About Me

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I have 20+ years experience in Home Furnishings and Interior Design, specializing in Kitchen and Bath Design since '01. I work for Bilotta Kitchens in the A&D Building on East 58th Street in the Mid-town Manhattan. I have a passion for learning and love the opportunity to collaberate on projects of all sizes. My strengths in the field begin with my design background, use of color and texture to bring interest to a room, spatial relationships, organizational skills, innovation, decisiveness, and planning. I have had the thrilling experience of helping hundreds...?maybe thousands of people with their projects, and what I love is it never gets boring, and no two are ever the same. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Appliances---When Size Matters

Two apartments in NYC that recently became one.
As anyone in New York City knows, combining apartments is our urban equivalent to suburbia's "putting on an addition". And just like in the burbs, this type of remodeling is on an upswing, perhaps even more so than "up country" because city dwellers can take immediate advantage of the drop in real estate prices when they buy their neighbors place. Where as in New Jersey...you already own your yard, it's just worth less than it was 3 years ago.

It's always interesting to see what extra space is allowed for the new single kitchen, even if the apartment doubled in size, and they ripped out one of the kitchens...it's rare that the kitchen doubles, although I have seen it a couple of times recently. It does seem more likely that TWO 2-bedrooms will become a 3-bedroom with a family room than a 4-bedroom anyway, it's just another trend I see.

Miele 24" Oven, Microwave and Warming Drawer.
What to do then with the 3 bedroom luxury apartment with a 9' one wall galley kitchen and an island...well, first thing is be careful, and don't waste an inch. It's very important to consider cooking and shopping practices in these cases. While a three bedroom home on Long Island or New Jersey would usually have a 36" refrigerator, it wouldn't be uncommon to do a 30" Sub Zero in the city. And it's doable when you take into account the fact that we tend to shop more frequently, picking up fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmers markets on our way home. This is especially easy to manage if there is an additional space for a beverage fridge, say in the new family room.

People in both the city and the suburbs overall love the idea of a wall oven. It's so much easier to lift a heavy roast (or vegetable lasagna) out of an oven that is above counter height than to heft it from down low, possibly straining your back. The beautiful selection of ovens and their sleek look when combined with microwaves and warming drawers when  built in, conjures up images of an uncluttered, well functioning workspace. Normally you would allocate 30" for this appliance set up, but it is possible to do it with a 24" appliance combination from Miele, and if your apartment is a 2 bedroom, that oven may be large enough for the home. One thing to consider before buying a wall oven is if you have the electrical service to support it.  If it's not available, the cost of bringing it in can be exorbitant!

Of all appliances, dishwashers are the ones that sometimes get left out of the equation when something has to go, great space saving options are the Miele Incognito 18" fully integrated or a dish drawer which is generally 24" wide but can be installed as a single, leaving room for more storage under it.

Concetta with a Wolf 36" cook top.
Cook tops come in many different sizes, from the Wolf 15" two-burner up to 48" with grill...you will find one that is right for your space, people seem to like to go a little larger on this appliance, perhaps because of the glamour and fun of standing behind it, especially if you can install it in an island and enjoy time "cheffing it up" with your friends. To indulge a little here is okay, after all redoing a kitchen is a major expense and takes energy, you should enjoy it when its over.

The thing to be most careful about is that your appliances have a relationship, with each other, the number of people you would expect to live in the home, and of course, don't forget the sink. It's important that if you would reasonably expect to use a pot of a certain size to cook, you would have a sink or a dishwasher likewise to accommodate it.

Well thought out storage solutions are the key to a well planned kitchen, and as Gale Steves pointed out to me recently, it's about right sizing your home, you can add storage without adding space to the room, just be smart, and even the toe kick under your cabinets can be useful. Be creative and have fun!

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Homeowner Beware Dishonest Practices

Be very careful what you read and believe in the online business review pages, such as Merchant Circle, Insider Pages, CitySearch etc. Not every business owner is scrupulous, and I know of one in particular who scoops reviews off other's LinkedIn and posts them on his own business pages as though the homeowner posted an unsolicited review. It's unethical and a good indication of the rest of the businesses practices.

Here is an example of one taken from me. The review on the left top was placed on my LinkedIn profile in 2008 shortly after the compeltion of the kitchen. It was recently re- posted on the web under a different business name, for a completely different purpose than it was written.

The person who took the referal is someone I worked for previously, so I am familiar with the ethics. I know  to be on the lookout for where my name will pop up, and it seemed to me he wouldn't stop with fake reviews, and taking referals that don't belong to him. Low and behold, while he stopped by my professional profile he also took the name of my blog...if it isn't nailed down he thinks he can have it. I obviously don't wish to have my business or reputation connected to this person, but what can a homeowner do to make sure they don't open the door to a conniver like this?

    The only way you the consumer can be sure that a review is genuine is to speak to actual clients and visit
their completed project, ask for three names, not just one. Ask for proof of how long the company has been
in business, and check with the Better Business Bureau, make sure they are a member,
these organzation can be very helpful in a dispute, and they keep good records. Ask if they have ever been sued or settled out of court, ask them face to face, not over the phone. Visit the address the business is incorporated at and if you have any doubts don't sign a contract. If you do sign a contract you have three days to rescind, but you must do it by certified mail. You could lose a lot of money by not rescinding properly even of no work has been done.

