Thursday, March 29, 2012

NKBA Guideline #3 - The Distance Between

In this installment of Design Tips, we're going to look at  NKBA Guideline #3. You may have already had a peak at the pictures below and thought "It's the Kitchen Triangle!!" ... and you'd be right, mostly.

The concept of the kitchen triangle was developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1944, not so much with the cook in mind but as a means to standardize design and thus reduce cost. This doesn't make the Triangle a bad thing.  In fact the Triangle is an excellent place to start when designing an efficient kitchen.  But it's not the only way, and that's an important concept to keep in mind.  Your designer may create a kitchen for you that employs the Triangle, but also adds to it.

Guideline #3 is really about the workspaces in the kitchen and how they relate to each other.  In a kitchen with three work areas for example (sink, stove, fridge), the total distance between each work centre should total no more than 26 feet (9.5 metres).  Furthermore, no single distance should be less than 4 feet (1.47 metres) and no longer than 9 feet (2.74 metres).

So what about a kitchen that has more than three work centres?  What about the coffee machine?  The deep fryer or grill?  How about that second sink on the island with the extra dishwasher?  Pretty soon that triangle is starting to look like a trapezoid or hexagon. 

Relax.  The same rules still apply.  What's important here is not the shape, but the proximity of each work centre to the other.  Sometimes you may have two work centres you use together all the time ... a coffee maker and a beverage fridge (for cream, Irish or otherwise).  You'll never get 2 work centres to make a triangle, but if the two items are further apart than 9 feet ... even 4 feet ... you're going to need running to shoes for all the travelling you'll do!

Another hiccup in this rule comes when you introduce and island into the equation.  As you'll see in the drawing on the left, one of the legs of our triangle gets interupted by the island.  Think about running between the cooktop and the fridge and imagine how bruised your hip could get.

In a perfect world that island should cut into the path no more than 12" (30.5 cm).  However, it should be noted that avoiding this situation is not always possible.  We try, really we do.  But sometimes you just run out of room to work, or moving the cooktop towards the left side of the island (the simplest solution) will break some other guidelines we haven't addressed yet.  There's a lot going on in your kitchen and sometimes something's got to give. 

Illustrations (C)

Monday, March 26, 2012

NIM - Transfer Cutting Board

Imagine you've just spent 15 minutes slicing and dicing your vegetables for a stir-fry or soup, and you're ready to transfer them into the pot.  Trouble is the edge of your cutting board is square and the pot's edge is round.  If you're like me quite a bit of your slicing and dicing ends up somewhere other than the intended destination.
German design firm chris&ruby has developed a simple solution to the problem.  It's called "Transfer" and once again shows how a simple modification in an already workable design can make something work even better.  If you'd like a Transfer for yourself, they're available on-line.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Church of LEGO

In 2011 architectural firm LOOS.FM designed a temporary pavilion for the Grenswerk Festival in Enschede, The Netherlands. The structure, named Abondantus Gigantus, is made up of concrete blocks (Legioblocks) that surprisingly resemble the famous Lego bricks.  Once they're painted in the classic Lego primary colours, the connection is unmistakable.
The pavilion makes a connection between something grand and overwhelming (the church and its size) and something playful, simple and comprehensible (Lego). Due to the Legioblocks’ increasing global popularity, this building may serve as an example for all that may be possible.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Things You Wooden Do In A Bathroom

Sometimes these blog titles just write themselves!
I normally don't post pictures of clients' homes until after the remodel.  But this bathroom was just so jaw-droppingly shocking I had to share it with you ... with permission from my clients of course.

I'm not sure where to begin: The grey bathroom suite (at least it wasn't pink!)?  The delicate spindles between the bathtub and the toilet?  How about using the bidet as a magazine rack, instead of ... well ... you know.  But I think my favourite quirk of them all is the floor ... it's hardwood ... fir to be precise.  And if you look really closely you see that the finish has worn of the floor, right in front of the toilet.

All together now:  EWWWWWWWW!

According to the client, the original owner became physically unable to use the bathroom downstairs so needed to relocate the bathroom to the main floor.  Putting a suitable floor in the new bathroom didn't seem to cross their mind.  No worries ... this beauty of a bathroom won't be around much longer.  We're incorporating the space into a new kitchen!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Saving Water One Leak At a Time

Did you know March 12-18 is Fix-A-Leak-Weak? Delta Faucets has teamed up with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and their WaterSense programme (we have the same programme in Canada) to remind people to fix those leaky faucets and shower heads to help save water.  The average American home can waste 10,000 gallons of water a year from household leaks.  It doesn't have to be that way.

Here are ways you can address water conservation in your home:
  • Look for dripping faucets, showerheads and fixture connections. Also check for toilets with silent leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank and seeing if it appears in the bowl before you flush. And with the spring gardening season approaching (for those of us in more northern climes!) don’t forget to check irrigation systems and spigots too. 
  • Check for loose fittings and worn cartridges and O-rings.  Sometimes a leaky faucet simply needs a little T-L-C.
  • To save more water without a noticeable difference in flow, twist on a WaterSense-labeled faucet aerator.
  • Replace the fixture if necessary. Look for WaterSense-labeled models, which are independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water and perform as well as or better than standard models.
Regardless of whether your water is metred or not, fresh water is still one of our most precious commodities.  Simple ways to save it will go a long way to making sure we have plenty of water for years to come.

