Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

U of M’s ICON Solar House

September 25, 2009

Can modern, solar-powered design be livable? That was the concept behind the University of Minnesota’s ICON Solar House team.

Students from disciplines ranging from business to design to engineering took up the challenge of designing, building, and operating the most attractive and energy-efficient solar-powered house. Next month, the team and the house will travel to Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Department of Energy‘s Solar Decathlon contest, in which the house will be displayed on the National Mall for three weeks along with 19 other houses from competing colleges.

It’s called a decathlon because the students’ house will be judged from a set of 10 criteria (including appliances — we love these people!).

The Icon Solar House’s Dan Handeen was gracious enough to give a tour of the project Wednesday, so we could see how far the house had come since we got involved some months ago when the house didn’t even have walls!

Mary Stage (Web administrator) and Carla Warner (director of sales) pose with Dan Handeen outside the U of M's Icon Solar House.

I took this photo of Mary Stage (Web administrator) and Carla Warner (director of sales) with Dan Handeen outside the U of M's Icon Solar House.

The combination of livable design and airtight engineering impressed us. We all laughed at the concept of a “sleeping alcove” — which is basically a room sized to the dimensions of a full-size bed — but the high ceilings and amenities (towel warmer?) surpassed our expectations for a 800532-square-foot home. (Update: Dan said the finished floor area of the house was even less than I had read about in other stories about the house.)

Dan Handeen shows us the energy meters.

Dan Handeen shows us the energy meters.

Dan said the team wants the ICON Solar House to stand out from the sterile-type designs they witnessed at the last contest. Rather, the students want to create something that people can actually see themselves living in. (See more on the team’s ideas for the ICON Solar House.)

Solar panels help power the house, Dan explained. But the house is already super energy-efficient, so teams that roll the meter backward — producing more energy than they consume — are awarded 100 points. The team that produces the most energy gains an extra 50 points, Dan said.

Obviously, we’re cheering for them. We’re so proud to be a part of such an inspiring project and help select the right appliances to help the team score the trophy and the bragging rights. All of the appliances in the ICON Solar House have the highest Energy Star ratings.

Kitchen-in-progress.

Kitchen-in-progress

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It's a cabinet! It's a drawer! No, it's a DishDrawer!

Dan startled me when he pulled out that wide, far-right cabinet to reveal a dishwasher, which is embarrassing because I work for Warners’ Stellian and knew all about the Fisher & Paykel DishDrawers. But these were so well-integrated (re: paneled) and perfect for the small kitchen space that I confused them for cabinets.

The 24-inch-wide Liebherr refrigerator (left) will also be paneled and was cooling lunch for the crew in the meantime.

It's too bad this cooktop will only be used to boil water. That's some lucky water...

That's some lucky water...

Perhaps the most strategic choice of appliances in the kitchen was the Wolf 30-inch induction cooktop. Each team competing in the Solar Decathlon must perform the same set of tasks, which mimic things people do in every day life.

One task is to boil 5 pounds of water. Induction cooking is extremely efficient because energy is only supplied to the pot. And no wasted heat means water generally boils faster on induction cooking surfaces.

Dan says the team was planning on selling the house, but the U of M has been so impressed with the project it might want to keep the house all to itself. I certainly would.

Dan Handeen shows us the energy meters.

Dan Handeen shows us the energy meters.

Miele opens first-of-its-kind in U.S. Gallery in Minnesota

September 23, 2009

Even if you consider yourself creative, your mind’s eye probably has to squint to picture how this adjustable-height island hood:

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fits in with this:

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Stephanie Erickson photo

That’s the concept behind incorporating a Miele Gallery — the first in the nation — in our Warners’ Stellian Edina showroom. Miele (rhymes with Sheila) is a German manufacturer of high-quality residential appliances and vacuum cleaners that’s been available in the U.S. for 25 years now.

The Gallery is basically a mini Miele Showroom within our store. Nearly 30 Miele appliances for cooking, cooling and cleaning are displayed in a minimalistic environment free of distraction and clutter. Translation: You can more easily imagine them in your own kitchen.

Which is a godsend for designers, architects, and builders, who can bring their clients to actually experience the product. The kitchen has more than a dozen live appliances to play around with.

