Archive for the ‘Kitchen Design’ Category

Outdoor kitchen ideas: Part 1

January 12, 2010

It may seem like a strange time to think about outdoor entertaining — or not. If you’re in the Midwest (or Florida, considering its recent weather), you’re probably longing for warmer days spent outside (aka going to your mental “happy place”).

Now, my happy place involves mostly grills, fridges, kegerators and warming drawers. Thankfully, one of my favorite kitchen designers/bloggers — Susan Serra, CKD, author of The Kitchen Designer — aided my call to fill in the blanks (my questions in bold) to my outdoor kitchen ideas.

Watch for “Outdoor Kitchens: Part 2,” wherein I talk about choosing outdoor kitchen appliances.

Visualizing how you will use your outdoor space will inform the design process, Serra says.

What factors should those planning an outdoor kitchen keep in mind?

Outdoor living is moving to the next level! An outdoor kitchen is just one piece of many activities that take place outdoors. When planning an outdoor kitchen, here’s what you need to consider:

Outdoor kitchen size – Are you looking forward to entertaining large groups or cooking quiet, intimate dinners? Something in between? Visualize how you will use an outdoor kitchen…the frequency of use, the conveniences required, and the type of cooking (ambitious or simple) you’d like to plan for. Will others cook along with you or will one or two be responsible for outdoor cooking? Do you need separate cooking stations for prep or meal stages? Now’s the time to dream, imagine, and visualize the flow you’d love to have in your outdoor kitchen.

Location – Consider the lay of the land. Can an existing deck be used? A terraced section? A gazebo to house a separate kitchen? Is the topography of the land level? How close to the house would you like the outdoor kitchen (watch out for heat/smoke/noise issues if an outdoor kitchen is desired to be just outside the house.) What other outdoor activities will impact on the location of the kitchen? Make a list of expected activities (including lounging) to be sure an important activity (Bocce ball anyone?) is not forgotten.

Another factor in outdoor kitchen design is the weather. The weather will play a role in the wear of outdoor kitchen surfaces and your own desire to brave the elements while cooking up a storm!

Style – Of course, this is the fun part! What is the style of your house? Of your gardens, your outdoor living space? Outdoor kitchens can be designed in any way: modern, traditional, rustic or eclectic. All elements of your outdoor room builds on one another, even as one walks into and out of the house. Be style-conscious!

Appliance needs – One of today’s No. 1 hot buttons in outdoor kitchens, an explosion of outdoor appliances, tempts us to want it all: the ice machine, the beer station, the cocktail station, cooktop burners, warming drawer and so much more! Appliances are a large part of the fun of an outdoor kitchen, but consider what is really expected to be needed and used frequently.

Weather is a chief concern when building an outdoor kitchen in Minnesota. What should we consider, and what advice do you have for people in other parts of the country?

Midwesterners often have severe weather in each direction — very hot and very cold! Is your chosen spot sheltered from heat, cold, and wind? With spring storms racing through the Midwest, and extreme temps, consider sheltered outdoor kitchen designs for people, and sun and heat exposure protections for your materials and surfaces as well.

Southerners – It’s all about shade! Consider shade cast by trees, buildings, or other structures/plantings. Note the sun’s exposure at your desired site for an outdoor kitchen. An optimum design would have the kitchen situated in a northern exposure.

What time of day will the outdoor kitchen be mostly used? In a southern climate, each meal can easily be enjoyed outdoors. The sun’s path over your desired location will either be a help or a huge hindrance.

Westerners – Of course, the weather in the western portion of the U.S. varies greatly from warm/temperate southern California to zone 5 in Colorado, so Westerners can take tips from other parts of the country.

One difference is the much lower humidity level, which is more tolerable and will allow a southern exposure in some areas that would otherwise be prohibitive in the deep South. For certain parts of the west — given a large area to work with and a beautiful, temperate climate — you have my OK (if it works for your lifestyle) to GO LARGE, as your outdoor kitchen may well be used year-round (Southerners take note!).

