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Category: Kitchen Design
How to Choose and Use Ecofriendly Kitchen Appliances
Michelle Jeresek, Houzz Contributor 11.15.13    
Choosing energy-efficient appliances benefits everyone. TopTen USA, an independent organization that researches and ranks the most efficient appliances, says: "If you're going to waste money, waste it on something more fun than your electrical bill."
Be smart with money and energy with these tips for selecting kitchen appliances and using them more efficiently.


Refrigerators are energy hogs, accounting for 9 to 15 percent of your home's electricity use. Luckily, choosing an energy-efficient refrigerator can be as easy as looking for the Energy Star label, which guarantees the appliance has met government standards. However, all Energy Star appliances are not created equal — energy consumption still varies significantly from model to model. The Energy Star website can help you compare models to find to the most efficient refrigerator.
Size matters. If you buy a refrigerator too small for your needs and keep it packed full, the refrigerator will have to work harder and use extra energy. Similarly, oversize refrigerators keep excessive space cool. Refrigerators smaller than 25 cubic feet should meet the needs of most households.
Money- and energy-saving tips:
Locate your refrigerator away from sources of heat, such as the stove or oven, which can cause it to work harder.
Let foods cool first before putting them inside the refrigerator.



Gas Cooktops/Ranges
Pros: Electrical appliances have the option to be fueled by renewable power if you add solar panels in the future. Also, most electrical utility companies have a program where you can pay a small added cost to support green renewable power.
Cons: Much of our electricity is generated from coal, which is the most significant man-made contributor to greenhouse gases. Also, roughly 70 percent of electric power is lost in transmitting it from its source to your home.
Natural Gas
Pros: Natural gas is a relatively inexpensive and efficient fuel source and the cleanest fossil fuel, emitting 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal.
Cons: Cooking on gas appliances introduces combustion by-products into your home, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and nitrogen dioxide. This is especially worrisome in newer, more airtight houses. While a good exhaust hood can remove up to 70 percent of these pollutants, it doesn't remove all of them. Also, natural gas is commonly sourced by hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," which involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth under high pressure to break up rock formations, releasing the gas. At this time there is some evidence demonstrating that air, groundwater and drinking water are being contaminated from the process, causing several nations and even some U.S. states to ban fracking.


Wall ovens are available in three widths: 24, 27 and 30 inches. The energy used by a wall oven relates to its size, so it's worth going for a smaller unit if it will meet your needs. If you have the occasional need for more capacity, opt for two smaller ovens rather than one larger unit. You'll save energy by frequently using just one of the smaller ovens, and for large gatherings you'll still have all the capacity you need.
Money- and energy-saving tips:
Save your oven for large or multiple dishes. Ovens are inherently inefficient — only about 6 percent of the energy from a typical oven is absorbed by the food.
Use your oven light to check on food's progress. Every time you open the oven door, the temperature drops 25 to 50 degrees.


Exhaust Hoods
Find an efficient kitchen exhaust hood by seeking an Energy Star–rated model, which is quieter and uses 65 percent less energy. Once you have an efficient model, do not be conservative with its use. Your ventilation hood is essential to keeping your indoor air quality safe by getting rid of:
Excess moisture. Cooking can introduce 2 to 3 gallons of moisture into your home's air per day. If it's not properly released, this can lead to moisture problems in the home.
Hazardous combustion by-products from gas cooktops mentioned earlier.
Your hood needs to exhaust to the exterior, ensuring removal of moisture and pollutants from your interiors. Stay away from recirculating fans, which only remove odors. Also avoid downdraft hoods, which do not perform as well as hoods mounted overhead.



Your dishwasher is a stealth energy consumer: Between 80 and 90 percent of a dishwasher's energy consumption is tied to the water heater. Search for models that are water misers. Also look for a dishwasher with a booster heater, which allows your water heater to remain at the recommended 120 degrees and boosts the hot water for your dishwasher to 140 degrees, as needed to melt newer dishwasher soaps.
Money- and energy-saving tips:
Always run a full load.
Scrape, don't rinse. Hand-rinsing dishes can use up to 20 gallons of water. Scrape food off the dishes and load. If your dirty dishes are going to sit overnight, use your dishwasher's rinse feature, which uses a fraction of the water needed to hand-rinse.
For not-so-dirty dishes, use the light or energy-saving wash cycle, which uses less water and operates for a shorter period of time.



