Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Decisions Decisions Decisions, It is ALL about Selections

Remodeling! It is ALL about Selections! Your  firm decisions determine the timeliness of your project.

Are you finally ready? Remodeling your kitchen or bath can be exciting projects! They are typically a homeowners long standing dream. Typically there are two scenarios that help homeowners say yes to a remodeling project..

1. They have lived in the home for many years and desire to upgrade.
    Special family holidays or events such as weddings, graduations, or new arrivals 
    are often the catalyst to pull the trigger on the project 

2. They have purchased and moved into a new residence they want to "make their own".

Sometimes the incentive is a combination of the above. Reason #2 is key here in New England. It is a fact that previously owned homes outnumber new construction. In both 
reasons, your "selections " are key. 

The choices or selections made always end up being what drives how soon the project will be completed. Suddenly we are thrust into realizing there are hundreds of questions to ask to make informed decisions. It seems every step in the process uncovers more info with new questions formulated from the new info received.

Beware! There is something that can unravel your sense of confidence in your own decisions and selections! Something most of us fall victim to. It is human nature to doubt ourselves and our choices. What do we typically do? We ask other people what they think or like. 

Getting caught in asking for too many opinions can really slow down our project. Most of us forget a key consequence of doubting our own choices. The bottom line is, making decisions in a timely manner will impact the completion date of your project. The more changes made, the longer the process takes. Getting on the docket to have your project move into the build phase or installation is critical if you need your project completed within a certain time frame. Trust yourself and trust us and everything will converge well.

Like all professions, we just do not know what we do not know about how a business functions other than our own. The reality is excellent builders and remodel contractors are booked, sometimes months in advance. They want you to have your dream kitchen or bath. The designer and build team work together with you to help you decide what you really want in the design phase. Allowing some wiggle room for changes in your chosen design is fine. However, if you want a completely new design or selections different than those already  made and quoted, your build phase is going to be interrupted and delayed. Since other customer's projects and contracts have been signed and scheduled, yours may be postponed for longer than you thought it would be.

How can you prevent this? Let me offer this suggestion, especially for the ladies. We girls are known for loving to shop and change our minds, right? Hey, it's true, we love to do both. After all, we need to know what else if out there , correct? Hmmmm.....yeah......I do this all the time. The thing is I end up confused and frustrated in the process. Why? Because generally our first impression and awareness of what we like is usually best. It tends to be "us" and what we will enjoy the longest. We doubt our own "knowing" when we are influenced by other's opinions and suggestions. 

The time to "shop, compare, consider other's ideas and opinions is in the planning and designing phase. How do you do that? Magazines, pictures of your friends kitchens or baths, pictures of model homes you see, print outs and pictures you see on line. Pictures of rooms, sinks, counter tops, appliances, cabinets, colors, accessories, door styles, the list is endless really. I suggest writing notes about what you discover and see. What about this caught your attention, why? Think about you cooking in or being in your space. Really think about what you love and would not change about your current kitchen or bath. What do you dislike about it. Write these thoughts down. 

This is your "Research" phase. It may seem like a waste of time. It is one of the most important proactive ways to truly discover what you like and want. Put it all in your Kitchen or Bath Design "Wish" folder. Keep adding to it. I would begin a year prior to getting the design phase started. 

Here is the logic. As you ponder what you like or dislike, collect ideas & look at them periodically, you will notice there is a trend developing. You will begin to see you prefer the same styles, colors, lay outs, appliances, sink, lighting. Your internal designer will emerge. Before long , your confidence in your own preferences will grow. Before you know it, you will be sure of the look and function you want.  

Have fun with this! It can make a huge difference in the sense of ownership and satisfaction you will experience at the end of this adventure!  Your Dream Design Folder is a critical tool to keep yourself on task. It simply develops organically as pictures and articles are added. Again, you will notice similarities in the choices you make. Those choices ARE your style! This discovery reveals your true taste and preferences. Generally , honoring that will result in a project they will love for years to come. It may not be "trendy". It is their personal signature and will ultimately feel like home.  Isn't that the true goal? Creating your nest, your Home Sweet Home.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Simple Advances

 Apple Wood Kitchens & Bath is a division of Apple Wood Construction Company. We primarily focus on remodeling. We also build new construction, if that is your interest or need.. What does "remodeling" mean to you?  In New England the construction business is unique. Out West, Civic Development Departments plan whole communities. Typically, building new homes to be included in these "planned communities" is more of a focus there then it is here in So NH. Here, homes sell and change ownership.  New England's homes span from the 1600's to now. Some of them were built when the street were basically horse and buggy paths. The neighborhood populations grew. Roads widened as the generations passed.  Planned Communities were not considered, at least until fairly recently. It is one of the reasons homes and commercial businesses can be next door to one another. Obviously, older homes need updating. Remodeling is an art form especially needed in our beautiful New England cities and towns. The historical specifics of  how building developed in New England accounts for much of it's charm.

