Friday, December 2, 2011

Kitchen Design And Weight Loss

You’re no doubt free options trading demo account familiar with the phrase “You are what you eat.” But how about “You are WHERE you eat.” The foods we eat undoubtedly have an impact on our health, but do the places we cook in have any influence as well?

In an article best site for trading binary options on, Registered Dietician Sally Kuzemchak discussed 9 areas where the kitchen itself may play some part in weight gain. The areas Kuzemchak cites can be grouped generically into 3 categories: Size, Visual and Enironmental.

Would a smaller pantry help you lose weight?
In the Size category, influencers like large plates the truth about binary options trading and glasses, large pantries and refrigerators, and large overall kitchens are leading us to over-consume. If our plates are bigger we’ll add more food; if our pantries are bigger we’ll store more food and eventually want to eat it; if the kitchen is bigger we’ll move things like televisions into it and spend more time in leisurely activities … like eating in front of the tube (you already know how I feel about that!)

Visual influences in the kitchen are a bit more obvious. If cookies are kept in a clear jar they’re more likely to be eaten. Conversely, if fresh fruits and veggies are hidden they are less likely to become an after school snack.

Environmental issues that impact eating can range from lighting, to how cluttered you keep your kitchen. According to studies, bright lights can raise our stress levels which can lead to over-eating. Lights too dim? This reduces our inhibitions making it more difficult to resist that cupcake … amongst other things. A cluttered countertop makes it more difficult to prepare foods. Apparently if you’re not inclined to keep things tidy, you’re more likely to reach for a frozen pizza.

The difficulty I have with studies like this is they look outwards for the reasons we gain weight … it’s the size of your plate; your kitchen is too bright; it’s too easy for you to see the cookies. There are some really excellent ideas in this article, many of which I have already discussed on Useful Spaces and will continue to integrate into my designs.

The fact is none will help you lose weight if you can’t do one simple thing … quit eating so much!  Use these ideas to help you to that end.  Ask me to help with your kitchen design ... I truly believe that an efficient kitchen will help you eat better.  In the end, the responsibility belongs to each of us.  Not to your plates, not to your fridge.  Not even to your designer.  Trust me, I have a tough enough time resisting that bag of Reese's Pieces myself!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gallery: False Creek Remodel - COMPLETE

Get the flash player here:

Over the summer,  I spent a lot of time blogging about a remodel project I was doing in False Creek. I've been promising final pictures for a while ... and today I actually deliver!

I've detailed the process extensively (click HERE for all 10 posts!) so I won't go into too much detail here.  Essentially we gutted and reconfigured almost all of the suite, taking 3 rooms and turning them into one open living space. The biggest transformation was the kitchen ... from a tiny box into a chef's dream. Cabinetry throughout the kitchen is engineered veneer and the countertops are Caesarstone quartz.

Even the foyer was remodelled, taking 3 poorly configured closets and creating a large concealed space for laundry and linen storage, as well as convenient coat and shoe storage at the entrance. The tile floors in the foyer protect this more heavily used space, while the engineered flooring in the rest of the suite make for a more warm and inviting living space.

Monday, November 28, 2011

NIM: Solar Powered Kitchen

The Lapin Kulta Solar Kitchen Restaurant fits with Useful Spaces in so many ways.  First, it's a kitchen.  True a professional kitchen, but the concepts are the same.  Second, it's about food and how we think about the relationship between food, the kitchen and our environment.  And third it features the work of Catalan designer Mart穩 Guix矇 (I just returned from Barcelona) and Finnish food visionary Antto Melasniemi (Scandinavian like me!).

The Solar Kitchen Restaurant employs a solar kitchen; food is cooked using only solar energy, collected using large reflectors.  According to chef Melasniemi, the use of solar energy truly affects the taste and texture of the food.  The kitchen opened during Milan Design Week 2011 in April, and followed the sun throughout Europe.

More on the Solar Kitchen HERE.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday: What Happened to Quality?

I've always been fascinated by Black Friday. Like Boxing Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries, Black Friday is focussed completely on consumption. We as consumers are told the deals we see on these days will never be seen again, so BUY BUY BUY.

In addition to the concerns of over-consumption, these types of events beg the question: When did price become more important than quality? I understand that the economy is difficult, and that our buying power is not what it once was. But when I see someone buying a pair of shoes because they were “cheap” it makes me wonder how long those shoes will last, and how much they’d save in the long term buy simply buying quality in the first place. Kitchen and bathroom remodels aren’t exempt from this either. I have clients chosing materials for their kitchen or bathroom project based primarily on price, I can’t help but feeling they’re delaying disappointment.

In my experience, the most common example of quality falling prey to price can be found with granite countertops. There are only 2 or 3 fabricators I will work with. I know they are a bit more expensive than others. I also know the quality of the stone they use and the professionalism of their installations more than justify the price. Yet time and time again I’ve had clients chose to source their own countertops because they’ve found someone who is “significantly less expensive”. And time and time again these same clients end up with inferior stone, inferior installation, or both.

It’s like the guy in the old Fram commercial said … (the last part, not the part about the engines)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Appliance Manufacturers Owe Their Customers

A former client of mine called me the other day to let me know that she'd received a call from Liebherr informing her that her fridge (model CI1601, pictured above) was part of a safety recall.  From the Liebherr recall notice:
Some of the units contain screw locking devices which can malfunction in a way that the door hinge pin can become loose. In the situation where an appliance is equipped with a door stopper device, the door may remain attached to the appliance despite the loosening door hinge pin.

