Choosing your kitchen Design and Lay-out!

Long gone are the days when kitchens were dreary workspaces, hidden behind closed doors. Today’s kitchens are central to everyday living and special-occasion entertaining, often doing double duty as family rooms, offices and media centers, as well.
“The kitchen is truly the focus of the home today,” says New York-based interior designer Andrew Suvalsky. “A great kitchen design will give essential clues to how the rest of the home can and should develop.”
To meet the growing demand for showstopping kitchens, manufacturers now offer cabinets, countertops and fixtures in all of today’s most popular design styles, from Old World to modern, city chic to country cozy. And your options aren’t limited to what you’ll find in the kitchen showrooms, either. Andrew and many other designers also turn to antiques stores, high-end furniture makers and salvage resellers when sourcing kitchen projects.
Whether you’re designing your kitchen to match the decor of other rooms, or planning your whole home’s look around the kitchen, you can make it a beautiful reflection of your personal style.

Country Farmhouse

Open and inviting, country kitchens allow you to enjoy the feeling of a weekend getaway right in your own home — even if you’re smack in the middle of suburbia. Farmhouse tables and furniture-like cabinetry are popular conventions, and an eclectic mix of finishes helps create a comfortable, lived-in look. Country colors range from primary red, yellow and blue to aged tones of cream and pale yellow; whatever hues you favor, mixing rather than matching is the country way to go.
Sleek, sexy and sophisticated, the modern kitchen is designed to keep clutter to a minimum. Reflective surfaces and high-tech materials are central to the most modern kitchen, and exotic woods add a touch of luxury without frills or fabric. Iconic midcentury seating, including Bertoia stools and chairs by Eames and Cherner, are often chosen for a classically modern look; seating made of Lucite and highly polished woods is often chosen for a more current interpretation of the style.
Whether the space is large or tiny, cottage kitchens are designed to feel cozy and enveloping. With their homespun touches and imperfect finishes, cottage-style kitchens are always one of a kind and serve as the perfect backdrop for offbeat art and collectibles. If you’re an avid flea marketer, this style will allow you to turn your weekend finds into everyday pleasures. To marry serious cooking with whimsical style, look for high-end appliances in white or retro colors.
Where function meets family friendliness, you’ll find the contemporary kitchen. The look is a carefully curated mix of materials: new and old, casual and polished. And because cooking with company has replaced cooking for company as the entertaining ideal, today’s kitchen has plenty of room for hosts and guests to work and interact. Add gourmet cooking equipment, comfortable, durable seating and lots of open space for a kitchen perfectly suited to 21st-century living.
Imagine a small hotel in the South of France, or a contessa’s villa on the Amalfi Coast. The colors are sun-dappled. The surfaces are elegantly timeworn, and the atmosphere is pure romance. To replicate that Mediterranean ambiance anywhere, look for Provencal fabrics in rich tones of russet, cobalt and ochre, warm-toned wooden cabinetry, and handmade ceramic accessories. Rough-hewn textures, copper pots and rush seats add the final touches.
Whether you live at the beach or just wish you did, you can count on cool shades of blue, green, white and sand to create a vacation-time mood. Seagrass and wicker seating are casual, comfortable and coastal. Fabrics and flooring designed to stand up to wet bathing suits make coastal-style kitchens easy to care for, and window treatments that allow for maximum sunlight will have everyone in let’s-get-to-the-beach mode bright and early.
If you yearn for a time when materials were solid and craftsmanship was king, Old World design will embrace you in history and luxury. Look for dark mahogany finishes with lots of carving and detail, countertops with ogee or bullnosed edges, and stone or wooden floors. Add historical accessories and heavy fabrics, and enjoy time travel comfortably in your own home.
Turkey on Thanksgiving, ham on Christmas Eve and chocolate chip cookies after school. A traditional kitchen is the perfect backdrop for a life that centers on family, friends and holidays — but its clean, comfortable look is welcoming 365 days a year. Paneled or glass doors on cupboards contribute timeless style, and latched or icebox hardware is often added for period detail. White tiles add a clean look and help reflect light, and artisanal or vintage-look light fixtures add special touches.

