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In our home the Kitchen is the "heartbeat" of our home. It is the room in the house that is most used and loved. We cook healthy meals for our family, have fun trying new and old recipes and, of course, you always have to taste test! This is the main reason why knowing how to set up a working kitchen is essential. If you would like to save time and money, the right essential tools are necessary.
As you know it is exciting to set up your first kitchen. There are literally hundreds, even thousands, of very exciting and enticing baking and cooking utensils, pots and pans, and then not to mention all the frilly items that you think you need to set up your first kitchen. Whether you have opened your first cookbook or watched your first cooking show, you have probably seen all the lovely dozens of utensils, tableware, pots and pans and frilly items that they use. While yes, all these brand name products look great on TV, let's get realistic ~~ your budget probably says otherwise. After all, this is your first Kitchen. Don't get me wrong if you can afford to buy those expensive items, but most of the time the "knock-offs and/or used items" are just as good, if not better. I prefer vintage items that I have found at garage sales and/or resales shops. These vintage kitchen items are truly wonderful treasures because they were made a lot hardier than today's "fashion" classics, and most of the items I have found are in mint condition for a 1/3 of the price!
So as you set up your new "user-friendly kitchen" remember you really don't need those fancy gadgets! But what you do need to make fun, easy and delicious meals, are a few simple kitchen staples and essentials!
So here is what you need to know in "Kitchen 101!"
Basic Flatware and Eating Dishes
To me this is the most essential and first step that you need to take care of when setting up your kitchen. Of course, I am assuming that you have purchased all your needed appliances: refrigerator, stove, sink, dishwasher (not a necessity), etc. After all the appliances are purchased the next step is choosing your basic flatware and eating dishes, i.e., flatware, plates, bowls, ramekins, glassware, tea and coffee mugs. After all you have to eat and you have to have something to eat on and eat with.
When choosing your flatware and tableware patterns you might be overwhelmed at first because there are literally thousands of patterns to choose from. You can either go to your local department and/or kitchen store to purchase these items or you can choose to do what I did. I did not want that same mundane pattern for each of my family members. So for the first couple of days we ate off of Dixie plates (paper plates) and that gave me time to go and search at my local unique antique stores, thrift stores, second hand stores, yard sales, garage sales and estate sales in my area. So that is exactly what I did. I was very surprised to find at my local antique store that the collection of unique vintage and mint condition plates, bowls, glassware, mug and tea ware and even ramekins were priced anywhere from $.50 to $2.00 dollars apiece. To me this was perfect for our needs as well as being able to find some very unique patterns that suited each of our personalities the best. And what a lovely table does it make. I was also able to find almost brand new Oneida flatware at an estate sale that was also reasonably priced. I saved myself quite a bit of money and had a great time choosing each unique plate and flatware! I must say my family was happy to their "own" plate also.
POTS and PANS
The next core set of items for any great working kitchen are: pots and pans! I know what you thinking... big money going out on these items. Well, I am here to tell you after over17+ years of being a housewife and going through many a variety of pots and pans, my newest purchases are here to stay! Lodge Cast Iron! After dumping dollar after dollar into the "non-stick surface" pots and pans, I say "keep them" and how they wear off into your food. Do you really want eggs with a non-stick surface, black speckles in them? After all, who even knows what that coating is really made of? So yes, for me it is cast iron for the rest of my life. I made my first purchase at Target no less for my Seasoned Lodge 15-1/4"diameter by 2-1/4" depth Double Handled Skillet and let me tell you, I use it literally for everything from frying eggs to making homemade spaghetti sauce! What I love the most is whatever you cook in it makes each meal taste even more delicious! I have heard that some of the greatest chefs and cooks in the world swear by cast iron and I am right there with them! Best of all the cleaning care for them is fast and easy and they literally will last you a lifetime. To me they are the best investment for the money. These are the pieces I would recommend purchasing first to get you started (you can always add more unique pieces as your budget allows). They are as follows:
- 12" cast iron Skillet (with lid)
- 15 to 18" cast iron Skillet (with lid)
- 4 and 8 - quart Saucepans with covers (I would recommend stainless steel/cast iron)
- 6" or 8" cast iron skillet (great for making gourmet omelets, even small deserts)
- And of course, a Cast Iron Dutch Oven, Roasting Pan and/or Stock Pot (with lid)
You will find that you will be very happy with these first investments and it will even enhance your cooking so in return you will enjoy being in the kitchen more!
Even if you are not a baker, you will definitely need some pans that can go into the oven. So when you are first stocking your kitchen bake ware section you want to start with a sheet pan (sometimes this is called a "jelly roll" and/or "cookie sheet). Once again I would choose either cast iron or vintage aluminum. I am fortunate enough to have inherited my grandmother's aluminum and vintage bake ware. Once again save yourself some money and look at your favorite antique store, garage sale, yard sale and/or local thrift store.
I believe the first purchases that you should make regarding bake ware should be:
- Jelly Roll pan (usually measures 15"x10"x1"up to 18"x13"x1")
- Aluminum Pizza Pan (15")
- 2 - 9" round cake pans
- 9" x 13" baking pan
- 9"x 5" loaf pan
- 9" pie pan
- 12 cup muffin tin
- Metal cooling rack; and
- 2 cookie sheets
Believe me you will not just use your Jelly Roll pan and Cookie sheet pans for only cookies and pastries, but rather they make great trays for oven-roasting vegetables and meats. This is why you should look for sturdy pans that are solid and do not bend easily. Also, FYI sturdier pans distribute heat more evenly than lighter pans.
Baking pans whether glass or stainless steel that has a 2" or 3" height to their sides makes great casserole and lasagna dishes. You will even be able to bake brownies, breads, and cakes in them.
A muffin pan when greased well makes great bite size quiche. These are great for a kid's breakfast before school or on your way to work.
Then once again as your budget allows you might want to add the following to your collection of bake ware:
- Mini Loaf Pans;
- Shaped Loaf Pans;
- Fancy Cake Pans (hearts, holiday shapes, flower pans, etc.)
- Porcelain or ceramic casserole dishes;
- Cookie Cutters;
- A Bread Machine;
And many, many more baking gadgets!
Kitchen stores have many whole walls just devoted to dozens and dozens of different types of cooking utensils. But as a new cook setting up her kitchen I would purchase a crock (even a ceramic planter works great for a utensil crock). Again, these may be purchased at garden centers, retail stores, garage sales, antique stores, and/or resale shoppes. I would say the basic utensils you will be in need of to start with are:
- A good set Wooden (or bamboo) spoons;
- A Wooden (or bamboo) spatula;
- A Ladle (great for serving soups, stews, chili, spaghetti sauce, etc.);
- Stainless Steel Tongs (for frying bacon, turning meat, tossing pasta while it is boiling and serving pasta also, tossing a salad, etc.);
Once again, after much experience in the kitchen I have found the wooden or bamboo utensils are just the ultimate of choice. They work very well with cast iron also. You can also purchase spatulas in wooden and/or bamboo. They are low priced and low maintenance as all you need to do is hand wash and dry well.