Recent Miele customers can learn all the innovative and time-saving features of their new kitchen in cooking classes held in the fully functioning kitchen. Plus, you get to sip a really good cup of coffee while sampling the gourmet meals they whip up.

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With the launch of our Miele Gallery, we currently are the only Minnesota retailer of Miele Professional Products. The dishwasher, washer and dryer and rotary iron boast faster wash times and bigger load capacities.

How much faster? You can wash a load of glassware while you’re entertaining, and it’ll be ready in 10 minutes. That’s unheard of. The washer and dryer are designed to handle challenges like horse blankets, whose hair would clog up a normal machine.

More views from the Gallery:

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vacuums

Stephanie Erickson photos

6 kid-friendly kitchen appliance features

September 23, 2009

The kitchen can become become a second play room with curious children running around. Thankfully, appliance-makers smartly designed features to prevent accidents before you even have a chance to worry about them. therm%20induction

Cool-to-the-touch cooking

Induction cooktops heat only pans, not hands. Because induction cooktops only react to ferrous iron, little helper cooks won’t burn themselves on the element. You can even pull the pan off the cooking surface and touch your palm to it safely.

And because of induction’s high-efficiency and rapid heat capabilities, models are being sold by LG, Electrolux, Wolf, Thermador and more. GE also makes a freestanding range with all-induction burners.

Prescription for safety

Refrigerated prescription drugs could end up next to juice boxes and snacks, which could confuse or tempt your children. 

This Electrolux French-door refrigerator has a twist-to-open utility bin at the top of the right door to keep medication separate from the rest of your food and out of easy reach.

 

Under(counter) lock and key
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Wine and beer don’t have to be out of reach to be out of kids’ hands. Undercounter wine coolers and beverage centers keep your alcoholic drinks at the optimal temperature while door locks keep kids and teens out.

Models with door locks are available at the entry-level, like Avanti’s beverage center to high-end, with Marvel’s wine cooler.

Hands-free food disposer Batch-feed food disposers, like the Insinkerator Evolution Control Cover, operate only when the cover is on. So, the only things ground are chicken fingers, not kids’ fingers.

One-button dinner

mielemasterchefFor busy families, options to save favorite cooking settings can be a godsend at dinnertime. Make-ahead meals make sense when you can enter in the cooking temperature, time and setting and save it to favorites.

For example, after school, older children can pop in a casserole from the fridge and choose the “Casserole” favorite (or “hot dish” if you speak Minnesotan) so the food bakes at 400 degrees for 30 minutes and dinner is ready by the time you get home from work.

Better yet, the Miele MasterChef wall oven comes programmed with settings for common foods like pizza and French fries that dummy-proof the process by helping you select the perfect settings, which can also be saved to favorites.

Favorite options are also found in Electrolux freestanding ranges and Electrolux wall ovens.

No power play

GE includes a control lock on some of its gas cooktops that shuts off gas to prevent it from being turned-on accidentally. When locked, the cooktop will sound if any control knob is set to any position other than “OFF.”

A house of a different designer

September 23, 2009

You may have toured the Remodelers Showcase last weekend and a few Parade of Homes houses along the way. But a home designed by an architect is a “product of a different process.”

What’s that? You don’t understand what that means, product of a different process? Why, we’ll show you, then!

Coincidentally, the Homes by Architects Tour happens this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 19-20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Click to enlarge image. Photos courtesy HomesByArchitects.org

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From the tour guide (available in PDF format):

This tour has 20 homes that cover a wide variety of architectural styles, designed for each client. You will see simple to avant-garde and modest to generous budgets; a cross-section of lifestyles from lakeside to city loft to farmhouses; and functional design decisions in material and citing meant to make the most of materials and land.

Warners’ Stellian enthusiastically sponsors the Homes by Architects Tour and is proud to have supplied appliances in some breathtakingly designed homes.

Again, we’re biased, but at least we’re honest. If you only have time for a half-dozen, here’s the six you can’t miss:

ALTUS Architecture + Design, #2

CITYDESKSTUDIO, INC., #3

SALA Architects, Inc., #8 and #18

Domain Architecture & Design, Inc., #9 & #11

Acacia Architects, #14

David Heide Design Studio, #16

Tickets are $10 for a single home or $30 for all 20 homes, payable by cash only. If you purchase tickets online by Sept. 18, you save $5 off the $30 pass. Otherwise you can purchase tickets at any Twin Cities Originals restaurant.