Save

Save

Save

Save

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOUR KITCHEN

  • This are some questions you have to make yourself before remodeling your Kitchen.
  • How many people live in the home?
  • Who cooks?
  • What is the cook’s height? Is he/she right- or left-handed?
  • Who typically prepares meals? How are they prepared?
  • How many people in the house prepare meals at one time?
  • What type of cooking happens in your kitchen? (Gourmet, baking, microwave, easy weeknight meals, etc.)
  • How do you shop for groceries, and what do you store in your pantry?
  • What are your kitchen traffic patterns?
  • How and where do you dine?
  • How do you entertain?
  • What do you like to do after meals? Will you remain in the kitchen to watch television, talk, relax, etc.?
  • What does each person in the family do in the kitchen each day?

In a typical day, from wake-up until lights out…

  • When do you go to the kitchen?
  • What do you do there?
  • What appliances do you use all the time?
  • What do you remove from cabinets?
  • What do you rarely use?
  • What is easy to reach?
  • What is di­ cult to reach?

Save

Tips for Reconstruction After Hurricane Harvey

The emotional and physical devastation left behind from Hurricane Harvey will take months — and potentially years — to recover from. Residents across the Texas coast have seen immeasurable damage to their homes, businesses, and spirits. As you and your family or business prepare for restoration, consider these helpful tips and get back and running in no time.

Reach Out

  • Get in touch with your home insurance, and figure out what is and isn’t covered.
  • Sign up with FEMA, and see if you qualify for emergency relief.
  • Get some insight from friends and neighbors who are in similar situations.

Budget

  • Determine real time contractor pricing.
  • Adjust your claim so you can figure out what your settlement amount will be.
  • Prevent another financial disaster by properly planning your cash flow so your project won’t run out of money before it is finished.

Planning

  • Don’t spread yourself too thin, and don’t try to take on more than you can handle. Ask for help when it’s needed.
  • Be patient. A rushed job isn’t a productive one. Waiting for the right contractor, the right time and the right plan will pay off.
  • When it comes to your vision and your budget, be realistic. Making smart decisions will benefit you and your family later down the line.

Selecting Your Contractor

QUESTIONS to ask your contractor:

  • Where are you located?
  • Are you currently doing work in the area? If so, can I speak with them for a reference?
  • Do you have liability insurance and workers’ compensation?
  • Can you ask your insurance company to make me a certificate holder so that I can have proof of insurance?
  •  Who will be the supervisor, and how present will they be in this project?

RED FLAGS to watch out for:

  • A contractor who asks for money down
  • A contractor who insists on only charging for the labor
  • Out-of-town license plates and cell phone numbers
  • No local address
  • No local references
  • Door knockers
  • A “YES” man who claims they can do it all.
  • Handwritten proposals

PROPOSALS should include:

  • Start and end dates
  • Itemized project price
  • Payment schedule
  • List of services INCLUDED and EXCLUDED
  • A procedure for changes
  • Final payment and closeout procedure

Save

Save

SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR OLD KITCHEN / BATHROOMS

A kitchen is a room that tends to see a great deal of use. When you are trying to entertain guests or prepare a meal for your family, the kitchen plays a big part in the process. This also means that the kitchen is likely to see a lot of wear and tear. To make sure that your kitchen always looks the way that you want it to, it can be helpful to turn to the right experts. SOLID STONE MANUFACTURING in Houston, TX, can help you to see some amazing results.

Continue reading

…Christmas History!!!

Christmas is for joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for coming together with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly decorated packages… But mostly, Christmas is for love. It was this love for which Jesus came to this world and sacrificed his life.

Thus Christmas is a celebration of love and mirth symbolized by the Nativity, the Santa, the caribou, the poinsettia and the evergreens. All that bring home the spirit of love and life. And this is the spirit that makes Christmas so popular throughout the world.

Though originated by the Roman Catholics who commemorate the December 25th as the day of birth of Christ Child, it has gradually come to be celebrated by the non-Catholics as well. As far as the United States goes, the celebration of X’mas is comparatively of recent origin. Much of the world was already well into Christmas celebrations by the time the United States began to wake up. In the first half of the 19th century the Sunday schools in America held Christmas celebrations. And the celebration of Christmas in America owes its origin to these schools. Alabama was the first state to grant legal recognition to X-mas in 1836. The DC did it in 1870. By 1893 all the states and territories had made similar acknowledgements.

So be it the United States or in other parts of the world Christmas is celebrated as the commemoration of the birth of Christ Child — very likely the holiest event ever to take place anywhere on the Earth, and an entirely worthy occasion to celebrate. But don’t we often wonder if we’ve got these things about it right? And why is the difference of opinion (however immaterial) regarding the date of birth? Is it even on the right date?

