The Kitchen Designer

Kitchen Design - A Brief Pause

So, I've been writing this blog for almost eight months now and I've only touched the tip of the iceberg. I've enjoyed much positive feedback. I want this blog to have substance, not just pretty pictures, and I want to share my thoughts with you on the broad and often complex topic of kitchen design and being a kitchen designer. At this point, I'd like to pause and hear from you! Tell me what you think, I want to know! If you have more then one answer, please comment too!

Update: I'm watching what you want, thank you for the feedback! More emphasis on kitchen images to come. I'm relieved you like the Scandinavian kitchens...just wait till you see what I have to show you! More of what you are asking for, keep voting...

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Green Kitchens - Little By Little

Last Monday and Tuesday, I attended a series of workshops, presented by Quality Custom Cabinetry, whose custom cabinetry I use in many of my kitchens. They make a wonderful product Not only that, the entire (and I mean entire) culture of this company is something special. They will go to the very fringes of their ability to accommodate their designers. And, they will do so happily and willingly. I really love this company, and have been carrying their products since 1997.

I'm not so sure Quality would want me to shout this from the rooftops, but, I learned that they employ a Chaplain full time to attend to the needs of all of their employees, in the factory and the office building, complete with his own cubicle.  He is there to be called on as needed. Quite impressive, I thought.

One of the workshops (to Quality's credit) was on green kitchen design and thinking green, as is being implemented by Quality in their products. They referred us to and we went around the room and talked about how we are making changes to green thinking in our homes and businesses, a good start to the workshop, and here were some of what people are doing (I'm in there too!)

  • recycling
  • changing light bulbs to flourescents
  • turning lights off
  • saving energy other ways in the home
  • composing
  • recycling
  • carpooling
  • walking or biking to work
  • learning about green issues
  • talking to clients about green products
It is interesting to note that 15% of homes now include green specifications. To me, that's a WOW! In the residential kitchen and bath realm, demand for green products has yet to take hold. We are seeing designs becoming more "natural" in styling, with more interest in texture, natural products, clean lines, clearly a change from recent years. I always ask my clients if they are interested in green design and green products for the kitchen and bath, and have a prominent (green text) section on my main website about green kitchen design. I do not see mainstream thinking yet, in terms of green kitchen and bath design, at least not in my geographical area. But, it's coming, I know that.

Quality Custom Cabinetry is seriously, and always, looking at finding better ways to produce a green product. Much of their plywood is now Pure Bond, formaldehyde free. Quality is the first company to partner with Columbia Forest Products. Quality's finishes on their cabinetry are still solvent based, although the VOCs are continuously dropping, as they find new ways to make a more environmentally friendly finish. They only use FSC certified wood materials as well, guaranteeing that the wood comes from a certified well managed forest, which comes at a premium cost.

I was impressed and surprised at the continuous research being done to create, if not a completely green product at this point, then, a product which incorporates ever increasing green attributes. And, in my world, it's admirable, and I'm glad to see this very strong interest.

When I later took a tour of the factory (see the slide show here) I saw stacks and stacks of Pure Bond plywood, which was nice to see it in a big way.

One more interesting tidbit: The speaker at the green workshop noted that it is sort of a paradox that, living alongside a large Amish community for these many years, with their strong beliefs and a self sustaining and conserving lifestyle, Quality recognizes that perhaps their Amish neighbors have more valuable insight on living responsibly than previously thought...
 Enjoy the slide show of the factory, the people working there (so many women!) AND, I cannot close without showing you my pictures of the Quality trucks and vans (one of each in these images) which has a kitchen I designed a few years back, emblazoned (I must use that word) on the sides! I was not thinking of this, when our tour crossed over, via the parking lot, from the factory to the tour of the office building and WOW, there they were!


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

An Amish Kitchen - Via Quality C...

I had lunch in an Amish home on Tuesday.

What a privilege that was. I have yet to write about it, (more about the event and what I learned soon) but, one of my major cabinet suppliers, Quality Custom Cabinetry, invited all of their representative kitchen design firms around the country, to celebrate their 40 years of business in this two day event, Monday and Tuesday of this week, in Lancaster Country, PA. For the second day of the event, three types of recreation were offered, at no charge. I ALWAYS rush back to the office, and when I heard that an Amish tour was offered, I decided to slow it down a bit and take advantage of this particular tour.

We toured the area, saw the horse drawn buggies, saw the corn being cut by men and horses, and entered this beautiful, different world of farms, one room school houses (many) and lovely people with strong values.