As your kitchen grows, here are a few other utensils to consider:
- Lasagna Spatula (Pampered Chef has a great one);
- A Pasta Fork to separate pasta and to keep it from sticking;
- A Slotted Spoon;
- Small, Medium and Large Wooden Spatulas;
- Small and Large Stainless Steel Whisks;
- Pie Server;
- Cake Cutter and Server;
- Stainless Steel Pizza Cutter
The only major appliance that you will need to create delicious and heartwarming meals is an oven with a stovetop, but many other electric appliances will make cooking and baking a lot easier for you. A microwave is convenient for just reheating food and popping microwave popcorn, so I believe that this not really a necessity and you can get around it with a stovetop oven.
Most new homes and/or apartments come with microwaves already installed so you might want to consider purchasing this at a later date.
As your kitchen and budget grows, here are a few more convenient appliances you might like:
- Food Processor: To me a food processor can be a huge timesaver! You can use it to quickly chop large quantities of vegetables, fruits and even make homemade bread crumbs in it. Most food processors come with specialized discs that make grate cheese a breeze and evenly slicing vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, etc.
- A Blender: Using a blender to make pureed sauces, smoothies, and milkshakes can save you tons of times and trips to the nearest ice cream store.
- Toaster: You can always toast bread in the oven or in a dry frying pan, but a toaster is definitely lower maintenance.
- Toaster Oven: This is a great appliance and huge time saver for cooking frozen pizzas, toasting a lot of bread at once, and reheating things safely. I personally would recommend this over a microwave!
- Electric mixer: A must have! You can purchase these as hand-held and/or as standing devices. But an electric mixer is a must have for speeding up baked goods, beating eggs for quiche, mashing potatoes and much, much more. This is an invaluable asset when you plan on baking frequently.
- Bread Machine: another invaluable asset these days. I literally have used mine almost every day for the past 17+ years and it is still going strong. Mine even makes jam. So when we get our harvest of ripe fruits in I am able to make my homemade preserves. Delicious! I even make my homemade pizza dough recipe in it!
Miscellaneous Kitchen Items
In preparation of just about any meal, you will definitely need knives and cutting board. When shopping for knives do make sure to buy the highest of quality! Even though you are putting out the money now, in the long run it will last a lifetime.
- A knife made of high carbon stainless steel for chopping;
- 3 or 4" paring knife
- A serrated knife for cutting bread and other items
- 8" or 10" chef's knife
A cutting board, even though the wooden ones look fancier on the countertop, a plastic and/or tempered glass board is easier to clean (is dishwasher safe) and is more versatile. Also you can save yourself some moohla by purchasing this at any dollar store.
- Colander and Sieves:A colander is a must-have for any kitchen. You can use a strainer for draining pasta, canned beans, rinsing vegetables, fruit and more. Nested varying size sieves, in stainless steel) work as flour sifters too).
- Mixing bowls:A basic set of three mixing bowls is another must-have for any kitchen. They can be used for baking, mixing, serving, tossing salads, serving side dishes and garage bowls as you are preparing your meal. Some mixing bowls come with lids and serve a dual purpose for storage. I do not prefer these and my mixing bowls are a nestled set of vintage Pyrex that I have found along my journey.
- Plastic storage containers and Ziploc Bags: Both of these items come in hand for storing any item you can think of. Containers are great for leftovers. Zip Storage bags are great for anything you want to store and/or freeze. With all the different sizes these are a necessity in my kitchen and they also help with portion control!
I pick my fresh vegetables from the garden, come in and dice and slice them and into the storage bags they go to either use for dinner that evening and/or freeze for future use. Snack size bags can be your best friend if you have children that love to snack and it keeps them on portion control!
- Dish towels: To me a dish towel makes a kitchen your own unique place. With so many to choose from you are bound to be able to show off some flair or theme in your kitchen as well as dry things more quickly.
- Measuring cups: These are a must start in any kitchen. I would start with glass Pyrex glass measuring cups! You can use these also for dry measure too! Not only great for measuring they are great for sauces, dressings, dips, measuring flour, sugar and even more! These are a necessity! A must!
- Measuring spoons: Another treasure in your kitchen. These spoons come in plastic and/or metal. I prefer metal. They are very useful in measuring out very small quantities of both liquid and dry ingredients. Measuring spoons come in a set of different sizes. When purchasing, make sure that the spoons you choose include: a quarter- teaspoon (1/4 tsp.); a half-teaspoon (1/2 tsp.); a teaspoon (1 tsp.), and a tablespoon (1 Tbsp.).
In closing ~ setting up your new kitchen does not have to cost you a fortune. I would begin by asking family members and friends if they have any extra kitchen items that you might be able to start out with. If not, look for sales and if that doesn't work - REMEMBER: shop garage sales, estate sales, antique shops, thrift stores, and goodwill and resale shoppes in your area!
If you decide to purchase your items new then I would definitely shop the sale papers. The best stores to start at are: Kohl's, Tuesday Morning, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls.
Remember: buy on sale or with a coupon!
Happy Hunting for your treasures!
Natural lighting ideas are important in any home and this is why. It is true that kitchen lighting does not have to be the most complex of matters when it comes to home improvement. However, this is no justification to have a boring setup, which includes only one fixture centered in the ceiling. A good setup involves three main things; namely, task, ambient and accent lighting.
These home lighting ideas combine to bring you a lively and cozy environment, which works well with the rest of your available space and design elements that surround your home and cooking space. They create practicality in your working spaces and, at the same time, make your kitchen an entertainment aboard for everyone present in the home. You can picture having a few close friends around and cooking while you chat away through the evening.
Task lighting is given the most attention each time we are doing home improvement for the kitchen and with good reason. There is a need to ensure that the most practical home lighting ideas are selected because they are the ones that should suit best the preparation of food. You do not want to hinder your ability to work efficiently, which is the case if there are shadows all over your kitchen counters. Injuries are also minimized by using proper illumination in the cooking area at all times.
Consider having under cabinet lighting, which is critical in shadows. It also plays the right tune when it comes to illuminating tiles or creating decorative back splashes after dark with no shadowing. The most reliable ones to use are the fluorescent lamps. However, you cannot use a dimmer with these kinds of light fixtures. The good news is that you do not need a dimmer while working in your kitchen anyway since you need good focused light to see what you are doing at all times.
Proper ambient lighting will attract people into the kitchen with its homely and relaxing feel. General illumination is given by hanging lamps like chandeliers. Accent lighting, on the other hand, will revolve around making various spots in your kitchens as focal points of attraction. They beautify the area and make you want to spend more time in the room. Gurus who know what's in and what's out in home lighting ideas will encourage you to have lighting inside glass cabinets to illuminate all your china and glassware collections and to have spot lights embedded in the ceiling for accentuating those cooking tools and accessories that are modern and want to be the focal point of any contemporary and modern kitchen.
