Category Archives: home renovation

Ingredients for Luxury Kitchens…… my look at JENN-AIR

jenn air collage 12 I recently had the pleasure of visiting with Whirlpool Corporation’s training facility in Chicago. The trip was a wonderful experience. The facility is in a remodeled historic building, and the Whirlpool facility includes an amazing rooftop lounge where we ate several of our site prepared gourmet meals. jennair rooftop 2 jenn ait trip 4Whirlpool, for those not so familiar, is also the parent company behind KitchenAid, Amana, Maytag, Gladiator garage systems and Jenn-Air luxury appliances. Jenn-Air may be known to some for the “down-draft” kitchen ventilation system invented in the 60s but the renewed commitment by the parent corporation to luxury cooking at home has brought with it many more innovations and conveniences. The color touch-screen operated wall oven is one I find particularly noteworthy. The straightforward and simple options had me smiling at first touch! Easier than an ATM and something an older, less tech savvy guest could easily navigate without the instruction book. OK, you say, it’s easy to use but how well does it cook. The meals we sampled, all made by a talented on site staff led by Culinary Training Chef Ann Nolan, were perfection. Crusty but moist bread, flaky pastry and wonderful roasted vegetables were a few that stick in my mind.cooking jennair 2 jennair food 5 jennair food 2 jennair food 4

The line has an impressive induction cooktop, several models in gas, with or without down-draft, and also a series of modules to allow a “create-your-own” that can include a 15″ chrome griddle or an induction wok module. Ventilation options include wall models, island models and of course the down-draft that made them famous! Great options for creating slow simmer soups, crepes and all sorts of culinary masterpieces. Now on to the coffee system!coffee at jennairjennair coffee demo

DeLonghi, of Italian coffee maker fame, actually partnered with Jenn-Air to create their built in coffee system. It is simple to operate, has minimal installation requirements (110V) and makes great coffee. Well thought out, it will also give ample warning for cleaning so there are no surprise shutdowns during dinner parties. The steam oven also operates on 110V and requires no in wall plumbing. The addition of convection allows for many cooking options from reheating to original temperature and texture to steam cooking to baking. Again, easy to navigate without a PHD or instruction book. The dishwashers in the line include drying and steam features but the depth needs to be considered when doing initial planning if inset cabinetry is being used. An under counter ice maker for those looking for “clear ice”, several tall and under counter refrigeration models, including wine storage, round out the kitchen suite offering.jenn air obsidian

Notable is the “Obsidian” refrigeration that makes your ingredients look like model food for a cooking show. Fun for the home culinary enthusiast! As a designer, I look forward to the new series of column refrigeration ideal for personalization and full integration due out early next year. I encourage those of you looking for appliances for your new kitchen to experience these gourmet appliances with simplicity and a great price point at your local showroom or appliance specialty store.jennair collage 4

Thanks so much to Ellen Cheever-Giorgi and the entire Jenn-Air team!

-Toni :)

 

KBIS, “trends” and INSPIRATION

KBIS kbbThe Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, known as KBIS is part of a yearly home improvement and building convention known as Design and Construction Week. I love attending the show, networking with industry partners, checking out new products, absorbing industry news and information and generally having fun.

As part of the Kitchen & Bath Business trade magazine Editorial Advisory Board, I walk the show looking for anything really innovative or particularly beautiful to report on. I also keep an eye open for trends. Personally, I tend not to follow “trends” but feel they play an important role in our industry. The designer that is working for a higher end client can weave together a tapestry that is a combination of lifestyle, architecture, functional art and purpose. The retailers, DIY-ers, design students and budding HG network producers need to see what is new, sexy and available to the mass markets to keep our industry fresh and deserving of all the attention.

kbis metal 2 matte black 2 kbis matte black 1 kbis

This season, a movement toward “warmth”, earthy tones, deep tones, and mixed metals took over the show booths. Natural woods, mixed in innovative ways, with very simple straight lines has created a look of “organic modernism” that I really love. The blend of glass, slate and other natural stones, texture, matte finishes and artisanal accents creates a warm environment that is easy to personalize with pops of color or personal effects. A nod to industrial or chic glam or mid century can all be accomplished with lighting and accessories when working in this new warm neutral palette.

kbis mod

Classic square inset shaker cabinetry still seems to dominate. I am a believer in the theory that classic white inset shaker will never go out of style. I also love the use of inset to create modern and industrial moods as well. I was happy to see the classic lines of inset shaker in a new mix of wood textures, interesting colors and finishes to keep it fresh.  Another  “trend” of note I was experiencing is the move towards industrial styled “foodie” faucets in the kitchen.I love this trend and anything that adds fun and authenticity to kitchen life. Industrial inspired metal lighting in soft matte and satin finishes were seen in so many of the lifestyle vignettes. Mixing metals is another trend that I think is here to stay. The mis-matched metals for lighting, appliances, faucets, hardware add an authentic, personal vibe to a space as opposed to a “match-y” stiff feeling. The introduction of more copper adds warmth, too. Hoods, farm sinks, lighting and hardware with all sorts of functional art type styling were all over the show floor and should be available online or at a retail shop.

copper lav KBIS kbis foodie faucet

“Convenience is KING” is another thought that I take away from the show. Beautiful product that helps us to organize or is low maintenance is always a bonus. Of note this year? Opulent closet organization, vanities with personal storage compartments and a 3D printed counter surface that is impervious to burning, staining, scratching and UV fading. A pretty miraculous counter surface indeed, and soon to a retailer near you.