I had one of the best lunches in quite awhile, with some of the best food ever. Since the Amish do not have electricity, food is prepared in simple, traditional, ways. They cook with gas, and they may use battery power. There were no lights on of any sort in the kitchen where we had our lunch.

I wish I had taken a picture of all the food on the table, it just kept coming. Here's what was served:

  • several types of preserved vegetables, previously home grown 
    preserved apricots in syrup in a bowl
  • applesauce 
  • fresh beans
  • fresh potatoes, roughly mashed
  • noodles
  • fried chicken
  • ham loaf
  • white, sliced bread
  • homemade jam
  • pumpkin pie (best I ever tasted)
  • shoofly pie
  • iced tea
  • coffee
Here is an image of three generations of women in an Amish kitchen, that I took. They have lovely homes, the Amish. The women grow their hair and put it in a bun. They have a quiet elegance, which perhaps you can see here. No dishwasher, only their hands to wash dishes, serving dishes, glasses, and pots, from a group of 20. Afterward, little recipe books came out, selling for $3.50 each. I bought one.


I must mention this too...
after lunch, we went to a large Amish gift/food shop. As I was lingering outside, I glanced over at the ramp and spotted a woman being pushed in a wheelchair by another woman, with a man accompanying them. These people were my husband's relatives, also from Pennsylvania! I had not seen them since 2003, and shouting, hugging, and more ensued.

They live 3 hours away from the gift store we were at, and were in the area for a doctor's appointment for my husband's aunt. How could that happen? What if lunch were 5 minutes delayed? What if I went back to the bus 5 minutes earlier or to the restroom around the corner...that was a real WOW for me! Serendipity!

This is an image of the open kitchen just beyond the sales counter in the Amish store we stopped at.  


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Kitchen Accessories

decor8plates.jpgEveryone loves kitchen accessories, right? I go through spurts.  I'll take apart all my decorative "stuff" in the kitchen and redo it again. It takes me forever, but sometimes, I just need a new, fresh, look in the kitchen. And, with kitchen accessories, we can get a new look anytime we want. Here are a few accessories that will freshen everything up quick and easy.

First, I'm wild about these little disc plate hangers I spotted on decor8, when my jaw dropped at the perfection of the concept! It makes me want to go out and start hunting for lots of plates. I love how these plates are hung in such a modern way, too.

Here's your source for them, How, absolutely, awesome, are these??



design-public.jpgNext, I want you to take a look at another fresh idea, from Design Public. Design Public happens to have a great collection of hip ideas for your walls.

These decorative wall art ideas are usually seen in other rooms of the home, but who cares? Be innovative and incorporate these ideas into the kitchen. Very easy to do.  



OK, maybe not what you wished for, but, hear me out...found these "trash chic" trash bags on Apartment Therapy -  Kitchen. The price isn't bad either, I was surprised...$14.95 for 80 liners. Makes trash removal something to look forward to now! Ok, it's a stretch...


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Kitchen Artwork - You're The Art...

I went to a serious, very serious (no smile is on my face) art gallery in New York City over last weekend. As I walked around, a thought occurred to me..."I can do this too!" As I walked and gazed (seriously) at the images before me, I knew I had to talk to you, my readers, about this thought.

I took 8 of MY images below and added 3 of the images that were in this gallery show that I attended.

I'd like you to tell me which images, below, you think were done by the artist in the show. That's all. Maybe mine are so bad this will be a simple task, and everyone will guess correctly! Oh, the embarrassment!

What's the point here?

The point, is that you have talent, perhaps unused talent, too. If these images can hang in this prestigious gallery, sometimes two or three next to each other with no space in between the white, simple, frames, a nice look, then you can enlarge your images too (or go out and take some) and hang them in your kitchen and look at them as art (which they are! You don't need to spend bundles on what you perceive to be "real" art. Find the artist inside you, hang your work in your kitchen, be proud of it, and you will feel something special. It's fun and rewarding, and relatively low in cost. 8x10s at mpix are $1.99. The matting and framing can be artfully done as well.

Those who know me know that I am a big proponent of putting art in the kitchen. Whether it is photographs, artfully framed and arranged, or oil paintings purchased from an artist, or other art forms, makes no difference.  I love to see space for art in the kitchen, and this is one way to do it, with meaning, AND, low cost.

OK, so which ones are the artist's images? Put the mouse over each image and its name will pop up at the top left of the small thumbnails.


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