homeowners so that they, too, can add a creative touch of brass to their kitchens.
Stainless steel and chrome fixtures in the kitchen have taken a back seat to another alloy. In comparison to its two-compound cousins, brass proves to be a more durable option. Brass faucets will resist calcium and soft water corrosion. Their lifespan and functionality will exceed that of the ever popular stainless steel and chrome faucets.
Beauty & The Beast
Alongside anchor-strength, aesthetics plays a large role in the reemergence of brass in kitchens. This is why we are now seeing brass fixtures explode onto different facets of the kitchen; breaking the rule of the many traditional kitchen accessories.
The softness of brass subtly reflects a warm environment back into the kitchen. Brass has a richness that plays beautifully with contrast when paired with other kitchen appliances. With a smooth and sleek posture, brass is a brilliant way to splash bits of visual effect throughout an outdated kitchen. Isn’t it ironic how something that has for so long been associated with antique is now revered as a staple in kitchen modernity?
Whether it be cabinet fixtures, light fixtures, or even flashy drink coasters, brass will grab eyes while offsetting tones of a cooler nature; stainless, white, and grey shades. It is no wonder that brass fixtures are currently exploding in home design. With the alloy’s beastly strength and its luxurious glow, this kitchen design delicacy is truly the kitchen’s new beauty and the beast.
We have all heard the saying, “Home is where the heart is.”
But where, exactly, is the heart of the home? What corridor pumps life into this beloved sanctuary? In which room do delicious feasts originate, ready to spread joy and life to eager smiles? Where do friends and loved ones gather for cherished moments of laughter and great meals? Home is a place where everyone is family, where love lurks in every crevice. The special place where the days start and end with nourishing meals for hungry souls. The heart of the home is surely the kitchen.
With each new year, dedicated designers strive to bring art and genius together for an innovative display of the latest design trends. Whether it be color, lighting, or storage, each year brings the opportunity to invigorate and improve the design world. We are excited to show you what the kitchen’s got cooking for 2018.
Black and White Still Equals Gray
The dance between black and white continues to be a staple in kitchen trends. The bold contrast between the two shades brings both harmony and balance. The two pallets have always been a classic match, and their blended shades continue to thrive as a popular kitchen trend. The wide ranges of grays, updated up with subtle undertones of color, are part of Farrow & Ball’s “new neutrals” collection. Beautifully coordinated palettes, act as backdrops for contrasting punches of color. As gray evolves into the world of innovation, color trends may have a new king this year.
Storage, Space, and Sanity
Clutter undoubtedly slows us down. It is hard to function efficiently when the gears in your life are clogged. An environment plagued by clutter has been linked to depression, anxiety, and even memory loss! Having a kitchen with inefficient storage or space usage will surely end in a messy nightmare.
No matter the size of the family, or the size of the kitchen, storage is a concern in every kitchen. That’s why it is no surprise that innovative, sleek, and storage efficient multi-tiered drawers continue as a growing kitchen trend. These beautifully crafted designs don’t just capture the eyes, they capture the clutter.
Clutter does not just come in the form of stuff, but it also walks as general structures (i.e. too many people in your work zone!) Creative space planning has always been the key to improving flow and function, and will always be in style.
Mix It Up!
One current kitchen trend that we especially love designing is the mixture of different materials for cabinets, countertops, and metals. A sparkling quartz slab brushing up against a textured oak will warm up any kitchen and offers practicality and a touch of bling. Hints of brass cabinetry hardware compliment the clean aesthetics of stainless appliances. The balance of elements makes for inviting partnerships for a unique and personalized result. The more the merrier.
Contrast a Story
Contrast is everything, and when correlated to light, a story begins to unfold. Abstract shapes that lay stamped on the floor begin to swirl and hypnotize with astonishment, as contemporary wood grain melts from a solid black marble. Traditional methods of brickwork splice majestically with modernism when introduced with a new pattern. As all are absorbed and reflected off the calming white hues that surround the scene, this kitchen trend could be on Broadway!
Cherish Your Heart
As passionate designers, our eyes brim with excitement each year with the coming of new kitchen trends. The innovations in technology and artistic vision are gems that we hold close to our hearts, and such things fuel our dedication to achieve exquisite form and innovative function in each and every custom cabinet.
The kitchen is the home of the heart, so let us cherish it like our own.
Appliances are always a big decision in any new Kitchen project. Refrigerators are getting larger, freezers have become separate units, two dishwashers are more common, and of course, there is the fabulous range that wants to be center stage. So what best compliments that large mass of (expensive) equipment below? The hood above becomes a more important decision than most people realize.
Stainless is an easy choice to match the range below, but many people don’t want one more piece of stainless in the Kitchen and find it more visually pleasing to join the side cabinetry with a custom wood hood. Designed to fit the space perfectly and built to accommodate a powerful motor, the wood hood becomes a hardworking, functional and beautiful part of the overall ambiance of the Kitchen.