kbis luxury closet kbis baden haus vanity

KBIS 3d print surface I love this business. I love the impact that good home design has on our daily lives and I love to bring the best of the best to you! Happy remodeling :)

Food, Wine and Inspiring Design – San Francisco Style

Recently I was invited to experience a few days in San Francisco as part of the #zephyrbloggerretreat2016

Zephyr, an innovative range hood and ventilation manufacturer, had much to offer us in both product knowledge and company culture.

zephyr-bloggers dsc_2920 dsc_2906 dsc_2887 zephyr-showroom

 

 

 

The amazing few days included a  farm to table dining experience at Boulettes Larder, an educational in depth wine tasting and proper pairings at the Joseph Phelps Vineyard, an understanding of the beauty of the Napa Valley vineyards and wine grottos (as well as a wonderful lunch served in a wine cave), at the Rutherford Hill Winery and some truly incredible art and more wine(!) at the stunning Hall Winery which has thought provoking sculpture gardens. “But wait- there’s more!” Yes, there is more……..an inspired interior design walk through the design district of San Francisco (our group was welcomed by the Nido showroom, the Daltile showroom and the Coup d’Etat showroom), and the highlight of these action packed few days, a look into the design thinking and philosophical mind of Zephyr collaborator Fu-Tung Cheng, at the Zephyr Showroom.

The presentation was engaging, enlightening and seriously inspiring as we were shown through years of philosophy and design thinking resulting in some intense architectural outcomes.

I felt the emotion of Fu-Tung’s personal victory as the work of seven years concluded in the “Moon Door” entry to his family garden. I understood organic modernism in a new way as I watched a home take shape during the presentation. I felt Fu-Tung’s love of concrete as a design medium as well as building material with the introduction of Shapecrete, his venture into sharing that love in 20LB pails.

shapecrete

The Cheng Design philosophy, the organic connection of things, ease of living and homage to natural elements is a perfect pairing with the Zephyr Brand. The designs are simple yet thought provoking and at times playful. A model meant to be reinterpreted by applying decorative surfacing is actually lovely enough in shape and style that the majority left it as is. Another model, Horizon, the brainchild of Zephyr collaborator, Robert Brunner, is truly a sleek glass wall sculpture. It evokes that mood of organic modernism that works so well with the current trend of design for living interpreted as simple, personalized, functional art as home or common space.

horizon-red

So impressive to me is the Zephyr company culture, the how and why of their organic design philosophy, collaborations and marketing instincts. The generosity in sharing the things that they value that create that company culture is impressive down to John Smilanic, the showroom manager, creating our custom Zephyr pumpkin desserts as part of our showroom experience lunch.

zephyr-pumpkin-dessert

While the shapes and finishes of the Zephyr product line are thought provoking, the quality of the product is also extremely noteworthy. The DCBL suppression system technology used in the product makes the ventilation quieter, more energy efficient and practically silent.  A demonstration of this was a hood holding a piece of paper to the bottom while we were being shown the features. We could not even hear it. Better ventilation creates a healthier home environment. It seems to me that the culture of slow food, farm to table and healthier living will certainly embrace this technology in home design.

My brand of design is to bring out the passion of the inhabitants, pay homage to the lifestyle and enhance the environment of the space. I begin a home design with the kitchen and let the flow of the lifestyle emanate from that place where we feed our family, friends and ultimately our souls.

My takeaway from this experience is that Zephyr is a brand worth investigating when beginning the re-imagination of the home. Ventilation is a key ingredient to healthier living.

-Toni :)

Art Deco

And The Mandatory Ingredients Are…

I am a huge fan of the the show “chopped” on FoodNetwork. The idea of having several ingredients, not of your own choosing, as the highlights of a sumptuous and well presented meal you are to prepare is so intriguing. I always think that it is the other items in the pantry and fridge, chosen by the chef, that rescue the meal.

I felt like one of the surprised “chopped” chefs when interviewing to remodel an east side apartment. “Make it gorgeous, really glamorous!! Make me love it and my husband will be happy. And… make sure we can use my Icarts, my Lalique glass and my French art collection. Oh… And I have a dog, Oscar, he’s a Cotton de Tulear. It has to work for him, too.” Art Deco, loving husband and a cute white dog. The mandatory ingredients worked for me.

This living room is soft and strong. The furniture is large scale and black accents balance the feminine art work. It is my sort of Ying and Yang tribute to classic romance. Creating the floor-plan and balancing new custom couch, heirloom chairs that we reupholstered, cherished accessories and art and new additions became a six month labor of love.The sparkle of the kitchen and the glamour of the master bath became the stuff of legends in the building while we worked. At one point Tal, the head of our contracting crew rolled his eyes at me. “Really, silver guilt on the cabinets? It’s already full of crystal and glitter….” “Do it…” I said and when it was finished he said he would not question my judgement again.

The vision to create an alluring, inviting space that IS my client is one part clairvoyance, one part whimsy, and two parts trust in myself. The way to make the vision a reality is with a true kick-ass contracting team and I thank West Village GC for keeping my trust in the process.The kitchen and bath have been featured in fabulous consumer publication Embark Magazine as Grand Illusion and trade publication K+BB as Art as Life. I look forward to sharing more of the “salon de familie” , the master bedroom and “Oscar’s room”.