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Archive for the ‘Kitchens & Baths’ Category

Do you need modifications to your home because of injury, illness, or just plain aging and a desire to stay in your home, eliminating obstacles that may exist to doing so, but don’t think you can afford them?

First of all, many modifications may cost far less than you might expect, because they often don’t need to be as extensive or labor-intensive as you might imagine, and can actually be quite simple.

For example, sometimes all that is needed to ensure wheelchair accessibility may be to remove the moldings from around your doors and finish off the opening without them, and maybe either add new doors that fit the enlarged opening better, or in some cases, dispense with them altogether.  This alone can add a couple of inches of width to the doorway that can make all the difference, without getting into major remodeling.

And in places like the bathroom, as long as you can get the chair in there (which the door width may be the only obstacle to), depending on your particular situation, all you might need to be able to shower or bathe on your own might be a transfer bench and grab bars – although of course, you could certainly also opt do a full remodel with a wheel-in shower, step-in tub, and many other helpful aids that can be created in a way that no one else needs to know their purpose if you prefer.

Your best bet to determine what will serve your needs the best in a way that will fit your budget will be to consult a professional with the CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) designation to find out what’s necessary and possible, and to get a realistic idea of what it will cost.  You can search for an appropriate professional in your area via the National Association of Home Builders CAPS Directory.  CAPS specialists are specifically trained to manage the changes needed in the residential built environment in order for people to age comfortably and safely in their own homes – and that same training applies to both accessible and universal design as well.

If you have an occupational or physical therapist, you might want to involve them in the process as well, even if they have not already done a home visit, so that your needs and the specific obstacles in your home are most appropriately identified from a medical/functional perspective, leaving the design professionals to create a solution that best implements those requirements in the most aesthetically-pleasing way possible within your budget constraints.

Accessible design is created for people with specific, known needs, and universal design is a more general concept that allows people of a range of ages and abilities to function well together in the same space, anticipating potential needs along with addressing actual existing ones.   They overlap with each other, and both overlap with aging-in-place.

If aesthetics is important to you (and it should be, because that greatly impacts your enjoyment of your home), start with an interior designer or architect who is CAPS-certified, and hire a contractor who also holds the designation for the optimal combination of design and construction knowledge.  No one wants to – or needs to – live in a home that looks institutional in order for it to function well for physical needs.

Some contractors, although far from all, may have some training in interior and/or architectural design, so unless you know you only need or want the most basic of changes like functional grab bars and/or stair glides, the best outcomes in any renovation or new construction project will usually come from hiring a team that works together to address not just the technical issues but also the aesthetic ones, and not just the physical house issues, but also furnishings, color, lighting, etc., all of which can also be modified as necessary to address various types of disabilities, including normal age-related vision loss.

Most designers and architects will meet with you initially at no charge to explain their services, find out generally what your needs, budget, and preferences are, and to make a proposal, so don’t be afraid to call one even if you think you can’t afford our services.  If it does turn out to be more than you want to spend to hire one to do the whole project, many, myself included, will also work on an hourly consultation basis to give you advice, review contractors’ plans before the proposed modifications are built, etc.

Finally, when it does come time to do whatever work needs to be done, if you find that you really can’t afford them on your own, you may be able to locate some surprising sources of help in funding the modifications.

While it is beyond the scope of this blog – and indeed the scope of any design or construction trade professional – to offer specific advice about financial assistance, or its appropriateness for any specific situation or type of situation, I would like to share some resources that you can investigate on your own.  Please do consult with your own financial, tax, and legal advisors to determine the impacts and pros and cons of any financial options you may be considering.  In some situations, there might even be tax breaks associated with such modifications that might increase their affordability, but again, please do consult your own advisors for details.

One place to start, certainly, is asking your bank about a loan, and another is to ask your accountant and/or attorney about any sources they may know of.  Likewise, your church, synagogue, or other house of worship might be able to suggest or offer assistance through either that particular facility or through the religion’s local or national agencies and charities.  Fraternal organizations might have options as well, if you belong to one.