Easterners – The varied zones from the mid-Atlantic region to upper New England has a wide spread in temps as well. Lower to upper New England may wish to seek out western exposure (if the kitchen will be used late in the day) and southern exposure. The size of the outdoor kitchen should be seriously considered due to short outdoor seasons (mountainous Westerners take note).

Serra says those with expansive suburban or rural views have an opportunity to design their outdoor kitchen proportionately larger due to the scale of their great outdoors.

What do you suggest for city-dwellers looking to create an outdoor kitchen space?

What are your true priorities for outdoor cooking? I have family members in New York City who crave the simplest tabletop grill to put on their terrace and to serve their purpose. Many who wish to grill in an urban area are passionate cooks who want the grilled taste and texture and want to cook in a healthy way. For those people, any type of grill appliance will do! For those with a larger space, or a home in an ex-urb community with a small patch of yard, consider a larger grill or even a combination grill/burner/refrigerator appliance that has it all.

Some grills have integral countertop pieces that extend. Otherwise, small tables or built-in brick columns are small but can double as counter space.

What are some trends you see happening in outdoor kitchens?

Choosing environmentally friendly materials in outdoor kitchen design is a strong movement, but one must look for durability as well. Energy efficiency in appliances is ever-progressing. Pinpoint cooking technology in appliances offers the same control as the best in-home appliances do. The style of outdoor kitchens now is a warm, soft, natural look — perhaps rustic, perhaps modern with clean lines, but connected to the style of the outdoor room in a natural, organic way.

How do you feel about including a sink or faucet into an outdoor kitchen?

Having a sink in an outdoor kitchen is one of the best elements one can design into an outdoor kitchen! The sink handles prep, cooking, entertaining and cleaning tasks and is ready for duty exactly when needed. Outdoor plumbing takes on a whole new meaning when considering where and how to plumb a sink. Do you need hot water at the sink for cleaning? Consider a small undercounter water heater. A shut-off valve is a must to drain the system before the winter. A stainless steel sink is a natural choice, but cast iron has good looks and durability. Just cover the sink to avoid a home/play area for small animals! And, stone sinks are definitely a natural!

Faucets serving multiple functions may be useful and most durable in a tall gooseneck style — perhaps in stainless steel, with a simple design to withstand the elements and keep its good looks.

Do certain metal finishes (i.e. chrome, nickel, bronze, etc.) work best outdoors?

I’m a believer in mixing metal finishes. I would not recommend mixing metal finishes with abandon, as the balance and proportion of the colors and finishes within the kitchen as a whole should be thought through.

Can you mix a black or dark brown/bronze faucet with a stainless sink? In some cases (sink surrounding a speckled granite countertop for example), YES. Look at other metal finishes such as lighting, metal furniture and other finishes for a guide.

In my view, mixed finishes make for the most natural of interior or exterior rooms. But — as with any other designed area — it has to make sense in the context of color, texture, proportion and balance.

That said, have fun experimenting and exploring your vision, definitely!

Look your wine in the eye

December 1, 2009

The Liebherr HWS1800 cradles 18 bottles in the lap of wine luxury.

If you’re like me, your wine experience is limited to the three wise men: Carlo Rossi, Robert Mondavi and — of course — Charles “Three-Buck-Chuck” Shaw.

I’m a beer girl.

But, Liebherr’s HWS 1800 wine compartment is just freakin’ cool.

Plus, inasmuch as I love craft beer, I can understand the desire to collect and mature fine wine. You know, the really good stuff.

And if you’ve got it, why wouldn’t you flaunt it? Don’t banish it to the basement or under your counter — display it at eye level!

The fully integrated design allows this stainless steel unit to sit flush with cabinets. And the recessed “pocket” handle and lack of exterior branding won’t interrupt the look of your existing kitchen.

Now, it’s just a little guy, measuring 18-by-24 inches, which is the same exact dimensions as a built-in coffee system or steam oven.

But that compact footprint wants for nothing.

Side-by-side wine compartments: because one is the loneliest number.