I will simply highlight some 5 ways you can use to find kitchen remodeling contractors. I will start with the "old fashion" way of doing it to the more modern ways. So read on right to the end so you can know about all the methods.
You can use link directories like Yahoo Directory and the Dmoz project, which Google is a part of, to find kitchen remodeling contractors. These directories collectively list a list of links to all the contractor sites. You just need to find the appropriate category usually filed under "home improvements" or "home and family".
Using search engines
Search engines remain the leading method for finding information online. When you want to find a kitchen remodelling contractor, all you need to do is enter the keyword in the search box and a list of possible companies you can hire will show up.
Now to narrow it down to your specific keyword make sure you put inverted commas in the beginning and end of the keyword. Also Google has now added maps on their search results, which means you can now enter the keyword plus the specific area where you live and a list of kitchen remodeling contractors from your area will be listed first - even on a map.
Review sites and expert blogs
In recent years there has been an increase in user generated content. Review sites are basically based on feedback from consumers on a specific website, service or product. You can use them to check the credibility of any kitchen remodelling contractor before you hire them.
Social networking websites
Examples of social networking sites you can use include Yahoo answers and Google groups. Here you can simply enter your question and within minutes you will get responses from real humans.
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Staging a home for sale means just that...setting the stage so that your home may sell faster and often times closer to the listing price than if it were not staged.
Staging allows the home to be presented as a canvas and allow the buyer to paint a picture for them; visualizing what the space will look like if they moved in with their items. But that does not mean showing an empty home; rather staging accentuates spaces within the home by creating vignettes, which enhance positive space while downplaying negative areas within the house.
You could hire a professional stager for about $400 for a consultation and then shell out another $100 per hour for the stager to do the packing and the redecorating, OR you can do it yourself, keep the savings and put it into staging the home if you do-it-yourself.
In order to create the staging scene, understand that for the next 30-90 days, while the house is for sale, you will need to have removed personal items, collections and clutter, (and keep them 'gone' until you have a signed contract). Your home may lose its personal style and warmth, but that will be one of the small sacrifices you will need to make to maximize profit from the sale of your house.
Staging will require some planning as you will pack away items, which you may have kept handy just for the sake of a convenience (i.e., refrigerator door space used as a bulletin board for 'to-do lists,' coupons, family photos and calendars, etc.) or items which may have been left plugged (indefinitely) into electrical outlets for convenience, such a shavers and hair dryers in the bathroom; all of which add clutter to the home.
If you stage your home for sale on your own, here are 10 easy tips to remember:
1) Make a list of all the spaces, choose one room at a time and tackle each individually. You will be overwhelmed if you choose to do 'the whole house' in one afternoon. Start with the bathroom(s) and the kitchen and then move to the common rooms and finally the bedrooms. Basements, hallways and attics are last. Check off each room on your list as you go helping to make you feel as if you have made some accomplishment. Understand that packing up clutter is 'work' and it is time-consuming (that is why there is a $100 an hour price tag on the hiring a professional), but remember always that the savings outweighs the hard work. By all means, ask family members to pitch-in. Even children can pack away their toys and older children can clean a dirty shower. Plug in the Ipod or put on a CD to help the time pass a little more pleasantly.
2) Evaluate the colors of each room individually. Pastel colors do not sell well. Baby blue and princess pink are often gender-inspired colors, which are a huge turn-off for potential buyers. Even if the buyers have children and will use the baby blue room for their own baby, they may or may not like that particular shade or, in fact may wish to use yellow or green, often considered colors, which can traditionally be used for both boys and girls. Play it safe and simply paint over the pastels with a neutral color like beige or off-white. Any wallpaper should be removed or painted over if possible.
3) Go to your neighborhood grocery store and ask them for empty boxes from produce as these usually have side cut-outs for easy grabbing. Start storing empty boxes in a place for easy access a few weeks before you begin to stage. You will need the boxes and having them handy will keep the packing momentum moving along.
4) As you go from room to room, remove family pictures from the walls and replace them with used art from a thrift store or simply purchase framed prints from a local dollar store. Pack away all collections including children's Hot Wheels, baseball cap collections and any other really personal collections you and your family may be fond of. You may leave out neutral items for decorating such as pricey crystal, Lladro, colorful depression glassware to fill in those spaces left behind when the spoon collections, baseball card collections and Formula 1 car collections come off the fireplace mantle and shelves. This may be 'painful' but consider that in 30-90 days you will be able to unpack these items in your new home and enjoy them again.
5) Consider at this point whether you will need to rent storage space or whether a neighbor or a friend will allow you to store these items in their home as filled boxes will accumulate quickly. A new storage idea has streamlined storage space in recent years, whereas you rent a container or a pod and store the items in this portable space for as long as you need to. If you should rent this container space, do not store the entire container on your own property. Ask a friend or a neighbor if you can store it there or ask the container company if you can store at their own facility. You do not want to make your home look like a warehouse. Also, do not consider storing any packed items in a spare bedroom or in the basement of your own home as you would simply be de-cluttering one room and cluttering another. All rooms should be clear of storage boxes, afterall you are selling a home and not a storage space.
6) Clean, clean, clean....particularly bathrooms and kitchens. No home will sell especially well with grit, mold, dirty tiles and floors. For as much as you will stage each room, the buyers' eyes will focus on the dirt and not on the hard work you put into staging. People remember dirt and grime and it would only remind them how much more work they would have to do when they moved in themselves. If you need to re-grout a dirty tub, then you will need to make that effort.
7) Buyers make a determination of a home within 20 seconds of walking through the front door. Make that experience memorable within that short period of time. If you have an entryway, set up a table, with flowers, a small attractive bowl of expensive mints and add some potpourri somewhere in the area. Scented candles offer a nice smell when you first walk in, so I use them often. I often purchase scented candles at the dollar store or the day after a holiday when the retailers slash holiday item prices. An expensive red Christmas candle can be picked up for half price the day after the holiday season and no one would know it was a holiday candle. The same for Halloween...often orange, black, yellow and green scented candles go on sale after this event, so I stock up at that time and use those candles throughout the year.
If you have an entryway, open all the doors off the entry to make the space appear larger and brighter.
8) Go from room-to-room and pack- up clutter. Leave a small basket under the counter or in a closet with items you will need to use while you are still living there. The only items on a bathroom counter should be a small bouquet of flowers, a bar of clean decorative soap in a clean soap dish and a clean hand towel. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving cream, medications and hair products should all be packed away under the counters or in places, which are not noticeable.
9) Go to the supermarket and purchase an inexpensive bouquet of either daisies or carnations. You get many more flowers to work with in these arrangements than you would if you opted to spend money on roses or more expensive flowers. Arrange the flowers in whiskey snifters, small vases, or, if you do not have either take a better drinking glass from your kitchen, tie a small ribbon around the base and fill that with water and a few daisies. Use these arrangements randomly around the home but be sure to place at least one in each room. Change flowers as needed but the daisies and carnations seem to last a long time even if you forget to add more water! Dying flowers MUST be thrown out immediately; they make bad impression to visitors to your home.
