January 2014
Kitchen upgrade
Inspiration: Beaded VW
New carpet smell
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Kitchen upgrade ~
project of the month

All my kitchen projects have been full renovations gutted to the studs, reorganizing the space to suit the homeowner's needs.  But if the cabinets are in fairly good shape (even if you don't like them) and the layout works fairly well, maybe all that's needed is a few small changes to make a big difference.
PROBLEM:
Two weeks before hosting Thanksgiving, our own busy kitchen needed some help.  The old appliances were in sketchy condition, lighting was inadequate and the color needed to be kicked up a notch.  Cabinet, floor and countertop changes were not possible.
SOLUTION:
Replace the appliances, cabinet hardware and faucet. Add lighting and a dramatic paint color.
(Please pardon my amateur photography).  
 
BEFORE: 

Moldy refrigerator, on-last-legs dishwasher. The corner appliance garage was a jumbled dumping ground, the microwave access was seriously inconvenient, faucet was leaking, the sink area was dark at night.

AFTER:  
New stainless refrigerator and dishwasher. Appliance garage removed. Microwave relocated. Faucet replaced with a single handle with pull-out spray. Plug-in pendant over the sink adds color, pattern & light. Plug-in undercabinet lighting brightens dark corner. Brass cabinet knobs replaced with stainless.

BEFORE: 
The table & chairs took up too much space. Oven had unreliable temperature and the exhaust hood was too low. Wall color was bland.

AFTER:  
AFTER: Table was replaced with a marble topped counter height work table.  New range with convection oven and 5 burners (2 power boil and 1 low simmer). Slim profile exhaust hood adds 5" of headroom. New shallow depth microwave and toaster oven relocated to far countertop and out of the Bermuda Triangle Bottleneck. Navy/teal blue adds some pizzazz (Benjamin Moore AF-520 Schooner). 
Inspiration ~
Vochol, the Boho Beaded Beetle

This VW Beetle was decorated with 2,277,000 glass beads applied by eight artisans from two Huichol families in a design based on traditional Huichol culture. The project was sponsored in 2010 by the Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City and other public and private organizations. (Wikipedia)

The photo above, and more, from the Flickr account of Angelica Portales.
Mindful Living & Green Design ~ 
New carpet smell

What is that new carpet smell? It is the evaporation of chemicals (aka off-gassing), most typically styrene and 4-phenylcyclohexane (4-PC) from the latex backing used on 95% of synthetic carpets, and from other chemicals in the fibers, in the padding and possibly a topical spray to prevent moths during transport. Beyond the offensive odor, common complaints include headaches, nausea, burning eyes & throat, dizziness and shortness of breath.  Serious longer term health issues are also possible.

Some tips to minimize carpet off-gassing:
  • Good: Ventilate well for 72 hours after installation with open windows and fans.
  • Better: Vacuum with a HEPA filter vac & clean with hot water extraction. Use an air purifier in the room.  
  • Best: Use this 3 step cleaning & protecting process from AFM SafeCoat which can reduce the off-gassing by 50 - 95% 
    1. SafeChoice Carpet Shampoo
    2. SafeChoice Carpet Seal
    3. SafeChoice Lock Out 

Some tips to avoid carpet off-gassing:

  • Buy a chemical free wool carpet, a natural fiber that is durable, long lasting and inherently resistant to dirt, stains and crushing. 
  • When buying new, look for an Eco Certification such as the Carpet & Rug Institute's CRI Green Label Plus, or even better from an independent 3rd party certification such as NSF/ANSI 140: Sustainability Assessment for Carpet, GreenGuard or UL Environment.
  •  Buy natural dyed antique rugs, clean them with non-toxic cleaners before bringing into your home, and enjoy. 
I help smart homeowners upgrade to stylish, functional healthy interiors, kitchens and baths.  What's on your wish list?

Contact me at 973-202-8130 or tracey@traceystephens.com

Tracey Stephens, 
Tracey Stephens Interior Design Inc