Thursday, September 12, 2019

Understanding Leathered Granite

The uniqueness of each piece and the sustainability of granite make it the most popular countertop among homeowners. In most of my kitchen remodels, I specify granite countertops.  Although porous, it wears well in a kitchen and adds a natural movement that can not be matched by any man made product such as quartz.  I love granite in all its finishes.  I've had polished granite in my own kitchen for at least 15 years.  It's a great material for a countertop because it is stain resistant as well as heat resistant.  It's very durable but you can chip it if you bang something heavy against it. I randomly put a sealer on my granite.  It takes about 5 minutes to do so.

My current project has base cabinets along two walls in the kitchen and an island.  The base cabinets that create the island are cobalt blue while the cabinets along the perimeter walls are a medium gray.  The idea behind this design is to give the island a more dramatic position within the kitchen space.  This distinction can be achieved by the manipulation of three elements: color, finish(texture), material.  In this design, I used all three.  

Leathered granite has a matte or non-reflective finish, so if you like the high-reflective sheen of a polished granite, the leathered look is not for you. The diamond-dipped brushes that graze the granite takes the shine away and makes the stone muted and more stain resistance because the process will close the pores. The process also adds an amazing texture to the stone that allows it to be rough and elegant at the same time. This texture element also makes the stone more slip resistant when wet. Fingerprints and water spots are also lost on the hardy surface of the leathered granite.

As much as I love the unique look of leathered granite there are two drawbacks that you should be aware:
1) The uneven nature of the stone can make it susceptible to damage is met with a sharp object.
2) It can be difficult to clean if crumbs and liquids accumulate on the surface.  This is why it is important to ask the fabricator what type of seal they put on the granite.  Keep in mind that polished granite will always be easier to clean than leathered granite.

For the cabinets along the perimeter walls I've chosen a polished quartz.  This will contrast nicely with the muted leather look on the island.  It's a quartz product so it is more susceptible to damage by hot pots/dishes on the surface.  Pictured on the right are two samples of the Avenza quartz.  On the left is a honed quartz sample so the sheen is muted, the sample next to it is the polished one that will be installed.

Sorry, the countertops are not installed yet so there is no picture to attach of the countertops in place, but after there are installed I will post the pictures.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Dyson Airblade Wash+Dry faucet

I don't know about everyone else, but I positively hate the hand dryers in commercial bathrooms.  They are entirely too loud.  My other pet peeve is to have to look around for a towel to dry my hands if the restroom does not provide wall hand dryers.

At the Independence Hall Visitor Center in Philadelphia I was delighted to use this little jewel of a faucet in the restroom.  It's a smart, little Dyson with no handles to turn or buttons to push. Not only can you wash your hands at the sink but you can also dry your hands at the sink which eliminates getting drops of water on the countertop and/or floor.  And it's more quiet than the wall units.  Sweet.

As you can imagine Philadelphia is busy this time of year with national and international visitors.  I could hear the sighs and see the confusion that some visitors experienced trying to use the faucet. To activate the water flow just extend your hands under the center of the faucet, then move your hands to the sides to activate the air flow, so you can dry each hand separately. I helped a few people and then went to the other side of the room to notice how people reacted.  Many hesitated but once they used it, they liked the experience.  I asked a few women as they were leaving and several of them mentioned that they preferred it to "those noisy hand dryers."   I nodded my head in agreement.

Monday, August 19, 2019

The Touchless Faucet

A few years ago I had a client who had to replace her sink faucet with a touchless type because of a hand injury.  She loved her touchless faucet, so when I designed the kitchen area in my studio, I decided on a touchless faucet. They are a nice looking faucet and do well in today's modern, fast-paced kitchen.

Our granite coutertop has not yet been installed, so the undermount sink is sitting on a temporary surface as though it is a drop in sink. However, when the permanent tops are installed you will not see the rim of the sink as you do in this picture. Like all faucets the touchless usually comes with the choice of a single hole which is best for a clean looking granite installation or a 3 hole installation component.

