Tag Archives: how to design a room

The Quest for the Perfect Kitchen

Recently I surveyed dozens of people about their kitchens, likes, loves, dislikes, hates, in my quest for the perfect kitchen for a design project I am doing.

The most outstanding dislike was: Not enough storage space!! Resoundingly the number one complaint about kitchens, no doubt! Whether the cabinets are too high, not deep enough, not wide enough, or just plainly – not enough!

The least wanted item: A second dishwasher for entertaining, even those who would have entertaining as one of the priorities in their life would rather have more storage than a second dishwasher!

I found that pot racks are a MUST! Those who didn’t have them wanted them, those who had them love them! A tiny percentage felt they were untidy… Not mine!

So, here is some of my own advice about the perfect kitchen.

1. Be innovative, almost no one had a compost container and no one had a built-in composting bin, which is a small circular bin with a carbon filter, like one you would get at a Fish Store, cut out and shoved into the top of the bin which has tiny holes to let the food waste “breathe”. It should be used like a built in rubbish bin. I like this one for counter top: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/ceramic-countertop-compost-pail/?pkey=ctrash-recycling|hkgtrsrcy and they have replacement filters.

Composting, which is to say, collecting food waste (no animal products, please) separately from other waste and either having a composter somewhere out of the house or putting the food waste into your “green waste” bin provided in many cities, by the city, will cut down on land fill waste anywhere from 35% to 85%.

2. Build in a recycling bin for bottles, cans and plastics, it will force you to recycle. I am not trying to be too granola girl here, but it is about the planet for our children and future generations and it makes a HUGE difference! The movie Idiocracy (which isn’t a word- which is even funnier) shows these massive trash heaps everywhere, and truly, it could happen!! So recycle!

3. When thinking of a new kitchen, the counter top is the MOST USED space in the kitchen, if you are going to splurge on anything, splurge on a solid stone counter top. It is more cost effective in the long run than tile and it is far easier to keep clean which cuts down on illness causing bacteria growth in grout lines. There are multiple choices for solid surfaces in a variety of budgets, go to your local hardware store and peruse! You will undoubtedly find something you love!

4. Attend a Kitchen and Bath Expo, they are held in major cities several times a year, this is where you can get FANTASTIC ideas that are ingenious, innovative and totally new! A designer or contractor can help to locate shows for you and arrange for purchases after the show!

Make Pretty Happen!


Home Beauty on a Budget

In today’s society our home reflects our personal style almost as much as the clothing we wear.

As a designer I have worked on twenty million dollar homes and six hundred dollar a month rentals and they all have one thing in common – style!

Style doesn’t actually cost a thing!

Did you see the movie Pretty in Pink? Do you remember her fabulous room? Her unusual and comfortable stylish clothing? And the character was DIRT POOR.

That movie was a great inspiration to me as a young girl, because my parents were not wealthy by any means and yet I too wanted style.

And so, I learned the art of the “thrifting” and “junking” as my mother would call it.

One of the greatest gold mines in home décor is that which someone else has gotten bored with and either donated to a Goodwill or Salvation Army or has put out on a hot Saturday morning to pawn on their own.

I have gotten furniture, accessories, art work, lamps – you name it – at yard sales and thrift stores and all for a fraction of what they would cost in a store.

What’s the trick? How do you know when a piece is right or just cheap?

First, invest in some great magazines, Elle Décor, Veranda, etc., then get on mailing lists- I know, I know, who wants more junk mail? But sincerely, a great Pottery barn catalogue or a Napa Style could have spectacular inspiration and design ideas.

Once you’ve collected your magazines together, get a decent 3 ring binder and some plastic sleeves from an office supply store.

Now, the real fun begins! Start ripping the pages out of the various magazines/catalogues and use a Sharpie marker to write notes on the pages about what on the page you like.

Once you have a big pile of pictures put them into the plastic sleeves (if you want to get really anal like me you can group them into categories and P-touch tabs for each category) and stick them into your binder.

Now, whenever you go out for your thrifting excursions or junking take your big book with you and look for things that are similar to the items you’ve ripped out of the magazines and catalogues. You don’t have to have exact matches to things, what is important is that whatever you find is reminiscent of the style you’ve found in the magazines.

I like to keep a book that I call my “Dreality Home” which is a little play on the words “dream” and “reality” so that I can keep working at making my dream home a reality!

Some of my “rips” include architectural ideas, some are furnishings, others are just some color inspiration or something I liked the idea of for somewhere in my house.

Most recently I happened upon an “estate sale” and I found a spectacular fire place screen that is a 3 panel screen from the 1920’s – a solid wrought iron screen – it is probably worth about $600.00.

How much did I pay? $25.00! It was ridiculous!

Make Pretty Happen!

Melinda Brownstone 2010©