Unique Lighting Ideas

This year brings nearly limitless possibilities in lighting design. You can choose from custom made wall lights made from acrylics, glass and wood. You can highlight your feature walls, priceless collectibles and intimate dining room.

What great lighting items do you want in your kitchen and home?

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When it comes to the kitchen looks aren’t everything

We often see in magazines and in the media beautiful new kitchens and ideas. We get caught up in the ever changing trends and, of course, we would like to have those fabulous new looks in our own homes; we get excited and start planning how to bring it into our kitchens.

However when you think a bit about it, about the particulars… about the practical; is this really a good idea for MY kitchen? Why would I need that one (such as a double wall oven)? Why is the layout like that, would it work for me, or anyone? You need to make sure you think about what you use your kitchen for. Are you a chef? Do you cook or bake often? Do you use it to entertain or is it just a showpiece for when you have catered parties?

That fancy stainless steel fridge. Is the metal something you can easily keep dent-free and clean from sticky fingerprints, is there a kickboard so that the door doesn’t hit your toes, are the handles small enough that you do not hurt your hand when you walkby, are the shelves easy to keep clean, is the style one that won’t look old in 5 years?

What about the counters in the kitchen; real marble looks beautiful but are you a person who is not concerned about bacteria, or don’t mind a varied look (marble is sensitive to acids, colour etc, which after frequent use can start to show on its surface).

What about all the small appliances? New/old, colourful looks that we want because they look so pretty. Some bulky designs take so much space in your kitchen that there is no counter space left for cooking and baking.

Different kinds of kitchen light fixtures have been showing up in magazines. Sparkling crystal light fixtures hanging over the top of the island next to the wall oven… imagine how it will look in a couple months after all the dust, kitchen oils and flour puffs cover them up, do you really want to clean them to keep them sparkling?

The kitchen can have many roles in your home and that is important to keep in mind when you are designing. Also consider what your role is, do you hire help to clean? Do you cook or bake yourself or do you hire someone? Are you planning to re-sell your home in the next few years? The kitchen is most likely your homes centerpiece, so no matter what you do, make sure it is one that you are proud of.

What do you consider important and on trend in kitchens?


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A quick guide to kitchen recycling and waste disposal

Cooking can create a large amount of waste and recycling;

You’ve probably noticed how inconvenient it is to clean plates before putting them into a dishwasher to prevent it from clogging and leaving your plates dirty. You have to open your sink cabinet at the same time as your dishwasher and reach to find your bins, open the lids (green waste) and garbage. The waste bins can often be damp, smelly, and messy and something you might leave out for a little too long.

The same mess happens when you prepare meals; your table is floating with scraps and vegetable bits.

Are there any solutions to make all this more efficient and practical?

Here are a few ideas to make cleaning up the kitchen mess a little simpler:

Blanco's integrated waste disposal bin

Blanco's integrated waste disposal bin

  • Place your garbage and green bins on one side of the sink cabinet, and your dishwasher on the other side
  • Add a garbage cabinet door that pulls out the bins and where the lid stays in the cabinet (you need lids to prevent the odor)
  • Install a push mechanism in the cabinet door so you can free up a hand
  • Consider an organic waste shoot, which you can assemble into the counter; some come with covers some not (cleaning the shoot itself is messy work, so make sure that it is removable or at least easy to reach in and clean) and of course you’ll need a separate waste cabinet next to the sink for recyclables and non-organic waste
  • If possible geta double sink with the waste shoot in the middle so that your sink cabinet can double for your organic waste storage (freeing up a cabinet for other kitchen necessities)
  • Some people usegarbage compactor in the sink, but I would not recommend that for environmental reasons ( food is a fertilizer, pollution, and it goes into our lakes)
Richelieu's slide out waste and recycling centers

Richelieu's slide out waste and recycling centers

What tips do you have to share for keeping your kitchen tidy?

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Your kitchen needs some new things

With a new faucet you can get into new trends. Choosing a colourful new faucet and adding same colour to a few accessories like towels, dish brushes, cushions and even bowls of fruit brings your kitchen up-to date.







There are now some accessories to your kitchen shower (if you have one next to your faucet);different “heads” for washing Champagne glasses, pots and pans etc.

