Posts Tagged ‘design’

Interior design home tour kicks off Saturday

May 14, 2010

The 2010 ASID Showcase Home Tour starts Saturday — and this year there’s two homes.

You can take a self-guided tour of both homes, a result of the work of 26 designers from the Minnesota Chapter of American Society of Interior Designers, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, May 15-June 13.

The homes

The brand new Calhoun condo (the first ever in the Showcase) is located on the northeast corner of the lake and is “designed for a future homeowner who appreciates clean-lined, sophisticated spaces,” said the Minneapolis.St.Paul Magazine website.

Then again, a note from the local ASID president said the styling tries to be pleasing to anyone.

I guess that the future homeowner is “anyone” technically, so…

Anyway, I saw the sketches and photos of the finishes and furniture, etc. and it looks gorgeous.

Add $60 to your ticket and tour the homes during a Culinary Evening. Hosted by Stephanie Marsh of Minneapolis.St.Paul Magazine, the tour includes food from

Next up, the Lake of the Isles turn-of-the-century home is “designed for a world traveler, Dan Buettner.”  Buettner, author the “The Blue Zones” (which I’ve honestly never heard of) incorporated his travels and theories about longevity into each room.

He’s even having “Blue Zones Day” at the house from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Saturday, May 22. For $20 (plus an additional $20 if you want an autographed copy of his book), Buettner will “discuss how Power 9 is incorporated into his home” and there will be healthy living experts on hand (and wine sampling).

Ticket info

Buy your tickets at a participating ticket outlet for $15 and save $5. Otherwise, you’ll pay $20 by phone (Mpls.St.Paul Magazine at 612-336-9296) or online.

Audio tours will be offered again this year, which I’m excited for. Detailed room information can be accessed from a handheld device at your own pace. Don’t care about kitchens? Fine, skip it (more for me).

Have you ever been on the tour? Let me know what you think.

For more events happening around town, check out our Special Events Calendar.

Appliance geek gone wild

February 4, 2010

You’ve heard of the kid in the candy store. Well, my recent trip to Roth Distributing’s Minneapolis Showroom the other week was like the kitchen geek version of that.

Ten thousand square feet of professionally designed vignettes stocked with the latest Sub-Zero, Wolf, Asko and Best appliances.

Roth isn’t a retailer, but the regional distributor of those luxury appliance brands.

Now, we show a good amount of high-end stuff like this on our own showroom floors, but not all under one roof.

Roth’s staff knows their stuff. They’ll help you decide what you really want and then show you exactly how to get the most from it.

(p.s. I loved this round sink with built-in cutting boards and strainers. So cool.)

My favorite part, though was the Culinary Center, where Roth holds its live cooking demonstrations (which I seriously recommend) and where we cooked brunch that day.

Now, I love to cook. But my current kitchen isn’t there yet. (The adage about mechanics and their cars holds true for appliance company employees and their kitchens, I think.)

This “living kitchen” has the best of the best cooking products, from wall ovens to dual fuel ranges to built-in steamers, wok burners (or “power burners,” as they called them) and grills. And…

Wolf DF606DG (Dual fuel range, 6 burners, double griddle, my culinary fantasy)

…griddles. This 60-inch (that’s like, two standard ranges glued together) Wolf’s six gas burners flank a double griddle. It might not look big at 450 pixels wide, but I’ll give you a second to think about it at 5 feet wide.

Yeah. It’s big.

Of course, most people won’t need a 60-inch, professional range. But wouldn’t it be nice?

More on griddles later. Stand by.

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.

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.


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