10) Move out the bulky furniture and create little seating venues in your home with small tables and chairs. For example, you normally have a large sectional in your TV room with a cocktail table and two side tables...however, you may also have a large window facing the backyard that is blocked by the sectional. Remove pieces of the sectional to make the space appear larger. Place the cocktail table and one end table near the sectional. Find two chairs, which do not always have to match and place the other end table in front of the window with the 2nd end table in between the chairs. Add your bouquet of flowers, a small lamp and you have another seating area in the room. Pull your curtains away from the window, tie back with decorative rope or ribbon and let the light shine in the room. Add a bowl of lemons (I also like to use colored peppers) to the cocktail table for added color. Find two pillows that DO match and place them on the chairs in front of the window to tie the room together. If you do not have matching pillows, take two unmatching pillows and wrap matching pillow cases around the pills and knot in the center with a piece of ribbon. This is an easy formula to pull together a room which works in every bedroom and common area in the home.
If you do not have a window to showcase, you may use a blank wall and situate the furniture as indicated above, adding two or three framed prints between the chairs and slightly overlapping the seating space to bring the eye toward the seating venue.
For more staging ideas, please click here for Part II of this series. http://mtrust.realtownblogs.com/real-estate/staging-a-home-for-sale-10-more-ideas-you-can-use-part-ii
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Hello From Nova Scotia - MacKinnon-Cann Inn-Where Home and Garden Television Meets the Travel Channe
I had spent a wonderfully rejuvenating night wrapped up in the soft high-thread-count sheets and comforters of my temporary home at the MacKinnon-Cann Inn in Yarmouth. After an exciting drive down the Evangeline Trail yesterday that included a very informative tour of the Bear River First Nation Heritage and Cultural Centre, followed up by an early-evening walking tour to admire Yarmouth's Victorian heritage areas, I had definitely needed a good rest. But a new day had broken and I was ready for more adventures.
First on the plan was of course breakfast, so I got myself ready and walked downstairs into the tastefully decorated dining area of the MacKinnon-Cann Inn. Neil Hisgen, one of the co-owners, was working in the kitchen to prepare breakfast and occasionally dropped by to see how the guests were doing. I caught him for about ten minutes to find out more about this property and his own personal background.
Neil is originally from Racine, Wisconsin, and hails from a family with six children. He spent six years in the navy following which he briefly returned home, only to move to Fort Lauderdale in Florida where he started his hospitality career. He started working at the front desk at the Marriott Hotel and for the next 18 years worked in various hotels and restaurants, gaining experience at the front desk and in the kitchen. He capped his employed career after 15 years with a general manager's position of a major hotel.
Neil met his business and life partner Michael Tavares at the end of 1997. Neil had made a good return on the sale of his first house and decided to invest it in a bed and breakfast. At the time Michael owned a 200-acre property on a peninsula near Yarmouth which they used as a vacation home. Michael had invited him to spend about a month at his farm near Yarmouth and Neil loved it. Being from the mid-west, he had always enjoyed the change of the seasons.
Neil and Michael were thinking about what they wanted to do and decided they were ready for a change, so they went ahead and opened a bed and breakfast in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia where there was a beautiful Victorian residential district waiting for them with many restoration opportunities. At this point Neil unfortunately had to go back in the kitchen to continue working, but Michael, his co-owner, joined me at my table to give me a more in-depth overview of their projects and his own life story.
Michael is originally from Boston and grew up in the southern part of the city. During college he majored in education, but after school he went into real estate and started his own brokerage firm. He was always fascinated by old buildings and illustrates this with a story from his childhood: at 12 or 13 years of age there was an old farm house nearby, and Michael always wondered who had owned it and lived there. So he talked to his mother about it and she took him to the land registry office to do a title search, obtaining a record of all previous owners of the property.
With these documents in hand he approached the current owners and gave them the historic ownership records of the property. They absolutely loved it, and from that point forward Michael was hooked on the mystique of historic properties. In his words, he loves to "peel back the layers of time" and started to buy and restore his own historic buildings. Over several years he completed eight restoration projects in the south end of Boston.
After Boston he moved to Key West and became a tropical landscape architect. He spent five or six years living and working in Key West, completing many garden design projects for the local gay community. In the 1980s he finally bought a 200 acre farm as a vacation property in Nova Scotia together with several friends. This was when his love affair with Yarmouth began. Michael moved his permanent residence from Key West to Fort Lauderdale where he met Neil in 1997 at a fundraising event. They lived together for a year and Neil helped Michael in his landscaping business. In the summer of 1998 Michael invited Neil to his property in Nova Scotia because he wanted Neil to share this part of his life. So for the last eight years Neil and Michael have been residing in Nova Scotia. Their first Yarmouth property was a run-down Victorian brick mansion which they lovingly restored in 1999 and turned into the present Charles C. Richards House, a historic bed and breakfast with three guest bedrooms decorated in the 1930's Art Deco Period. Each room at the Charles C. Richards House features a private bath, cable TV with DVD players and period furnishings.
The MacKinnon-Cann Inn where I was staying was built in 1887 and is an example of the Italianate Victorian style. The house was built as a duplex for two female cousins, and to this day the inn features two staircases side by side. Michael and Neil rescued the property in 2000 and took it from a condemned state to the stunning mansion that it is today. All seven guest rooms are uniquely decorated in a style reflecting a different 20th century decade, from the 1900s to the 1960s. The main floor features five lavish parlours and Michael pointed out the beautiful patterned wood floor that was installed at great expense throughout the dining area. Neil is a talented glass artist, and many stained glass windows throughout the MacKinnon-Cann Inn and the Charles C. Richards House feature Neil's artwork.
Michael explained that he is very active in Nova Scotia's heritage community and mentioned that he is a member of two historic organizations: he serves on the Board of Directors of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia whose mission it is to preserve and protect the heritage properties in the province. Both the MacKinnon-Cann Inn and the Charles C. Richards House are provincially registered heritage properties. Michael is also a member of the Provincial Heritage Owners Association of Nova Scotia which encompasses 265 provincial heritage properties. Both inns have won several awards, including the 2005 Restoration Award from the Yarmouth County Historical Society and the L.B. Jenson Award as a contribution to the development and economic health of the Yarmouth Heritage Community.
In addition to the two inns, Michael is also currently renovating the property right next door to the MacKinnon-Cann Inn, another Victorian heritage property which he is thinking of turning into a restaurant that will serve the tourists and local community of Yarmouth. The fourth recently renovated property owned by Michael and Neil is a blue-coloured Victorian heritage property located right between the MacKinnon-Cann Inn and the Charles C. Richards House. In essence, Michael and Neil have single-handedly transformed an entire street block, rescued four historic properties and turned them into stunning examples of architectural revival.