And Good Luck!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Buzz About the Archtiectural Digest Home Design Show 2011

As I came into the showroom this morning and the @$%&!!!  Sunday morning  time of 8:30am... I was immediately bombarded by the sound of saws...it's nearly show-time in NY,and it's getting exciting. The 2011 Architectural Digest Home Design Show begins this Thursday March 17th, auspiciously sharing it's debut with another New York favorite, Saint Patrick's Day...when the everyone becomes Irish for a day.

MCK+B will be back to show after a couple of years away, and the preparation for the arrival of our show displays is well under way. We will be showing a Rutt Contemporary Kitchen with fully automated doors and drawers, all on electronic touch censors, full of great ideas for the Baby Boomers and mindful of the latest in Aging in Place Technology. The appliances are supplied courtesy of Sub Zero/Wolf and the counter top is natural stone.

 My friend and colleague Susan Serra will be  debuting her own line of cabinetry called Bornholm Kitchen. A unique line of Scandinavian inspired cabinetry. Having heard so much about it I can say I am very excited to see and touch the material for the first time! I wish her the very best of luck.

And blowing into town with great excitement will be several members of the Blogger19, a diverse group of designers/writers/ advisers who travel, investigate, and blog about changes, innovations, and everything design/home related. Among us that I know of will be Andie Day, Paul Ananter, Susan Serra, Cheryl Kees Clendenon and Saxon Henry.

If you are in New York between the 17th-20th, make sure to stop in at Pier 94 at 55th Street and the West Side Highway to see the latest and greatest in design innovation. Nominal admission gain you access to the show for the entire four days and includes admission to the Artist Project -New York exhibit at Pier 92, and there will be events sponsored all weekend by manufacturers. MCK+B is proudly attending the DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) event on opening night. Come join the fun and learn something new. For the industry there are designated portals for registering with free admission, please contact me if you are intrested and qualify.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Green Kitchens That Go from Mild to Wild...

Teak/Low Sheen Central Park West, NYC
 Historically, contemporary style has somewhat belonged to the "Big Cities", New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and a bit to South Florida. There was a lot of talk in 2010 about a universal trend towards "warm contemporary" styling, and middle America streamlining their design tastes into a modern fashion. I would love to receive feedback here from designers and homeowners alike as to what their experiences have been recently.

Since I am in New York, the majority of my design work has been and continues to be contemporary. And one of the most noticeable style trends I see is the use of reconstituted (recon) veneer in cabinet finishing. If you aren't familiar with recon veneers they are a material created from natural trees grown in managed forests. The timber is grown in Europe and Africa, as well as a few other places, once cut the logs are rolled in a slicer against a blade to "peel" the tree down. These sheets are then cut into "leaves", dried, processed, arranged and then reassembled into wood  blocks that are then cut again into very .6mm sheets that can be used in cabinetry and furniture manufacturing all over the world. When applied by a skilled craftsman, the grain matching and finishing can have a most interesting effect.

This process increases the trees yield by over 40 times as opposed to using it as cut lumber. Additionally all of the dyes used are water soluble and when bleaching is required the bleach  processed and disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. Once applied the veneers can be finished in a low or high sheen depending on the client's preference.

Wolf Kitchen w/Haze-Zebrano behind
The veneers are optimum for use on slab doors which are used to create beautiful and sometimes exotic looks in contemporary kitchens. In our MCK+B Showroom which has several live kitchens, most often it's out contemporary Haze Veneer kitchen which is chosen by TV shows and  Vendors to use for Photo shoots. Just in the last three months I have had the opportunity to design in Ebony, Gray Obechie,  Haze, and Teak. Each one having it's own subtle but beautiful impact on the design, as well as the much bolder Zebrano.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Jorger-Rohl Athentic Luxury Plumbing Fixtures Launch

New Empire II collection from Jorger/Rohl
 Today in New York City Mark Rohl, President of the Eastern Region for Rohl , a company known for discovering and marketing luxury Kitchen and Bath products from around the world unveiled a new product offering that will certainly create some excitement in the residential design field.

At the launch he was joined by Oliver Jorger, the Managing Director of Jorger, a German manufacturer of their high end in house designed plumbing fixtures. Jorger has a history in plumbing going back over one hundred years to a great, great grandfather that oversaw palace plumbing in Baden, Germany.

This venture has been in the making since 2006 when the two companies originally met at KBIS. Jorger will bring the relationship beautiful designs developed specifically for the targeted high end markets of New York, Chicago and Dallas where the products will initially roll out with limited distribution. Rohl will masterfully orchestrate the introduction to the market through select channels, the closest of which to New York City is Hardware Designs of Fairfield, NJ

As a designer serving the exclusive New York Market they seek to capture my personal opinion is that the Empire II Collection, a contemporary design with an Asian influence will find the larger audience and reach more consumers, keeping in mind this is exclusive luxury and not intended for the mass market.

Aphrodite Collection from Jorger/Rohl
 The Aphrodite Collection, a somewhat classically styled introduction with a Greek flavor derived from the famous columns, is beautiful and uniquely styled offering but a bit more complicated and not as yielding in bathroom where there can be many elements competing for attention. I will say that it is interesting the way the tops of the columns seem to imply a modified look on a traditional and still often used cross taps.

Oliver Jorger of Jorger

There is a promise of more to come in the next year, I have seen previews and think this will be worth the wait! We show the full line of Rohl Products in my showroom atMCK+B at 29 East 19th Street, New York, NY.

The launch took place in the Liederkranz Club a former private residence on the corner of East 87th Street and 5th Avenue. The club whose name means “garland song” has a long history of promoting the musical arts and fellowship in New York, and while it shares Jorger’s German roots, it has no political affiliation.