I just finished reading the last two posts I wrote recently about technology. I find myself amazed actually at the leaps into the future that are becoming common place. There is more to write regarding technological advances for your future consideration.  However, reading the last few reminded me of some simple practical developments cabinet manufacturing has implemented over the years that has truly benefited homeowners. These features have been around for some time now. Although  they are not "new technology", I think they deserve to be mentioned in our discussion.

I'll begin informing you of two more accessories you do control remotely, window coverings.The
rest of this post will be dedicated to less "exciting" developments, yet very popular conveniences. Window treatments are much simpler, yet still cutting edge where convenience is concerned. This is especially true in the kitchen or bath when clean hands make a huge difference. The twenty some years of remotely controlled window coverings being available has made life easier, neat, and clean. Even white or light colored shade fabric remain pristine and free of stains when you do not need to touch them as you operate them. Skylights are perfect for bringing more natural light into a room. However, sometimes glare becomes a nuisance. Remote controls to operate roman shades on skylights is perfect.

When we find a previously owned house we love and buy it, there are always changes we want to make. Typically, the kitchen and baths need updating. What an opportunity to put your personal taste on the new home! Today the possibilities for customizing your project are basically endless. Externally, your ability to add your personal touch through the styles and finishes of the cabinets makes a powerful statement. Yet, more than the design style, your selections of internal accessories to place in the cabinets truly create function that will make your life style so much more enjoyable.

These accessories may not all be "technology" like that discussed the past two weeks. Yet, the practical and pleasurable experiences they afford will definitely make your life easier. Years ago, cabinets with doors and drawers were the norm. Custom internal accessories did not exist. A trip to the kitchen department of a variety store might help equip you to function better in your kitchen. Custom made accessories were not available.

Cabinets have three categories basically. Wall, base, or tall cabinets are designed in various configurations when a kitchen or bath is remodeled. You still have the options of purchasing ready made cabinet and drawer accessories. However, today the potential to utilize every square inch of space by adding custom made accessories to the cabinets has revolutionized the industry. I want to discuss some of these in this post.

Let's begin with the cooking/creative area of your kitchen. Whether you have a cook top mounted in the counter top or a stove Base Drawer "Pots and Pan Drawers" are wonderful. Typically they have three drawers, a shallow one on top to hold your cooking utensils and two deep drawers below that hold pots and pans. No longer do you need to open a base cabinet door, bend over and search for the right size pan. Just open the drawer in one move to select the perfect one.

You can also add Orga Plate Holders or Wooden Dowel Plate Posts in these Drawer Bases to corral your dinnerware. A decorative Plate Rack Cabinet that displays your beautiful dishes is a charming design element in a kitchen. Both choices are popular and how convenient!

Spices! What would we do without our spices while cooking? The possibilities to surround yourself creatively with all the storage needed for spices is exciting to me. Simple wooden interior drawer racks fit inside the drawer near your stove perfectly! What if you love gourmet cooking and love to entertain. Most likely you are going to need larger storage to organize all those exotic flavorful spices. Let me begin with my favorite combination of cabinetry to accomplish this. Picture a focal in your kitchen setting the atmosphere yet completely functional and amazing! your very own " Hearth "
creative cooking station. How, you say? Well....................

Your stove is 36 to 60 wide, generally a commercial style. Above it is a massive hood made of  Stainless Steel or Wood cabinetry matching the style and finish of all the other in your kitchen.
Both the Stove and the Hood are bordered with vertical column cabinets that organize your spices and cooking utensils within "hand reach" distance. The construction of these vertical columns can be varied as well. You can select either Apothecary Drawers, Pull Out Spice Cabinets / or Base Pantry Cabinets 6 to 12 inches wide that will keep everything you need close. If you do not have a large room for your kitchen, yet still want the look, 3 to 6 inch Pull Out Filler Cabinets accomplish the same thing on a smaller scale. All of these specialty cabinets are available in wall or base cabinets to frame your Hearth area. It is STUNNING! One of the most wonderful accessories to add here is a
wall mounted Pot Filler. What is that? Wait for it!........................Have you ever filled a BIG pot with water and wrestled it over to set on the stove? Heavvvvy!  A Pot Filler is a special faucet plumbed into the back splash area over your stove top. It has a jointed collapsible arm so it can be pushed flush to the wall when not in use. However, the beauty and wonder of it is setting your empty pot on the stove, then filling it is place! Yes, it's TRUE! I want one someday!