As an astute tourism marketer, Michael Tavares is also the President of the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns, a collective marketing and branding group that promotes upscale heritage tourism in unique historic properties. Michael is generally responsible for the inn's marketing while Neil's responsibilities focus more on hospitality and innkeeping.
Michael's restoration mindset is based on a commitment to the preservation of buildings and a respect for the historical integrity of the property. He approaches his projects with a certain humility which he says many renovators today are missing since they are only looking for the highest return on investment. He is a strong believer that the cultural renaissance and economic revival of a town begins with heritage restoration and then trickles down to Main Street.
At the same time he also recognizes the need for protecting his investments, and as a member of the local Yarmouth Town Planning Council he has a chance to participate in shaping the future of this town. Michael and Neil have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless thousands of hours in their heritage properties and business ventures. Their efforts make a significant contribution to the economic well-being of the town.
The beginning was not easy since Michael was an outsider with new ideas in a town with long-standing traditions and established power structures. He was the new kid on the block. In addition, it took some time to gain acceptance, particularly as a gay couple in a rather conservative community. Conflict arose originally since Michael was also very outspoken and questioned the old ways of doing things.
However, his commitment to the community became evident in his renovation projects. Michael would call together all the contractors for each project, such as electricians, plumbers, carpet layers, etc. and told them that he would deal exclusively with them as local merchants instead of choosing a big box home renovation store as his main supplier. This commitment to local merchants has earned him a lot of respect and goodwill in the surrounding community, and today many people call him for his opinion before a debate of important issues that will affect the town.
After I completed my delicious fruit salad and omelet breakfast, Michael took me on a tour of all four properties. We started off with the smaller Victorian house currently under renovation where the entire first floor has currently been stripped down to the bare walls. As with his other projects, Michael is going to do the vast majority of the project himself and will call in specialized contractors only where needed. He is one of those people who have that special gift of spotting a diamond in the rough and taking it from a derelict hovel in danger of collapsing to a stunningly updated and stylish historic jewel with all modern conveniences.
We then went over to the recently restored blue Victorian mansion that was renovated by the previous owners according to Michael's recommendations since Michael and Neil were going to purchase the property. We capped the visit off with the Charles C. Richards House, a stunning Victorian brick mansion with gorgeous architectural details, built for a wealthy local businessman. It was started in 1893 and took two years to finish and was the first brick house of this class to be built in Yarmouth. Most of the special building materials, i.e. the brownstone, granite and brick, were imported from the United States and make this house unique. Michael told me that it took him a whole season to strip the many layers of paint on the ornately carved porch and 32 weeks to repaint it, using eleven different colours.
I admired the wonderful details and stylish décor of the various rooms, including the flower-filled conservatory. Michael and Neil posed for me in front of the intricately carved wooden staircase that leads to the upstairs bedroom and this was the fitting ending for my introduction to architectural preservation and heritage tourism in Yarmouth. I thanked them both for their welcoming hospitality and got ready for my next item on the itinerary: an exploration of Yarmouth history at the Yarmouth County Historical Museum, located right across the street from the Charles C. Richards House.
It isn't uncommon to see homeowners losing sleep over a leaky kitchen faucet. It may be just a trickle of water, but it amounts to a colossal waste of money and scarce resources. But the good news is that this inconsequential, yet very grating problem can be fixed rather easily without any professional help or hi-end plumbing tools.
Simple Steps That Promise A Quick-Fix Solution
Here are simple steps that teach you how to repair a leaky kitchen faucet with functional tools like a screwdriver and an adjustable wrench:
- Faucets are generally categorized into four types- ball type, ceramic disc, cartridge or compression type. You must be very sure about the one installed in your kitchen.
- The process starts with targeting the shut-off valve under the sink. Turn off the water and drain the contents of the pipe too.
- Cover the sink drain to prevent any small parts of the faucet from falling inside it.
- Starting with the faucet handle, unscrew all parts carefully, without losing track of their order of installation. This prevents any kind of confusion after repair. Collect all the parts in a cloth, and keep aside safely.
- Cover the jaws of the wrench with duct tape to prevent any damage to the fixtures.
- Now it's time to assess the damage. In case of a cartridge, ceramic disk or ball type faucet, the villain of the piece is generally the O-ring. Sometimes, it may be a double whammy, with a completely corroded valve seat as well. If it's in order, then you may have to shell out less than $20 and replace the entire assembly.
- Compression faucets are invariably plagued by worn-out seat washers. Once the handle is taken off, the packing nut needs to be unscrewed with a wrench. Remove the stem and change the damaged part.
- Apply plumber's grease or Vaseline on the same. A scouring pad or distilled white vinegar is applied to do away with the mineral deposits on the faucet parts.
- Once the faulty part is replaced, tighten all screws and replace the faucet handle cap.
- Turn on the water, and voila! Your leaky kitchen faucet is past tense.
So without any further ado, get your tools and fix this banal problem at once.
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The Evolution of the Modern Kitchen
We find that the kitchen is one of those rare universals truths that can be found around the world. The kitchen you find in Los Angeles is almost identical to one in Venice or Bangladesh. As a matter of fact you will find that the traditional layout of any kitchen can be found from a mud-hut in the Amazon to a 5th Avenue penthouse. We find the same pattern in archeological excavations from Taos, New Mexico to the ruins of Pompeii.
At the core of the "primal" kitchen we find three basic elements; fire, water and storage. The only real evolution that we find is in the appearance and technology.
From the "hearth", to the "wood-burning" stove, to the "induction cook top".
From the water-bucket, to the hand-pump, to the integrated dishwasher. From the "apple-cellar" to the "icebox" to the "Integrated Refrigerator".
It is not about how the kitchen has changed, but more how we have changed the usage of this once purely functional space.
At the turn of the last century, the kitchen was designed to be out of the way, a place for servants, the cook and the help, to gather and prepare the days meals and double as a place to stay out of the main household. It was sparse, functional and easy to wash-down.
By post-war America, the kitchen was designed as a functional laboratory for a single participant, the woman of the house, the little lady, mom. It was laid out with assembly line efficiency with a window centered on the sink so she could watch the little ones in the back yard.
The evolution of the modern kitchen has grown far from its primary function of food preparation, to that of "the social center of the home". A place where the family, both nuclear as well as tribal, still gather to share, rejuvenate and commune together.
Today the kitchen is still the gathering place of the tribe, but the walls have come down and this once hidden and secluded place is now part of a larger social arena, The Global Kitchen.
It serves as a meeting place, a dinning room, a home-office, a place to do homework; it can even serve as a hide away for quite reflection or a place to gather for fun and entertainment.
The Global Kitchen has become a place that defines the home and those that live in it. This once private domain of the feminine world has now given way to the new social order and reflects the world that we live in.
