What's the most under appreciated appliance?

We were just up at Poppy having dinner; a terrific Seattle restaurant.  Looking in at their kitchen you can see the huge commercial hoods required to keep the kitchen clean from micro particles of oils and smells.  Most clients don’t think about the importance of ventilation in their kitchen.  It’s not as interesting as wood finishes, stone counter tops or the range of your dreams.  This is the least understood infrastructure of your home. 

In the 1940’ and 1950’s your home was probably built with a ceiling or wall fan to remove odors from the kitchen.  It wasn’t until the 1960 and 70’s that hood fans began to be installed in most homes.  These first hoods were generally under powered and used small scale ducting made them noisy as well.

I believe most people didn’t like hood fans because they were loud and didn’t seem to do much.  The noise you hear with a hood fan is the movement of air though the restriction of the ducting itself.  The electric fan motor itself is very quiet.  With the popularity of commercial style ranges, induction cook tops and wok cooking, ventilation is absolutely necessary.  Steam is filled with tiny bits of cooking oil and odors that will stick to your walls, windows and ceiling if you’re not using your hood. 

The amount of air that needs to leave your home above your cooking surface is dependent on how many BTU’s of heat you’re creating with your range or cook top.  We calculate that as cubic feet of air per minute that is pulled out of your home; CFM’s.  If you’re cooking on an island, you’ll have more cross breezes than if you’re against a wall.  We add more CFM’s and increase the width of the hood.  Some clients don’t want to smell kitchen smells, so we’ll approach the hood as though it was above an island. How about if you’re tall; I hear this all the time about raising the hood up higher than usual.  There are ways to decrease cross breezes and increase CFM but the other important piece is to have make up air to allow your hood to work at its peak performance. This can be a system that comes on when you turn your hood on automatically or this can be as easy as opening your kitchen window. 

So… you need a hood but don’t like how they look.  I get that.  In some designs the hood becomes an integral part of the overall design, in fact a real feature of the kitchen.  I tend to like to build in the hood into cabinetry using a hood insert that most manufacturers make in many sizes.  Sometimes you just don’t wish to have another large stainless-steel appliance in your kitchen. 

Here are a couple of solutions I’ve used that feel open and more streamlined than the a stainless steel hood.

hood alcove

The hood alcove

Using a hood insert hidden in cabinetry.

This is open feel and yet the enclosure with the tall cabinets minimizes cross breezes and with increasing the CFM of the hood fan this will work for most clients. Increasing the width of the hood area can also be a factor when increasing the overall height of the hood installation.

Cirrus hood fan

Flush Hood

It almost disappears…

Another approach entirely is to use a flush ceiling hood as shown in kitchen above.  This hood also features concealed LED lighting.  It is activated by a small fob and it reaches 1,400 CFM.

Planning for ventilation can be complicated, where to vent and how to vent.  Confirming you have the room for the right size ducting and allowing enough room for turns and not traveling too far before exiting the home. 

There’s a lot more below the surface of a kitchen or bathroom design and remodel.  We look forward to working with you on your next project. Feel free to contact us to discuss ventilation or other aspects of design and remodeling.  206-523-1123

How To: Marble Accents

Marble Accents.jpg

               Trends in home design can be expensive and time consuming. Unless you’re already planning on remodeling your home; you probably don’t want to spend thousands of dollars to tear out and replace what you have with the current trending designs. A good place to start is to find the trends you like and are also cohesive with the current layout and design of your home; then find fixtures and products to incorporate. They don’t have to be big ticket items. The fixtures could easily be few smaller items that make for a huge impact.

                One of the popular trends is marble. Everything from office supplies to back-splashes. There are a few ways you can incorporate this look into your home, some are large scale while others are simple additions. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Counter Tops

This might be the most obvious way to add a little bit of the classic stone into the mix. The light color of the stone in large scale will definitely open up any small kitchen or bath.

Accent Wall

Another option of brightening up your living space is adding an accent wall of marble. It’s a classic stone, but still has enough detail to add some visual interest on your walls.


Now if you don’t feel like covering up an entire wall, you can easily add some marble to your backsplash. There’s a bunch of interesting tiles available to choose from.

Coasters, Candles, Vases and Trays

Image via Etsy Shop WhitewickHome

A very simple and inexpensive way to incorporate the trend around the house. Just be careful not to overdo it in one room, try keeping it less than four marble-type decor (but also keep in mind the size of the room and your decor).




Image via Society6 by Sarah R Bock

Much like the coasters and candles, this is a very inexpensive option. It’s a great way to add some interest to the walls. Try contrasting it among other frames or a clock with gold detailing and hands.






Coffee Tables

Image via AllModern

Perfect for adding marble in a larger scale, but without the permanence of a counter top or backsplash.


Is there anything new for counter tops? Yes!

I hear this question all the time and this year I can answer yes.  We don't just want new, we also want better right?  You want style and performance.  Lapitec does both and some pretty dramatic ways.  

Why is this so different from stone or quartz?  This is produced using natural minerals without any resins or petroleum products. This provides a material that's incredibly heat resistant, up to 2,500 degrees.  Quartz on the other hand has quite a bit of resin and shouldn't have hot pans rested on it.  Over 200 degrees or so you have reached the limit with quartz. It is simple to maintain and is resistant to:  mold, bacterial, acid, solvent resistant, non-flammable and frost resistant.  You can use it around fireplaces or out doors.  It is insensitive to UV rays. 

This product is one of many that you might consider. No one material is right for every project.  Each is different, but this is a new option worth considering.  We have samples in our office if you're curious to see what it looks and feels like. 

Kitchen design trends, thoughts and ideas

I attended a seminar last fall that brought together new ideas about kitchen design, from materials, layouts and integrated technology.  Much of the discussion came from  kitchen design shows in Italy and Germany.  One of the concepts I found interesting was leaving out corners, just leaving space.  This sounds odd and in reality this works if you have a large space  I do see clients that are including another room into the existing kitchen area so this concept does have possibilities.   In a future blog I'll have pictures of a project that has no inside corners and incorporates many of the themes of the European design shows.

Mixing textures and colors has already been popular and won't be fading anytime soon. Technology may seem like an extravagance in the kitchen but why if we have smart phones and sonic toothbrushes would integrating technology be a a stretch?.  Enabling different  ways cabinets open, the way a faucet works or lighting that comes on inside your cabinetry just makes life easier.  Bringing the living space into the kitchen with causal seating and flexible movable pieces make socializing with the entire family much simpler. 

If you have an interest in kitchen design trends for the future, I've included a video of the Eurocucina kitchen design show. It's really worth watching.  I hope you enjoy and I'd love to get your feedback so please comment and share.

Here's to the future!  Cheers.

Tile, texture and tone sets the mood

Do you ever wonder how much the size of a tile or stone, or even the shape can help create the entire feel of a room?  I love this vignette that demonstrates the different feel in the same tones and how scale effects everything. Also notice the sheen level of each different tile and stone tile, are they casual or formal to your eye?

I like to use large tiles in small rooms for a larger cleaner feel.  With any size  tiles you can develop a pattern that tells a modern or traditional story.  Small tiles with sheen or transparency can make you feel like your at the ocean.

Next time you look at a room in your home, think about not only how you may want it to look but how you want it to feel.  Where will it take you, the ocean or a bistro?

Thank you to Statements Tile and Stone for this great display.

Nancy Dalton