July 25, 2011

Kitchen Design - Lesson Six Lighting

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Lighting your kitchen is another important component of the perfect kitchen; it can make it pop or flop...seriously!   It can add more drama than any tile, stone or schmaltzy cabinetry too.
You've probably been in hundreds of kitchens and never wondered why one was more interesting or felt better than the other...
OK, OK, I'll tell you why....   GOOD LIGHTING makes or breaks a kitchen!
Oddly enough, the kind of lighting in a kitchen that makes it well lit, cozy or sexy isn't particularly expensive; its just knowing how to do it.... that's why I'm here...
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The kitchen above has every possible type of lighting. It's such an over the top kitchen it almost looks like a daytime soap opera set


Lets consider the primary places we need to light first: 
  • Main work areas
  • Stove-top 
  • Sink area
  • Stairs or passages
After that, convenience lighting:
  • Shadowy areas where appliances or the phone may be
  • Lighting additional work areas
  • Illumination of cabinets and closets when you may need more light to see
Finally "Wish List Lighting:"
  • Cool fixture(s) over the island
  • Cove lighting around the room
  • Under-cabinet lighting(!)
  • Cabinet interior lighting
  • Table lamps
  • Artwork or specialty pieces spot-lit

LET'S MAKE YOUR KITCHEN THE HOTTEST ONE ON THE CUL-de-SAC

YOUR PRIMARY GOALS SHOULD BE:
  • Able see what your cooking (or opening) in your kitchen
  • Next is to be able to move about easily
  • Give the kitchen the ability to be bright and happy or moody and sexy and still see wtf you're doing
  • Avoid glare and over-lit areas
  • Avoid shadows 
RECESSED LIGHTING
Recessed lighting has been used less lately; more surface mounts and pendant fixtures are being seen more and more.  This doesn't mean that recessed lighting is out, it just means that for now (the trend) is to use more conspicuous lighting.  If using recessed lighting as primary lighting make sure you have calculated the ceiling height with the output of your fixture (you don't want a 4" fixture with a 50 watt bulb wayyy up on a 20' high ceiling, the room will look dingy. A lighting expert can help you with that.

Halogen lighting is the best for a kitchen; it's a clear white light and  infinitely dim-able.  Specific fixtures will allow the light to be directed to "wash" or "spot" a specific area. They are available with many styles of apertures.
Do not make the mistake and over-light the room creating a racquetball court and an inferno of excess heat.
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This is heinous, in too many ways!   Too many crappy 8" diameter recessed lights for general illumination, then those $20 pendants over the bar.... I love the hot-spots from the TWO under-cabinet lights by the sink too

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This above is perfectly done.  Recessed to give general illumination; under cabinet to light the work-space; lanterns above the island for ambiance

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These kitchens above have recessed fixtures for general illumination, but not too many. They're all also complimented with other sources of light


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These kitchens above have used recessed light in a limited quantity in specific work locations, which is best.


UNDER-CABINET LIGHTING
Is the most important light in the kitchen; it directly lights the work-space and doesn't hit you in the eye.
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This is what you don't want, a glaring fluorescent fixture right in your face!!

The best under-cabinet lighting is Xenon. It's infinitely dim-able so it's great "up bright" for working, or dimmed down for a cocktail party where you can see but its not too bright.
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Xenon in my own kitchen on high and dimmed down
Under cabinet lighting should always have a "light rail" around the bottom of the cabinets to obscure the fixture.
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A light rail applied to the bottom of the cabinet to obscure the light source


CABINET INTERIOR LIGHTING
A innovative application using new technology of inexpensive and cool-operating LED lights. These are installed inside drawers and cabinets. Not inexpensive....
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DROP FIXTURES: CHANDELIERS & PENDANTS
These fixtures should be used only where they will handle a specific need, or accentuate or designate a specific space. They'll look like shit if they're all over the room - like it's raining pendants..
Also, in my own "broken record" way....try not to get too trendy...
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These fixtures have been "all the rage" for the last 5 - 12 years...you may want to consider that before you go plop down $800 to $3,000 for one...


