The Kitchen Designer

Your Superbowl Kitchen

How is/did your kitchen function this superbowl Sunday? I'm watching the game as I write, or I should say, watching the commercials and getting up during the game! We've had party superbowls and quiet ones. This is a quiet one this year. Just my husband, me, and my son. Earlier today, Steve (husband) and I took my daughter and her husband (and Max, the dog) back to the city after their weekend visit and we stopped at Whole Foods on the way in.

superbowl.pngLet me tell you, it's all about their chicken wings! Of course, that's a staple for superbowl Sunday, and wow, are they GOOD. Worth going off the diet for! This is actually the smallest choice of food, I think we've ever had for superbowl Sunday. Blue corn chips with salsa, potato salad, blue cheese dip for the wings, and that was IT. I'm almost ashamed! I also bought fresh veggies, and somehow they didn't get on the table, but those wings!!

I want to share my favorite commercial with you. The second half just started, and I don't need to see another one. This one really cracked me up!

Hope you're having a good time..tell me how your kitchen functioned for you. And, what did you make/buy/cook? Did your appliances work well for you? Any post game 20/20 kitchen analyses to share?

Here's my favorite commercial, the first one, but I also really like the fedex one too, below. Enjoy!!

You've got to see this commercial, my favorite


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

GE Monogram New York City Showro...

I think I've just taken a totally unintended break from my blog. Wendy, a loyal reader, asked if I took a "busman's holiday." So many things have been going on that I want to share with you, large and small, plus something VERY top secret and hushhush (coming soon) but I just have not had the chance until now to sit down and put these thoughts into words.  And now I'm afraid that if I do, this could very well be my longest post in history.  That runs a huge risk, because as we know, it is not difficult for me to go on for paragraphs over a thought or a detail.  So, I think I had better be a bit cautious at this moment! 

You know, I also have to say that I feel I am so lucky.  I feel so fortunate to be in the kitchen and bath  industry.  It is an exciting industry, it is an industry that is creatively exciting, is technologically interesting, fashion oriented, for better or worse, and nearly every one I have ever met, whether fellow designers, manufacturers, whoever, are engaging and intelligent people.  I feel another post coming on, so I think I will stop here. :)

Last night, my husband and I attended the opening of GE Monogram's beautiful, new, showroom at the Architects and Designers building in New York City.  The theme of the showroom is: New York City! Whether shown on walls or floors or other surfaces, the New York theme was everywhere.  There was a glitzy media display, referred to as Times Square, there was an area called Columbus Circle, a lovely section called Central Park, and the number "59" seen repeatedly in black-and-white tiles.  This imitated the 59th street subway stop. Very clever, and very cool. What's not to like, as a typical New Yorker would say?

I had the opportunity to speak with several GE executives, and they even listened carefully to a product idea I had, and described.  We had a nice chat, and I was delighted to hear that my blog was read by at least one of the GE execs I spoke with.  The showroom was absolutely filled with people from the industry, and I enjoyed seeing several people I've known over the years, one for about 20 years. 

Here are images of the showroom.  Enjoy!  Take a look at this wonderful event that I attended.  I was given a tour around the showroom. The more I learn, the more I think that an induction cooktop is the way to go.  More power, more energy efficient, faster response, all desirable attributes. The pro-ranges were substantial looking and very sexy, and, I saw a cooktop grate that flips over and becomes a special wok grate. How about a cooktop with all burners having double burners on each element, one to simmer, one for highest output? Love it. And, just for you, I sampled the wine, hors d'oeuvres, little desserts, and I can report back to you that the food was fantastic!

The images were taken with my iphone, so excuse any loss of quality, just think artsy thoughts... So much more to tell you soon!!


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Ten Top Secret Kitchen Design Tips

It's all in the details! Who knows why, but I just started thinking of how small, pesky, planning details, if overlooked, can cause pain and heartbreak if not addressed. OK, "top secret" may be just a little stretch, but not by much!

I came up with these planning secrets, largely unknown to the typical consumer, off the top of my head, and trust me, there are MANY more that I must be aware of as I slowly and carefully go about editing a kitchen plan for the last time before putting the order "to bed" as I call it, at which time there is no more time for changes. The factory begins to produce the order, and the result of these planning exercises will be known....upon installation. It can be the stuff nightmares are made of, if only thought of, say, during cabinet production, or as a surprise, during installation!

Here are just SOME of the details I'd like to share with you:

1. Size (width) of window and door casings - If cabinetry must fit between, say, a wall and a window, the size of the window casing is critical. Likewise, cabinetry fitting BETWEEN window or door casings. Casings being changed? To what size, and how will that affect cabinetry?

2. Casings and moldings colliding - Will your cabinet crown molding and window or door casings collide? That's just not right! Check floor, cabinet, and ceiling junctures.

3. Is there adequate room on the wall planned for receptacles, primarily when one walks into a room? If tall cabinets align a doorway, would there be room/depth planned in for receptacles, even if they have to be cut into the cabinet side?

4. Backsplash height - What height is perfect for you? This is adjustable, unless it is driven by the height of a tall cabinet, but should be planned in advance. Are you short in height? Or, do you have tall countertop appliances? Another critical area to look at.

5. Floor level - Is your floor wavy, as most are? Are you designing in decorative feet, valances, toekick details, or columns, which reach the floor? If so, and the above mentioned items are too short, you will experience gaps, as the cabinets are first installed at the HIGH POINT of the the floor dips, that's where you see the gaps. The cabinets in the low points are propped up with shims so that the tops of all cabinets are level to receive a level countertop.