We bring to you a story of the Birth of Christ Child along and offer you a short tour across the world to know the way Christmas is celebrated in different parts. But before doing this please don’t forget to brush up some historical trivia regarding Jesus’ birth. Click here to know the answers to some simple yet vulnerable questions.

The whole world goes into the celebration mood during the mid winters. Long back even before the arrival of Jesus, Europeans started celebrating the light in the gloomiest days of winter. During the winter solstice, many of the Europeans began to celebrate because the tough time of winter was behind them and they felt it was the period of prolonged hours of sunlight.

Norse celebrated Yule from December 21 in Scandinavia. To celebrate the magic of sunlight, fathers and sons used logs and set them on fire. People around enjoyed these 12 days until the logs were not burned out completely. It was their belief that each fire spark represented a new pig or calf that would be born in the coming year.

Mesopotamians used to celebrate 12 days long New Year festival before 4000 years. This festival was called Zagmuth. The Mesopotamians, believers of multiple deities, started the celebration to honor their chief deity, Marduk. They used to believe that Marduk fought against the monsters of chaos at the onset of each winter season. It was believed that this was the festival where from the 12 days long Christmas had originated.

Most of the European countries thought that the end of December was an appropriate and ideal time for celebrations. It was a high time to celebrate because there were no cattle left for feeding as most of the cattle were already slaughtered. Celebration could continue with fresh meat and it was the only time of the winter when they had that opportunity. The fermented wine and beer during this time were the additional spice for the celebration.

During mid winter German people honored the time-honored Pagan God Oden. People of Germany were afraid of the nocturnal sky flights. They used to think that the Almighty had created that to observe and monitor his people of this world. They had also thought that the Almighty had the power to decide who would live and who would perish. Many of them decided to stay inside due to his presence.

 

Places like Saturnalia, Rome where the winter was not that strong and unkind like countries located in the northern tip celebrated holidays in honor of the God of agriculture, Saturn. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice was a special period when residents had bountiful food items and drinks to celebrate with. The month long celebration had the charm to convert slaves to even masters. Peasants used to control the city. To celebrate the time with fun and frolic all the schools and business organizations had decided to close their shutters.

Juvenalia, the feast honoring the Children of Rome, celebrated during winter solstice, was a prime carnival for Roman people as well. On December 25, the upper class of Rome used to celebrate the birthday of the infant God of the unconquerable sun, Mithra who was born of a rock. It was the most sanctified day of the entire year for few Romans. Easter, the main holiday, was celebrated in the early years of Christianity. However, Christmas or the birth of Jesus was not celebrated.

Romans started to exchange gifts and visit the homes of their friends and relatives during the festivity. It was believed that the ritual of exchanging greeting and gifts during Christmas had come from Rome.

Onyx

Onyx
The name comes from the Greek word onyx which means nail of a finger or claw. Legend says that one day while Venus was sleeping Eros/Cupid cut her fingernails and left the clippings scattered on the ground. Because no part of a heavenly body can die, the gods turned them into stone which later became known as onyx.

It is a member of the chalcedony family which also includes carnelian, agate, bloodstone, etc. Occuring naturally in a variety of colors, black onyx is polished to enhance appearance, a member of the quartz family.

Originally, almost all colors of chalcedony from white to dark brown and black were called onyx (SiO2 with impurities). Today when we think of onyx we often preface the word with black to distinguish it from other varieties of onyx that come in white, reddish brown, brown and banded. A variety of onyx that is reddish brown with white and lighter reddish bands is known as sardonyx.

Physical Properties of Onyx
Onyx is a form of chalcedony, part of the quartz group. Like the other stones in the chalcedony family, onyx has a smooth, waxy luster. Onyx can be found in a wide range of colors, often layered.

Specific Gravity : 2.58 – 2.64
Refractive Index : 1.55 – 1.54
Hardness : 6.5 – 7.0 on Moh’s scale

Chemical Properties of Onyx
Formula : SiO2
Elements : Si and O

Uses of Onyx
Black Onyx is often used as a backdrop in jewelry, such as cameos. It is also used as cabochons and as a building material.

Enhancements of Onyx
Black and colored onyx is always dyed. Onyz is easily dyed, so beware of the more “unnatural” looking colors, such as bright blue, etc. Onyx with red and white bands is sometimes referred to as “Sardonyx”. Onyx is the black variety of agate. However some parts are more or less translucent. This is why it is often heated to accentuate the intensity of its color.