Wine flavor is like the Princess and the Pea; it’s affected by the tiniest environmental factors. Light, temperature, humidity, vibration, position and air quality all stand to compromise the flavor of maturing wine. But Liebherr counters each threat with strategic technology and design:

  • Tinted glazed doors block UV rays.
  • Precise controls keep temperature where you set it (generally 55 degrees), even if that means heating the cabinet
  • Fifty percent to 80 percent relative humidity prevents cork shrinkage.
  • Untreated wood shelving emits no odor.
  • LED lighting creates no heat (plus it’s energy-efficient and long-lasting).
  • A charcoal filter perfects air quality by eliminating dust, dirt and odors.
  • Compressor design minimizes vibration, which can stir up fine sediment, and noise

I don’t think they’re missing anything, are they?

p.s. Liebherr is pretty much the greenest refrigeration, not only in its products but its manufacturing process as well.

A visit to the Idea Farm

November 20, 2009

This Tuesday I had the pleasure of touring architect/builder/remodeler Peter Vujovich‘s Idea Farm in Afton.

A view of the Idea Farm's kitchen

Peter built the Idea Farm — his home — to combine sophisticated architecture with global responsibility. He achieved the highest rating from green building standard and certification program MN Greenstar, but explained to me that he wanted to achieve that Gold Star rating in ways more accessible than just buying solar panels and a gray water recirculating system.

Can you believe that his energy bill is only $300 — for the entire YEAR? And I wish you could see the grounds, because although Peter and his wife, Jill, only finished the house some months ago, the landscape and the age of the trees — which were simply “moved” to accommodate the construction — would indicate that this house has been around forever.

I was absolutely blown away by the simple and smart design of the Idea Farm, but you have to see it to understand. So here’s a video clip from the “Blueprint for Green” interview with Peter and Jill.

(BTW, on an appliance geek note: I was so excited to see that Peter had a Liebherr BioFresh refrigerator, because it’s the perfect pick for him. Not only is it the leanest, greenest fridge, BioFresh stretches the life of his homegrown produce weeks past what a normal fridge could.

This is especially helpful to him because when a certain crop is ready to pick, there’s just a massive influx. So, he is able to stretch that harvest unfrozen over about four weeks.)

Other highlights: petting the horses, hearing Peter recount his moments earlier 5-mile bike race against a horse — seriously,  eating his homemade pickles, my co-worker taking home a pumpkin for Thanksgiving pie, finding out that Peter generally showers outdoors (probably through December, he guesses) or inside (with his plants, which sit on shelves in the shower), the laundry basket that slides through a hole in the wall from his bedroom to his laundry room. The last item, I’m seriously obsessed with — so smart.

Friday links: We’re fun, beautiful and cheap (this weekend, at least)!

November 13, 2009

You only get three links this Friday. I’m saving my energy for writing up orders at tomorrow’s Extreme Warehouse Sale.

‘How dare you call my family member beautiful!’

Tom Barnard and crew at 92-KQRS Morning Show, which apparently we sponsored the other day, referenced past experiences with Mr. Warner (aka my dad) before the conversation inevitably turned to Carla — who is always a good sport. We got a kick out of it, so you might too.

Listen here: WarnerChat-KQ92

Deal Spotter: Weekend sales

After getting a preview tour of our Extreme Warehouse Sale on Wednesday, Star Tribune columnist John Ewoldt included us in his latest blog post. (Notice the $15 off Facebook coupon plug. Actually, don’t just notice it. Go after it!)

Kitchen Design Notes And Experiences

A favorite blogger of mine, kitchen designer Susan Serra, shared real-life scenarios to drive home the fact that you should NEVER stop asking questions during the design process or else…

(“Or else what?”)

Or else you’ll end up with an unreturnable built-in fridge — that’s what!

Why 300 CFM, Energy Star audit and the upcoming appliance stimulus

October 23, 2009

Faber Rangehoods: Kitchen Ventilation 101, CFM – what is it?

Behold the Faber Inca Smart. A 28" 250 CFM Hood Liner (#630006288)

Behold the Faber Inca Smart. A 28" 250 CFM Hood Liner (#630006288)

Another of the most frequently asked questions in our stores is “What is the maximum CFM I can have on my hood/over-the-range (OTR) microwave before I have to look into a make-up air system?”