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12 Important considerations of kitchen design and renovation every homeowner should think about before getting started

You and your family will be living “off the kitchen” for years to come. Therefore, there are many considerations about how to approach your renovation project. Before you start, read, visit, discuss and learn as much as possible.

•    What is your budget? This, of course, depends on your must haves and wants; must haves, for example, are counters, faucet, sink etc. and wants are quartz counters, touch-less faucet,  and sinks with extra gadgets. 

•    Consider whether the planned renovation brings more value to your property, matches the style of your house and also whether it brings functionality to your home

•    Match the value of the house to your new kitchen

•    How long should (might) the renovation take, realistic expectations; from cabinet order to the delivery could be from 2 weeks to 12 weeks. The lead time for countertops, which need to be fitted after the cabinets are in place could take 2 to 4 weeks, and after counters comes backsplash tiling (and, of course, you have other trades to coordinate within this time frame)

•    Even if you do most of the work by yourself, it is still worth it to know more about details and possibilities

•    Don’t screw up with your home insurance, check if you need a permit; it is good to inform your insurance company about your renovation. This will ensure that if something goes wrong you are covered. Even if your contractor has insurance it may not cover your personal costs in case you have to move out from your house or if an accident damages your house permanently.

•    Where can you find a reliable, good contractor, plumber, and other trades?

Not all ratings and reviews are reliable to rely on. People are different, some are easy and pleasant to work with, and others are less so.

•    Where can you find the best value for your money? If you find a brand name bargain they could be different in quality; many big box store companies order brand name products just for their own sale, so they have been modified to match the price point.

•    Do you have good project management skills; or do you plan to find a project coordinator? The time management is the key issue in order to save money and ensure smooth project execution.

•    Determine what you should know when hiring contractors: licensing, insurance, do they have written contracts with terms and conditions and work description etc.

•    There are many cabinetmakers and many price points, how do you know which is the best deal and who is able to meet your requirements.

•    Can a professional designer help you through this?

Kitchen renovation projects and planning of the kitchen for your new house is fun and interesting, and the end result should really make you proud and happy. Therefore, take your time and put enough energy to it and use professional help when needed.

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Child Safety in the Kitchen

Have you ever noticed how young children like to spend time in the kitchen when you are preparing meals, baking etc.? It is one of the most exciting rooms in your home for your children. They want to experience tasty food, shiny pots pans and weird utensils, you name it. Everything is new to them; the steam from appliances, the heat from your cooktop and the flour in your bowls!

There is danger here, a child could easily reach this pan as well as play with the cooktop's controls! Look at the shiny red lights. How could a child resist playing with it?

There is danger here, a child could easily reach this pan as well as play with the cooktop's controls! Look at the shiny red lights. How could a child resist playing with it?

That is why it is so important to take care of safety in your kitchen. Of course you cannot avoid all accidents, but doing your best safeguarding their surroundings is something you can do.

Here are some things I have done and learned during the past years.

  1. Appliances: The induction cooktop is really great with just the pot getting hot, as soon as you take the pot away the cooktop is cool. Also I like cooktops or stoves where there is some space before the heat elements so that toddlers cannot reach pots or pans.
  2. I never deep fry in oil when small children are around (I have my lid and oven mittens close by) because even a drop of water can splash oil around.
  3. Oven glass should be cool to the touch (little children like to lean on oven glass with their hands when watching a cake rising).
  4. All sharp knives, forks, grill sticks etc. should be in a safe place, remember as soon as they can climb they can reach many places.
  5. All your ingredients; flours, spices etc. are not dangerous just messy when they are poured on the floor. I have a tall pantry with pull out drawers and the door has no handle, it opens with a push so smaller children cannot open it.
  6. Adjust your hot water so that it is not over 60C.
  7. Soft closing drawers and doors are great so little fingers are in less in danger.
  8. Receptacles are good to be safeguarded with plugs etc.
  9. All cleaning liquids and poisonous products are good to keep locked or in another safe place.
  10. Cork flooring in your kitchen is great with children; they can take out your pots and pans and other stuff without creating horrible noise and it is harder to break anything on it.
  11. Also it is good to look at your kitchen furniture that they are heavy and stable enough not to fall down when little ones stand or climb on it. Sharp corners of countertops or tables are dangerous for little one's head.