Meet your (future) dream home

September 23, 2009

Whether you’re looking for a new home or just ideas for your existing home, you should check out the Parade of Homes Fall Showcase. The tour offers arguable the best way to truly experience the latest designs and get a feel for what builder or remodeler would work best for you.

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Photo courtesy Mark Anthony Homes, #280

The showcase of the best new homes began Friday, Sept. 11 — in conjuction with the three-day Remodelers Showcase — and runs through Oct. 4.

You’ll need all that time, too. There are more than 300 featured homes this year.

But don’t feel overwhelmed. The homes have been organized by lifestyle category — Condo Life, Earth-Friendly, Family-Friendly, Vacation Living, etc — which are searchable on the Parade of Homes Web site.

Need something soon? Check out the results for Move-In Now for homes available today. Search results also can be filtered by location, price, number of bedrooms, house style, etc.

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Photo courtesy Mark Anthony Homes, #280

Warners’ Stellian supplied appliances in tons of these gorgeous homes, so we can’t help but feel a bit of pride in those projects. Check them out!

Shadow Stone: #15

Cress View Estates: #21

Countryside: #59

Edina Galleria Residences: #70 (3 units)

Stonefield: #88

Smuckler Custom Builders, Inc. #124

St. Andrews Village: #216

Heritage Ponds: #246

Forest Hills Farm: #249

Hawthorne Heights: #250

Tapestry at Charlotte’s Grove: #270

Whistling Valley: #271

Mark Anthony Homes: #280

Dancing Waters: #287

Stonemill Farms: #293 & #294

John Kraemer & Sons, Inc.: #321

Wentworth Estates: #324

Need professional help?

September 23, 2009

In your kitchen, that is. You’ve lived with a cramped, tired-looking kitchen for years. You need a better gathering place for your family. You wish you had the room to entertain friends without them being in your way.You don’t have to go it alone.

New Spaces, a design/build remodeling firm, is holding an interactive kitchen workshop at our Edina store (across from the Galleria) Thursday, Sept. 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. You’ll actually draw your kitchen and then work with design principles on specific solutions and possibilities for your home.

Participants get real ideas for their homes, provided with no-pressure help by professional designers.

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Photo courtesy New Spaces

On-hand designers will help you:

  • Evaluate current kitchen
  • Review kitchen design principles
  • Review kitchen trends
  • Draw existing kitchen
  • Review potential design principle solutions to current kitchen

This is not a sales presentation. The workshop is designed to help you make wise remodeling decisions. If you can’t make it Thursday, check out some of New Spaces’ other workshops and webinars.

Space is limited, so register online or call (952)898-5300 for more information.

Free in-home consultation from Gabberts Design Studio

September 23, 2009

Gabberts Design Studio is looking pretty good at 50.

The Edina home furnishings institution is throwing a party in celebration of Gabberts’ half-century in interior design. And if you’re considering a makeover for your manor, you’ll probably want to RSVP for the event, Thursday Sept. 17 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Maybe you’re lost on how to accessorize or you need new window treatments. Perhaps your entire main floor is a ’70s throwback. Help is on the way.

If you attend the party, one of Gabberts more than 20 highly qualified and accredited designers will come to your house for a complimentary one-hour, in-home consultation.

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Design by Karlene Hunter Baum, Senior Interior Designer, Gabberts

Even if you don’t walk out with one of 50 $50 Gabberts gift cards, you can still nosh on the hors d’oeuvres and beverages — I know we will be.

Angela Warner and Chuck Bulson of our Edina showroom (located across from the Galleria) will be on hand to answer questions, offer tips and show off the eco-friendly Liebherr built-in all-refrigerator unit and wine storage-freezer combination unit, the stylish red Bertazzonni range and a True undercounter refrigerator.

Other representatives from design industry retailers also will be on hand.  Reserve your spot  — and free goodies — today either online or by calling (952) 928-3123.

Fight ovarian cancer with Electrolux’s Text-A-Thon For A Cause

September 23, 2009

It’s never been easier to support a worthy cause.

In honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Electrolux has launched a campaign using spokeswoman Kelly Ripa to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in its mission to fund research to find the cure for ovarian cancer.

 kelly

You can donate $5 to OCRF by texting the word “KELLY” to 85944 from a mobile phone — or by logging on to Kelly-Confidential.com. The donation will be added to your phone bill. H

How simple is that?