Monday, March 12, 2012

NIM: TiLumi - The Social Light

Instant messaging has become a way of life for many of us; whether it's sending your next appointment a quick text to let them know you're going to be late, tweeting an in-the-moment review of a new cafe you've discovered, or poking someone on Facebook (does anyone still do that?).  It would seem that the old-fashioned method of leaving a quick note in the kitchen is no longer viable.

The folk at TiLumi disagree and have the perfect message centre to prove it.  TiLumi is described as a "social lamp", using a grid of LED's to display whatever image or information you can dream up.  The messages, called  Lumis, are a kind of visual tweet. Instead of being limited to 140 characters, you're limited to 288 lights.  For those old-school folk, think of it like ASCII art for your home.

 Hungry?  Set your TiLumi to show this: 
Feel like a round of Space Invaders?  
The choices are endless.  And what makes TiLumi really fun, is you don't even need to be in the room to change the image.  Simply use your mobile phone to activate your TiLumi or visit the website.

In the near future, expect TiLumi to be able to display up-to-the-minute traffic, weather, news and financial information.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Design Retainers - How Much Is My Time Worth?

Today's post was inspired by a recent survey taken by the NKBA that asked which members charged up font design fees.

I understand an up-front design fee to mean that before pencil hits the vellum, before a single mouse is clicked on Sketchup, the designer requires payment.  In my firm, I charge a design retainer which I believe is different from an up-front design fee.  For the initial design and estimate (based on measurements provided by the client) there is no charge, but to have me visit the job site, measure, price out a remodel, select countertops, hardware, accessories ... for that I charge.  And in my case, that charge (the design retainer) comes off the purchase price of the kitchen.

Regardless of what type of fee is being charged, I often experience resistance to the idea when it's presented to some customers, especially those who simply call me up and want me to come to their homes site unseen.  I'm not about to debate who's right in this situation, because essentially there's no answer.  Different services carry different values to different people.  But I will explain my reasoning behind charging the retainer.

I offer a service, and that service takes time and knowledge to perform.  Performing that service is how I earn my living.  It's no different than any other service, be it medical, legal, architectural, etc.  And once that service is performed, there's no way to take it back if payment isn't rendered.  So I completely understand the desire to receive payment up front.

What's different in my situation is that new clients may be unable to decide if there is a fit with me (financially, aesthetically, etc.) unless I do some work for them.  I'd love for my reputation to be such that I never needed to "prove" myself  ... and with the majority of my referrals that's exactly the case (and I LOVE those people!!) ... but if I have to spend a few hours putting together some ideas to get the ball rolling, so be it.

Which brings me back to the NKBA survey.  Their findings showed only 30% of the designers who responded charge an up-front design fee.  30% seems really low to me.  What I'd love to know is what percentage of designers charge no fee at all; places like the big-box home improvement stores and the Scandinavian furniture place(s).  These outfits are doing a huge disservice to the kitchen design industry because they're giving the consumers a false sense of value.  Of course, it's their right to do it (loss leaders, etc.) but it cheapens the amount of work that really goes into a quality remodel.

But as they say, you really do get what you pay for.

Monday, March 5, 2012

NIM: Rubble Flooring

Dave Hakkens likes continuity.  Dave also dislikes waste.  So, when he considered the waste produced when a building is demolished to make way for a new one, Dave asked "why can't we re-use what's being destroyed in the new building?"  Why indeed.

Inspired by traditional terrazzo floors, Dave set out to create a new flooring technique that re-uses demolition rubble.  Only 20-30% of the flooring is new material, and pretty much any old material can be used depending on the colour or texture desired.

Here's how Dave created the samples:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Appliance History 101 - The FOODARAMA

I introduced you to the amazing Kevin Kidney a few months back.  If you're at all a fan of Disney pop culture his blog is really a must follow.  Recently Kevin wrote about a series of storyboards used in making a 1955 appliance commercial.  Here's the ad that resulted:

Yeah ... it took me a while to get back to the storyboards myself.  Pretty amazing isn't it?  The FOODARAMA by Kelvinator is really the stuff of appliance legend.  It was introduced in 1955 as "the last word in food-keeping".  It could hold enough food for a family of four for a nuclear wintere, and even had a compartment in it that was .... are you ready? ... unrefrigerated!

Let's think about that for a second.  In a 47" wide refrigerator, they've actually dedicated space that was insulated from the cold.  Why?  So your bananas wouldn't brown of course!  I'm not sure why they didn't think about just leaving the bananas in a bowl on the kitchen table mind you.

But what's really interesting about the FOODARAMA is that the designers at Kelvinator spent the time to ask housewives (1955 remember ... men hadn't learned how to cook at home yet [tongue planted firmly in cheek]) how they used this appliance.  A breakfast bar?  Genius!

If you'd like to learn more about the FOODARAMA, Kevin wrote a great post about the introduction of the appliance at Disneyland's CIRCARAMA.  Who knew appliances and Cold War history went hand in hand?
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