Have fun cooking and baking in the kitchen with your children!

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Do you like your kitchen sink?

Are you happy with your kitchen sink? Is it big enough?

The market is full of different kinds of sinks to choose from. We have apron sinks, single bowl, one and a half bowls, double bowls, drop-in and under mount sinks. They are made of “granite”, concrete, solid (surface) material, and stainless steel in different gauge ( 16, 18, 20).

How would you choose just the right one?

You may want to consider a few things;

  • Do I really need more than one bowl? Do I just keep the other bowl as “storage” or do I use the other bowl for draining dishes, or do I put a cutting board on the top the other bowl and get a garbage bowl in the other (this is handy if you do a lot of vegetable meals)
Image by Kohler Canada

Image by Kohler Canada

  • Is my kitchen big enough for a double bowl or do I need more counter space?
  • Can I reach the bottom of the sink without bending my back (tall people could find that these extra deep sinks are not comfortable to do dishes in) and on the other hand deep sinks are great for bigger pots and tall items
  • Under mount sink look beautiful, but consider also the cleaning and that they are made for counter tops made from stone, quartz or solid surfaces
  • Drop-in sinks are for laminate counters but you can use them on any surfaces, nowadays a micro edge sink looks very modern as well
  • If you choose a stainless steel I'd recommend picking a sink with 16 gauge steel, which is thicker than 18. Keep in mind that it does not stay so shiny after use, but that it still looks good after scratches and it is very durable and easy to clean
Image by  Blanco

Image by Blanco

It is really a personal choice on what kind sink you like and what material you prefer and whether or not you appreciate easy cleaning.


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Picking a kitchen faucet

Sometimes we really get frustrated with how our kitchen faucet works.

When we made the decision of what kind of faucet we wanted on our counter we may have not gone over all the points we should have. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find a place where faucets are connected to water on display where you can test them and see how good they are in actual use.

Faucet 3.jpg

Things to consider when choosing a kitchen faucet:

  • Handles; single handle or two or touchless: is the handle easy to operate when your hands are wet, soapy or dirty?
  • Function; spray head, pull out (what kind of hose goes in and how easy is it to keep clean?)
  • Measurements: height; total height, does it fit under cabinet etc. Is there enough space behind it to use the controls and what is the distance from the bottom of the sink to the tip of the spray (this effects how much the water will splash when turned on)
  • Style; does it go well with the overall design of the kitchen?
  • Finish; chrome or stainless steel (does the colour go with your sink and appliances), brushed nickel is sensitive to chemicals, and copper or colourful faucets are the newest trend
  • Spray; adjustable or not, easy to pull out, the right pressure, easy-to-clean and change back to the main function
  • Pressure; the right pressure to wash your dishes or is it splashing all over and making a mess?

Note - if you end up choosing a touchless faucet, make sure to test where it is too sensitive and that you can control it easily

It is important to remember that appearances in the kitchen aren’t everything, you have to also keep in mind function!

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Storage in your kitchen

Have you ever thought about how you cook in your kitchen?

An easy way to do this is to draw a rough layout of your kitchen and circle in green your work areas; baking (counter top area, oven), food preparation (sink, cutting board, fridge), cooking (stove/ovens), and then take a red pen and draw lines back and forth as many times as you think you need to take out ingredients, pans utensils etc.

When you look at the drawing you can clearly see where your storage places should be. For instance in your baking area you need to have easy access to bowls and baking tools like rolling pins. I find drawers in base cabinets to be very useful because you can see everything when you open the drawer. This is also the area you could be put your baking, such as your flours and sugars.

The fridge needs a landing space nearby to upload and unload your groceries. Fridge drawers in base cabinetry are wonderful if they are near your food prep area. All your fresh vegetables and fruits are visible when you open the drawer.

Your food prep area should be easily accessible to your food storage areas and also to your utensil and knife drawers. You should also note that your spices and oils should be kept away from warm areas, such as your stove.