SMALL PENDANTS
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FACTORY LIGHTS
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"LAMP SHADE" LIGHTS
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LANTERNS
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CEILING MOUNTED FIXTURES
They can offer an old-fashioned, charming early 20th century look
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TRACK LIGHTING
(That even makes me giggle to say "track lighting")
This 1980's invention is still soooo out.  It's only used for homes you're renting or on ceilings you can't get wires through, like old houses or apartment buildings.  It's the most unflattering light for people and creates spooky shadows.  Americans interpret darkness (in a kitchen or bath) as unclean.
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These rooms above have used track lighting in very discreet ways
Top left: This modern kitchen has designed a trough in the ceiling in which the tracks are installed. In the center of the room are track heads on "drop stems" (clearly not a cooks kitchen)
Top Right:  A kitchen Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) designed. It has small track heads on a cable system with flood lamps to fill the kitchen with light.
Lower Left:  A cathedral ceiling, which has no crawl-space above to install any kind of lighting uses surface mounted track heads. 
Lower Right: A 17th century country home in Belgium where the super-small halogen track heads were hidden behind the ancient beams not disturbing the integrity of the building or floors above


ILLUMINATED COUNTER-TOPS
Yes, you can have Glass, Onyx, Thassos or Corian counter-tops under-lit!   It doesn't light up the room, it's just a subtle accent.  This is a beautiful application for certain top materials, but it's not for every kitchen as scratches will show when lit.
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Onyx: Kinda looks like a brain scan doesn't it? 

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Onyx and Corian above
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Textured glass above with bullnose edge


SKYLIGHTS
A wonderful way to make a small or dark kitchen bright and cheerful, it also eliminates the need for lights during the day. Natural light, whether from overhead or through generously proportioned windows is one of the best assets a kitchen can have. With newer technology in insulating skylights, the heat factor isn't an issue anymore.
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SCONCE LIGHTING
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These four killer kitchens each have a different updated country feeling. The sconces above the work areas adds to the rural feeling without being corny

COVE LIGHTING
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This isn't one of my favorite ways to light a room as I think it leans toward a commercial feeling. However, it can be special if used wisely for design purposes; eg: creating the feeling of a higher ceiling or brightening up a dark room naturally


LAMP LIGHT
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As you can see, lamps in a kitchen are not always traditional; they offer a friendly, soft light in the evenings.  Every kitchen needs a cozying element. 

NEXT WEEK: FLOORING


RESOURCES


Lighting Stone and Corian Countertops



BON APPETITE!

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You can do it, I'm here to help!

P: 202.669.8669
E: jpdsodpb@aol.com

July 16, 2011

Kitchen Design - Lesson Five Plumbing

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What's the thing in your kitchen you use the most?  Fridge? NO!   Coffee pot? NO!   Cookie jar? Maybe for some of you lard-asses, but usually NO!   IT'S THE SINK!
Think about it, you wash your hands after doing a chore, you fill a glass of water, rinse stuff off, arrange flowers, let alone what you use it for when actually cooking...


When doing my own kitchen over I bought a "satin-stainless" faucet at Home Depot, I figured it did what I wanted, looked good, was inexpensive, so why not... 
Eventually, I figured out it was satin-finished plastic which water spotted like mad,  and the hose for the pull-out got kinked up under the cabinet all the time. It was a piece of crap, so I'll quote myself  "Cheap is Expensive."  It was then I realized it was the thing in the kitchen I touched and used more than anything else in the entire room, so why not buy exactly what I wanted.  So I did, and oddly, each time I use it I realize how cool and well-designed it is. My Faucet  It's not a showstopper visually, but its works beautifully and has awesome features.


When designing a kitchen you need to pay serious consideration to the sink. If you're a serious cook then you need to put some major thought (and bucks) into your sink(s), where they are, etc.  If you cook casually you don't need the MacDaddy uber-huge sink with drainboards, etc.


THE LEXICON of PLUMBING
Sink Materials

STAINLESS STEEL SINKS
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Stainless steel is the most popular kitchen sink. This model is a self-rimming with a four-hole faucet drill.  Stainless sinks can be prone to scratching and water spotting, to combat potential negative aspects of stainless, choose a model with a satin texture finish, not polished.
There are two main things to look for in choosing a stainless steel sink: 
1) the thickness or gauge of the steel;  remember that the lower the number, the thicker the steel and hence the higher quality sink (e.g.; an 18-gauge sink is more durable than a 23-gauge model). 
2) the sound deadening ability (which determines how loud the noise is when something is dropped into the sink) look for spray coatings and special sound pads underneath the bowl. 


CAST IRON SINKS
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Cast iron sinks feature an iron base coated with an enamel finish. This double bowl sink has a  four hole faucet drill.  Cast iron sinks come in an array of colors, the main disadvantage is that they can chip or scratch, exposing the black surface underneath. When this surface is exposed, it can often lead to rusting.


PORCELAIN
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Porcelain is a very durable material used as a protective coating for sinks and can be made in any color or pattern of colors.  It can chip or scratch if a heavy pot or dish is dropped into it.


