The Kitchen Designer

I'm here...

Hi there...happy September! I'm here...I have been completely engrossed in two highly detailed kitchen orders that are...highly detailed! Hundreds of details, hundreds of changes, all of which must be dealt with and end up perfect, so please excuse my absence. Duty calls! I will be finished in a few days, and I'll be back with you soon. In the meantime, how about a gorgeous, summer-y white Scandinavian kitchen (I've collected more in recent days, which I'll show you soon, after all summer isn't REALLY over till a few weeks.)

Thanks for your patience!


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Mad Men And The Kitchen Set

Have you been watching Mad Men? I just started. I didn't see it last season, so I'm catching up and tonight will be the third episode of the first season I'll see. It's so cool, so chic, with such repressed people, no?

The kitchen is designed quite authentically, I think. Please see the kitchn's post on it. In fact, I think I had those same cabinets in my parents' kitchen when I was a child. I really recommend seeing Mad Men for interesting insight into the decor of the time, the primping and preening behavior most characters surround themselves with, accompanied by the contrast and juxtaposition of usually obnoxious and repressed behavior showcased in limitless variations. All this, just before all hell broke loose some few years later. Don't forget the raw egg in the caeser salad...

As a young (VERY young, I said) child during this period, here's what I remember. I remember my mother frequently wearing makeup and jewelry with short, curled (after curlers wrapped in a scarf) hair. I remember red lipstick, red cheeks and blue eye shadow. When she and my father entertained, my mother wore either a chic "shift" sort of dress to showcase her curves or one with a taut upper bodice and a full skirt...and always with the "good" apron as she flitted about the kitchen.  And heels of course. And, perfume, of COURSE. I'm sure it was a mix of high maintenance living and fun mixed in too!

As my parents emigrated from Denmark, the furniture in my home was Danish modern furniture, the real thing. The items we later threw away, I can't even think about, it pains me! Today, I use my parents' sleek walnut veneer dining room table for our breakfast table

Smoking was either a pipe or cigar by my father, but there was hard alcohol for social drinking too and of course, when my father returned from work. And, let's not forget Frank Sinatra playing in the background. Yes, life was very good. A T-bird in the driveway, a caddy, and everything. An American dream...until he cheated, he lost the business and they got divorced, but I digress! One thing that's worse than being repressed, is...guess, narcissism (probably rampant in the 60s!) You win the washer/dryer! Here's the set!

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Granite Countertops - More Radon...

Following is a partial press release I just received from the NKBA: 

"HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (August 4, 2008) - There has been recent news concerning the possibility that granite countertops may contain dangerously high levels of radon. The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) has long recognized the carcinogenic effects of radon in the home and, as a result, recommends that consumers planning to remodel a kitchen or bath consult with an NKBA-certified designer.

Associate Kitchen & Bath Designers (AKBDs), Certified Kitchen Designers (CKDs), Certified Bathroom Designers (CBDs), and Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designers (CMKBDs) are experts in design who have been taught the proper methods for eliminating radon and other hazardous gases from the home, as discussed in the NKBA Professional Resource Library volume Kitchen and Bath Systems.

In addition to radon, NKBA-certified designers are familiar with many other health concerns in kitchen and bath remodels that most consumers have never considered. 

For more details on the health effects of radon in granite countertops, the NKBA recommends the Marble Institute of America as a reliable source of information. An associate member of the NKBA, the Institute has prepared a thorough analysis of radon levels and granite in its 2008 Radon Study. This study, as well as a consumer radon brochure and additional documents concerning radon in granite countertops are available at"

While I'm a CKD, as mentioned in the press release, I'd have to say, no, I do not know the proper methods for "eliminating radon....from the home". Everything I read talks about "reducing" not "eliminating." "Eliminating" is a black and white concept. I'm not a scientist or a radon eliminating technician although there are many common sense tasks one can do to reduce. That said, I must put this issue in the hands of the consumer to make their own decision on what they believe in regard to granite and radon or to take other measures, such as hiring a professional radon technician for testing purposes, and so on. I do not have an opinion on either side of this issue as it is beyond my knowledge. Perhaps if I were a geophysicist I'd weigh in on this.