For all those extras and larger cooking ingredients, like dry foods, etc; big pantries are great (if you check that you do not accumulate too much stuff which become expired and useless). Also when you have a tall cabinet with pull out drawers please check that you actually need everything. There are also tall cabinets with a pull out front with baskets, just be careful not to drop anything behind because it is very difficult to get it out.

Happy drawing time!

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Selling your house? Stage your kitchen!

Your kitchen is the heart of your home and a very important selling point, even if you have not updated it recently you can make it look its best. Keep in mind that you are not selling your lifestyle but showcasing your home.

Make sure to clear out the clutter when staging your kitchen.

Make sure to clear out the clutter when staging your kitchen.

Here are few things you can do with a small amount of money:

  1. Clear out your counters, no small appliances, cutlery, cups etc.
  2. Remove all magnets (fridge door), drawings, and extra décor (leave a few to make it cosy)
  3. Clean ovens, fridge, dishwasher etc. inside out and all the other appliances you have
  4. Clean the cabinets, counters, sinks, backsplash, light fixtures (use fresh scented cleaning solutions) and also walls, floor etc.
  5. If you have a tile floor, take extra time to make it look good (grout cleaning)
  6. Wash your windows and see that the blinds and drapery are fresh and clean

Now when your kitchen looks spacious, spotless and smells fresh it is time to enhance it;

Look around you. What is a nice trendy colour to bring to your kitchen? I find that all greens and yellows during the spring time are fabulous; tulips in many colours and yellow colour fruits look fresh, buy a lot and put them on display.

4 pounds of lemons in glass vases or bowls make a difference. This is also a good way to take years off from dated backsplash tiles or counters.

You can also bring colourful accessories like bowls, towels, pot holders, rugs, table mats etc. if you have a breakfast area, set the table

With a little money you can enhance your cabinetry with new knobs and handles, but make sure that they go with the door style.

Cabinet under lights are a great add, so look around for ones that you can plug in, so no electrician is required.

You can also add a backsplash if you do not have one; stickers which look like tiles (home reno centers), or tile yourself. It is even possible to glue on top of the existing old tiles.

If you have worn out counters, there are companies who spray paint counters and they look like “granite” (a very quick solution).

Change the light bulbs so they are bright and give a lot of light, put them all on during your open house.

Now that your kitchen is fresh and sparkling you can be sure that your home has its best “face” on to buyers!

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Different kinds of kitchen flooring

Warm cork flooring

I have found that after my many years of cooking and spending time in the kitchen that my favorite flooring material is cork. The floor colour does not need to be the cork’s natural colour. I have had different whites, water green and also a cork which looks like hardwood planks with beveled edge. It feels warm under your foot, your glass doesn’t necessarily break if/when you drop it on cork, it’s easy care, it creates less echo and it is a sustainable product. You also have endless choices of colours, patterns, sizes etc.

Luxurious hardwood

I have also liked hardwood floors in my kitchen. Many open concept designs use continuous flooring to make the space look bigger and more luxurious. In my experience hardwood is easy care, not too sensitive to water and good to stand on.

Versatile vinyl floors

Vinyl floor is also great, and nowadays you can choose vinyl tiles that look like stone, vinyl strips, which look like hardwood, and vinyl click boards, choices are endless. All of them look so real that even when touching you cannot always tell if it is the real thing. Vinyl flooring is easy to clean and very quick to install. Just make sure your base work is well done.

Durable tiles

Tiles are my least favorite. Their advantage is the broad range of designs they come in. The tiles are extremely durable and if you have very high traffic areas or large pets then tiles may be your best option. The list of downsides is long, though. Tiles are cold to your feet (if not a heated floor) and hard on your back. The grout lines are challenging to clean and especially with stains that come from ketchup or red wine. Also it is a hard reflective surface, so noise and glassware breakage is an issue. Today you can find click on tiles so you do not have to clue them down and they save time.

Natural stone tiles, even after they have been sealed, are very difficult to clean because of the uneven surface. I have seen many times shiny tiles on kitchen floors and they are often really slippery. The travertine tiles with “holes” collect bacteria and dirt and are nearly impossible to keep clean.