COPPER SINKS
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 Copper sinks are stunning in bars or rarely used places, but a freeking nightmare in the kitchen as the finish is totally susceptible to any acidic foods(isn't that everything?) and you cant use kitchen cleaners on it. Metal sinks like copper, brass and nickel are a pain in the ass and even seem icky because they never feel or appear clean


NICKEL SINKS
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This beautiful Farm Sink has a ball-peen hammer finish with an antiqued nickel color. It shown with a polished nickel goose-neck Bridge Faucet  It's very pretty but the antiquing will eventually wear off and look odd


NATURAL STONE SINKS
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These handmade stone sinks are made from solid pieces of stone, or cut slabs; they can have finely carved or smooth polished fronts.  They look dirty constantly. And, they  need sealing and polishing often too.


GRANITE COMPOSITE SINKS
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The most scratch resistant sink material on the market today is a "granite composite." They offer extreme chemical and scratch resistance. These sinks offer the highest level of durability thanks to an extremely high density of rock particles at the sinks surface. They do show soap scum and various soap and food particles. Granite-based sinks are only available in matte finishes. This one has a single hole faucet drill


SOLID SURFACE SINK
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Solid surface sinks are an integral unit with the counter-top. This one shows a single hole drill.  This is great if you want that plasticky tract-house look and feeling surface. Integral sinks have no exposed edges from counter-top to sink.  Solid surface is not a hard material, it can nick, scratch and dent, but can be repaired.


ACRYLIC SINKS
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Of all the types of composite sinks available, polyester/acrylic are the lowest performing in terms of scratch and stain resistance, as they are made from soft materials that can cut and nick easily (CRAP!).
This one shown is an undermount model


Installation Options


UNDER-MOUNT SINKS
(best option)
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This large stainless undermount sink has an integral drainboard and is under-mounted to the bottom of the countertop.  This is shown with a brushed nickel single drill hole faucet.


SELF-RIMMING SINKS
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This enameled cast-iron drop-in sink is "dropped" into a hole cut into the counter top.
It has a single hole for the brushed stainless faucet These are used primarily for laminate, wood or tile counters

TILE-IN SINKS

This enamel cast-iron sink is a tile-in sink; it has unglazed edges that are flush with the top of the tile.
This is an offset sink(one side is smaller) with a four hole faucet drill. Tile edge sinks constantly have a grunge issue around its edges as there is no way to just wipe stuff into the sink; it gets caught in the grout around the edge. Use a drop in sink with tile countertops.


FARM SINKS
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This porcelain sink is an under-mount farm sink, detail below
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Dude seriously.....I'm so sick of Farm-sinks I could just puke they're sooo circa 2000.
Farm sinks also splash more than other sinks when the water hits the bottom



INTEGRAL SINKS
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An integral sink is one that is fabricated seamlessly from the same material as the counter-top. This stainless one shown with a three hole drill faucet on 4" centers 


TROUGH SINK
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This long narrow enamel cast-iron sink is an under-mount. Its used for several things, vegetable prep or even as a cooler for bottled drinks during a party


D-BOWL SINKS
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This under-mounted sink is D-Shaped fabricated from Stainless and is shown with a single hole faucet.
This style sink leaves a bit of space around the upper edges of the counter for soap dishes, paper towels, etc.


BAR SINKS
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Bar sinks are usually smaller sinks, they come in many sizes, shapes and materials. Edge choices are self rimming or undermount depending on the countertop material


VEGETABLE SINKS
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Vegetable sinks usually imply a sink that's used specifically for cleaning vegetables, not washing dishes.
Often they come with racks and draining trays as this one does from Elkay


UTILITY SINKS 
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This self-rimming sink is enamel cast iron. Utility sinks are usually 10" to 13" deep to accommodate a bucket or soaking clothes
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APRON-FRONT WALL-MOUNT UTILITY SINK
These enameled cast iron sinks are usually for utility purposes which is why they're wall-mounted. The "apron front" means there's an extra panel of porcelain that hides the outside of the bowl from the front view.  This is shown using a wall-mounted "bridge" faucet set.


OFFSET SINKS
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This stainless steel sink with two different sized bowls is called an offset sink. This sink is shown with a single hole drill and is under-mounted   These are just really stupid sinks, both are too small to do anything in.