Today we find that everyone is welcomed in the Global Kitchen. More and more family members and friends are invited, if not encouraged to participate in the ritual of preparation.
And with this increased activity and additional bodies in a high-traffic ballet of fire, boiling water and sharp pointy things, we find that the assembly-line kitchen of the past with its uniform horizon of sink, dishwasher, cook-top, oven and refrigerator, forever locked in its limited one-person "work-triangle", must give way to a new way of thinking.
A New Direction
In our recent past, the collective thought of modern kitchen design was to create the "illusion of order". This was accomplished by hiding the true function of the kitchen. By hiding the food, the waste and the appliances, we create the illusion of productivity and efficiency by hiding the process.
In the new school of thought, the belief is that the kitchen must be efficient to be productive, an environment that is conducive to the task at hand.
It is about changing the way we think about this space we call "kitchen" and our individual relationships to it. It's about creating an environment that allows us to experience new ideas and to rediscover aspects of our lives that have been lost in the daily rush of life.
The Global Kitchen approach is to think first about the fundamental aspects of the kitchen, what we want from it and how this space can be utilized to its full potential. We must view this space as a whole and understand the relevance and position of every item and detail in it, from the largest stewpot to the tiniest teaspoon.
In the past the appliances dictated the form and flow of the kitchen. the sink under the window, the dishwasher to the right or left of the sink, the cook-top with its 12 inches on either side, the double oven that is used only for holidays and special occasions and the refrigerator, this monolith of modern technology that dominates the space.
Today, we must place the individual or individuals and the task first and then the appliance and the space needed to fulfill the task. With a variety of people and activities we must create a fluid, interactive, multifunctional arena, where tools and materials are close at hand and within a given task boundary.
Today we declare the "work triangle" dead and relegated to the ideas of centuries past. With this passing comes a new philosophy along with a new vocabulary:
• Free-range hot, cold and wet zones
• Vertical and Horizontal Work Planes
• Free Standing Furniture Based Multi-Task Elements
• Adjustable Work Landings
• Multi-Task Interiors
• Social Geometry
Kitchen Space...the new frontier.
On the whole, European kitchens tend to be much smaller than their American counterparts, so the utilization of space takes on a greater importance.
To meet this need the Global Kitchen is in many ways designed from the inside - out. The goal is to achieve maximum use of the interiors without compromising the external aesthetics.
The solution is not more space, but better utilization of the space at hand.
As kitchen designers, we had to change the way we looked at space to better understand the problem.
We first moved away from a one-dimensional approach to kitchen design and began to think of the kitchen as a multi-dimensional canvas.
The static, cluttered, restricted and unchanging kitchen of the past has now been converted to a living stage, a place where it is now possible to create an environment that alters old beliefs about space and structure and to infuse new concepts that reflect the needs of today's modern homeowner.
Kitchen Matrix...Shifting Boundaries
Today we find the roll of the kitchen taking on a completely different role than any other time in her history.
Free and easy, open and inviting...these are the new adjectives that describe the Global Kitchen. A room with out boundaries or barriers, a room free from conventional thought, a room seeking a new name to clarify its new role in the American home. A room that has gone from the "heart of the home" to the "hub of the home", the new command center for daily American life.
The Global Kitchen is open to the rest of the home and as such the room most function on several levels, from food preparation to social interaction, from entertainment center to living-room.
The Global Kitchen must blend seamlessly into the living and family areas of the home, it must impress as well as be useful, successfully achieving the delicate balance between form and function.
To this end, extremes must be avoided, volumes must be contained and styles measured. It is a given that the kitchen must look nice, but the cabinetry and appliances must be of the utmost efficiency, creating a space that is neutral in character, more Asian than European...a space that that is more Zen-like than uniform.
The Global Kitchen, in its new domestic role, finds itself reflecting a family style based on the sharing of traditional roles and function. The living area embraces the kitchen as a multifunctional arena, were food is prepared, people talk, homework is finished and guests are entertained.
Summary: The Global Kitchen
• Open Floor Plan...Kitchen, Living Room and Family Room as one.
• Simple and restrained finishes and materials...an almost Zen like effect...the essential kitchen.
• The kitchen as furniture. Free standing.
The Global kitchen will continue to be the heart, if not the hub of the home, an essential element in our daily lives that touches and affects us both physically and emotionally, a place where we seek communion, rejuvenation, and sanctuary. Of all the items we will choose for our home, the Global kitchen will provide us with a unique outlet for creation and self-expression
Out of all the lighting projects in the home, one of the most overlooked rooms is the kitchen. Since modern kitchens are replacing traditional kitchens and becoming popular places to congregate over coffee or a snack, kitchen lighting is also developing along with today's modern needs.
Kitchens require specific lighting to aid in food preparation tasks and often consists of both task and ambient lighting. According to some professional lighting designers, the kitchen is the one of the most versatile and interesting projects to handle. It can also be one of the most challenging due to its cabinets, shelves, appliances, as well as numerous nooks and crannies.
About Task Lighting
The first approach to kitchen lighting is to consider the areas that are in need of task lighting. These are the areas that best lit with lights that are bright and won't have a shadow and include places such as tables, sinks, and counters. Task lights work best when the fixture is close to the work area gets the maximum amount of light possible. Small under cabinet lights are great choices if you desire illumination for your pantries and/or other closets. The options available for task lighting include fluorescent tubes, spot lights and directional lights.
About Ambient Lighting
Ambient light serves as general lighting that gives the kitchen overall illumination. Fluorescent tubes are a great choice for their efficiency as well as broad and even illumination. Incandescent down lights are a good choice for broad and even illumination while achieving more dramatic effect to your kitchen. Using conventional recessed lights, surface lights or light fixtures that are on a pendant or chain is a good ways to achieve direct lighting.
Other interesting lighting options include adding a layer of accent lighting for artwork and collectable and kitchen occupancy sensors. Kitchen occupancy sensors are a good choice for kitchens with multiple entrances. These sensors operate by turning on the kitchen lights automatically when someone enters the room from any direction. This is accomplished by the sensors "seeing" all the entrances from their location.
One of the ways to make your cabinet more attractive is the through the use of cabinet lights. Cabinet lights are mostly used to provide a sufficient amount of light for working or to display things.The types of cabinet lighting depends on the brightness, temperature, color and consumption of voltage. Cabinet lights with the effect of florescence can be of a great use for those who have a problem with heat from other forms of lighting. Some lights also have a brightness adjustment effect that can be very useful in each time of the day.
If you are planning on cabinet lighting for your kitchen, be sure to install the lighting in front or near the cabinet. This will provide the exact amount of light required while providing an added elegance to your cabinet at the same time.
The right kind of kitchen lighting will not only add to the function of a kitchen, it will also add warmth and character to the room as well.
Did you resolve to get organized this year? Getting organized has been the number one item on my to do list for as long as I can remember. With Emily Wilska's book, Organizing Your Home: Decluttering Solutions and Storage Ideas, maybe just maybe it will finally happen.