The Our Parents blog (which is a wonderful general resource for information about aging in general, and caring for older adults) also has a nice article on where to turn to seek financial aid with an assortment of links that will help you research options in your area, or that apply to your particular circumstances.

Don’t be put off by the name of the blog or references to aging and seniors if you are not of that “certain age”, as many of these agencies might also have programs that could benefit younger people as well if they have significant disabilities, and the blog certainly has information that would be beneficial to people with other disabling conditions.  They also have a nice article with other links about the possible pitfalls of reverse mortgages, which many people think of, and which may or may not be appropriate for a given situation.

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My friend Nicolette writes quite a bit about aging in place, disabilities, and interior design, and her posts usually get me thinking quite a lot, especially her one on strategies to deal with loss and aging.

It’s a topic that’s near and dear to my own heart as well, along with the related issues of universal and accessible design, all of which are really tied together and inseparable. There’s a lot of overlap among the concepts of aging-in-place and universal design in particular, but also with accessible design. These are issues that we all eventually face one way or another; it just happens to be the turn of my generation to learn how to age well.

Disability, of course, can and does strike at any age. In my own family, my brother has been dealing with an illness and injuries that will leave him disabled and mobility-impaired for life, and he’s only 50. At the same time, both my father and his partner are ill, as is my aunt. My now-former partner is facing serious medical problems in his own family as well, so we were both stressed out by these issues. I myself cope with several disabilities, and have found my mobility impaired by injuries, and even my ability to dress myself and take care of my own hair is greatly diminished at times. Age is taking its toll on us all in various ways – and these kinds of stressors impact all relationships.

Having the tragedy of my brother’s situation occur so suddenly, on top of trying to look after my father at a particularly difficult period in his own life, really brought these issues home for me in ways that even a decade as a paramedic, a stint selling life and disability insurance, and even my own travails never did, and is the reason why I finally completed the coursework I needed to obtain my credentials as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS designation) a couple of years ago. I will discuss what CAPS is more extensively in another post.

There are many, many things that can be done in a home or office to assist people in dealing with the physical challenges of disabilities and aging. Hundreds of websites and resources exist; there’s no shortage of information out there. I’ll be writing more about these topics as time goes by, but for the moment, let’s just take this as a given.

In reality, the physical changes required for designing a home that supports aging in place or dealing with a wide range of disabilities well are the easy part. The technology exists, and with enough ingenuity (and sometimes cash, admittedly), anything is possible.

Even if a major remodel is not possible, there are usually at least small modifications that can help improve the functionality of the physical space immensely, especially for people who do not require major changes for wheelchair access. Not long ago, for example, I consulted with a lovely, vibrant woman in her 70s who is feeling the losses associated with arthritis on how she can modify her draperies so that they are easier to draw, and don’t hurt her shoulders. She’s on an extremely tight budget, so a lot of the products I normally work with are out of the question, but even in a brief discussion, I identified at least four different ways she could modify things with cheap, readily available materials just from the hardware store that would still preserve the open, airy, minimalist kind of look she prefers, and we are looking now at more specific products. She’s got cafe curtains hung with a rod pocket, which take some pushing even for able-bodied people to move, so just changing to a style with rings or grommets will allow them to glide effortlessly on the rod. She won’t have to reach up any more, either.

This small change alone will allow her to deal with something she has to handle daily with much less wear and tear on her shoulders, and bring a measure of ease to her life that she never even thought she could have, especially without spending a fortune. When you are in pain, and your joints are deteriorating like this, even eliminating one or two aggravating movements a day can make a very big difference in your comfort level – and your ability to enjoy your home. An accumulation of several or many such minor modifications can really add up over time.

Willingness and ability to think outside the box to adapt common materials to the task at hand are critical skills for designers, especially those of us who work with people with physical limitations or tight budgets. A good interior designer is invaluable to this process – and to making changes that integrate well, still look beautiful, employ the same kind of quality materials of any other good design – and which don’t scream “disability” or “old people”.

