Wednesday, September 23, 2009

de-Sign Of The Times: Cabinets Expand at the Waistline

It's not your imagination and you are not alone.

Across the world homemakers are failing to neatly close their cabinet doors on their newly purchased dinnerware and scratching their heads about it. Cabinetmakers here and abroad are reprogramming their CNC machines to create cabinet boxes that accomodate today's "generously sized" dinnerware.

"Tabletop" trends influence cabinet design in other ways. Displaying family china and heirlooms, while still practiced, is not the end-all it was in the past, and entertaining guests is a more casual affair. According to Drew Chernoy, owner of Clementine’s Kitchen in Del Rey, CA, buyers 20 to 30 years ago were ‘collectors’ or ‘nesters,’ and had in mind different uses for each of their sets of dishes, platters, glassware and flatware. They had the ‘holiday dishes,’ the ‘summer garden party,’ etc. Some of these were more ‘formal.’ This related to their life growing up or their vision of the eating experience in their life to come. Having the ‘good dishes’ on their wedding registry further reinforced this. The underlying change is that having lots of sets of dishes and entertaining pieces, glasses, etc., just is not that important anymore to the more recent generations”(The Gourmet Retailer).

The tableware cabinet buyers are looking to store today is casual, durable and best of all, stackable. And it is growing in size. A typical dinner plate once measured 9 inches across but a trip to Crate and Barrel finds popular styles ranging from 10.5 inches up to the 11.5 inch Classic Century style (right). The product description states "Originally designed in 1952 by world-renowned designer Eva Zeisel...Dinner plate has been enlarged for today's lifestyle".

Pottery Barn offers their popular Sausalito style with dinner plates spanning 12 inches! When does a plate become a "platter"?!

This explains why dishes are boldly peeking out from upper cabinets and homeowners are having to find more creative ways to accomodate their everyday dinnerware. Custom Cabinetmaker Craig Mannhalter of Metolius Woodworks in Sisters, Oregon has retooled and increased the standard depth of uppers over the past 20 years. Fieldstone Cabinetry representative, Jeff Ptacek CKD, agrees that while the standard depth is still 12 inches, they are seeing increased requests for 13-15 inch custom depths.

Need to retrofit an existing kitchen?
  • Consider replacing some upper cabinetry with decorative open shelving.
  • Store dishes in drawers. Deep drawers at a comfortable reach work best.
  • Replace shelves in standard base cabinets with roll-outs (available at Lowes).
Planning a new kitchen?
  • Make a pre-decision about where you will store your everyday dishes. With your dish measurements in hand, have a clear discussion with your cabinet supplier about the interior clearances for uppers.
  • Consider incorporating decorative open shelving in your design for flexible storage.

On the other hand, mega-sized dishware can mean 50% more plate to pile food on, which translates into more waste and more waist. What if we instead stock up on today's "generously sized" salad plates (8 to 10 inches) for use as dinner plates? I'm wondering, since we are the consumers influencing the retail trends, if perhaps we could "stir things up". Ha!
Maybe instead of "letting out" our cabinets we should put our dishes on a diet. Better still, maybe if our dishes were on a diet, we wouldn't be.

Then no one would have to come unhinged (so to speak!).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Switch Craft": Re-Purposing Sticks and Scraps

I have come full-circle. It took me two decades to discipline myself to toss old magazines into the recycling bin. Now I have a special basket dedicated to collecting them for craft projects. My daughters and I can fashion a collage whenever the mood strikes, or even decoupage. It's re-purposing and it's free! Here's a birthday card I made for my mom:

and my 10-year-old's latest masterpiece:

Easy as 1-2-3 Fall Craft

The idea for this fall craft began when my husband led me out into the forest to climb Eagle Rock for a 360 degree view of the Three Sisters Wilderness. I forgot to change shoes but managed to safely scramble to the top in my faithful Teva flip-flops. Now is that short window of time when the Cascades look strangely unfamiliar, rocky and barren of snow.

On the way back, this scrappy manzanita bush insisted on riding home in the trunk. I imagined it might become the inspiration for a decorative fall arrangement on our front porch.

Instead it seemed more at home on the mantle, and brought back memories of my mom's ever-changing holiday "tree". In Spring it was adorned with colorful wooden eggs; some winters, with embroidered snowflakes.
 But first it needed a "haircut" despite my daughter's protests (I trimmed it while she was in school).

1)  I cut a leaf shape out of heavy paper to use as a pattern,

 then paged through magazines on a mad quest for playful autumn-toned scraps. This is the part of crafting which, for me, sends my serotonin levels surging. It's also why I don't believe glossy publications will ever be completely replaced by internet resources.
Here is the aftermath:

2) Next I glued two leaf cut-outs together so that each side of the leaf would have a contrasting design. (I used Mod Podge but you could also use a glue stick). Optional: Unsatisfied with the varying sheens of the papers, I also brushed the finished leaves with an exterior coat of Mod Podge.

3)  With its graphic leaves tied on with bold orange thread, the once-forlorn branch now adornes our fireplace area, paying tribute to the changing season.

These Northwest nights are definitely getting colder and it won't be long before the family gathers together here to count our blessings. Bring on the pumpkins!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Made You Look! Backsplashes Command Attention

So many elements vie for our attention in a new kitchen but by nature we tend to feel more comfortable and interested when there's a deliberate focal point. Choosing a showy backsplash design for instance, is not just frou-frou; it actually helps to create the mood and gives the eye a context for the rest of the kitchen--perhaps even a theme. The range of creative possibility is truly infinite. Let's just scratch the surface:

Two kitchens that celebrate their place in the world:

The centerpiece of this rustic kitchen is the chiseled granite mountainscape behind the cooktop.

How many islands do you see in this kitchen? I spy...three! This client is a professional baker (lucky me) and her dream kitchen needed a lot of useable counter space. Even in a kitchen loaded with amenities, it's possible to establish a focal point.
The eye naturally travels to the cooking zone at the far end, where it lands happily on a tiled wildlife scene, framed by a gracefully arched light valance.

And one that transports us to a distant land:

This gorgeous fused glass mural clearly sets an elegant Tuscan theme.

Some make us stare because they have a bubbly personality:

Eye-catching circular tiles in rich colors are warm, playful and engaging. I am smitten with the Stardust Glass line of recycled glass tiles, crafted in Portland in refreshing colors such as
apple green and rum...

...and tangerine and spritzer

Of course there are other ways to create an engaging point of interest in your kitchen. Look for more to come in the "Made You Look!" series of posts.

Whether it's a tile mural placed dramatically above the range or a lively splash of color along the backsplash, adding an artful feature can say alot about you and about the feeling you want to create when you gather here with your favorite people.

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