6. Microwave - Don't assume it can easily be built in snugly, for a great, tight, look. Many microwaves have trim kits which MUST be used or the warranties will not be in effect. I've not come across any microwaves that can be built in tightly, ever.

7. Large sinks - You love the large sinks, but beware of how deep they are front to back, and if undermounted, add the rim size to determine if your faucet will fit underneath the countertop. More and more recently, I am making sink bases deeper to accommodate these large sinks. This also effects adjacent cabinetry!

8. Cooktop and oven brands, one above the other - In this configuration, make sure you use the same brand of appliance. Typically, if two different brands are used, each warranty may not be in effect. A bad scene...

9. Downdrafts - Downdrafts are tricky. If you do not use the same brand downdraft as the cooktop (this IS typically allowable) the configuration underneath the countertop may not fit with the height or depth dimension of the cooktop under the countertop, making the combination uninstallable..something to check.

10. Where do your cabinets end on a wall? Me...I HATE little slivers of wall, say, 1-2". I think it's tacky. i like to leave at LEAST 3 1/2", more typically, 4" at least between a cabinet side and, say, door casing.

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Randomly Gorgeous Kitchen Styles

Hi dedicated readers and new ones too. I'm feeling a little fluid in the aesthetic part of my mind today. We're in the city this weekend, which always makes me think more specifically about the coming kitchen renovation, and now, more and more, in terms of style, theme, the general look and feel of the room rather than the mechanics of the kitchen, for now. Once the wall came down, it opened up more than the physical space, it opened up questions about the entire space, as I said before.

Short husband further cut the half wall down below the countertop. Looks even better. As we speak, he's removing some soffit pieces (as quietly as he can,) 

So, I move to questions of style, as I surprisingly came up with the plan for a 12' sofa the other day! I didn't expect THAT, but we're on board with it.

Having a home on Long Island, which is somewhat eclectic in style, more of a soft contemporary, very soft, with more of a touch of an artisan feel than a contemporary feel, I'm thinking, what look do we want in the city?

Our instinct is to go beyond our comfort zone.

We're liking very clean lines, at least one burst of color, perhaps bright white walls AND painted floors, and, as always, pieces of artwork that are stars, not supporting players.

Yet, when I go on Desire To Inspire, which always inspires me, I see these kitchens, some which are so country in their feel, that are stunning as well! Nonetheless, I think we're still leaning toward more modern, a bit eclectic, a bit artisan, that's where we seem to be headed.

Here, then, are some randomly gorgeous kitchens...enjoy them. :) 

OH...the last image is the sofa we're seriously considering, really, sold on. It's shown in a sectional, but we'd have it in two 70" sections, one a right arm and one a left arm. What you can't see is the fabric is quite textured. The image and the sofa is from Design Within Reach.  

But, honestly, what about you? Are you ever conflicted as to what style you REALLY love and can commit to? 

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Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago

Kitchen Design Musings...II

Back to contemplating, confronting and exposing potential biases based on this post, regarding a book I was asked to review, in which my immediate reaction to its images was not favorable, having ended with the question "Am I a kitchen design snob?"

I am one who likes consensus, not to follow it blindly, but for the information value it provides. I look for consensus in my own mind, by reacting, then verifying what/how/why I'm feeling, sometimes over and over. It's sort of a "checks and balances" thing, and I'm sure many of you do the same.  Thus, the "kitchen snob" question came into mind to verify my immediate reaction, as I do in my design practice, to make sure my ideas and opinions a) are not too personal to me b) survive the "verification" process I give it c) have real merit. I torture myself! "The images are 'eh' " followed by, "Am I a kitchen snob?"

Each of us, whether professional kitchen designer, or consumer, have, and are entitled to, our opinions...but it's helpful to be open, at least preliminarily, to multiple sides of any issue.

Back to my reaction to the book. I'm a different person than who this book is directed to, and I think I forgot that, when I first opened it up and had a negative reaction to the images. I think each of these images represent dream details or dream kitchens to someone. And that's GOOD. To others, those who do not need to follow the "typical," (and there's nothing wrong with typical, seriously) it won't be satisfying. I also feel the image descriptions are too simple, without any "whys" connected to them, which could have been VERY useful. That makes me nuts, quite frankly. The whys are everything to those just starting their kitchen design journey.

But, regardless of what I or the author thinks, people will buy the book for their own personal reasons known only to them and may not even read the text at all. That's ok too. They may like a rug, or a tile, or a color, or they may read every word, keeping it nearby throughout their process. I think the book has value, but more attention to detail could have been taken in several areas. As a kitchen design professional, I'm bored by the images for the most part and disappointed by the information. Putting my consumer hat on, it has value for beginners in the process, yes. I'm choosing to be honest rather than polite, admittedly, not always easy to do, or enjoyable. I have a couple of other quibbles not necessary to note.

ANYWAY, the flip (positive) side to "am I a kitchen design snob?" is this: I'd say I'm on the right track, as long as I keep those checks and balances happening for the benefit of my clients, encouraging, yet not pushing (for too long!), allowing the client to decide what works for them, and supporting their choices in the end. This secondary reaction I had (the snob thing) is an example of the checks and balances in action..

I couldn't recommend this book for one sort of industry bias that is clearly noted in the book, and which is absolutely, positively, not a "must" for consumers looking to use a professional kitchen designer. The text in question adds confusion and influences consumers buying the book to go down a path that has no compelling merit to it.. Sorry to be a bit mysterious here.

This has been helpful for ME to put this into words, sort of a public dissection, and subsequent reaffirmation of my approach to  issues, as they arise, and what happens next. if it's aided as a nap inducement for some of you, that's good too! 

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 12 years ago
Certified Kitchen Designer