People often don’t even know there’s anything that can be done to help some of the difficulties they have, so a sensitive, perceptive, and creative designer who knows how to ask the right questions and to observe well can open a lot of doors, and create solutions for problems that a client never even knew were possible and thus may have never even thought to ask about or request.

I was very gratified to see the face of the lady I consulted with just open up with amazement and hope upon hearing the range of possibilities I was able to come up with; that’s the kind of response that drives me to do what I do. And I didn’t even realize just how automatic it is for me to think this way until she herself commented on how natural it is to me. She’s been incredibly frustrated because she hasn’t been able to find a new kind of wand that would be more functional – but that isn’t where the best solution actually lies.

But what most stops people, especially from doing anything about modifying their environments before they absolutely have to, and which causes them the most difficulty, is undoubtedly the emotional component – the need to acknowledge the fact of these changes, whether existing or pending. And often, we put off making the changes we know we may need while it’s still easy, and end up in a crisis that forces decision-making at the worst possible times.

We don’t like to face the thought of our own mortality, even when the evidence continues to mount. It’s a natural human reaction. We don’t want to let go of who we once were, the things we could do before, the hopes and dreams for the future. We don’t want to acknowledge that there is indeed a sunset period to life, and that we must all face it someday. We don’t like the idea of letting go of cherished possessions, or moving to a place that doesn’t hold the same memories of our present homes. We are afraid of what life will look like as we lose abilities, and as our friends also decline – and inevitably die. We hang onto our stuff for dear life, as if it’s the only anchor that will remind us of who we are and where we have been, as if we can keep time from advancing if we just don’t change a thing in our environments. We hold onto our old ways of doing things, and outdated, nonfunctional homes, often because of fear that somehow admitting to what’s inevitable will somehow make it come to pass more quickly and take something away from us now.

Some people are lucky enough that they will be able to stay in their own homes for the rest of their lives, and without modifications. For many of the rest of us, though, changes are inevitable, even if only because of declining incomes, or desire to just not have so much house to take care of any more. But the first – and most ongoing – hurdle we have to face is the one in our own heads.

Also, as we Baby Boomers age, the stresses our sheer numbers will put on the health care and elder care systems will overwhelm both, and more and more long term care will have to occur in our own homes. We must plan in advance for these changes, if we are able to. Most people want to remain at home as long as it’s humanly possible anyways, but we are going to face the situation where there is likely not going to be any other choice for many of us who might actually prefer or need to utilize services such as assisted living at some point, just because of overload on the system.

Fortunately, there is a lot of help out there even for mental adjustments we may need to make. Good therapists and support groups can be invaluable, and there is no shortage of reading material. A good interior designer will also be exquisitely sensitive to needs, and can open doors that you haven’t even thought about. There are many strategies for combing through your possessions in an orderly way and deciding what to keep and what needs to find a new home, so that we can “right-size” our lives.

Identifying the things you own that have the most meaning to you and taking them with you if you move even if you have to jettison the rest can go a long, long ways towards helping ease the pain of change, for example. Do you really need that entire collection of decorative boxes you’ve amassed over the years? Or are there a few choice pieces that hold the most meaning for you, and which would help remind you of all of the rest? Can you photograph them and save them that way instead of taking them with you physically? Do you ever even look at all of those old photo albums that are piled up in the den, or would just keeping a few photos, framing them beautifully and using them in your new home still give you as much joy?

Start editing your possessions by asking yourself what single item you would take with you if you were told you had to evacuate your home immediately, and were only allowed to take one thing (ignoring whether it’s actually portable or not). Then repeat this exercise with the thought that you could only take one more item, and so on.

Looking at the move or remodel as an exciting opportunity to start afresh can help immensely as well. Even if the reason for remodeling your bathroom and kitchen is because you are now in a wheelchair, or expect you will be in a couple of years, if you can look at this as a positive thing that will help you continue to live as normally as possible, and increase convenience for you and everyone else living in or entering your home, you will be far, far ahead of the game. There’s no reason a fully accessible home has to look like a hospital, and it can easily be a showcase, just as any other home.