A Splash of Today & Yesterday
Designed for a vintage home in Rye, NY, this wood hood needed to blend the charm of yesteryear with the function and efficiency of today’s modern kitchens. Located over a Thermador range, the hidden Thermador insert provides all the power needed to fully vent the space. It also remains disguised in the matching cabinetry style of the room. Trying to balance the required hood size while minimizing the visual mass, the radius shelves on the sides allow for convenient storage while also creating a softer look. Side pull-outs next to the range keep the essential spices and spices close at hand for the cook.
For help designing the best look and function for your kitchen, the JWH Team offers expert advice and creative solutions.
Testing & Waiting
It’s an ongoing challenge to learn about the “new” LED (light-emitting diode) products. Finding the right fixtures with the right features is not an easy task. As much as designers (and homeowners) wanted to trade in their incandescent and halogen bulbs, good LED products were not ready for the design demands of the kitchen and bath industry.
Choosing the right color produced by an LED has been a big battle between designers who want the best color for the setting and the companies producing the options. Since the color of the light corresponds to the energy of the photon and the energy band gap of the semiconductor (technical factors over which we have no control), we had to wait to see what products would be introduced. So we tested, we waited, we tested, and we waited some more.
Let There Be LED Light!
Finally, the waiting is over! Now we are specifying LED lighting for the whole house, and not just the undercabinet, in-cabinet, and accent lighting in the kitchen. The lower energy consumption, low heat emission, long life (30,000 hours of more!), durability, and small sizes allow us to incorporate lighting into fun and functional spots. We can open the corner base cabinet to illuminate the often-hidden contents, or under a “floating vanity” to create a warm ambiance and a helpful nighttime glow. Possibilities go as far as along the front of open shelves for those hard-to-read book titles.
The color varies from warm to cool: 2700-3000k is considered warm and 3600-5500k are cool. I have yet to see anything above 2700k that is warm enough for our liking! But at least the range allows us to select the light output that best suits the task and setting. A few added benefits: the cost is reasonable, the wiring and installation are relatively easy, and you won’t be changing any bulbs!
Hope this helps!
6 Creative Kitchen Storage Solutions
There’s nothing quite like opening a cabinet door to grab a dash of kosher salt for your charcuterie and finding everything is in its proper place. The hallelujah chorus faintly playing in the background, you close the cabinet door and walk away feeling that all is right in the world. When it comes to keeping order in the kitchen, getting a little creative with storage is key. These six simple and effective storage tips will have you on your way to keep your kitchen running like a well-oiled machine.
Hide Appliances & Utensils
It’s the first rule in Kitchen Organization 101: The less “stuff” stored on the counter, the cleaner your kitchen will feel. Hide larger appliances like toasters, stand mixers, and food processors behind an appliance garage door. Stash dishwashing materials behind closed doors. Or add a narrow pullout under the sink to cleverly store dish soap, scrubbers, sponges, and towels.
If you’re a baker, you likely have a few oddly shaped mixing blades for your Kitchen Aid Mixer. For utensils that don’t typically fit into a drawer, save space by hanging them from small hooks inside your cabinet. The idea is to make your life easier by finding convenient ways to access your most-used utensils and alleviate clutter.
Add Storage to an Island
An island serves as an anchor for your entire kitchen. It provides extra workspace, storage space, and eating space. To maximize the functionality of your island, try including an under-counter beverage refrigerator, deep drawers to store pots and pans, and even a butcher block built into the countertop for knife and utensil storage.
Boost Space with Baskets
In the event that you run out of drawer or cabinet space, never fear, because baskets are here to save the day! Use the brilliance of a basket to neatly organize towels, snacks, and utensils without adding additional clutter to counter spaces. Artfully arrange fresh fruits in a countertop basket for a two-fold reward. The result? More storage space and an aesthetically pleasing enhancement to your eating area. Exquisite and innovative!
Add an Extra Pantry
Is your pantry bursting at the seams? Or do you not have a pantry at all? Nonetheless, there is a surprising way to add a storage area. Utilizing the empty space alongside the refrigerator to create a vertical organizer is aesthetic and efficient. A tall pullout with shelves allows for added storage space for snacks, spices, utensils, and whatever else you need to stash in a pinch.
Take a Lazy Susan Spin
Despite her name, Susan is anything but lazy. This brilliant kitchen standby has saved the masses from emptying entire cabinets when trying to get to an item in the back. Thus, a Lazy Susan works wonders for making essentials easy to find. So, instead of consigning this spinning wonder to a deep cabinet, add one to the pantry for simple retrieval of kitchen utensils.
If you’re ready for a custom solution to your storage needs, call the experts at JWH Design & Cabinetry. Our Team specializes in space planning with 20 years of experience designing fabulous kitchens, family spaces, libraries, and baths. Browse our Design Portfolio to see our custom cabinetry projects and let us help you turn your dreams into reality.