Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kitchen Sinks: Stainless Steel Shines for Affordability and Strength

by Rachel Grace


Stainless steel is consistently one of the most popular materials for kitchen sinks, and for good reason. When it comes to cleaning habits and durability with a range of affordable options, it's king.  Learn the basics to see whether this shiny sink material can work in your home.

The basics: Stainless steel kitchen sinks contain chromium and nickel, materials that make them truly stainless and resistant to rust. The sinks come in varying thicknesses: 16 gauge (thicker and higher in quality) to 22 gauge (thinner and less expensive).



Advantages: Stainless steel sinks come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and can be made very large and deep.

Depending on the gauge, stainless steel's durability can stand the test of time. In fact, hot pots and pans can be loaded directly into a stainless steel kitchen sink without damaging its surface. Fragile dishes are also less likely to break when dropped into a stainless steel sink, since it's not as hard as stone.

Aesthetically, these sinks allow for cohesiveness in finishes, since so many modern appliances are stainless steel.
Disadvantages: Not all stainless steel sinks are created equal. The thicker the steel, the more durable the sink. Thin stainless steel sinks are more likely to dent, scratch and even rust when the finish wears off.

Stainless steel sinks can also be a tad noisy — some may require sound-deadening pads. These insulating pads are installed on the bottom and sides of the sink to absorb sound, protect against condensation and maintain the temperature of the sink water.
Sustainability: Stainless steel is easily recycled and repurposed. Steel is the number-one recycled material in the United States, so it's easy to find stainless steel sinks made from recycled materials.
Maintenance: As its name indicates, stainless steel does not stain and can be easily maintained without special cleansers. But if you want to get your sink especially shiny, a soft- to medium-bristled brush and a mildly abrasive cleanser like Bar Keeper's Friend will do the trick.

Look to a stainless steel sink for durability and sleek aesthetics at a budget-minded price.  Stop by Cabinet-S-Top (1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH 44256 ~ 330.239.3630) to let us help you select the right stainless steel sink for your kitchen.




Monday, February 18, 2013

How to Light a Kitchen for Older Eyes and Better Beauty

by Anne-Marie Brunet, CKD, CBD

Include the right kinds of light in your kitchen's universal design
plan to make it more workable and visually pleasing for all
As we age, the lens of the eye becomes less flexible, and our lighting requirements change. The ability to focus on near objects decreases, which explains why many people need reading glasses as they get older. The lens of the eye also becomes denser and yellower, decreasing the transmission of light, so that more light is often needed to see. This changes how we perceive colors; they become more muted and muddy. Just try looking through a yellow filter to see what I mean — you'll benefit from lighter colors surrounding you. The eyes become more susceptible to glare as well, making the need for contrast greater.

There are many other issues that affect aging eye lenses too, so older eyes require different lighting solutions. These solutions won't benefit just them; they will also help create more beautiful household surroundings. Considering the right amount of light, location of the light source and color temperature will improve your and your family's sense of well-being.

Let’s look at a few lighting solutions, starting with the kitchen.

"Up, down and all around." I use this little saying to make sure I have addressed all the required elements when I'm planning a lighting design. Sounds simple, but it really does work.

Up Lighting

The most common use of up lighting is in a recessed cove around the top perimeter of a room. To maximize light output, use a T5 fluorescent or LED light source that will wash the ceiling with light. This helps to create a brighter ceiling that bounces and reflects light throughout the space without glare. Combine this with lots of natural daylight to increase the overall light levels in a room.

If your cabinets don't go to the ceiling, consider adding lights above the cabinets. Using a more powerful light source, such as a T5 fluorescent, increases the reflectivity of the ceiling, thereby increasing the light in the room.

While increasing light levels is important, it is equally important to minimize glare. Use matte finishes to reduce light flares and glare.

Honed Calacatta Marble Countertop
Countertops are often the culprits in causing glare. If you prefer stone countertops, consider those that are honed to reduce reflection and glare.

Concrete Kitchen Countertop
Consider soapstone or concrete as well. Concrete countertops in particular are becoming more and more popular for all kinds of areas in the house, and there is no shine to them at all.

Downlighting is just that: lighting that shines down to illuminate a space. Down lighting can sometimes be referred to as general lighting. Once it was simply the only light source in a room — that single fixture in the middle of the ceiling. If this is your only option, placement and quantity of fixtures are the keys to attaining a balanced lighting level while reducing dark corners. Pot lights are also considered downlighting.

Task lighting, including undercabinet lighting, is one of the single most important lighting specifications for any project, in my opinion. It puts the light where you need it most. In a kitchen it would be under the cabinet, where the light is in front of you, illuminating the surface and its objects, and not behind you, creating shadows. Pendants can also be considered task lighting.

LED Under Cabinet Lighting 
Opt for Xenon or LED lights for bright and warm yet accurate color rendering. Always make sure there is a diffuser or lens on the fixture itself to help evenly distribute the light and reduce any hot spots on the counter. As we age, we will require two to five times more light to perform the same tasks we did at a younger age.

 We all know by now that drawers are by far more functional and accessible than cabinets with doors. How about shedding some light inside your drawers? Another great use for task lighting! You won't have to search too long for a spoon when that midnight snack craving strikes.
All-Around Lighting

All-around lighting includes general lighting and natural light. You want to ensure that at any time of day, there is enough light for everyone to effectively use the space without incident, and that any dark areas are minimized.