However, continued use of the door can result in separation of the door from the appliance with resulting potential injury to users.
So far no injuries have been reported, although 10 doors have fallen off refrigerators.

From Liebherr Installation Manual
My client was also told this issue is exacerbated when overlay door panels are used, as they were in my client's kitchen.  In fairness, the installation manual clearly states that each door panel should not exceed 25 pounds.  But the manual also states "To match your kitchen's design, use custom finish panels, overlay or framed."  The images from the manual are shown on the left.  The top panel on this refrigerator is very large; 26 1/4" wide x 46 5/16" high.  I don't have to weigh the panel to tell you that even a Shaker door of that size is going to come close to exceeding 25 lbs.  A raised panel or slab door most certainly would.

Which begs the question:  Why would a manufacturer suggest an installation of their product that clearly cannot work?  Passing the buck to the consumer by publishing an unreasonable weight limit per panel (Sub Zero for example has a weight limit of 50lbs on their BI30OU model) is not acceptable.  Further to this, a factory representative from Liebherr even went so far as to suggest to my client that the weight requirement was easily achievable by employing a specific construction technique (not described in the manual), or by using a specific brand of MDF (not applicable in my client's situation because her doors were white oak).

I'd like to state right now that I have had no issues with Liebherr appliances in the past.  I have them in my showroom and I've specified them for many clients.  They've been very proactive with this recall, and for that I applaud them.

What concerns me is what appears to be a systemic policy of avoiding responsibility for what in all intents and purposes is a typical installation.  I'd feel the same regardless of the company or the appliances, and have said as much when meeting with appliance manufacturers.  If an appliance cannot be installed in a specific manner because of a limitation in the product, say so in the installation literature or fix the problem.  I think that's a fair expectation from the companies that install these appliances, and the consumers who use them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Brizo and Jason Wu Go Nordic

As Brizo's guest during New York's Design Week last February I was shown a number of prototype faucet designs ... ideas they were percolating for future products.  Some were "okay", some were just too bizarre to work, and others were the sort that I couldn't wait to see put into production.

Last week, Brizo introduced Odin, the result of their collaboration with fashion designer Jason Wu.  I was very pleased to see that my favourite innovation, the clever little 45° lever, was part of the new design.  Watch the video to see how it works ... and the proximity sensor too!  But as you'll see, the Odin is more than just a technologically advanced faucet.  As you'd expect with Jason Wu in the picture, there's a lot of design in the Odin as well.

Jason wanted to create a complete powder room suite, a vision which led to the addition of several pieces not typically found in Brizo collections, including a wastebasket, free-standing soap pump, soap dish, and drawer knobs and pulls. The silhouette of a Baroque-inspired flower is subtly woven throughout, providing a sense of cohesive integrity.

“Much like fashion accessories help pull together an outfit, these added pieces complete the look of the home bathroom, allowing homeowners to infuse the collection’s style throughout the space to create one seamless, integrated design,” said Judd Lord, director of industrial design for Brizo products.
The complete suite is stunning, especially in the Matte Black finish.  There`s a continuation of Brizo's affinity towards a Scandinavian aesthetic, but with Jason's influence you'll also notice a bit of Baroque in the accessories ... a residual influence from his Versailles inspired line we saw in New York.  What I really appreciate about what Brizo and Jason have done with the new line is how they've introduced some cutting edge technology into the Odin faucet but acknowledge the importance of design in the home.

The Odin will be available in the Spring of 2012, but pre-orders are being taken until February 20, 2012.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Power Up Your Kitchen Island

There's nothing particularly amazing about this island, but it illustrates one of my biggest pet peeves today; installing outlets into the side of island or peninsula cabinetry.  To be honest, this is not a particularly heinous example.  The outlet is on an end that's not immediately visible to the rest of the room, and the colour of the outlet is very close to the colour of the cabinets.  But wouldn't this look so much better if there wasn't an outlet in the middle of the door-design panel?

I'm completely sympathetic to the dilemma that leads to this design conundrum.  If the island is going to be one of the major work centres, you're going to want to have power nearby.  How else will you run your blender during those epic Margarita parties?  Of course a raised "pony-wall" running behind the cabinets (for a raised eating area for example) solves this issue.  But the majority of the islands I'm seeing these days are single level.  What then?

There are a couple sneaky little devices I've run into lately that may just fit the bill here.  I say "may" because depending on where you live, your local electrical codes may or may not allow the use of such devices.  You've been warned.

From Lew Electric comes the PUFP series.  A 4" electrical box is mounted in your countertop (a model is available for tile countertops) and the trim, with GFCI outlets of course, is mounted into it.  The outlet is sprung loaded; touch it and it pops up, touch it again and it's hidden.

If you're looking to have access to more outlets, or perhaps even a phone jack or an Ethernet connection (think home office), then the EVOline Port may be more what you need.  The Port is available is several configurations to meet your need, and simply requires a hole to be drilled into your countertop ... and open space below of course!  The tower recesses flush with the countertop when not in use.

Regular readers of Useful Spaces will know I like to include ideas that are only at the concept stage.  The Rambler Socket is essentially an extension cord that can be hidden in the wall.  While not a perfect fit for our island dilemma, it shows another example of how power supplies are moving away from the ordinary.

Now if we could just find a way to transmit electricity throughout the home without wires ...

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