Engineered wood floor

I have had also engineered wood white floors throughout the whole house. The flooring is very durable and you can sand it couple of times (although colour comes off). You can clean the floor with a not too wet mop easily but have to be careful leaving liquid on the surface. Also it is a good idea to put a quality underlayment that lessens noise.

Laminate flooring

This type of flooring has come a long way. There are gorgeous finishes and colours available. It is a durable flooring material if you have children with toys or you have dogs. Again it is important to choose quality underlayment avoiding kop, kop noise from your shoes.

Leather flooring

I have never had leather flooring, but I have seen it and walked on it. It seems to be very durable even if you walk with high heels on it. It comes in different colours and styles/finishes. It looks very luxurious. Have a look at Torlys for some great ideas.

So when you are choosing your next kitchen floor there are many materials to think about and keep in mind what would be best for your kitchen.

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The right backsplash brings personality to your kitchen

Large tile backsplashes

I have noticed that a backsplash with larger tiles and less grout lines is easier to clean. Glossy tiles with a little texture are the best choice for easy care. I tried huge tiles with “glue” butted seams and I loved that solution. It looked like one big continuous piece of tile.

Stainless steel backsplashes

A stainless steel backsplash is also very easy to take of care and if the metal is of good quality, no fingerprints will show. The reflective backing reflects scenery and shows watermarks, so that would not be my personal choice.

stainless steel backsplash

Stunning glass backsplashes

Glass backing reflects scenery and shows water marks, so that would not be my personal choice for a backsplash. If you choose glass with a matt finish and if you are brave enough to select coloured glass the result could be stunning. You can even put LED lights behind sand blasted glass, this way you could alter the colour of the backsplash. Also you can use photographs, wallpaper or paint behind the “matt finished” glass to give a look that is unique.

There are many glass tiles available in different colours, sizes and combinations (with stones, steels etc). Your choice in backsplash can bring out your personality and style into the kitchen. However, you’ll want to keep in mind how to keep it beautiful for years to come.

Check out CBD Glass Studios for more ideas.

glass backsplash

Granite, quartz and marble backsplashes

When you finish a backsplash with the same material as your counter you get a very continuous contemporary look for your kitchen. Now a day there are thinner boards/slabs available for backsplashes. The same instructions apply to take care of backsplash as your counter, depending of material.

quartz backplash

Creative backsplashes

If you have an artist in you, you can create unique backsplash with paint, tape, stencils and drywall compound. This is a very cost effective way to create a unique look. Just remember that using quality washable paint and a little bit patience can give you great results.

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Choosing Materials II for your Kitchen; Countertops

Choosing counter top materials is not so complicated. The least expensive is laminate. That is wonderful surface actually. There are so, so many “looks” to choose from: shiny metal to granite look, different edge style and different finishes. My favorite was the granite look with copper high-lights and with raster finish. On that counter it was wonderful to bake buns and pastries and it was very easy to clean. With laminate you have to be careful with about seams and hot pans. It lasted nine years in my active use.

One house I had a dark granite ( Uba Tuba) counter. It really looked great when it was clean and shiny. But sealing it very often and polishing it every day was a lot of work. I had a dishwasher under the counter where I baked so when appliance was on it heated the counter and my buns were rising great. On the other hand when counter was cold it was perfect for baking pastries. On the negative side I broke many crystal glasses on the hard surface and it was noisier in the kitchen due to the hard surface. I'd never put hot pan on it. Also I liked less the fact that the counter works like a mirror and showed all cabinet under lights. In one kitchen I had white, sparkling quartz counter top, it was beautiful. It was so easy care, no sealants and showed food deliciously. It was more expensive than granite, but worth it. But again it echoed in the kitchen and glassware breaks easily

Then I was thinking to use two different materials as counters. For the first time I had massive wood counter and laminate together. My kitchen did not have echo. The wood counter was great to bake on and no glasses were broken if/when dropped on it. I was surprised how easy it was to take care of after the first oil/wax treatment. It was very affordable solution -  excellent value.

Today’s solid surface counters are also beautiful. It could look like Carrera marble. I cannot find seams and even the sinks can be made of the same material. Also they are not so hard as quartz or granite so there is much less echo. If something happens to the surface it is easy to sand and repair.  Soapstone counter top has great natural look. Many times also the sink is made of the same material.