I love the phrase, "I know what I don't know." Perfect for this situation.

What do you think?

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

20 Tips To Prepare The Kitchen F...

With so many homes for sale around the country, due to the current mortgage crisis and general home value downturn we are experiencing, how can you set your home apart, particularly the kitchen, the heart of the home, to appeal to a prospective buyer?

Warning, some ideas may seem obvious, but as I peruse images of homes for sale, they bear repeating. This assumes that big ticket items in the kitchen will not be replaced. Perhaps I'll do a post on replacing bigger ticket items in the kitchen for resale. Don't miss the tips noted on showing your home - super easy tips with instant results!

  • When showing your home, turn on all the lights in the kitchen
  • Clean the windows inside and out as well as window treatments if necessary
  • Declutter your counters. I'll say it again. Declutter your counters!
  • Clean and organize the interiors of your cabinets - people will look inside
  • Pay particular attention to organizing a food/pantry cabinet - this can look surprisingly good if shapes and sizes are arranged well
  • Clean your floors
  • Do touch ups wherever you can - walls, floors, cabinets, etc.
  • Declutter your collections. Again...declutter your collections!
  • After decluttering counters and collections, take a fresh look and add in a very few items if desired. Those items should be proportionate to the space. Do not put a small item on top of cabinets, use a larger item for better balance and proportion
  • Make sure your picture(s) of the kitchen includes a wide angle shot and the kitchen is neat and decluttered
  • Your image should be of good quality. Do not submit it if it is blurry or otherwise inferior in terms of exposure, etc. Ask others for opinions on the quality of the images
  • Include windows if possible in the kitchen shot
  • When showing the home, bring in fresh flowers for the table from the garden, or cut greens of some sort from the back yard, if you have one
  • Remove all the magnets from the refrigerator
  • Clean the ovens, cooktop and microwave!
  • Clean the sink and surroundings! For a showing, move the soap bottles to inside the cabinet, clean the sink and drain baskets and keep it "all clear" around the sink
  • Clean the refrigerator!
  • When showing the home, move the piles of mail, papers, etc.
  • Touch up paint trim on window and door casings, and other moldings
  • If desired, "stage" the kitchen just a bit for a showing...a good looking table (if the table is in poor shape, use a tablecloth) set for a meal, perhaps with a centerpiece, a bowl or two of green apples on a countertop, other fruit, a big bunch of fresh basil in a vase near the sink, a basket of potatoes, just do not overdo it
Take a look at this image of a kitchen on an online listing. It's potentially a very good shot, very impressive and updated kitchen, but who can see a thing? I think there is too much of the staircase in the image as well, the whole image being somewhat crooked. Make a little more effort for much bigger rewards.

I feel better about the next image, but it could have been aligned much better. Try, too, to use a sharpening tool in your images. That will go a long way. The counters are nice and clear. Maybe a large gold bowl or other object could have been in the foreground. I would have removed the coffee pot near the sink.

Relax, and wait for the offers - they're coming!

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Slate Countertop Test!

There's always a good bit of conversation on the slate post that I did way back, and that's good, I'm glad people are digging through the archives. Lots of good stuff in the archives.

I thought it might be a good idea to redo my test, albeit in a very limited way, on the staining properties of slate, at least in regard to oil.

See for yourself what the result is. No staining! If you look closely at the first sample with the oil on it, you may see, on the unoiled part, a few white marks which are scratches. After I wiped off the oil on the sample with dishwashing soap and water on a sponge and brushed the slate using the opposite side of the sponge fairly roughly, "wah laaa" the white spots disappear! If they do not completely disappear, then it is my understanding (although I have not done it myself) that one can lightly sand any significant white scratches and they will disappear.

Yes, slate is strong, VERY strong (and very dense)! Take a look....the yellow text, which is too small, says "dark line" meaning to please try to find the dark line on the second image too so you can get it oriented. Sorry, when I tried to rotate one image or the other, it looked much more skewed and a bit more difficult to see, so you'll have to reorient yourself to find the similar graining of each sample so you can see where the oil was on the second sample. Still, do your own test, on any countertop surface.

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago
Certified Kitchen Designer