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.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Building a Staircase

Initial Stairway
Stairs are something we normally don't think much about.  They are tasked with the purpose of getting us from one level to another and we don't really think about them.  But building even the basic staircase can be complex.

There are a few things you need to decide before you begin the building task: where to place the staircase, the depth of the treads and the height of the riser and whether you want a straight stairway.  In this case we wanted a straight staircase; in other words no landing until the top. That being said, we allocated space for a 48" staircase on one side of the condo. You enter through a door in the garage to walk up the stairway. 

As soon as we were finished building the garage level, we needed access to the second floor and the initial access was a ladder secured to the 2 x 6 studs.  Going up and down a ladder can be hazardous,  so I was glad when construction of the temporary stairs began.
Temporary Stairs

Stringer construction

  The picture to the left begins the staircase building process. A stringer is a foundation on which the threads and risers sit. It's the first stringer and because our staircase is over 36" wide, we needed three stingers. In the older homes treads, which is the part of the stair you step on, was around 8" or 9", but after the Arts and Crafts period the depth was increased.  Our tread depth is 12" and the riser is 7" high.  The increased depth makes the stairs easier to walk on.

On the right is the completed temporary staircase. The temporary stairs were made out of plywood and various other wood around the garage.  They lasted several months but as you can see they are only one grade better than a ladder. Before we could proceed with anymore work on the upstairs, we  needed a more sturdy staircase. The staircase pictured below is the 48" wide permanent oak staircase. 


48" wide Oak Staircase
Our next big task will be installing drywall.  We protected the stairs from the constant wear that could occur when carrying drywall and other materials up the steps.  Hence, we got a rug and stapled it at various points on the steps and  we have a small rod that lays across the back of each thread.  Once the drywall is in place in the stairwell, we will replace the protective padding with a runner.  Until then though, the stairs need  to be protect

As a K&B designer I don't usually have to calculate space required for a staircase, so I just loved the challenge of this task.  It brought back memories of my days in drafting classes.  So much fun.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Color My World

Granite Gray
Colbalt Blue
  I am immersed in the world of color these days and I'm loving it.

Color is a subconscious language.  We are all effected by color, even when we don't realize it.  Each color has it's own influence and creates a physical, mental and emotional response within us and that's what makes the topic so interesting.

The are many approaches to choosing paint colors. When you decide to paint a room  in your home  a good approach is to fine a piece of art or fabric or some type of accessory that you can use to harmonize or contrast around for your new color scheme. But you always need to be mindful of adjoining rooms.  But for new construction I find that approach limiting.  For this project I am using the same approach that I used when we built our house back in Springfield, IL. 

My approach includes working with the total space first.  This means that I have subdivided the  condo into three color distribution components:
Dominant Tier:  wall, floor, ceiling;
Middle Tier:      cabinets, curtains, large furniture areas; 
Smaller Tier:     smaller spaces/accent areas

Choosing the color and sheen can be a daunting task.  My first decision is always about color temperature: cool(blue, green, purple) vs. warm(red, orange, yellow) color scheme.  Once you decide on the color temperature, the world of color explodes.  I've chosen a cool color scheme for the condo: vibrant blue and varying grays.

This is a 1100 square foot condo.  The main room is a big open space incorporating the kitchen, dining and entertaining areas. Paint colors for the dominant tier have been chosen, choosing paint colors for the middle and smaller tier are in process.

Most activities take place in the main area.  A traveling light to medium tone gray will be applied along the perimeter walls. The lightest part of the wall is in the kitchen area.  The kitchen has base cabinets only which I have painted a darker gray than the light gray wall.  To contrast gray and make the colors pop, I needed a dynamic item.  For this I chose to paint the 6' island in the rich vibrancy cobalt blue in a high gloss sheen. When all is done in the kitchen, industrial shelving units will take the place of the wall cabinets and artistic tile will add textural subtlety to the backsplash area of the countertop.  Other colors will be brought into play as we move through the furnishings and accent areas.

If you are thinking of painting your cabinets, I have two pointers for you.  The first is that it is better to spray the paint on in contrast to using a paint brush.  You will most likely have to thin your paint but it will go on smoother and you can work through the process faster.  Hand painting furniture is  labor intensive and it's a joy to do if you only are doing a few specialty items.  I have brush painted a lot of tables and book shelves etc.  However, when doing a kitchen, I think spray painting is the best way to go. I would also recommend a gloss or a high gloss sheen for the cabinets. 

The second bit of advice is that wall paint is not furniture paint, is not
cabinet paint.  Kitchen cabinets take a lot of  wear from the everyday opening and closing activity and a wall paint is not up to the task.  I use Dunn Edward's Aristoshield product.  It's a low-VOC  enamel formulated with a water-based urethane alkyd technology for an oil-like finish.  Basically, it puts a more protective finish on cabinet doors and drawers.

This project is ongoing and as soon as the cabinets are installed I will add a more completed post which will include the cabinet pictures to the topic.  Unitl then, if you have any questions regarding color or the specifics of painting cabinets, just email me.  I'll be happy to help.