Consider, for example, that you get to have a brand new bathroom – focus on the wonderful new things you will have, and how simple things like taking a shower will now be much easier than they have been – or possible in the first place. Order beautiful cabinetry, tile, lighting, and fixtures. There are even beautiful grab bars made now that will coordinate perfectly with the rest of your bathroom fittings. The additional space you will need will make the room more functional for everyone. Make the space a sanctuary, not something institutional in character, and it will become a destination for the whole family – a source of joy, peace, and comfort, instead of a reminder of loss or impending loss.

Because loss and change are inevitable parts of life. They affect us in so many ways. The outlook we bring to the process, and to any home or office changes we must make, can make all the difference in the world – and that much, at least, need not cost a cent.

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If you would like an evaluation of your existing space to see if it is suitable for aging in place or accommodating a known or expected disability, or for assistance in designing a new home that will fully support your living your life to the fullest regardless of your own current or future physical needs (or those of your family members), and you want to ensure a beautiful as well as highly functional result, please contact me.

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11 kitchen and bath design trends for 2011

 

Dark natural finishes, induction cooktops, satin nickel faucets, and LED lighting are among the top design trends for kitchens and bathrooms for 2011.

By NKBA Staff
February 13, 2011

More than 100 designers who are members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), and have designed kitchens or bathrooms during the last three months of 2010, participated in an NKBA survey to reveal design trends in the marketplace for 2011. The results of this survey suggest there will be some changes in the direction that kitchen and bath styles will take this year. Below are 7 kitchen trends and 4 bathroom trends that are poised to take hold in 2011. These are overall trends across the United States and Canada; they won’t necessarily appear in all geographic areas.

Kitchens

1) Shake It Up

The Shaker style began a rise in popularity in 2009 and gained momentum in 2010. By the end of the year, Shaker has supplanted Contemporary as the second most popular style used by NKBA member designers. While Traditional remains the most popular style, having been used by 76% of designers surveyed over that last three months of 2010, that’s a slight drop from the previous year. Meanwhile, the percent of respondents who designed contemporary kitchens fell to 48%, while Shaker rose to 55%. Cottage was the only other style to garner at least 20% of the market, as it registered at 21%.

2) Dark Finishes

Dark natural finishes overtook medium natural, glazed, and white painted finishes to become the most specified type of finish toward the end of 2010. While medium natural fell from being used by 53% to 48% of designers, glazed from 53% to 42%, and white painted from 49% to 47%, dark natural finishes rose from 42 to 51%. Light natural and colored painted finishes remained fairly common, as each rose slightly from the previous year: 24% to 25% for light natural and 24% to 29% for colored paints. Distressed finishes dropped significantly from a year ago, when they were used by 16% of designers, to just 5%.

3) A Place for Wine

While the incorporation of wine refrigerators seems to be on the decline (see Bonjour Réfrigérateur below), unchilled wine storage is growing in popularity. While only 39% of surveyed designers incorporated wine storage areas into their kitchens at the end of 2009, just over half—51%—did so as 2010 came to a close. While other types of cabinetry options remain more common, most are on the decline, including tall pantries (89% to 84%), lazy Susans (90% to 78%), and pull-out racks (81% to 71%). Appliance garages also seem to be falling out of favor, as their use declined from 36% at the end of 2009 to 29% a year later.

4) Bonjour Réfrigérateur

The French door refrigerator has strengthened its position as the type specified most often by NKBA member designers. While freezer-top refrigerators were only specified by 8% of designers as 2010 drew to a close—down from 10% a year earlier, freezer-bottom models fell very slightly from 60% to 59% and side-by-side units actually rose slightly from 46% to 49%. Meanwhile, French door refrigerators jumped from 67% to 78%. Among smaller units, refrigerator or freezer drawers remained flat at 31%, while undercounter wine refrigerators fell sharply from 50% to 36%, an interesting change given the increasing use of unchilled wine storage.