The answer is 300 CFM, but why (other than it’s Minnesota code)?

Faber Rangehood‘s blog answered that question, plus offered a good explanation of the misunderstood CFM.

Also, a situation of negative pressure could also occur when too much air is pulled out of the home and it is not replaced by air from the outside. In today’s construction the homes are becoming more and more air tight and when too much air is pulled out of a home, you need to sometimes “make up” for that lost air by pumping outside air into the home. In colder climates this is a huge issue, in most parts of Canada there are laws in place about maximum cfm’s before a make up air system has to be installed (typically 300 cfm is the threshold).

Faberhoods.blogspot.com

Faberhoods.blogspot.com

Sub-Zero / Wolf Drastically Cuts Carbon Output

Rumor mill blog Appliance Advisor reported that Sub-Zero and Wolf ditched their carbon- and platinum-finish lines, along with several handle options. I previously blogged about the distinctive look of carbon.

I know it doesn't look colorful, but look at how much this family loves the distinction of Sub-Zero's carbon stainless steel finish! It's a departure from the ubiquity of SS, yet it retains the much-beloved sophistication. Call it compromise.

I still can't get over how happy this family is about its carbon Sub-Zero appliances.

Guess it’s not for everyone.

Energy Star Appliances May Not All Be Efficient, Audit Finds

energystarThe New York Times reported an internal audit conducted by the Deparment of Energy concluded the Energy Star program needed tighter tracking of appliance manufacturers using the energy-efficient label.

Some believe this wakeup call will lead to tighter standards and perhaps will supply the push needed to create a “super star” program IDing the top 5% of energy-efficient appliances.

Warners’ Stellian, in cooperation with Minnesota Greenstar, already promotes distinction of appliance energy use by tiers.

Declutter and Purge Your Kitchen to the Necessities, the Checklist

Do you really need two garlic presses? If you think you do, you need some serious help. I found just that help on Hello Kitchen (via Lifehacker). Print out the cute and practical kitchen checklist to separate necessity from redundancy. Pull each item to a quilt spread near your kitchen, and donate what remains.

hellokitchen.com

hellokitchen.com

Minnesota to get $5 million for rebates on appliances

Details are still being hashed out by the Minnesota DOE on the $5 million “dollars for diswashers” Energy Star-rated appliance rebate program, funded by federal stimulus program.

Our own operations director/co-owner Robert Warner helped advise the team responsible for state’s plans for the money (which appliances if replaced would make the biggest energy dent, etc.)

The program, which is expected to begin in March, has yet to receive approval, but it probably look something like this:

  • $200 for refrigerators/washers
  • $150 for dishwashers
  • $100 for freezers

The program limits one appliance rebate per household, meaning about 25,000 households will get a rebate.

Some say the months-away start will delay appliance purchase, but with the energy savings lost in waiting several months to purchase (see Energy Star’s savings calculator) and the current low prices characteristic of this season, buying now could be an even better deal — with less-crowded showrooms :)

If you’re contemplating a purchase and you don’t know what to think or if you just want to know more about the program,  please call me at our corporate office (Google it) or contact me at jawarner (at) warnersstellian (dot) com (sorry, don’t want any spammers!) with any questions about the forthcoming program. I’ll e-mail/call you with more details as they’re finalized.

Why it pays to shop independent

October 12, 2009

specsPardon the cliche, but when it comes to kitchen appliances, the devil’s in the details.

Measurements matter — a lot. Just ask kitchen, bath and residential designer/blogger Paul Anater.

Having exact specifications on appliances is so crucial, he wrote, because an error could cost several thousand dollars. So that’s an error he only makes once, of course.

We take great pride in our our ability to offer a higher level of service than our competitors can often achieve, because we are an independent retailer and we specialize in appliances. It’s all we do.