The book is lavishly and colorfully illustrated. Each page has photographs of relevant products and specific items you're likely to need to store or display items in your home. The book begins with a brief introduction with ideas on what could be creating your disorganization and a brief overview about clutter control, systems and maintenance. The author then dives right in and goes room by room, closet by closet, and even drawer by drawer throughout your house.
In the kitchen Wilska looks at common trouble spots including in the kitchen cabinets, under the sink, and on the countertops. Suggestions include pullout trash cans, door-mounted storage, hanging racks and shelf expanders. Special consideration is given to maximizing food storage in the refrigerator and freezer. And who doesn't need help organizing her recipe collection? You'll find tips for taming that mass of clippings and cards too.
Bathroom storage is thoroughly covered. The author looks at how to deal with your medicine cabinet, the linen closet and even the tub and shower. An entire section is devoted to towel racks. If you don't have a linen closet don't despair -- the author has some good ideas to compensate.
Clothing and accessories organization and storage is addressed in the section on bedrooms. Whether you are blessed with a large walk-in closet or have to resort to stashing clothes in under bed storage you'll find ideas to maximize your space. Wondering what to do with that jumbled pile of shoes? You'll find some great products here - shoe drawers, shoe cubbies, floor racks and over-door racks.
From the attic, to the cellar, and out to the garage storage remedies are mapped out for every space in your house.
What sort of impression does your house give when visitors come calling? Is the entryway cluttered? The hall closet a jumbled mess? The mudroom more than muddy? Clear the clutter with these tips and feel proud when you open the door to guests.
The rest of the book deals with specific items that create challenges for many of us. Music, movies and video games can be streamlined with these tips. Kids' toys and schoolwork each get a section. Holiday supplies, luggage, tools, crafting supplies, and memorabilia all merit coverage. And if you're a bulk shopper who's stashing great hordes of paper goods and more you'll find some methods to tame the madness. There's even a section on organizing inside your car.
If you're like me you've probably bought a number of how to get organized books. Emily Wilska's Organizing Your Home may just be the last one you need to buy. Time to clear the clutter once and for all!
Thinking of kitchen ideas can be both overwhelming and exciting. Most families today lead a fast paced life, always rushing and living on the edge type of lifestyle. Why not think of building or redecorating your kitchen and turn it into something inviting and gives you and your family that cozy, family and homey feeling? Sure it's something everyone looks forward to go home to after a busy day.
Give yourself a wonderful weekend retreat right in your very own country kitchen. It's the type of kitchen that's casual and warm for you and your family or friends to enjoy mealtimes, have a chit chat or just enjoying your cup of coffee.
There is a variety of country kitchen decors that you can buy that would easily blend with your existing decor. Here are some tips for country kitchen ideas:
- Wood cabinets are the trademark of a country kitchen and mostly of natural color with glass front doors, wooden pantry boxes and rolling pins.
- Country crockery and glassware, sponge ware crocks, bowls, mugs, old quilts or vintage linens and fabrics that matches your kitchen curtains adds color to the natural wood cabinetry and furniture.
- Wooden racks are also used as open storage for plates and pots. It is very practical and provides easy at the same time very decorative.
- Use jars of different sizes and lengths, colorful pottery, old stoneware crocks to hold utensils and baskets for veggies and fruits.
- Build freestanding storage cupboards where you can also display some of your country collectibles. In a country kitchen, storage spaces are also used as decor.
- Sunflowers and rooster themes on country rags, towels or tale cloths adds a strong touch for that country feel
- Use patterned wall papers with country print or warm colors on the wall.
- Add an old fashioned furniture like a wooden bench adds character to your country kitchen.
- Tin buckets whether plain, colored or printed is also prominent in a country kitchen.
- You may also want to add a copper pot hanger and a copper chandelier.
- Instead of throwing it, use old cookware for planters on your porch to add country charm to your curb appeal.
- To add a more rustic feel, place some dried flower and pine cones on a basket or tin cans; you may also choose to hang dried flower wreath
Country decorating surely gives you a homey atmosphere. Rustic style reminds you of that country life you grew up with. What a great opportunity to make use of valuable hand me down items like your grandma's favorite quilted table cloth or linens printed with pastoral themes.
In today's modern country decorating you can find a few changes in colors, textures and materials but you can still retain that definitive characteristic of country living like the use of mismatched chairs and chunky wooden table. It is just a matter of creatively incorporating traditional elements to your design whether it's French, Tuscan or American just by changing color schemes and keeping you old and timeless collection of country decor items to bring your kitchen ideas to life.
It started with my need for a new mixer. OK. Well, maybe not exactly. It probably really started when we bought our home in Connecticut two years ago. The kitchen needed a make-over. Not a complete renovation---as some do---but a make-over, to be sure. Its footprint was fine, as was its size. Windows and doors were good, too. But it was dreary. Dark, drab and dreary.
But a re-do---no matter the scope---was out of our reach at move-in, just as it is now. So I've tried to not think about it too much.
That's tougher than it sounds. What with me being a "visual person"---energized by color and proportion and pattern---and kitchen tours taking up space on every New England town's calendar within the next few weeks, it's almost impossible to not notice renovated kitchens. Nor to salivate over their inevitable appeal.
Such was the case this past Friday when a friend and I tromped through six fabulous kitchens in an annual little ritual. Carefully calibrated to Mother's Day---not to mention the bursting of daffodils, the budding of most trees, and the flowering of rhododendron---it coincided perfectly with spring fever.
And so it was that my friend, Nancy, and I enjoyed most of the afternoon together...roaming around gorgeous homes, indulging in wonderful treats catered by local restaurateurs, and commenting on what both appealed---and what didn't---to our strong aesthetic sensibilities. Nancy is an artist, too. And she just finished her own dream kitchen a few months ago. So she has not only a good grasp of the whole kitchen re-do thing; she has a similar eye to mine and is highly motivated by strong visuals.
Interestingly, we were both struck by exactly the same things. An enormous, albeit completely-perfect home, didn't do it for either one of us as it did for a friend whom I bumped into while there. "Isn't this absolutely incredible?" my friend exclaimed.
Nancy and I looked at each other.
"It's perfect," I dead-panned.
Too perfect. Perfectly painted, perfectly appointed, perfectly accessorized, perfectly clean. Was it possible real people really lived there? Could anyone have ever actually sautéed onions and garlic at its immaculate stainless-steel Viking range?
As we walked to the car, Nancy and I reflected on what truly makes a home, anyway. And where does one stop? In this real estate frenzy of the new millennium, where success is measured by capital gains, square footage and location-location-location; how much is enough, after all? Do we really need commercial-grade stainless steel Wolf ranges and double Sub-Zero's? Granite countertops and farmhouse sinks with copper faucets? Islands with pull-outs?