5) Inducting a New Cooktop

Induction cooktops haven’t overtaken gas and electric models, but they’re closing the gap. As we entered 2010, gas cooktops had been recently specified by 76% of NKBA designers, compared to 38% for electric and 26% for induction. However, while the incorporation of gas cooktops has fallen to 70%, electric cooktops has risen slightly to 41%, while induction cooktops are up to 34%. Meanwhile, single wall ovens are down from 46% to 42%, although double wall ovens are up from 68% to 74%. In addition, warming drawers are down from 49% to 42%, and ranges are down sharply from 81% to 68%.

6) LED Lighting

Incandescent lighting continues its journey to obsolescence. While 50% of NKBA member designers incorporated incandescent bulbs into their designs at the end of 2009, only 35% have done so a year later. Instead, designers are clearly opting for more energy-efficient lighting options. While the use of halogen lighting is down from 46% to 40% over the past year, LED (light-emitting diode) lighting has increased from 47% to 54%. Designers aren’t turning to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) as a solution, though, most likely due to the poor quality of light they produce; their use by designers remained flat at 35%.

7) Trashy Designs

A greater emphasis is being made to address trash considerations in the kitchen. Some 89% of kitchens designed by NKBA members in the final quarter of 2010 include a trash or recycling pull-outs. In addition, garbage disposals were incorporated by 86% of designers, up from 75% the previous year. Trash compactors have also become more common. Entering 2010, they were recently used in designs by 11% of designers, but a year later, that figure had climbed to 18%. These changes may be due to an increase in sustainability awareness, but they certainly indicate an increase in concern toward trash generated in the kitchen.

Bathrooms

1) Quartz Countertops

Quartz continues to take away market share from granite in the market for bathroom vanity tops. A year ago, 85% of NKBA bathroom designers incorporated granite into a recent design, compared to just 48% for quartz, but now, that gap has narrowed to 83% for granite and 54% for quartz. Unlike in the kitchen, solid surfaces haven’t gained much popularity in the bathroom, increasing only from 23% to 25% over the past year. Meanwhile, solid marble has declined from 46% to 37%, while cultured marble and onyx have increased from 12% to 19%. No other material has even 10% of the market.

2) Green Bathrooms

No, we’re not referring to eco-friendly spaces—we literally mean green bathrooms. A year ago, green color palettes were used by only 14% of NKBA designers, but at the end of 2010, that figure had risen to 24%. Still, whites and off-whites, beiges, and browns are the three most commonly used color tones in bathrooms. However, while white and off-white palettes are up slightly from 57% to 60%, beiges are down sharply from 66% to 57%, while browns have dropped from 48% to 38%. Other common color tones include blues at 22%, grays at 21%, and bronzes and terracottas at 17%.

3) A Worthy Vessel

Under-mount sinks continue to dominate newly remodeled bathrooms, with 97% of NKBA bathroom designers having specified them over the last three months of 2010, up from 95% a year earlier. However, vessel sinks have become the clear second choice among designers, as 51% of NKBA member designers have specified them in the final quarter of 2010, up from 39% a year ago. Integrated sink tops were also up from 34% to 38%, pedestal sinks were up from 21% to 29%, and drop-in sinks were up from 23% to 27%. This shows that bathroom designers have been specifying more lavoratory sinks across the board.

4) Satin Nickel Faucets

This trend relates to both bathrooms and kitchens. From the end of 2009 to the end of 2010, the percent of NKBA designers who specified a satin nickel faucet rose from 41% to 63% in the kitchen and from 45% to 57% in the bathroom, while the percent who specified a brushed nickel faucet fell from 61% to 48% in the kitchen and from 66% to 38% in the bathroom. Other popular faucet finishes in both the kitchen and bathroom are bronze and oil-rubbed bronze, polished chrome, and polished nickel. However, while stainless steel is popular in the kitchen, specified recently by 44% of designers, that figure drops to just 16% in the bathroom.

