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Versatility by Design – Product Spotlight

Versatility by Design – Product Spotlight

KitchenAid Attachments Stacked

Attachments Stacked

Whether you are entertaining or preparing a meal for your family, efficiency AND versatility are important. KitchenAid® has introduced a wall oven that will quickly replace many other cooking appliances in your home. They applied one of the most popular features of their widely popular KitchenAid Stand Mixer, versatility, to the Smart Oven+. The Smart Oven+ features interchangeable attachments that allow you to cook, grill, steam, etc., all in the same appliance. Even better, the attachments stack to save space and most are dishwasher safe, making clean up a breeze!

Baking Stone Attachment

Grill Attachment

Steamer Attachment

The oven also boasts smart capabilities that pair with the mobile app, so you have complete control. The oven can be powered by voice commands or through your AI devices. KitchenAid did not skimp on design options either. The Smart Oven+ can be customized to match the height of existing cabinetry to give your kitchen a cohesive look.

Learn more about the KitchenAid Smart Oven+.
Photos Courtesy of KitchenAid.

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(Product spotlights are for informational purposes only.)

Kitchen Storage can be Beautiful!

Kitchen Storage can be Beautiful!

Some people step into a model home’s kitchen and see the beauty of having all that storage. Others step into that kitchen and are stunned by that storage’s beautiful finishes. Practicality and aesthetics.  Nowhere else in the home are those two elements of design more on display.

Strasser - #42420_kitchen

Custom kitchen in the Strasser Pointe (plan #42420FB). Photo by Renee D. Calvin Photography

With kitchens more open to entertaining areas in the home, they are being designed as an integral part of your entertaining. As such, form allows your personal style to shine. Light woods? Dark woods? Stained or painted? Cabinet profiles? Staggered heights and depths? Perhaps you prefer the look of stainless steel, laminates, or composites? Or modern clean lines where kitchen storage is virtually invisible? Then there’s the companion question of whether there will be exposed hardware, sometimes referred to as the “jewelry of the kitchen.” Styles range from practical to whimsical, classic to ultra-contemporary.

In tandem with style is the preference of most buyers to want uncluttered counter tops as they are stressful and can be an embarrassment when entertaining. Plus, when everyone brings a dish to your potluck dinner, you’ll want all available counter space.

Regardless of style, function dictates storage should be located where it is most needed. Storage for pots and pans should be near the cook top. A pull-out wastebasket drawer next to the kitchen sink (that’s also a great place for your recycling bin, as most recyclables need to be washed out first and you don’t want a water spot trail en route to your recycling container). In fact, pull-out base cabinet drawers in general are preferable, making quick work of retrieving the item you want as compared to simple base cabinets where you have to bend over to search for that item.

Drawer dividers

These sturdy cabinet drawers can store heavy dishes. Removable dividers let you configure interiors. Photo courtesy: KraftMaid Cabinetry; Tony Giammarino/ Giammarino & Dworkin, Design: Marge Thomas

Other cabinetry amenities can have a major impact of the usefulness of your storage, too. Having the light automatically turn on when you open the pantry door; drawer dividers for your tableware; creative solutions that put an end to impracticable, hard to reach storage in base corner cabinets. A tilt-out tray in front of your kitchen sink can hide your dish sponge. And, though it doesn’t increase storage, soft-close cabinetry hardware eliminates the noisy “bang” from doors closing.  

As a nation we’re cooking less, but not eating less. That means more storage for prepackaged foods. A 2019 National Association of Home Builders' report, What Home Buyers Really Want, identified that 83% of new home buyers today are looking for a walk-in pantry. As a loose rule of thumb, pantry size may correlate to the home’s overall size. We at Design Basics have never designed a home with too large of a pantry. Pantry cabinets gave way to corner walk-in pantries. Even larger walk-in pantries are in vogue today, with the ultimate being “prep pantries” large enough for storage and a food prep area, and “Work-in” (not mere “walk-in”) pantries complete with sink and dishwasher, and sometimes other appliances. Appliances create heat, so make sure your cooling system layout includes duct work for a Work-in pantry. Importantly, increasing the size of a walk-in pantry can provide the additional storage you want less expensively than the same amount of added storage accomplished through additional cabinetry. We’ve even designed large Work-in pantries to be built as safe rooms!

Dane Mills - #35084 pantry

Cabinet Pantry 3' shelves in the Dane Mills - plan #35084 (1209 sq ft).

Zinnia - #42041 Pantry

Prep Pantry 6'-0" x 11'-4" deep enough for base cabinets in the Zinnia - plan #42041 (2449 sq ft).

Teglia Farm - #42482 pantry

Corner Pantry 4' x 4', 7' shelves in the Teglia Farm - plan #42482 (1642 sq ft).

DiMarco - #50014 pantry

Work-in Pantry 10'-10" x 7'-6" with sink, dishwasher, and other appliances in the DiMarco - plan #50014 (2782 sq ft).

Angel Springs - #42409 pantry

Hidden Pantry 3'-9" x 7'-9" with 13' shelves in the Angel Springs - plan #42409 (2154 sq ft).