Ocurrances of Onyx
Mexico Chihuahua, Oaxaca, Puebla
Arizona Ash Fork, Mayer, Prescott
Algeria Ain Tekbalet

 

 

Industrial Minerals

Gemstones

Stones

Natural Stones
• Granite
• Limestone
• Marble
• Onyx
• Quartzite
• Sandstone
• Slate
• Travertine

Dimensional Stones

• Stone Tiles
• Stone Slabs

Paving Stones

• Stone Tiles
• Stone Steps
• Stone Cobbles
• Stone Circles
• Stepping Stones

Architectural Stones

• Stone Treads & Risers
• Stone Copings
• Stone Roofing Tiles
• Stone Bricks
• Stone Strips
• Stone Blocks
• Tumbled Stone

Landscaping Stones

• River Bed Pebbles
• Stone Circles
• Stone Cobbles
• Stone Steps
• Stepping Stones

Apple Cake

Prep: 40 min. Bake: 50 min. + cooling Yield: 12 Servings

Ingredients
•1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
•2 cups sugar, divided
•4 eggs
•1 cup canola oil
•2 cups all-purpose flour
•2 teaspoons baking powder
•2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking soda
•2 cups chopped peeled tart apples
•1 cup shredded carrots
•1/2 cup chopped pecans
•PRALINE ICING:•1/2 cup packed brown sugar
•1/4 cup butter, cubed
•2 tablespoons 2% milk
•1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
•1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
•1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Directions
•In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in 1 egg; set aside.
•In a large bowl, beat oil with remaining sugar and eggs until well blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into oil mixture until blended. Stir in the apples, carrots and pecans.
•Transfer half of the apple batter to a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan; layer with cream cheese mixture and remaining apple batter.
•Bake at 350° for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
•In a large saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and milk to a boil. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; whisk in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over cake. Sprinkle with pecans. Yield: 12 servings.

Nutritional Facts
1 slice equals 614 calories, 36 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 102 mg cholesterol, 407 mg sodium, 68 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 7 g protein.

Originally published as William Tell’s Never-Miss Apple Cake in Country Woman August/September 2010, p37

Color Of The Month …. Onyx Carmel

Carmel onyx is quarried from a dyke quarry in Azerbaijan, Turkey. This unique stone is found in a thin layer about three feet thick. The blocks are quarried horizontally in order to cut large cross-cut slabs. For millions of years, intense heat and pressure have fused together the quartz crystals that make up this delicate stone. A special quality of onyx is the transparent portions of the slab that, when back lit, will allow light to pass through, illuminating the stone.

Onyx is one of the softer and more fragile stones in the industry and is prone to scratching. Therefore, after installation, careful maintenance of the slab is highly recommended. Due to the qualities of this stone, the slabs are book-matched, in which slab one and slab two will be cut and polished to create a mirror image of each other. These are then kept in sequence which allows for a consistent flow in pattern. During the polishing process, an epoxy resin is applied to the surface of the slabs to fill in any natural pits, cracks or fissures that may exist in the stone. This does not affect the durability, maintenance or beauty of the slab. It is possible for some of the more minute pits that are too small to effectively hold the resin, to reopen during other finishing stages. However, this will not detract from the overall quality or appearance of the stone. Finally, a mesh backing is adhered to the back of the stone to ensure safety while handling and fabricating the slab. As a natural stone product, it is recommended that this be sealed to extend its longevity.

 

Keeping hardwood floors looking beautiful is easier than you think.

Keeping hardwood floors looking beautiful is easier than you think.
No matter what the setting, the good looks and durability of hardwood floors can be maintained with minimal effort. It’s simply a matter of proper care and maintenance.

The American Hardwood Information Center, in conjunction with the National Wood Flooring Association suggest the following care and maintenance guidelines to keep hardwood floors looking beautiful today, and for years to come. Here’s how to begin.

General Maintenance Guidelines
All hardwood floors should be cleaned regularly to remove dirt and grit from between the floor boards. Avoid using a wet mop which can dull the finish. Instead, sweep with either a dust mop or broom that features exploded tips, or vacuum the floors using a vacuum with special hardwood floor attachments or one with the beater bar turned off.

Wipe up any spills immediately, using a soft, dry or slightly damp cloth, starting at the edges of the spill and working toward the center. Allowing spills to remain on hardwood floors could damage the finish, as well as the wood.

