Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wood Cabinet Doors: Consistently Random

If I had to chose one material for my kitchen cabinet doors that I had to live with for the rest of my life, it would without a doubt be wood.  Perhaps it's because I was born and raised in the rugged wilderness of (Vancouver) British Columbia or perhaps it's just the natural randomness of the grain, but wood just feels good to be around.

But as much as that "natural randomness" adds to the character of wood, it also presents some issues if you're looking for something a bit more consistent.  Now I know that sounds like common sense, but you'd be surprised how many clients have expressed concerns that their wood doors aren't exactly the same colour throughout.

Here are some examples of different things to look out for when selecting wood doors:
Woods like walnut, hickory or this heart birch door are not for the faint of heart to be sure.  They are all about the grain variation.  No amount of staining is going to get this door to even out.  If you don't love it, stay away.

But even something like maple door is subject to colour tone variations.  This door is 100% solid Eastern Maple and is finished in a clear lacquer.  Depending on the angle of light and the angle you are looking at it the rails and stiles of the door take on different colour qualities.

To add to the conundrum, the door looked perfectly even in colour before it was finished.  This means that even if you wanted to take the time and effort to select pieces of wood that matched you'd have no idea how they would turn out after they were finished.

This is a cherry door finished in a "Tobacco" stain.  Cherry has been the wood of choice over maple when a dark stain is desired because maple has the tendency to get a bit blotchy when stained dark.  However, even with the "better" wood the variation between the different parts of the doors can still be quite noticeable.

When selecting wood cabinetry for your project, try whenever possible to see an example of the wood in a larger installation.  A single door sample just isn't going to give you a true indication of what you can expect.  It doesn't even need to be the exact species and door stye you're considering, just the wood and as close to the colour you'd like as possible will do.  Sometimes the randomness can even out in a larger installation. 

Do your homework.  You'll thank me later.

Monday, October 22, 2012

NIM: Future Appliances

Since 2002 appliance manufacturer Electrolux has been inviting industrial design students to submit their ideas for the appliance of the future to their Electrolux Design Lab.  The annual competition offers a prize of 5,000 euros and a six-month paid internship at an Electrolux global design center.  That's a pretty serious opportunity for some of the best new minds in industrial design, so you can imagine the entries did not disappoint.  Here are some highlights from the over 1,200 entries received:


Tastee is designed to mimic human taste buds, analyze what you are cooking, and tell you if you need more salt, oregano or wine (there's always room for more wine).  Designed by Christopher Holm-Hansen of Denmark.


Have you ever spent what seems like eternity of front of the stove stirring your risotto or polenta?  Well that is a problem no longer thanks to the Easystir—a mechanism that will stir endlessly by utilizing the magnetic field produced by an induction stove.  And because it only works when the stove is on, there's no need to for batteries or plugs!  Norwegian student Lisa Frodadottir LĂ„stad designed the Easystir

And lest you think I'm only focussing on the (very intelligent) Scandinavians, I offer you the Impress from New Zealand designer Ben de la Roche.  Impress is a refrigeration "wall" that cools only what you put in it, thus conserving energy.  The concept is not only extremely functional, but the honeycomb design is visually appealing as well.

To see the designs from the 10 finalists of this year's competition, check out the slide-show here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Why Am I A CKD?

I achieved my CKD (Certified Kitchen Designer) accreditation back in 2001. Since then the question I am most often asked is "why should I use a CKD"?  I typically respond with a somewhat longwinded explanation of what a CKD does and how it will save you time and help you avoid pitfalls.  Trust the NKBA to answer the same question in their new 30 second commercial.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Help Me Help You: PunchLists for iOS

I've written before about the last few little jobs on a remodelling project and how they seem to take a disproportionate amount of time.  Some call it the 80/20 rule, others refer to it as the "short strokes".  One of the reasons the little jobs seem to drag on is because they're easy to forget.  A nick in the paint on a railing in the basement is certainly not top of the list for your general contractor ... if it's on a list at all.

I've discussed the use of lists before.  On my iPhone I use the standard Reminders app.  Very basic, but at least things are written down.  Thankfully, the folks at SmartTools have come up with a great little app called Punchlists.  Punchlists allows you to photograph whatever it is that needs to go on your list, add some text describing it, and then take the entire list and email it to the trades who need to finish up.

I've tried it out on a couple projects and have found it an excellent way to keep my thoughts organized, and keep the communications clear with everyone exactly what is left to be done on the job.

PunchLists is available for iPhone and iPad (sorry Android users)  for $4.99.
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