Soapstone counter top has great natural look. Many times also the sink is made of the same material. If you are not waxing soapstone surfaces (which darkens and bring more depth) it will eventually show all stains especially oily stains and in the long run it will not look stylish any more. Also the material is “softer” so hitting the surface accidentally with a pan or something else could result missing a piece or making a scratch. Cost-wise it is close to quartz.

Concrete counters are also available. They are totally custom made. You can get different colours and finishes. Sinks are integrated also. They are heavy. I found cleaning them more challenging. I will give same points for noise and breakage as granite and quartz. They look modern and cool. I have never chosen marble counter because of staining and sensitivity for acidic liquids. Also it needs sealants and I like to avoid chemicals

Next time I will share my experiences with back-splashes.

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Choosing Materials for Your Kitchen; Cabinets

I was thinking to write about my own experiences regarding kitchen materials, about different surfaces, cabinet materials, sinks etc. I have personally cooked in 17 different kitchens of my own so far. I love to bake and cook and entertain, my kitchen has to be good and also beautiful. First thing in mind is usually what kind of cabinet doors I want, colour, style and material.

cabinetry doors

I would like to say, that light maple cabinetry was the easiest to keep clean, no finger prints, no dust showing. Only minus was that when years went by light beautiful wood became yellowish in colour. The kitchen looked classy though. The white glossy foiled cabinet doors look timeless and contemporary. They are very easy to wipe clean and you see fingerprints etc. just in certain angle. These cabinets are sensitive for scratches


White satin finish, painted cabinets were very sensitive for scratches, took more effort to keep clean and the paint wore out because of that. Also I noticed some colour change. Glossy red painted kitchen cabinetry was cheerful and easy care nothing really showed on them not even ketchup. Dark oak doors were a lot of work, all stains, water, dust etc. showed on the doors. Because of satin finish all fingerprints and grease showed and was really time consuming to clean. I do not think I would choose them again. I had also some white laminate kitchen doors with different kind of wood trims. The flat surfaces were easy to clean but wood trims on the other hand less so. This cabinetry was really child proof but did not look very attractive or timeless

Glass doors with or without frames are beautiful, especially when there is light inside the cabinetry showing off your crystal/glass ware. “Seed” glass, glass with stripes or “milk glass” is great for hiding fingerprints or camouflaging not so well organized selves.

Next time my thoughts on countertop materials, most of which I have personally used in my kitchens.

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Kitchen Design - considering energy savings

For many of us, the kitchen is the heart of the home, the command center and a place to gather. It is also the place where lots of the energy is used; primarily electrical power, but also gas in some homes. Thus, the way the kitchen has been designed will have a great impact on your energy bill. I have gathered some points to consider for having a lower energy bill while still not sacrificing how the kitchen works and looks.

It is a no brainer not to place the oven or stove next to the fridge/freezer.The cooler drawers are great to fill with fresh vegetables, lettuce etc. They are very energy efficient. Consider how big the fridge should be. Smaller fridge with a freezer with two doors may often be sufficient. Properly sized tall freezer with drawers is great if you need more capacity. You can actually find what is in there.

The dishwasher is the energy hog of the kitchen because the water is warmed up with electricity if connected in cold water. The less often you use the dishwasher the more energy you save. Choose a dishwasher with well-designed racks so you can fit up to 12 people dinner sets.

An induction cook top is a cool feature but also very energy efficient and safer than a traditional cook top. In ovens, it is the inside that counts. Good quality, smaller 24" ovens are what most families need. They will warm up quickly, bake effectively and evenly and yes they fit 15 lbs turkey.In my opinion you should not compromise when selecting this appliance.

Using automated timer like in ovens, dishwashers etc. allows you to use them when electricity is cheapest: currently saving is 9.5 c/kWh!

The kitchen lights we tend to use a lot, therefore, switch to led lights. There are replacement bulbs for the under the cabinet halogen lights, also.

To save on hot water it is possible to do the plumbing in such a way that you can get hot water immediately.