The humble microwave can be an energy saver, consuming between one-fifth and one-half as much energy as conventional stoves. Know too that concerns of microwave radiation have been mitigated by FDA regulation. However, microwave emissions do increase at the glass window, so I prefer models without a glass window, like the one here.
Money- and energy-saving tips:
Microwaves are most efficient when cooking small portions or defrosting.
Place food at the outer edges of the rotating tray for faster cooking.

12 Great Kitchen Styles — Which One's for You?
Sheila Schmitz, Editor, Houzz.com 9.27.13    
Style is easier to recognize with your eyes than with words: You know it when you see it, and the photo that inspires you most can often surprise you. Think you know your kitchen style? Check out these guides to a dozen favorite kitchen design themes, then tell us which one takes the cake.


Farmhouse kitchens. Warm and homey farmhouses anchored a life on the land, and they still offer great functionality and comfort. Their open shelving, wide sinks, classic flooring and big kitchen table make them easy to work in and easy to love.

Rustic kitchens. “Worn," "distressed" and "rough hewn" may not be the first words that come to mind when we think of kitchens. But today rustic kitchens rival the classic white kitchen in popularity — thanks to their timber, stone, brick, vintage appliances and fireplaces.

Modern kitchens.
 Definitions of "modern" vary widely, but when we think of modern kitchen designs, we often think of frameless cabinets, sleek and simple hardware, strong horizontal lines and a lack of ornamentation, with the natural beauty of the materials shining through.

Traditional kitchens.
 Traditional kitchens are defined by their details, which can include arches, decorative moldings and corbels, raised-panel cabinets, a mix of antique finishes and furniture-like turned legs — even a chandelier. Whether they have a classic American or old-world flavor, they still carry the stamp of their owners' personal style.

Contemporary kitchens
. Contemporary kitchens can be very sleek, but while a purely modern kitchen often celebrates structure and grid, a contemporary kitchen is often more playful in form and finishes, including elements of other styles and creating its own reflection of the times.


Transitional kitchens.
 Think of a transitional kitchen as the great moderator. With the warmth and welcome of traditional design and the clean, simple lines of contemporary style, transitional spaces project balance and harmony. Because they offer a great deal of flexibility, they're a great choice for homeowners whose taste spans the two.

Craftsman kitchens.
 Craftsman style arose in the early 20th century as a reaction to the mass-produced fussiness of the Victorian era. Its rich woods, built-ins, handcrafted tiles and well-made simplicity continue to charm us.

Cottage kitchens.
 Cozy, happy and unpretentious, a cottage kitchen harks back to simpler times and evokes a sense of easy, carefree living. Beadboard, soft colors, vintage hardware, wood floors and colorful accents and curtains will infuse your kitchen with cottage comfort.


Paris bistro kitchens
. If you long for a sugar-laced café au lait on Rue Monmartre, why not bring a little Parisian style into your house? Intimate kitchen lighting, pretty cookware on display, tile floors and a striped awning ought to do it.


Classic kitchens.
 What is classic? The answer is as varied as cooks are. Still, white or cream kitchen cabinets, simple architectural details and black accents offer a blank slate that homeowners can personalize with contemporary, traditional and eclectic touches as they see fit.

Mediterranean-style kitchens
. Flared hoods, hand-painted tile, warm wood cabinets, beamed ceilings and arched cooking alcoves are just some of the features that put Spanish revival kitchens on the most-wanted list.


Eclectic kitchens
. Do you rebel against styles and refuse pigeonholes? It's your house; you can mix and match for your own distinct kitchen style however you please. The trick: Be a rebel with a cause. Get ideas for a very personal kitchen, with touches of modern and rustic styles, well-traveled flair, humor and irreverence.