Revenna Springs - #35079 pantry

Walk-in Pantry 7'-0" x 6'-3" doubles as a safe room in the Revenna Springs - plan #35079 (2396 sq ft).

Whichever you prioritize, practicality or aesthetics, it shows when it comes to small appliances. Think toaster, coffee maker, crock pot, griddle, mixer, blender, and the like. Our practical side wants them plugged in and ready to use, while our appreciation for clean lines and uninterrupted beauty in our kitchens wants them off the counter tops and out of sight. The solution lies in a small appliance center, near the kitchen or within the pantry; if the pantry is large enough to have base cabinets, counter top and electrical outlets on at least one side.

Larimar Park - #42453 pantry

The Larimar Park’s (plan - #42453) Appliance Center, just outside the main kitchen, helps keep your kitchen counters free from clutter and your small appliances plugged in and ready to use.

Coming next week: Concepts in closet storage.

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz.

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Is Your Home Stressing You Out?

Is Your Home Stressing You Out?

Gainsville - #6651 floor plan

When building new, if you’ll have individual garage doors, don’t settle for less than nine-foot wide doors. Note also when the front door is open in this layout, the stairs going up are blocked.

It’s been a long day, and you still don’t know what you’re serving for dinner tonight. You slowly pull into the garage, careful to avoid running one of the side mirrors into the garage door frame (curse those eight-foot wide garage doors!).

Fortunately, your granddaughter’s asleep as you lift the carrier out of its car seat base. Bags in the other hand, you navigate around the shelves, then fumble with your elbow for the light switch in the mudroom. You nearly trip over your grandson’s tennis shoes. And yes, you can actually feel your blood pressure rising.

Deep breath. As the grocery bags begin to cut off circulation to your fingers, you wonder why the kitchen is so far away from the garage. Finally, you set the groceries on the kitchen floor, because there’s no room on top of the island. With a sigh, now you remember the family size cereal boxes don’t fit standing up in the pantry cabinet. Lack of storage…tiny closets…that’s the first thing you would change about this house.

Spencer, your grandson, is loading the dishwasher. “Well, at least we did something right, there,” you think to yourself. Of course, when that dishwasher door is open, you can’t get by. “Just like when the front door is open, resting against the first stair, blocking staircase access.  What were they thinking when they designed this house?” And to the other side of the entryway, the home office – the definition of clutter – and there’s no way to hide it with those glass doors. You wince, just imagining your friends coming over and walking by that room.

Bed-Dresser Conflict

Two feet between the bed and dresser is uncomfortably tight. If possible, look for one bedroom dimension of eleven feet, providing a three-foot pathway.

With Abbie still asleep, you carry her up to the nursery bedroom, turning sideways to squeeze between the bed and the dresser. “If beds are 6 feet long and dressers are 2 feet deep, why would they make these bedrooms so tight?” you wonder. And it’s cold – these secondary bedrooms – “Why can’t all of the rooms be the same temperature?” you ask.

Getting into some comfortable clothes always helps, and you grab your favorite navy-blue sweatpants. But as you’re changing, you realize those are the snug, black sweatpants. A single naked light bulb in your closet – what a joke. And your bathroom isn’t much better. No windows. No natural light. Yes, there are more light bulbs, but they’re all on one switch. Off or on – dark or really bright. Note to self, ask Frank about a dimmer switch.

Door-Stair Conflict

Door swing conflicts – when a walking path is blocked because a door was opened – are stressful.

Time to get dinner thrown together. Back in the kitchen, you’re looking for the salad tongs, and they’re in that one drawer. The one that always sticks when you open it and just doesn’t close right. As you dig through the drawer, the ice cream scoop falls out. Great. A new gouge in those birch wood floors. Why didn’t someone tell us birch was so soft and wouldn’t hold up like some other hardwoods?

You bend over to retrieve the ice cream scoop and notice the cobwebs in the toe-kick area under the cabinets, realizing it must have been a month since the hard floors had a good cleaning. And dusting? “Maybe, if I put that on my to-do list for the weekend…” you think.

Abbie had fun playing with her food and some of it actually got swallowed. Your grandkids bring you such joy, you feel your body releasing some of the stress. After dinner, there are a few chores left. There was just enough room for Spencer to fit the dinner dishes in the dishwasher, while you get the laundry started. You can’t wait for Friday when Frank gets back from that business trip. He’s still struggling with being a single dad.

You turn the big TV on in the great room, but with the dishwasher running, you have to crank up the volume, and Spencer has homework tonight. So, you decide to watch the TV in your bedroom, but same problem. Next to your bedroom, that washer and dryer are too loud to enjoy the TV. It’s great they put the washer and dryer up with the bedrooms, but really – a little laundry closet in a home this size?

Ah-ha! A relaxing, hot shower would be perfect. You turn on the fan because the mirrors fog over from the steam. There it is again – noise. Frank always said that bathroom fan must have come from an army surplus store. And then, just for good measure, the toilet flushes…all by itself.

Laundry Closet

Note the laundry closet’s proximity to the bedrooms – noisier than an enclosed laundry room – may possibly interrupt watching TV, sleeping, etc.

