Tuesday, April 23, 2013

KHI Quarterly V4 Q2 - Spring 2013

The Stein Kitchen
I met Marc and Rachel Stein early last spring.  They had been contemplating setting into motion a kitchen design that they had been refining over the past 12 months with a local architect and designer.  Things had been at a bit of a standstill for the winter, as they had been searching for the right contractor to take on the project. I was lucky enough to have been introduced to the Steins, by a family member of my wife’s and good customer of ours, while we were performing some exterior repairs at their home. Rachel came by when we were finishing up our install and asked if we did kitchen work as well, the rest is history.  
The Stein’s kitchen design started by calling for the partial removal of the existing partition wall separating the formal dining room from the kitchen.  By leaving the lower half of the wall, we had space to install a full run of base cabinets and countertops helping to maintain precious storage and work area.  This  dramatically improved the flow and created total visibility between spaces.
The rear basement entry bulkhead was removed and relocated to another side of the home.  This allowed us to complete a small addition to the rear of the kitchen, minimally increasing the square footage but drastically improving the usable space and overall efficiency of the room. In addition, the rear entry and mudroom doors were relocated to accommodate a full U shaped kitchen cabinet layout with a 3’x5’ center island.
The home originally had built-in hydronic or hot water wall radiation units for its main source of heat.  Since we were essentially using up all of the available free wall space with cabinetry, we opted to install under cabinet toe-kick heaters to replace the lost heat. These units are very small, inconspicuous and efficient.  They get installed under your cabinetry thus taking up no more space than would have been used anyway. These small heating units have a variable speed fan which can be adjusted to the desired setting.  Whenever heat is called for by the thermostat, the fan will automatically kick on to circulate the heat radiating from the internal heat exchanger.

Rachel and Marc had already established a relationship with Modern Cabinets and Countertops out of Bristol; they had contracted the fabrication of the kitchen cabinetry while we later performed the complete installation. The cabinets were custom designed for this particular space eliminating the need for spacers and fillers in the installation. The countertops are all made of Quartz and manufactured by a company called Cambria, with the exception of the solid maple butcher block top on the island. The particular variety of Cambria that the Steins had chosen was on backorder for several weeks but the final product was worth the wait! The pairing of the blue glass subway tile backsplash against the stark Cambria countertops was near perfection. Countertops and splash, when coupled with the new LED recessed and under cabinet lighting we had installed, really “lit up” so to speak as the LED's white light permeated the translucent veining of the countertops and reflected back internally, literally glowing.

The Stein’s kitchen was a special project.  We were able to achieve a very bright, natural, and empowering space to inhabit; a place where you just feel good to be. This is the ultimate goal, a functional, sharp looking, and user friendly room that just feels right. I thank Marc and Rachel for the opportunity to work with them on what turned out to be a pretty exciting job.  I enjoyed the opportunity very much!
An Outdoor Kitchen and Bar – Your Place for Summertime Fun
If you love hosting barbeques and entertaining then having an outdoor kitchen and bar is for you. Perfect for the summer months, an outdoor kitchen and bar gives cooks the versatility of open-air cooking and entertainers a great place to gather with family and friends.
There are great benefits to having an outdoor kitchen and bar. Open-air cooking allows cooks to experiment with methods such as smoking and searing without the worries of too much smoke and lingering aromas. Also, not only is it a source of entertainment for social gatherings but you can save money on air conditioning bills by cooking outdoors. Besides, who wants to be stuck cooking in a stuffy, hot, indoor kitchen during the warm summer months? Another great advantage is adding to the real estate value of your house. Having extra amenities in your house does increase the re-sell value (something to keep in mind if you are planning to sell it in the future).

There are three basic designs used for outdoor kitchen and bars: the L-shaped island, U-shaped center and the basic island. The L-shaped design has two areas: one for cooking and another for preparing food. A seating area is usually near the grill. The U-shaped center design is a more common outdoor kitchen design and has separate eating, cooking and prep areas. The basic design is used for light cooking and usually comes with a small prep area, sink and grill.
An outdoor kitchen and bar has three essential features: a refrigerator, a grill and a sink. The refrigerator is convenient in saving you time running back and forth indoors and is the perfect way to serve your guests without having to stop a conversation. The sink allows you to do your prep and cleaning in one place and in turn lessens the mess inside your home. The grill is most often the centerpiece of an outdoor kitchen and bar. You can outfit your grill around the way you cook choosing features such as side burners, rotisserie options, a smoker drawer and convection oven capabilities. A custom-made outdoor kitchen and bar can include additional features such as a pizza oven, ice maker, a wine fridge, television and built-in fireplace.
You’ll find that there's no end to what an outdoor kitchen can do, allowing you to take your passion for cooking to the great outdoors.  You’ll love the range of features and space for cooking, prep and dining that your outdoor kitchen and bar provides. Kruse Home Improvement is one of the few contractors in the area with extensive experience creating outdoor kitchens. Call us today if you’d like to learn more.