But Paul said it better than I can:

Appliances are a very specialized product and they need to be sold by highly trained salespeople. No one would ever think to buy a car at Wal-Mart (I hope), but for some ungodly reason, a lot of people have no problem going to a big box for an appliance. Such purchases have an unacceptably high rate of bad endings if you ask me, and so long as I have breath to speak, I will never send someone into a big box for an appliance.

We usually deliver the specs to the “intermediaries,” as Paul dubs those that work between the retailer and the client-homeowner, rather than forcing them to go hunting on their own. And it doesn’ t cost a cent extra.

Shopping independent doesn’t just deliver a higher level of service to the customer, it puts more of your dollar back into the community. Warners’ Stellian is a loud and proud member of MetroIBA, which is an advocacy group for local, independently owned businesses in the Twin Cities area.

According to the website, an average of 68 cents from $1 spent at a local independent, goes back into the local economy versus only about 43 cents of $1 spent at a national chain. And if Twin Cities consumers shifted just 10% of their spending from chains to local businesses for one day, our local economy would gain $2 million. That’s a real stimulus for you.

Appliances in living color

October 2, 2009

For years now, appliances have been forced into hiding. Shoved under paneling, disguised as cabinets (see below) — some kitchen designs successfully manage to deny the existence of most appliances.

Appliances in this Victorian-inspired kitchen go incognito. - kitcheni.com

Appliances in this Victorian-inspired kitchen go incognito. - kitcheni.com

And those who do allow their appliances exposure, generally do so through the sterility of stainless steel.

But what about people who want appliances liberated from the everyday wood or stainless appearance, like our Twitter follower @MikePreble? Mike says bold colors such as blue and red are just more “him” — and we totally appreciate that. Bright colors on the walls can make a kitchen sizzle. Bright colors on your appliances, though, are totally unexpected.

Color options abound in the kitchen — and now laundry room — and the palette will only expand from here. Some options might seem completely impractical, but isn’t that the point sometimes?

Viking Range offers appliances in 24 different finishes, including Cobalt Blue.

Viking Range offers appliances in 24 different finishes, including Cobalt Blue. You could get a blue fridge, range, range top, vent hood, oven, microwave, dishwasher, warming drawer...

You've always imagined your kitchen in pumpkin. Well, maybe not. But you could.

You've always imagined your kitchen in pumpkin. Well, maybe not. But you could.

Good luck getting a microwave paneled. It's impossible. Nuking your leftovers in a Golden Mist, however, is not.

Good luck getting a microwave paneled. It's impossible. Nuking your leftovers in Golden Mist, however, is not.

Dacor Preference's floating glass panels come colors such as in Blue Water (pictured) and Slate Green.

Dacor Preference's floating glass paneled-appliances come colors such as in Blue Water (pictured) and Slate Green.

Bertazzoni triple coats its appliances in the same paint car-maker Ferrari uses.

Do you have a Ferrari in your kitchen? Bertazzoni does. It triple coats ranges in the same paint car-maker Ferrari uses.

The The Italian range company has eight finishes, including a very lemon yellow.

The Italian range company has seven other finishes, including a very lemon yellow.

Laundry pairs come in more colors than your clothes these days. This Maytag Performance Series laundry pair comes in Evergreen. Below: Frigidaire Affinity in blue, GE in silver-metallic, GE high-efficiency top-loader in champagne and Electrolux in teal.

Washers and dryers come in more colors than your clothes these days. This Maytag Performance Series laundry pair comes in Evergreen. Below: Frigidaire Affinity front-load washer in blue, GE high-efficiency top-load washer in champagne, Electrolux washer in teal and LG washer in red.

frigaffinitybluegechampagne electroluxteallgred

I know it doesn't look colorful, but look at how much this family loves the distinction of Sub-Zero's carbon stainless steel finish! It's a departure from the ubiquity of SS, yet it retains the much-beloved sophistication. Call it compromise.

I know it doesn't look colorful, but look at how much this family loves the distinction of their Sub-Zero carbon stainless steel fridge! It's a departure from the ubiquity of SS, yet it retains the much-beloved sophistication. Call it a compromise, I guess.


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