The next morning you wake up early. Finally, it’s quiet. No stress headache, like the one you had when you went to bed. Tablet in hand, you decide to take matters into your own hands and de-stress your home. Poor lighting? Frank can probably replace the bathroom switch with a dimmer, and maybe he could put a motion-sensor switch so lights automatically turn on when coming in from the garage. Another light bulb in your closet would be great, but that would probably mean hiring an electrician. And more windows? That sounds like a serious remodel.

Replacing the bathroom fan would help achieve serenity, and a new, quieter laundry pair and/or a quiet dishwasher would be heavenly. You make a note to talk with the heating contractor when they come out to inspect the furnace about the uneven temperatures. Maybe they can do something to remedy that problem.

You decide you’ll buy a couple deck boxes that could go under the deck, to stash garage items and free up some space in the garage. Saturday morning is going to be set aside for organizing the office. No exceptions. There was that ad you saw for a handyman service, maybe they could fix that kitchen drawer. You consider a little more seriously the kitchen remodel for improved storage and organization, but is the kitchen just too small in the first place?

Lighted Closet Rod

Closets are notoriously dark areas. Lighted hanging rods may be just the answer you’re looking for! Photo courtesy of Task Lighting

You start to create a cleaning schedule and realize it’s doable – you could give up a bit of Facebook time, and Frank and Spencer could take on a little more of the household cleaning. Feeling better already, having a plan for things you can do to de-stress your environment, you also realize there’s no practical solution for some of the design flaws such as the door swings that block traffic; room sizes; the wasted space of that big landing at the top of the stairs; even the skinny door into the main floor powder bath that’s too small for your dad’s walker. Those things just aren’t correctable. If you do buy a brand-new home someday, these things are going to be non-negotiable.

If our homes are our havens, our retreats, our sanctuaries from all that life throws at us, how is it that our homes are actually adding to our stress? Stress’ negative impacts on our health are widely known, yet still we under-appreciate the stresses our homes contribute. When remodeling, or purchasing an existing or brand-new home, looking at the home through the lens of stress will help you see the home in an entirely different light – helping you identify areas that cause or add to your stress, and the ways you could improve on the design of those spaces.

Livability at a Glance™ is our proprietary color-coded floor plan system that highlights four different lenses especially important to women: Entertaining, De-stressing, Storing, and Flexible Living. Discover your Lifestyle Profile by taking our Livability at a Glance Quiz, and then search plans using our Livability at a Glance Plan Search...a better way to search home plans.
Cover photo courtesy: <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/people">People photo created by jcomp - www.freepik.com</a>
Glass Care Center: Made for Entertaining

Glass Care Center: Made for Entertaining

Thermador's Glass Care Center dishwasher was made for entertaining. It is specifically designed with glassware in mind, and can hold up to 26 large wine glasses, giving it the largest wine glass capacity of any dishwasher on the market. Thermador paid special attention to breakage and designed a no-slip, soft rubber lower rack and adjustable stands so stemware stays put. And to prevent the host from getting stuck in the kitchen, the dishwasher has smart capabilities and can be controlled through their Home Connect™ app. It even features an array of color options for dishwater lighting!

Work-in PantryHow great would this be in your Work-in Pantry?

A Work-in Pantry makes storage, prep, serving, and clean up a breeze! With additional appliances, such as wall ovens and a dishwasher, as well as storage and counter space, the Work-in Pantry is a wonderful addition to your kitchen configuration. The Glass Care Center dishwasher would be a perfect addition to your Work-in Pantry. Learn more about this Thoughtful Design Concept in the blog post: Storage and Prep Kitchen in One!

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Images Courtesy: Thermador
Learn more at Thermador.

(Product spotlights are for informational purposes only.)

Storage and Prep Kitchen in One!

Storage and Prep Kitchen in One!

Problem: You enjoy entertaining, but don't like to rush around cleaning up from food prep before your guests arrive. You have a large family and need additional space for storage, prep, cooking, and cleaning up. Or, you just enjoy keeping the kitchen clean and presentable.

Solution: The Work-in Pantry concept is more than a mere walk-in pantry. It offers the conveniences of storage and prep kitchen in one! Perhaps you have several dishes that need to be baked, the additional ovens are handy. A second dishwasher makes clean up quick and easy when you wash the dishes you store in the pantry in that dishwasher. Prep for a party and leave the mess in the Work-in Pantry until after your guests have departed. All the while your kitchen counters are free for serving up hors d'oeuvres, not your prep dishes!

Additional Benefits of the Work-in Pantry:

  • Some dishes produce strong odors that may be unpleasant to the senses, such as seafood/fish, spices, etc.; keep these in the Work-in Pantry and out of the main kitchen and entertaining areas.
  • For those that require kosher (or other ethnic/religious) food prep, the Work-in Pantry provides an ideal solution for keeping prep/cooking/serving separate. 

Zinnia - #42041 PantryDesign Basics' plan #42041 - Zinnia - presents a nice Work-in Pantry layout. Tucked in the back corner of the kitchen with ample space for incorporating additional appliances, storage, and counter top for food prep.

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