Monthly Archives: January 2013

Not Another White Kitchen!


I admit it, I like white kitchens.  My own kitchen is white.  I even have a Pinterest board filled with pictures of beautiful, white kitchens.  A white kitchen can be classic and timeless or sleek and contemporary.  Yes, some can appear cold, and yet others can be warm and inviting.  BUT…if I had to change my kitchen tomorrow, I might consider a color palette that resembles Houston designer Sally Wheat’s now-famous gray painted kitchen . There’s something so serene about this kitchen.  The gray paint, Benjamin Moore’s Fieldstone, coupled with honed statuary marble counters, make for a very quiet, calm space that’s truly elegant.

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Where’s Your Microwave?

MicrowaveRecently a friend, who is planning a new kitchen, asked me a simple question.  What’s the best location for the microwave?  Wow, simple enough question…not such a simple answer.  The answer truly is “it depends.”  The location of the microwave is best determined by how (and how often) you plan to use it, and whether or not you want to see it.  In kitchen design we all need to make choices, and today nobody wants to bend down to reach anything — whether it’s the oven, a low drawer or an under-counter microwave. So, it all boils down to usage.  

I decided to take an informal poll of several friends, all with new kitchens, to see what the current trend was (if any).  While the microwave really isn’t the most attractive of the kitchen appliances, almost everyone has one.   Locating it above or below the counter, or even out of sight in a pantry closet, really is a matter of choice. Microwaves located above counter height are often front and center and not always visually pleasing. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends that the bottom of a microwave placed above the counter should ideally be 3″ below the principal user’s shoulder, but no more than 54″ above the floor.  For undercounter microwaves, the bottom of the microwave should be at least 15″ off the floor.  For those who choose to tuck it under the counter and out of sight lines, there are a few drawbacks. Bending down to see what’s inside is simply inconvenient. And spilling hot liquids retrieved from under the counter is certainly a possibility.  If, like most people, your main uses for the microwave are reheating coffee and popping popcorn, then perhaps visual aesthetics and available space should be your guide. If you cook in your microwave and need to peek now and again, then you might find a below-counter microwave somewhat of a nuisance.  

And so, after my little research project, I have confirmed my initial suspicion that where you choose to place your microwave (assuming you have options!) depends on how you plan to use it and whether or not you want to see it.  So, the bottom line is:  it’s entirely up to you! 

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From Trash to Treasure

Marble Sink Top

It all began with an old marble sink top that lay discarded in the grass, propped up alongside an old barn.  I had spotted it from the road and told my husband that we needed to pull over so that I could check it out.  The name of the business inside was simply “The Strip Joint.”  Inside this dilapidated building I found a treasure trove of old antique furniture, most of which had seen better days.  Some of the items inside were not for sale…they were pieces that had been dropped off and were waiting to be refinished.  Other antiques were stacked precariously up the walls and on the second floor the furniture was up to the rafters in some places.  We spotted several old doors with great beveled glass lights that had been taken out of an old courthouse, and of course the footstool that I was eyeing was buried deep beneath broken caned chairs, old headboards and various other finds.  The owner of the shop was only too happy to help me dig out what I had spotted.  And the old Carrera sink top that I found laying discarded in the grass outside had a story of its own.  It had been taken out of an old house — completely unusable in its present condition.  The faucets, originally there had been two, were corroded, and only the faucet dedicated to hot water remained.  All that was left of the cold faucet was the hole that had been drilled for it many years before.  Underneath, the clips that held the original sink in place (which was nowhere to be found) were completely rusted an immovable.  I knew instantly that I had to have this vanity top for my new powder room.

Restoring this old beauty would be a project that ultimately required the help of an old Italian marble restorer, who was able to carefully remove the old broken plumbing fixtures and rusted clips without damaging the marble.  After that, he cleaned and polished the thick marble, which when restored betrayed the most beautiful patina that can only result from many years of use. I knew that the best way to showcase the sink top in my small powder room would be to mount it on chrome legs.  Adding a deep sink bowl and a traditional three piece chrome faucet would be the finishing touches.  

Since this powder room was brand new and in an old house that was built in the late ’20s, I knew that adding a vanity top with some history would make the bathroom so much more interesting. And this is one of the design principles that I tried to employ while renovating.  If my kitchen and baths were just like all of the beautiful examples that  I found in countless magazines, then they wouldn’t have been unique.  Designing a powder room around an old vanity top was also so much more gratifying than having bought one pre-made, which I have certainly done before.  It demonstrated to me that with a little bit of ingenuity I could have a powder room built around a piece with some great character.  And that 1 1/2″ thick Carrera marble top?  Well, I paid $50 for it. A worthwhile investment.


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