This kitchen showcases most of the types of lighting discussed. There's up lighting in the cove above the soffit and downlighting from the pendants over the peninsula and pot lights in the soffit. It also has toe-kick lighting, a nice contrast of material colors with low sheen and lots of natural light.

Cabinet Lighting
Visual Cuing

Another important aspect of lighting a space for those with diminishing eyesight is visual cuing. Visual cuing provides an additional reference point for judging distance or depth when entering a space or approaching objects. The lighting at the base of these cabinets, or toe-kick lighting, contrasts well with the dark floor and midtone cabinetry, creating a readily visible contrast. But people will just think it's cool.

Have questions on where to place lighting in your kitchen?  We'd be glad to help!  Stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH or give us a call to set up an appointment 330-239-3630.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Meet the New Super Toilets

by Mike Elgan

With features you never knew you needed, these toilets
may make it hard to go back to standard commodes
Indoor plumbing is arguably the greatest invention in the history of humankind. And the porcelain and chrome toilets that grace most bathrooms in the industrialized world work fine. While most people think, "If it ain’t broke, why fix it?" some gadget-happy companies — especially in Japan — say, “Why not?”

Fancy electric high-tech toilets, which the Japanese call super toilets, can be found in more than 72 percent of Japanese households. At minimum they include a bidet feature and often a seat warmer.

High-tech features vary, but most of the toilets use
electricity to provide warming, automation and bidet functions.

Numi Toilet
The Kohler Numi’s squarish, angled shape, subtle buttons and strange automatic lid make it look like it's anything but a toilet.

It has a motion-activated lid that automatically opens when anyone stands in front of it and what Kohler calls “advanced bidet functionality,” which is an integrated air dryer.

The appliance, however, goes beyond the normal functions of a toilet and adds atmosphere. It has a heated seat and even a subtle air vent that warms the floor in front of the fixture.

It even has an atmosphere light and a music player. A touch-panel remote, which attaches to the toilet with a magnetic docking station, lets you customize all the settings.

Washlet S300 Toilet
The leading super toilet maker in Japan is a company called Toto. And if you’ve ever visited a nice hotel in Japan with a Toto toilet, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore.

Toto’s most advanced toilets are sold only in Japan, with controls labeled only in Japanese. The most advanced Toto toilet you can buy in the United States is the Washlet S300.

It has a heated seat, a remote-controlled bidet feature with air drying and the option of an oscillating bidet stream of water.

W+W Toilet
Roca W+W, which stands for "washbasin plus water closet," uses advanced technology to help the environment.

The water appliance saves, filters and chemically treats the sink water you use to wash your hands and brush your teeth, then reuses that water for flushing the toilet.

The net effect is that you use the same amount of water in the sink but zero extra water for the toilet.

1977  Medina Road, Medina, OH

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Best Places to Stash Small Kitchen Appliances

by Bud Dietrich, AIA

Tucked-away places like nooks, pantries and dedicated cabinets keep your kitchen gadgets handy but out of the way

There are the big three appliances — the refrigerator, range and dishwasher — that we all know and are must-haves for every kitchen. But over the years, small, single-purpose appliances have proliferated. Toasters, mixers, blenders, food processors, dough makers, waffle makers, coffee machines and so many more gadgets have become a part of our kitchens.

But where do we store these appliances when they're not in use? How can we keep them close at hand without their taking up valuable counter space?

An appliance garage. Use a smaller section of a tall cabinet if you don't have a large closet or pantry space for these appliances. Add cabinet doors that can move completely out of the way, and put the appliances on a rollout shelf for easiest accessibility.

With an outlet or two in the back wall, the appliances will be ready to use when needed and hidden from sight when not.
Purpose-built cabinets.
You can also dedicate a cabinet for a particular small appliance. One of the most common uses it to store mixers. Having the mixer on a pullout or lift-up shelf keeps the appliance handy and easily stored away. This is a very useful bit of cabinetry for an appliance used often.
Remember to use every inch of space. It's fairly easy to create some unique and innovative small spots with all the different types of cabinetry hardware available.
A small appliance closet. A closet-like space can be a good home to all of your small appliances. Equipping the closet with strong rollout shelves will make getting at them easy. When you're finished mixing, blending or toasting, just return the appliance to its home and close the door.
The most ubiquitous small appliance has to be the coffeemaker. More often than not, this wonderful little machine is placed where it takes up valuable counter space. Rather than let it get in the way, try placing it in a dedicated cabinet, away from the main work area. This way that person who wants another cup of morning joe stays out of the cook's way.
If a dedicated cabinet isn't in the cards, try placing the coffeemaker in a dedicated nook built into the corner.

A shelf in the pantry.
Placing these appliances in a dedicated space in a pantry will work, especially if the pantry is well thought out and organized. A pair of pocket doors provides ample access and turns the pantry into what it should be: an extension of the kitchen.
If budget allows, a built-in coffeemaker with a slide-out counter can't be beat.
A corner counter. If your kitchen has the space for it, a dedicated work area will make using that coffee maker, mixer or panini press all the more enjoyable — and make room for more than one cook in the kitchen.
Cabinet-S-Top, 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256