I am going to save other interior accessories you will find intriguing for a future blog post.
However, I want to cover one of the most challenging topics in kitchens for decades. That Black Hole where everything disappears has been so irritating for decades. The "Corner Base Cabinet". You know the one you try to only put stuff you rarely need in on the top shelf hopefully because you have to be a contortionist to retrieve anything?  This cabinet is physically large. In fact it is usually the largest base cabinet in the kitchen. Functional? NO! Annoying? YES! Boy, do I have good news for you! Cabinet Manufacturing engineers finally tackled this age old problem. The first solutions were Corner Lazy Susan Cabinets. They were a good solution. They remain a popular solution if space allows. Now,  with engineering and practical technology interior shelving has been created that allows full use and access to the "Black Hole". Our true Custom Line , Plato Cabinetry , has a cabinet called the "Blind Corner Magic Corner". The shelves are equipped with a system of stainless steel shelves set on wheels and gliders. The first top and bottom shelf system is attached to the cabinet door. When you open the door these shelves partially project our into the kitchen. When they do the back top and bottom shelve's contents become visible. To access any item on these back shelves, you just slide them forward into the convenient space with in hand's reach to grab any item you want.
Problem SOLVED!

I hope you enjoyed learning about these practical designs and developments our industry created for your satisfaction and practical needs.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Connectivity, the Easy Convenient Solution

We've been discussing new major trends in the kitchen and bath industry. Over the past few years connectivity is the word that describes the biggest changes in the remodeling or new construction business. The array of products appearing to make our lives more conveniently controlled through our smart phone or tablet is staggering! These features are integrated with Bluetooth streaming.

The technology continues to expand into practical as well as comfort/convenience uses rapidly.
Water leaks have always had a potential for a nasty expensive discovery when you arrive home. Taking a hint from the apps that run your appliances remotely, Delta's IDevice alerts your mobile device if your water heater or sink are leaking. How about that panicky feeling when you ask yourself half way to your destination " Did I close the garage door?" Ugh! NuTone's Garage Door Controller will not only let you know the answer, it will let you close it remotely! Now that is cool!

In our germ phobic culture we have become used to sink faucets and towel dispensers that operate with the wave of our hand. Now if you want  the same safety in your home, there are hands free flushing toilets, and sink faucets available. High efficiency low flow flushing toilets are gaining in popularity. Manufacturers are racing to offer a diverse selection of 1.0  gallon per flush models. Shocked? Yes, I wrote 1.0 gallon per flush!

Last week I touched on "Smart " stoves and refrigerators. In a very competitive environment appliance manufacturers have been forced to move towards smart technology. The results are amazing. Cooking appliances seem to have developed the greatest advances in technology.
I mentioned in last weeks post the refrigerator with an internal camera your phone can access.
I have inventoried my refrigerator and written a grocery list I left sitting on my counter. So frustrating! This refrigerator's interior camera can be activated with your phone so you can take a look again at what you need to pick up at the store!

Hey, maybe a great sale on a beautiful chicken appears as you walk down the aisle. Suddenly that is what you want to cook for dinner. If you have a "Smart" oven, you just pull up the app to it,turn on your oven, set it to 350 degrees in the convection oven and pop the chicken in for a quick dinner. No more "down" or wasted time!Your Smartphone is becoming the control panel for your oven these days.

How about recipes or unexpected problems with your cooking appliances? The latest appliances can communicate with the manufacturer or each other. They also connect to vast libraries of recipes and cooking resources. In fact the very high end company Wolf Cooking Appliances has 200 +   programmed recipes. You can select one and be instructed which rack position to choose, how to prepare and cook the entire dish!    

 Did you need to hand your Smartphone to your kid or grand kid to learn how to utilize all the capability? I did!  Well, now you can bond with them over great recipes you want to cook and serve to family. The kids and grand kids may not be able to afford these high end specialty Smart Appliances. However, they have the interest, savvy, and ability to help you activate and use the technology! Who knew!