ABOUT NKBA

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) is a non-profit trade association that has educated and led the kitchen and bath industry for more than 45 years. NKBA.org provides consumers with an inspiration gallery of award-winning kitchen and bath designs, as well as articles, tips, and an extensive glossary of remodeling terms. At NKBA.org, consumers can also find certified kitchen and bath professionals in their areas, submit questions to NKBA experts, and order the free NKBA Kitchen Planner and NKBA Bath Planner.

via Custom Builder

For beautiful kitchens, baths and entire homes that you will delight in and which will support and enhance your lifestyle regardless of your age or ability level, please contact Wendy at Hoechstetter Interiors for an evaluation of your present home or new construction project, and for assistance in creating the forever home of your dreams, no matter what your color, style, or materials preferences.

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I just came across some information on kitchen appliance product recalls on the Kitchen-Exchange blog that you might want to be aware of.

1. GE Recalls Ranges Due to Fire and Burn Hazards – GE Profile(tm) Freestanding Dual Fuel Ranges

2. Recall: Kidde XL Fire Extinguishers – Kidde Recalls to Replace Fire Extinguishers Due to Failure to Operate

3. Maytag/Jenn-Air/Amana/Admiral/Magic Chef Refrigerator Recall – Maytag Recalls Refrigerators Due to Fire Hazard

4. Bosch and Siemens Dishwasher Recall – Bosch(r) and Siemens(r) Model Dishwashers Recalled by BSH Home Appliances Corporation Due to Fire Hazard

5. RECALL – GE Profile, Monogram & Kenmore Ovens – Hazard: The extreme heat used in the self-clean cycle can escape, if the wall oven door is removed and incorrectly re-attached by the installer or the consumer. This can pose a fire and burn hazard to consumers.

6. Wolf Recalls 24,000 48″ Ranges – Hazard: Delayed ignition of gas in the 18-inch oven can cause a flash of flames to be projected at a consumer when the range door is opened, posing a burn hazard to consumers.

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Updated 1/14/08, reposted and edited from my very obscure personal blog at http://wendyannh.blogspot.com a couple of years ago.

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Below is a repost of a comment I sent on the Xtraordinary Living blog this evening, in response to someone’s upset remarks that she was going to look elsewhere for a cheaper kitchen remodelling contractor other than Home Expo, since she thought they were acting superior and trying to con her into something very expensive when they told her their lowest end kitchen remodel would start around $50,000.

If this is your design/image, let me know so I can provide proper attribution.

Clive Christian

Unfortunately, the figures you were quoted are just gross estimates that probably have nothing to do with reality. In point of fact, that’s really probably a *low* estimate of the lower end of the range of kitchen remodels nowadays.

It’s not about someone copping an attitude; that’s just the reality. Kitchens that cost $200,000 and up aren’t all that uncommon nowadays, to be perfectly frank – and something like the one shown above could easily reach that level or even considerably more.

Even “inexpensive” cabinetry (like Ikea) and countertops are pretty expensive, and no matter what you choose, redoing a kitchen is a very labor intensive job, especially if you do anything other than replace the exact same cabinetry layout. Particularly if any sort of plumbing or electrical work is involved, or hidden damage is encountered, you will see $50,000 in the rearview mirror very quickly. There are certain minimum labor costs no matter what products you choose.

Between the labor and the cabinets, that’s where the bulk of the expense of a kitchen remodel is, but there are still a zillion other details that go into it that all add up pretty high, even with lower end materials.

You can certainly try to control the labor costs by finding a less expensive contractor, but do remember that you quite often get exactly what you are paying for.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to control the amount of work required for a given design, only the cost of the cabinetry and other materials, and much of what they carry at Home Depot/Expo is definitely at the low end of what’s out there cabinetry-wise.

Remember, too, that you definitely get what you pay for in terms of durability and functionality. If the cabinet doors are falling off their hinges in the showroom, as I’ve observed with most kitchens at Home Depot/Expo, they will definitely not fare any better in your kitchen over time, especially if you have a family and kids.

Depending on what’s involved in fitting it into your existing space, it may turn out to actually be cheaper to go with a higher end line, possibly even custom, that can be ordered to fit much more precisely than with a lower end line that may end up requiring much more labor to get everything to fit halfway decently.