Avoid walking on hardwood floors with sports cleats or high heel shoes in disrepair. These can scratch the finish, or even dent the floor. Placing felt pads on the bottom of furniture legs will also minimize scratches.

Further minimize scratches by placing scatter rugs at all entrances to help keep small stones and debris out. But choose wisely. Scatter rugs with rubber backs can discolor wood floors. Special rug mats can be purchased from a wood flooring retailer that will protect the floors from discoloration.

General Maintenance Guidelines
Knowing which type of finish applied to protect the hardwood floor is important. Different flooring finishes require different kinds of care, so if or when in doubt, contact the flooring manufacturer or a wood flooring professional in your area.

There are three major types of wood flooring finishes available – surface finishes, wax, and acrylic impregnated – and the experts at the National Wood Flooring Association, www.woodfloors.org, stress that using the right maintenance products will protect and prolong the life of the floor.

Surface finishes, also referred to as urethanes or polyurethanes, are practical and very popular. They remain on the surface of the wood and form a protective coating that is water-resistant, durable and requires minimal maintenance.

For cleaning purposes, use products recommended by the flooring manufacturer. If the floors were finished or refinished on site, contact the installer. If neither is known, use a generic hardwood floor cleaner which can be purchased at a retail flooring store. Never use wax-based or petroleum-based products on a surface finish floor, as they will damage the finish.

Wax finishes soak into the wood, harden to form a protective penetrating seal, and when needed, are maintained with additional thin applications of wax. Only solvent-based waxes, buffing pastes or cleaning liquids made specifically for wax-finished wood floors should be used.

Use cleaning products, available at retail flooring stores, made specifically for wax finishes. Follow the directions carefully to determine how long the cleaner should remain on the floor. Once the floor is clean, apply a new coat of wax to restore luster.

Acrylic impregnated finishes are injected into the wood to create a super-hard, extremely durable floor. These finishes most often are used in high traffic areas of malls, restaurants and other commercial settings.

Cleaning an acrylic impregnated floor depends on the finish. If the floor has a urethane-based finish, follow the same procedures suggested for surface finished floors. If the floor has a nonurethane-based finish, use a spray and buff system, as recommended by the manufacturer.

Don’t hesitate to investigate

It pays to be knowledgeable. Proper care and maintenance will protect and prolong the performance of hardwood flooring for a lifetime, and even longer.

Outdoor Kitchen

 

An excellent choice for outdoor kitchen countertops, floors, and other heavily used surfaces

 Outdoor Kitchens: The Joy of Eating Outside
Last week’s granite bar post got us thinking: outdoor kitchens are a pretty nice deal if you can swing it. For every homeowner or homebuyer, outdoor entertaining is a must have in their households.And new trends in design are aiming precisely to open-air constructions of rooms that usually have an indoor concept, entering the kitchen. What most designers and homeowners around the world are discovering is that an outdoor kitchen can be both functional and attractive, not to say original.
A sit down and dine outdoor space.
“The outdoor kitchen is not an area looked at as a ‘work’ space, but it is a place to express hospitality and creativity – and to enjoy family and friends”, said Barbara B. Berry, sales associate with Downing-Frye Realty.

To build or remodel a full scale outdoor kitchen, one must decide on a specific style to combine cabinets and backsplashes. Nowadays, with a blink of an eye, you can have a new and elegant kitchen in your backyard to enjoy what life has to offer. And don’t forget that your design will reflect your taste and needs.
Tiki hut style?
To have a practical and functional outdoor kitchen, be prepared to at least equip it with a refrigerator / freezer and a quality grill. Unlike a conventional kitchen, you don’t need to have all the appliances there.

Outdoor kitchens can give you multiple benefits. And the fact that guests and family will be more involved in the cooking is one of the best ones. Open-air activities always tend create collective bonds. The more relaxed everyone feels, the more enjoyable the experience will be, and the more often you’ll want to cook outside.
…or build it closer to the home.
Also, keep in mind that most of the delicious ingredients you love to cook with, such as fish or curry, are easier to prepare outside, due to the lingering odor they tend to emanate. When it comes to enjoying life, fresh air and sunny days, nothing beats the comfort of being in your own house. An outdoor kitchen can give you that advantage.

And what better setting for an ideal al fresco dining and entertaining year-round.

 

HOUZZ S.S.M.Angies ListVisit us on FacebookVisit us on TwitterVisit us on LinkedIn