Recirculating exhaust fans are good in theory but an outside venting hood fan is the best in practice. The exhaust fan should be properly sized and installed. The vent ducting needs to be correctly dimensioned (length and diameter) and insulated. If not, there will be heat loss during wintertime and even accumulation of condensation in the ducts. Features that easily turn off the vent when not needed and also close the damper flaps make good sense. Make sure that the duct flaps are closing and opening properly. There may be one inside the hood unit and another one outside the exterior wall.

Some of the points listed can be done when you renovate your kitchen. Some, however, you could adopt without delay.












12 Tips from Scandinavian Kitchen Design

The Scandinavian design has distinct characteristics which can also be seen in home and kitchen design. If you like the style maybe you can implement some of these in your own design.

Scandinavian kitchen 2.jpeg

Make space look spacious

Great way to achieve this is to have continuous linear lines, such as upper cabinets are on same height, there are no cut-off pillars or décor details

White rules:

Colors are for accent; back splash follows many times the colour of cabinets; tiles are of a very simple design and “colourless”, nowadays glass backsplash is very popular (you can paint the wall or have photographs behind the glass).

Plain lines make it timeless:

Less decorative handles and more push to open systems (no knobs or handles), no crown moldings or other small details, it almost looks like industrial design

Function before form:

Usually sqft in a house is much smaller than we are used to, so everything you need for cooking is ergonomically placed, no need to take extra steps (fridge position, for instance, is close to your breakfast area and also to your cooking area)

Smart solutions:

Dripping cabinet is above the sink (excellent when hand washing dishes)

Integrated cutting boards

Ergonomic garbage solutions, organic waste and recycling systems

Small appliance lifts and garages…

You may have even magnet system to keep your sponge and brush not touching the bottom sink

Easy access to electrical outlets including USB:

Nowadays many of us use tablet computers and smart phones also in the kitchen. A pop-up outlet in the countertop is really neat; however, it is important to choose the right kind for your needs (see the photo).

Many times the power outlets are integrated into the under counter light fixtures (not in your backsplash)

Under the sink and a cook top space is often been used for storage, and have cabinets/drawers.

Appliances are integrated with cabinets (same panels as cabinets)

Which are much easier to keep clean

No bumps showing like on stainless steel doors

The small space looks much bigger

Use of smaller yet efficient appliances:

Cooktops, especially induction cooktop, because they are fast, safe and energy efficient.

All appliances are counter depth and usually in smaller scale; ovens/stoves 24” wide, even fridges and freezers although very tall

Natural materials are appreciated:

Cork or wood flooring in beautiful finishes

Countertop materials include wood, soapstone, granite and even concrete

Details that make the kitchen safe:

Oven doors are cool to touch and equipped with child safety latch

Led lighting

Water outlet for dishwasher comes with an automatic shut-off valve

Heat alarms and power shut-offs

Good quality appliances: design always starts from quality appliances; that is the most important not the cabinets


Feel free to add more points. What do you see in Scandinavian kitchens?

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14 Common Mistakes in kitchen design

The heart of the home, the kitchen is often a source of pride to the homeowners. I wonder how many times have we visited a newly renovated kitchen or a new kitchen in a new property just to notice that certain things should have been done differently.  Below are few observations I have made for you to learn from:

·  It is very common that the dishwasher is in the wrong spot: you cannot reach storage cupboard or shelves when emptying it, or it is not next to water tap for rinsing, or it is too far from the garbage bin.

·  The most often the garbage or recycling bins are in the sink cabinet. They should be in better places; in next cabinet over so you don’t have to move about when clearing dishes or preparing food

·  Wall ovens or even ranges are next to the fridge. I wonder why that      might be a problem.

·  Wall ovens are at a wrong height or you do not have a place close by to put down your hot pans or pots

·   Hood is at wrong height or it is a wrong kind, you should always consider people while not compromising a building code or regulations

·  Counters are too high or too low for the people living in the house.

·  Upper cabinets are too high, so only the lower shelves can be reached.

·  Under cabinet lighting is on your face.

·  Lighting creates lots of shadows

·  Food preparing area and water source are too far from each other.