And if you end up with a contractor who isn’t as efficient as he might be, or as skilled, that will drive your costs up as well, and very quickly. Be very wary of low bids and choosing a contractor based solely on price, because such lowball estimates often don’t even include much of what needs to be done, and the price goes through the roof once they get started.

Speaking of customer service, places that give quotes like this really aren’t giving good service, either, in a way, because there are far too many variables that go into the cost of something like a kitchen remodel to be able to give a figure that’s anywhere remotely near accurate before the final plans are drawn up and everything specified and specifically bid out.

Don’t even think of shopping for products or contractors until you’ve got a full set of plans drawn up, if you want the process to go as smoothly as possible, and to realize the most economical remodel possible that gives you what you most want and need, with as little headache as possible. A good interior designer or kitchen designer can be worth their weight in gold in this process – ideally an independent one, not one who works for a particular store, because they can provide many more options because they aren’t locked into particular products like store employees are, and are typically far better trained as well. You will net out far more savings than additional costs in the end. (Of course, the same holds true for remodeling the rest of your home or office as well.)

The complexity of this field is just not to be believed, and you can literally double the cost of a kitchen just by which inserts you choose for whatever cabinetry line you decide on, as just one example of the myriad places you can get caught unaware in this process and drive the costs through the roof. Just the choice of one edge detail vs another on the countertop can greatly increase those prices, and not make a huge difference in the look or the functionality. Dozens of choices later, even with minor increases for each, and you’ll have bitten off much, much more than you ever expected financially if you don’t have an organized plan and a guide through the maze. I’m professionally trained in kitchen design as well as general interior design, and it’s still a seriously complex undertaking to remodel one, even a simple remodel.

The best way to find a good designer is through a personal referral from a friend or acquaintance who’s had their kitchen or home done recently, if you like what the designer did. Alternatively, you can find interior designers or kitchen designers near you through a good Google search, which will also lead you to the designers’ websites, so you can evaluate the work they do before even contacting them, to see if their style appeals to you. Several professional associations such as ASID and NKBA also offer referral services, but the options are severely limited if you go this route, and many of the very best designers don’t even belong to any of these organizations, so cast your net wider if you want the best selection of people who may be right for your own project. Ask about their experience and education and check references, by all means, but don’t limit yourself to designers with letters after their names, since those absolutely do not necessarily correlate with quality work or knowledge.

And if you live in California, check out the Contractors’ State Licensing Board website at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/contractored/google.asp for a wealth of information on how to go about hiring a contractor, what to look for, and what to avoid. This is actually an excellent general resource for anyone regardless of where they live, with the caveat that you need to look up the specific laws and regulations in your own area.

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Please see the No Design Legislation blog at http://nodesignlegislation.wordpress.com for further information, extensive links about fighting interior design legislation in all affected states, and to discuss the issues. Please post your legislation-related comments there.

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Concerned about your right to practice interior design anywhere in the country? Think you’re alone?

No, there’s a very strong grassroots opposition movement well underway spearheaded by the Institute for Justice and the Interior Design Protection Council (IDPC), and a wide range of individual grassroots organizations in affected states – and we’re having huge success blocking anticompetive laws, and in some cases, having existing ones overturned.

All this takes money, though. ASID reportedly has spent nearly $6,000,000 to the date of this post on their campaign to disenfranchise the majority of designers and has an army of paid lobbyists. We’re winning, as my previous post indicated, and expanding like crazy as money comes in to pay the support staff, despite being all volunteers, and operating on donations.

Join IJ and IDPC today to help fight anti-competitive legislation nationwide, and preserve interior designers’ right to make a living at our chosen profession. Please also see the No Design Legislation blog for a list of links to individual known state grassroots opposition organizations.