And, for further encouragement, each day you log on to the Web site, you will be entered for a chance to win the gorgeous, top-of-the-line Electrolux Turquoise Sky laundry pair, the color inspired by the teal ribbon of ovarian cancer awareness.

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As part of a $500,000 pledge to OCRF, Electrolux will donate $200 for each Turquoise Sky laundry pair purchased.

 Warners’ Stellian has also partnered with Electrolux to support OCRF by making a donation for each delivery made in our two teal Warners’ Stellian trucks.

 Electrolux-Truck-400

Dream home remodels at the Remodelers Showcase

September 23, 2009

Ever pass a house so stunning you wish you could peek inside? (You’re not weird — we’ve all been there.) Well, this weekend’s your chance.

You can gawk at some of the best remodeling projects in the Twin Cities Friday, Sept. 11 through Sunday Sept. 13 at the Fall Parade of Homes Remodelers Showcase presented by the Builders Association of the Twin Cities Remodelers.

The tour features 94 stunning remodeling projects to inspire just about any size project. And, my favorite type of remodel — the kitchen — is the most popular with 60 kitchen remodel projects for you to drool over. Here’s an appetizer, with house numbers listed below:

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Regal Remodelers, Inc #19/Photo courtesy Parade of Homes

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Martin Joseph Design & Construction, Inc. #20/Photo courtesy

Parade of Homes

There’s no cost to visit the homes, but consider stopping by this year’s Dream Remodel houses for a $5 donation to the Builders Outreach Foundation, which helps low-income families achieve home ownership. Warners’ Stellian supplied the appliances in one Dream Remodel house, #22, as well as others listed here:

Authentic Construction: #3, #22Brunn Remodeling: #4

ProTime Construction: #6

Cates Fine Homes: #11

Bob Michels Construction: #12

Vujovich Design Build: #14

Vertical Grain Builders: #18

Regal Remodelers: #19

McDonald Construction: #27

New Spaces: #30, #33

O’Noon Construction: #34

(“Pink Ribbon” project)   more

Martin Joseph Design & Cnst: #20

Plekkenpol Builders: #44

Kuhl Design Build: #47, #62W.B. Builders: #49, #64

Building Concepts & Design: #55

McDonald Remodeling: #58

Northrup Roofing & Remodeling: #50

Mike Otto Construction: #52

M|A|Peterson Designbuild: #56

Lake Country Builders: #57

Pheasant Run Construction: #65

Heritage Builders: #68

Sicora: #70

Sylvestre Construction: #92

Knight Construction Design: #93

Cardinal Remodeling: #45

Grab a tour guidebook at Holiday stations or search for the house numbers on the Remodelers Showcase Web site. The Tour Planner feature lets you save your favorite homes, add notes and map directions from home to home.

Eco-friendly living at the Minnesota State Fair

September 23, 2009

A house you can live in for free? That’s what the Star Tribune reported about this year’s Ecohouse at the State Fair’s Eco Experience exhibit:

Electric bill? Forget about it. Gas bill? It never shows up. We’re talking about a net zero house here. Energy used in the house is made by the house. Operational costs are a big, fat zero.

Check out this shot of the kitchen. The countertops are made from crushed walnut shell, which is not only sustainable and locally sourced, but appropriate; of course countertops at the fair are made from food.

 ecohouse3
Photo courtesy Rachel Maloney/Natural Built Home

Of course, the house itself wears a price tag of $630,000 after government rebates – minus the land it occupies.  But you can enjoy the same Energy Star appliances that keep this house’s carbon footprint in check.

The energy saved by replacing a fridge from 1990 with an efficient model like the GE bottom-mount freezer in the Ecohouse can light the average house for four months.

But the real cool kid of the green kitchen party is the Electrolux induction cook top, which uses magnets to detect cookware on contact and adjust the heating field to the exact size of the pan (which also means no more over-boiling stains!). This model is 70 percent more efficient than a standard gas cook top and 20 percent more efficient than a standard electric cook top.

Also seen in the 2009 Ecohouse:

Bosch 500 Series Integra Built-In Dishwasher

LG Front-load Washer and Dryer

GE 30” Double Convection Wall Oven


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