How to Pair Countertops and Backsplash
The Interior Collective 6.6.13    

It’s an age old dilemma when remodeling a kitchen: how does one properly pair a backsplash and countertop material? Like most things in design, there are no hard and fast rules, and if there are, many of them are meant to be broken, but here are some of my favorite combos that will be winners every time. 

Butcher block counters add more warmth to a kitchen than most stone-type surfaces, which is why I think a wainscot style of beadboard backsplash is perfect for butcher block counters. It continues the woodworking theme and the beadboard option doesn’t have quite the same classic country affect with any other counter top option.

Butcher block in any color also looks great with a white ceramic tile backsplash. Using different shapes such as 4 x 4 squares, subway tiles, or hexagons will add more or less interest to this simple, but classic pairing. This is a great option for anyone looking for something simple without being boring.

Quartz has the beauty of stone, but comes in a variety of colors to fit my needs depending on the backsplash that I choose. Because it is more consistent in pattern and movement than other stones, it fits equally well into traditional, modern, or eclectic homes, which then allow the ultimate style of the space to be determined by the backsplash selection. My favorite combinations are Caesarstone quartz paired with Moroccan tile (photo at left, above) for a more eclectic and colorful vibe, and Caesarstone paired with glass tile which takes it in a more sleek and modern direction.

For more, please visit: The Interior Collective

50 Year Warranty
Urban Designs 3.21.13    
When is the last time you purchased something with a 50-year warranty? Most likely, never.

Rocky Mountain Tradition's warranty explains that the floor will not wear through for 50 years, assuming the buyer takes care of the floor according to the maintenance recommendations. If there is a problem with wear through, it must exceed 10% of the surface area for this warranty to cover. They also extend a lifetime structural warranty to the original purchase that the engineered flooring products will not delaminate, again, as long as the maintenance recommendations are met. How’s that for quality?

For more about Rocky Mountain Tranditions visit: http://www.rockymountaincollection.com/hardwood-floor/warranty.aspx

Kitchen Solutions: Smart Storage Design
Dwell Magazine 3.8.13    
Published as: 
Counter Intelligence
For a Toronto couple with a love of minimalist Japanese architecture, a sleek, storage-packed kitchen was the first priority in their home's renovation.
Modern kitchen with long countertop and oak cabinetry

The white oak used for the cabinets, kitchen island, and dining table is finished with double-boiled linseed oil, which can be reapplied by the homeowners as the wood mellows and patinas.

Ken Leung and Bonnie Lam loved their leafy, coveted neighborhood in central Toronto, but the couple—big fans of Japanese architect Tadao Ando—wanted to raise the design bar on their dowdy 1920s house before they settled in. The solution: knock down the garage, sell half of the lot to a new neighbor, and hire a local architect to build a new house in the piece that was left.

In Donald Chong of Williamson Chong Architects, they found their match: a young designer devoted to small-scale urban infill and experimentation. Ken and Donald were long-lost high school acquaintances, and their shared history plus a similar sense of aesthetics established an easy sense of trust. The couple spelled out their basic design wants and helped select hardware and countertops, but they gave Chong free rein in the planning stage: "We asked for at least one significant architectural element that would make our home unique," says Leung. "Don gave us at least four."

The most striking feature is the "kitchen-studio," as Chong calls it, a first-floor entertainment space that is wrapped, floor to ceiling, with custom cabinetry in rift-cut white oak. Visitors always wonder where the stuff is hidden away, and Leung and Lam—who hate visible clutter—make the most of all that storage space. "The great thing is, we're really only using half of the cabinets," Leung adds, "so there's lots of room to grow."

The Design Details

The eight-foot-tall cabinet doors make the kitchen feel like one seamless unit.

The custom beveled edge for the island's "Blizzard" white Caesarstone countertop forgoes the standard one-inch countertop overhang to save on space and maintain a sleek feel.

To keep the room's sight lines open, an angled trim was used for the back nook that Leung and Lam requested for food prep. A Vola faucet is used with a sink by Mekal.

The dining table, fabricated by KGA Kitchens from Chong's design, sits underneath pendant lamps by Nud Collection. Vintage teak chairs were designed by Niels Møller in 1954.


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