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samsung-rfg299-french-door-refrigerator1

Samsung’s New French Door Refrigerator Transforms a Kitchen Staple into an Interactive, Digital Lifestyle Centerpiece

Touch Screen Control Panel

Touch Screen Control Panel

7″ LCD Touch Screen Paired with 28.5 cu. ft. of Internal Space Offers Consumers Easy Organization Inside and Out

Last update: 11:32 a.m. EST Nov. 3, 2008
RIDGEFIELD PARK, N.J., Nov 03, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Samsung Electronics America Inc., a market leader and award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, announces the latest addition to its rapidly expanding kitchen suite of appliances with the RFG299 French Door Refrigerator. The new RFG299 French Door Refrigerator includes a convenient 7″ LCD touch screen above the ice and water dispenser and delivers the industry’s largest internal storage at 28.5 cu. ft. in a standard footprint.
In recognizing the kitchen as the heart of the home, and reinforcing its commitment to develop innovative products that enhance consumer lifestyles, Samsung developed the LCD touch screen to give consumers easy access to calendars, schedules, showcase photos, nutrition facts, and unit conversions. A simple touch of the screen can control the refrigerator’s temperature or monitor the water filter status.
“Whether entertaining friends or preparing dinner with the family, Samsung understands the kitchen is the focal point in today’s modern home,” said James Politeski, vice president of Home Appliance Sales & Marketing. “The 7″ LCD Touch Screen takes our already highly-regarded 28.5 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator to a new level of innovation all to make life a little easier for our customers.”
Samsung is able to achieve the RFG299 French Door Refrigerator’s larger interior capacity thanks to high-rate urethane insulation technology, which reduces the refrigerator walls from 2.04 inches to 1.38 inches, resulting in an extra 3.5 cubic feet, or 14%, more storage space for consumers. Amazingly, despite the extra space inside, the RFG299’s size on the outside remains the same for quality cooling without the need for a new kitchen layout.
Along with the breakthrough technical advancements, the RFG299 French Door Refrigerator features many sleek details that combine for an ideal refrigerator solution. The interior LED lighting is considerably brighter than lamp-based illumination. Samsung’s EZ-Open(TM) Handle effortlessly breaks the freezer seal, eliminating the need to strain when opening. And the exterior door handles, hidden hinges, and stainless finish add tasteful elegance to any kitchen.
The innovative Twin Cooling Plus(TM) System allows the main body of the refrigerator and freezer section to be cooled separately, ensuring odors from compartments do not mix and create ice cubes that taste like last night’s leftovers. The Twin Cooling Plus(TM) System offers professional-grade cooling to maximize and prolong freshness.
Samsung has recently been named by J.D. Power in the 2008 Home Appliance Study as the brand ranked highest in customer satisfaction for Side-by-Side/French Door Refrigerators. Samsung excelled in the areas of performance, ease of use, styling and feel, and operational features. This marked the fourth year in a row that Samsung has received a customer satisfaction award from J.D. Power for refrigerators.
The new Samsung RFG299 French Door Refrigerator is available in stainless steel at select Best Buy locations now. For more information, please visit www.samsung.com/homeappliances.
                           RFG299 French Door Refrigerator
Cu. ft.                    29 cu. ft.
Finishes                   Stainless Platinum, Stainless Steel, Black, White
Dimensions (W x H x D)     35 ¾" x 68
                           5/8" x 33"
Weight                     238 lbs
Features                   Largest Storage Capacity in a French Door Refrigerator --
                           29 c. ft.
                           7" Touch LCD Screen
                           2008 Energy Star Rated
                           External Filtered Water and Ice Dispenser
                           LED Lighting in Refrigerator Compartment
                           Power Freeze and Power Cool Options
                           Gallon Door Bins
                           EZ-Open Handles
                           Door Alarm
                           Cool Tight Door
                           Specific storage including wine rack, egg container and pizza
                           pocket
Estimated Selling Price    Stainless - $3099
Availability               Now
*Subject to change without notice
About Samsung Electronics America, Inc.
Headquartered in Ridgefield Park, NJ, Samsung Electronics America, Inc. (SEA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., markets a broad range of award-winning, digital consumer electronics and home appliance products, including HDTVs, home theater systems, MP3 players, digital imaging products, refrigerators and washing machines. A recognized innovation leader in consumer electronics design and technology, Samsung is the HDTV market leader in the U.S. Please visit www.samsung.com for more information.
SOURCE: Samsung Electronics America Inc.

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