THREE, FOUR OR FIVE DRILL-HOLE SINKS
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This enameled cast-iron sink is a five hole drill.  Most sinks are available in any number of drills


CUSTOM SINK CONFIGURATION
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With the many choices, personalized configurations as shown above are the newest trend:
Drainboard sink, a waste sink with disposal and a deep sink


FAUCETS
Single Hole Faucets
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These look best on a countertop; less clutter and less detail to clean up.  The pull-out sprays are the smartest type.

Multiple Handle Faucets
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This type of faucet is perfect for the old-fashioned country kitchen, but I still think they're dumb.
Lets say your hands are covered in chicken guts and you want to wash off the cutting board you've been working with...you really wanna adjust the temperature with two different knobs, then pick up a separate spray nozzle with those nasty hands?  Didn't think so....


Bridge Faucets
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Big trend ten years ago, everyone wanted an "English Country Kitchen" now that's dead but the bridge is still around.  I don't get it, it's just more exposed surface to clean.


Pot Fillers
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These are the items that the socially competitive types need in their kitchens - a sort of bragging right... Really?  They're practical as it means you have running water close by. However, they drip on the stove-top leaving more spots to clean up, and sometimes they're so hot from the burners below you cant touch them.  I prefer the newer versions which are deck mounted; they can be pulled away from the heat and also used for filling flower vases and other non-stove related things.



Commercial Style Sprayers
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Guys love this testosterone filled commercial style sprayer. But, actually its a pain in the ass; it's original design intent is to spray dishes hard enough to knock off all the food before putting them in the dishwasher, eliminating scraping. Hence, it has such force the water splashes everywhere, creating a huge wet mess all around your sink and backsplash.


CHOOSING THE RIGHT SINK AND FAUCET FOR YOU
Sinks
  • How tall are you? If you get a deep sink, you will  be hunching over to work in it. You don't need deeper than 8"
  • Shallow sinks suck too, don't get shallower than 5"
  • The best sink is stainless steel which cleans well with Comet and if you dry it, it'll look even better
  • Porcelain or Cast iron sinks are great in small kitchens with white counter-tops to visually create more space
  • Small double-bowl sinks are absolutely useless, Christopher Peacock of Peacock Kitchens always says ONE large sink is always adequate
  • Multiples of sinks (regardless of size) in one location is not usually as functional as one would assume
  • If you have room for a smaller alternate sink elsewhere, then add it in
  • Consider what you do now with your sink, if a different type sink can enhance your existing routine, then get that one. Peoples food-prep habits don't usually change - so buying a sink with 5 configurations and 8 components is usually a waste of space and money. (been there, done that!)
  • Get a sink with an almost flat bottom, and no deeply curved bottom edges - otherwise glasses fall over and break, etc. 
  • Get a simple rectangular sink for the main sink, no curvy-schmurvy crap
  • The sinks with the square corners look the most clean lined and architectural
  • Drainboards are OK if you let hand-washed things air dry. I don't, I dry them and put them away quickly, so I wasted 18" of valuable countertop with ribbed stainless steel. I also prefer to use a colander to dry my hand-washed food, because I can put the colander in the dishwasher and not have to hand wash that....
  • You should always have a sink fairly close to the range
  • A sink for vegetable prep is good, maybe it's close to fridge or fridge-drawers specifically for the produce 
  • If you have a large family and generate a lot of dishes or a serious cook and use a lot of pans a separate sink adjacent to a pair of dishwashers would be a good idea. 
  • No sink should be any farther back than 3-4 inches from the front edge of the countertop. Marble fabricators will whine about it, but you don't want to lean over and deeper to do what you need to do, its hard on the back.


Faucets
  • Get a single "high-rise" goose-neck faucet
  • Get a pull-down (not "pull-out")head which has an easy-to-use spray/flow button
  • Get an instant-stop button (on the head) that allows you to move the portable head from item to item and totally stop the water, dead.
  • Get either stainless steel; polished or brushed chrome; polished or brushed nickel. Period.
  • Polished brass looks flashy and tacky, especially when it's used with a stainless sink...duh!
  • Get a single-lever temperature control; it can be deck mounted or stem mounted which I prefer
  • Get a good brand faucet, Kohler, Delta, Dornbracht or Waterworks
  • Don't show off with the faucet, you'll be sorry
  • Don't get built-in pump soap dispensers, they always break. Just get an attractive countertop pump bottle
  • If you get a filtered water dispenser, try to make it appear to be apart of the same suite as the faucet (this is why modern style faucets are best)


Links to Plumbing Resources

Bon Appetite!

NEXT WEEK
LIGHTING YOUR KITCHEN!

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You can do it, I'm here to help!
P: 202.669.8669
E: jpdsodpb@aol.com

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