Other than an injured hand there are several reasons this product is a good idea in the kitchen where efficiency is mandated and food preparation is the primary task:
  • Hands-Free Operation – When you use a touchless kitchen faucet you don’t have to touch anything to make the water start. This can be very helpful when your hands are dirty or when you’re holding something.
  • Controlled Water Flow –  If the sensor is accurate the motion sensor detects when objects are in front of it and stops the water when there aren’t any. 
  • Cleanliness -  You can take a dirty dish and start cleaning it without spreading grease onto the handle.
  • Pull-Down Spray Heads – These faucets all come with pull-down spray heads that allow you to wash larger dishes with ease.   However, many regular faucets also have this feature.
I've had the faucet for 2 weeks now, so I am still evaluating the sensor.  There are times it seems to miss the hand wave.  With a touchless faucet the most important element is the sensor.  It must be accurate especially if you have children in the kitchen.  You definitely don't want water going on and off in response to movement outsite its assumed range.

As of this writing, these are the three best touchless kitchen faucets: Moen Arbor, Delta 9178T-AR-DST,  and Kohler K-72218-VS.


Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The End is in Sight

Insulating the walls
Drywall up,  Studio is Ready for Taping.

When we started phase two (about 2 months ago) of our project, we were busy with the insulation work.  First we blew insulation into the attic then we started the tedious task of wall insulation.   After the insulation then Al commenced with setting the drywall in place.  We have built enough places together to know that neither one of us wanted to do the drywall taping so we hire that process out.  Taping is a very time consuming process and if not done correctly it will show when you paint the wall.  Once the taping is done, things usually go much faster.

I started looking at hardwood flooring in late May and finally ordered the flooring in June.  It took me several trips to a variety of showrooms before I found what I liked.  I knew it would take awhile because I was dead set on several elements: I wanted a light, wire brushed hardwood,  no less than a 1/2" thick, and it had to be at least 5" wide. I found what I wanted at Worldwide Carpets on Route 1 in the Lawrenceville area of NJ.  Even though it came from Canada, it took around 6 weeks to arrive.  After allowing it to acclimate for a week, I laid the pattern and Al was behind me snapping it into place.  It's a floating floor so there aren't any nails or glue to adhere it to the plywood.  We will be placing the baseboard later, but having the hardwood floor down was a big step towards livability.

As a DIY designer, I like being involved with the project as much as possible.  It all adds to my knowledge base, but takes time, so you may not see any post from me for awhile.

We still have much of the finishing work to do, but the end is in sight.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Creating A Space Within A Space

The ICFF show in NYC over the weekend offered a wide variety of  innovative creations from a  global array of manufacturers.  I talked to several company representatives from the Scandinavian countries as well as from Italy and Spain who were exhibiting at the show for the first time.

There were many beautiful and highly functional products presented this year, but what struck me the most was the attention given to creating a space within a space.  Whether the design was meant as a workspace strategy or as a way to create just the right space for you in your home, the variety of materials on display designed to achieve a sense of well being was staggering.  The key concept of creating appealing spaces within the main space with materials other than 2 x 4 studs was manifested  throughout the event.

Softwall Divider -  Molo

What you looking at is a wall made form layers of paper.  That's right and what gives it strength is the flexible honeycomb geometry that can expand to create a structure about 100 times stronger than its compressed form. Components are made from paper or textiles and come in a variety of color and heights that connect by magnetic end panels.  It's a very flexible and sustainable design that can accommodate life's changes over time. You can configure the modules to meet your space needs whether that's a room divider to absorb sound or to create a more private space within a space.

 Complementing Spaces - Cascando

 This was the most fun booth for me.  Workplace happiness was on display here.  They have room dividers on wheels.  The divider could be configured to accommodate a screen, or business pamphlets.  It is about 12" deep so you can use the space between the acoustical panels to store manual or as book shelves.  This is a modular system so you create whatever environment you wish to incorporate in your life/work style.


Cascando is a Dutch design company with an impressive collection of innovative and inspiring products focused on empowering your workspace.  From soft seating to whiteboards to tables and coat racks, they can help  designers to give their clients just the right products for their needs.

Make Space Work Better - Loftwall
A lightweight, flexible partition screen that can accommodate the design of any space. The panels are neutral colors that serve as sound barriers in open spaces. The panels are available in 3 colors and can
easily be re-configuration to fit your work space and needs.

It's important than we enjoy our home and our workspace as much as possible.  I hope some of these concepts inspire you to look at your space in a more functional and sustainable view.  Designing your space effectively for your needs is the main goal of professional designers.  We like to help create just the right space.