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Light matters. There are so many ways to light a space, and variables to take into account.

Wall sconces in bathrooms are ALL the rage right now, for good reason. They light the face evenly from the sides, eliminating shadows, they don't cause glare, and they offer a decorative focal point in the space. Placement is everything though, and so consider the following factors;

  • how many sinks?

  • one vanity length mirror or one mirror per sink?

  • the design of the vanity

  • vanity length

I recently went though the process of laying out the lighting for a client, and drew these up for reference; BEFORE designing the cabinetry for the space, we had to establish how we wanted to frame the space at eye level. Here are 4 drawing showing 4 different options for spacing the sconces she had already bought for her double ensuite vanity

. Mirrors were picked, but not confirmed.

The differences are subtle, but notable.

This is the design we ended up running with;

Lots of storage, everything is centered, and the space between the mirrors and sconces is symmetrical and well scaled. The vanity was more expensive than what we had previously selected, because it had two extra narrow drawer banks on the ends.

Are you struggling with a detail like this in your space? reach out and we can work through it!

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Back to the rules- Here are some more rules I don't always follow.

Microwave should be in the most active part of the kitchen

This assumes you have a microwave, or that you use one daily, but how we use this once essential appliance is shifting. Confession, I have not had a microwave in 10 years. I often forget to include one when I'm designing, and end up scrambling last minute to find a home for it!

The convention seems to be that the microwave should be in an active part of the kitchen, but truth is, this is usually where backlogs and traffic jams happen. Here are some tips for placing it.

  1. Think about how you use the microwave before you select a location. If you are only using it to reheat your coffee... maybe you don't need one, and should allocate the budget and space for an upgraded grind and brew on-demand machine. If you are using to defrost, it should be close to the fridge and prep station. If your kids are using to heat up left overs and eat out of the dish, then it makes sense if it is in a walk in pantry or closer to fridge, but not near the prep/cooking areas.

  2. What height makes sense for you? If you don't' use it often, under the counter is ideal, if you use it daily, about 42-48" from the floor is best. Counter top height (36") rarely works for anyone, and over the range height (54") is a spill hazard, so best avoided if possible.

  3. If it's in the budget, go built-in. Built into the pantry, built into the cabinets, built into the base cabinets. I recommend this because it cleans up the space significantly, and there is less opportunity for clutter around the appliance.

  4. Think of ways to prepare food without using a microwave. Here's what works for us;

    • We warm food up in a pan on our induction cooktop. We keep some easy to clean ceramic coated pans in different sizes for this purpose, and find that the food tastes better this way.

    • Make popcorn in a pot on the stove. It tastes better. Trust me. We make ours with coconut oil and add salt before the kernels. takes the same amount of time, and watching the kernels pop is oh, so satisfying.

    • upgrade your coffee game. Don't warm it up in the microwave, just make a new cup. We have a Delonghi Automatic coffee/espresso with milk frothing and it is going on 4 years strong.

    • Defrost in the fridge. Figure out dinner over breakfast and pull anything that needs defrosting out in the morning and throw it in the fridge.

As always, 'Kitchen design rules' are more of guidelines. Every space is different, and you have to break some of the conventional guidelines to workaround the constraints of your space.

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"Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist"- Pablo Picasso.

I first heard this quote years ago when I was in art school. These days, I think of it when I'm asking a client to think outside of the box, and need to remind myself that 11 years of experience designing kitchens should lend me some confidence to break the rules now and then. So... here are some rules of kitchen design and renovation planning I like to break now and then;

Maintain the 'Work Triangle' at all costs

This first RULE is a touchy one. I get into it with my clients all the time on consults, and agree, 100% that in many kitchens, the work triangle is the ideal layout for almost every cook. When does this change? let me list the ways;

  1. Large kitchens- When the space between the fridge and the stove exceeds a few steps, the triangle requires roller-blades to get from one end of the room to the other.

  2. Really long, or open kitchens- When the space requires that all the appliances and plumbing to be on one wall, you have no choice but to thrown the triangle out the window.

  3. Unique needs- Families of 8 who cook and clean together every night, party-goers who need space for the caterers, mobility challenges etc.

So what do you do when your needs and space don't fit so neatly in the triangle? This is where we switch to design for WORK ZONES. This means we break your large space into task-centric work stations designed to serve one task. The zones may include ; Baking zone, Coffee/breakfast zone, prep zone, cleanup zone and cooking zone.

a pantry is a MUST

I love a good, walk-in pantry. or a good Butlers pantry, and baker pantry, but my home is one of many in old Halifax not blessed with the space for this. One solution is to put in a tall, wide pantry cabinet somewhere at the kitchen at the expense of counter-top space, but what if there was NO pantry at all? Guess what, there are many storage solutions for your pantry items that will not cost you your precious counter space!

  1. Storing pantry items in upper cabinet. bonus is that the cans and boxes are now at eye-level, and only a a few items deep, rather than several items deep.

  2. Drawers for baking items- a well organized baking drawer keeps your items accessible where you use them.

  3. Large appliances can be stored where they are used. An appliance garage can house your mixmaster, blender and food processor where you use them so you are not lugging them all over the kitchen.

Are you ready to give up on your pantry?

More rules I break to come in Part 2!

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