·  Fridge is so far from the table or island that one has to take steps to put food down

·  Good old “work triangle” is too big or off balance

·  Counter top edge does extend beyond cabinets (some exceptions because of cabinet styles)

·  Cabinet handles may not be easy to use with longer nails.

It is fun to flip through magazines and catalogs to admire different styles and designs of kitchens. Look a bit closer and you will soon notice, that perhaps a designer should have put a bit more effort in the function still not needing to compromise the style.

I have Scandinavian heritage, Finnish actually, therefore, next time I will give you “12 tips from Scandinavian kitchen design”

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How to keep kitchen renovation costs in check. Here are my tips, add yours in the comment box below.

renovation cost

The kitchen can be the most expensive space in your house. The kitchen renovations are being done on a shoestring budget; and also, $100,000 can be spent very easily. Below I am giving tips how you can achieve good value and beautiful design while minimizing the expenditure.


·      Do not relocate the sink, then you do not have to pay too much for the plumbing.

·      Do not relocate stove (230v), then you do not have to hire the electrician for rewiring.

·      Do you really need new cabinets or would repainted kitchen cabinets do?  However, let a pro do the painting and the cabinets will look like new. You can also, at the same time, change old knobs and handles

·      Appliances, buy them first, sizing may affect your design (look floor models and gently used ones). Buy good brand, this is where you should not try to compromise.

·      Make your own kitchen design drawings, including the cabinet types: drawer set, wire shelving, pots and pans, baking things, food storage, pull out, swivels etc. and make sure that cabinet sizes are very accurate. Only then go for quotes from several cabinet makers.

·      Do not waste money in fancy cabinet solutions such as the "magic corner" because the good old “Lazy Susan" is almost as good.

·      Laminate countertops are also beautiful and easy care; they come with different edge profiles. The granite surfaces are over rated when it comes to usability. Counter top pricing differs a lot: it is good to ask: is it by sqf or linear foot, is certain edge type included or are there separate pricing for different edge types, what does the installation include, how much cutting of the sink hole and faucet hole cost, how much is to install an under mount sink, what is the delivery time?

·      Butcher block island tops are great looking and wonderful to bake on. There are many products you can use to easily take care of them

·      If you have an old tile floor, you can cover it with a floating floor or with a new layer of tiles. Yes, you would need to install a ramp strip, but so what. There are great materials for flooring like “click-lock” cork, vinyl tiles even click on porcelain tiles, all these come in many colours and styles

·      Modern led lighting is easy to install in your existing pot light fixtures.

·      Check also out led cabinet under-lights, there are many you can install yourself, just read the instructions carefully that you do it in the right way

·      Purchase a good faucet and sink, you use them a lot; drop down sinks are easy to install, there are also micro edge sinks which look very contemporary

·      If you are not a DIY-person, hire a pro but be very clear with your plans and have a good contract with a detailed work description


With the points listed above you can achieve a lot for very little money, yet get a great kitchen that you can be proud of and love to invite your friends to spend time in.


Next time I will be writing about how not to approach your kitchen design: “Mistakes in kitchen design” that are easy to avoid.

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Controlling the acoustics in your space

Many new layout designs in homes have an open space plan. The tendency is to use shiny, hard and reflective materials, in cabinetry and in furniture. Leather furniture and hardwood floors are also often used in homes, as well as hard surfaces on counters (like stone and quartz) and even in dining tables, glass “railings” and shutters or just blinds as a window coverings. What this all ends up meaning is that we get more noise and echoes. This can result in a cacophony of sound, which can be made even worse with an active family!

What can be done to lessen the noise while not losing your style?

we can use soft textures in textiles, drapery, area rugs, cork flooring, textured wallpaper and even acoustic panels.

There are many ways to integrate these panels (made of wool felt or other sound absorbing materials); room dividers, art etc. see some more ideas in the photos below

Like art..

Like art..

A room divider..

A room divider..

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Neat home décor and design ideas with a practical twist

There are always creative ways to make life more interesting!

In a small space here is an idea on how you can hang up your clothes:

Flexible seating; for instance in a doctor's office. You can change a layout, length, angle, colours, material, backrest or even add plant pots ( take out the seat and place it with plant pot).

Pretty smoke/carbon monoxide detectors could be like an accent on your wall.