Seems like we do. A Harvard University study found that Americans spent $233 billion on remodeling and repair projects in 2003, with kitchen re-do's topping the list. A stunning 4 million Americans will do a kitchen remodeling project of some type in this year alone!
Staggering in scope, it is easily understandable. We have everyone from Home Depot to Pottery Barn to Williams-Sonoma to Target to HGTV to thank. Oh, sure. You might not need a kitchen transformation. But seriously, do you have enough fortitude to walk out of Williams-Sonoma fiscally unscathed? And have you seen the summer plastic ware at Target? As if I needed another lime green line item in my home...it was pure will-power that prevented me from grabbing a dozen of the cutest soda-fountain-style tumblers in my favorite color on my weekend outing there.
I read recently that most people do a major kitchen remodel for one simple reason: their friend did it. Oh great. A brilliant tax break? We get that. Increasing the value of your real estate. Get that, too. But peer pressure?
It's easy to see why. I mean, a wonderful kitchen is a lovely thing to behold. I totally get it. Want it. But can't yet have it.
So in case you're in the same state (and I have to suppose that many of you are, given the success rate of these kitchen tours) here are "5 Strategies for Infusing-Your-Kitchen-With-Beauty-If-You-Don't-Have-The-Designer-Kitchen-You'd-Really-Like-To-Have-But-For-Whatever-Reason-Don't:
1) Inject bold bursts of color. Be it via woven placemats at the breakfast table, colorful pottery on your countertops, or brightly-painted kitchen towels hanging from your oven bar: use generous strokes of color to put your brain on a heightened state of alert. Your cabinets might be dreadfully tired and your outdated appliances might leave you feeling totally uninspired. But take heart: a few brilliantly colored decorative objects can provide just the punch your sleepy kitchen needs.
2) Treat yourself to one new kitchen accoutrement. Seen Le Creuset's latest red Dutch ovens? Or Kitchen Aid's new apple green mixer? How about a shiny chrome coffee grinder? If a total kitchen overhaul is out of your reach, perhaps one modest indulgence will give your room that little kick-in-the-pants that it needs.
3) Change the lighting. My Country French rooster chandelier ala my latest birthday, elevates my eyes upwards...out of the direction of my drive-me-crazy-cabinets and onto something much more beautiful and intriguing. Considering its relatively minor expense, it proved a clever way of adding serious visual interest to a space which otherwise drags me down visually. Shop around. While not as cheap as a new box of candles, a new lighting fixture is often a great way to go.
4) Change things in stages. Perhaps by giving your cabinets a new paint job, you can change the look of the whole room. My girlfriend, Leslie, contracted with a house painter as well as with a decorative painter to dramatically lift her entire kitchen into a veritable work of art. The decorative painter glazed and then hand-painted different floral designs on each cabinet panel, elevating the room into one of lightness and pure beauty. The end result is stunning! Maybe by simply replacing a worn-out dishwasher you can inject a dash of modernity to an otherwise out-dated room. Or perhaps the relatively easy job of changing your countertops will give you more of the look and function that you desire.
5) Enjoy your collections. Not only did my recent trip to Paris cement my affection for le coq; it heightened my awareness of any and all fabulous renditions seen since my return. I can hardly pass by a rooster without checking its craftsmanship, size and price tag. Infuse your environment with the things that you love. Be they pictures of friends and family magnetized to your fridge...or cows or pigs or roosters (we really are a silly bunch, aren't we?) don't be afraid to show off your collections to their fullest. When your day is looking particularly gloomy or your hormones are raging; the little things that bring you joy will help to blow both those black clouds away from your precious little head as well as more evenly distribute those swirling shivers of estrogen.
Finally, reflect on the relativity of materialism. Nancy and I--walking back from "house perfect" on the kitchen tour, talked about how it's all relative anyway. For what seems like extravagant indulgence (or a vulgar display of wealth, depending on your perspective) is just that: it's a perspective. It's all relative. What seems ridiculously unnecessary to me might seem perfectly legitimate to you. And remember that most of what we possess is viewed by some 90% of the world as pure luxury. Keep perspective. If your kitchen drives you nuts, try to maintain some level of thanksgiving for what you do have, rather than some level of misery for what you don't.
The kitchen isn't called the heart of the home for nothing. It's where we put love into what we put into our body. Where we infuse our food with energy. Where we sift and dice and shake and bake. Where we laugh and learn and read and relax. Do your part to make it the heart of your home...whether you like the way it looks or not.
I wound up getting a new mixer for Mother's Day. As bizarre a request as it was---coming from someone whose least favorite word in the English language is "practical"---I got the desire to actually mix something up in there. (Bake a cake...or something along those lines, anyway.) And I have a funny feeling it will actually send me into my kitchen more often...whether I like it or not.
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So you fancy starting a collection but you're not sure what to collect? How About . . . ?
Every home will contain at least one example or more - in the kitchen, the bathroom, the fire surround. How long have they been in existence and what should we look out for when buying an Old Tile.
When trying to identify an old tile, the most difficult aspect is where was it made and when.
The most famous tiles are referred to as delft. But why?
The term delft is derived from the dutch town of Delft. The Netherlands began to produce tin-glazed earthenware in the late 15 century. Potteries were established in many parts of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, Haarlem and Rotterdam, but by the late 17 century Delft had become the most important centre of production and nearly 30 companies were working in the area.
The original delft tile designs came about when Chinese porcelain stopped being imported in the mid 17 century and the popular Chinese wares were reproduced in blue and white. Initially made in blue and white, later in the century the Delft potters introduced a wider variety of colours, yellow, purple, blue, red, green and black.
Flemish and Dutch potters arrived and settled in London in 1570, but it wasn't until the 18 century that the delftware tile industry became established in Britain. The main centres were London, Bristol and Liverpool. The tiles usually depicted flowers, ships, landscapes and many scenes of biblical subjects.
So now we know that we're looking for either Duitch delft or English delft, but it's quite dificult with these early examples to determine the place of origin.
A few tips:
Dutch delft often has a gritty texture, thick glaze and 'peppering' on the surface caused by air bubbles exploding during firing.
Dutch tiles are painted in a very assured manner with great skill and expertise.
The tin glaze of Dutch tiles is usually whiter because it contains more tin oxides making it liable to craze.
British delftware is typically less finely potted and the glaze is often tinged with blue or pink. Colours tend to be more muted due to the absorbency of the tin glaze used. The glaze is much glossier and smoother than Dutch glaze and it does not craze easily.
So to sum up:
Gritty, thich white glaze, very well painted, crazed ....... Dutch.
Smooth, glazed tinged blue or pink, muted colours, little crazing .... English.
Now all you have to do is get out there and start looking, but beware - lots of reproductions so take time to do a bit more studying by way of delftware tiles.
Also remember, plates, flower bricks, jugs, posset pots, handwarmers, puzzle jugs, char dishes, vases, bowls and beautifully glazed drug jars for use by apothocaries were produced in delftware, but that's another story.
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