Bring Life to Outdoor Walls With Nature’s Green

Whether you live in an apartment building or a single-family home, chances are there’s a blank wall or vertical surface on your home’s exterior that could benefit from added interest. Filling or covering a blank wall with plants is one of the easiest ways to add appeal, and plants bring a touch of nature to a man-made space. For inspiration, take a look at these 13 planting designs that rely on flowering vines, espaliers, hanging gardens and more to help transform blank walls into garden focal points.
Bring Life to Outdoor Walls With Nature’s Green

102 Eye-Popping Powder Rooms

Powder rooms are often the jewel box of a home. Usually the smallest room, they lend themselves to doses of color and pattern that might be over the top in a larger space. Today we celebrate them in a new photo series highlighting areas of the house particularly rich in personal expression and beautiful design.

Which would you choose?

102 Eye-Popping Powder Rooms

Why You Might Want to Work With an Interior Design Pro

11 ways a pro can help you get the most joy from your remodel while minimizing headaches along the way

This a wonderful and easy to read article from Houzz on why you would want to hire our team:

 

When people consider hiring an interior design professional for the first time, they often don’t know what to expect. Television can make it seem as though designers are magicians. This can create the illusion that designing, purchasing for and executing a vision can happen in a day; that concepts cost next to nothing to achieve; or that these professionals do nothing but shop, cause drama and have the time of their lives spending clients’ money. That’s good entertainment, but it’s not reality.

In the established design industry, the career is serious business. It takes years to master the art of interior design. It is complex, calculated and practical. A design professional is often part creator, part project manager and sometimes even part therapist, helping homeowners to determine their dream design and bring it to life while helping them to breathe through the complexities from start to finish. Design professionals have learned over the years to wear many hats to benefit their clients.

Here are some of the top reasons for entrusting your project, whether it’s big or small, to a design professional.

Why You Might Want to Work With an Interior Design Pro

 30 White Kitchens out of the ordinary!

.Another wonderful article from Dwell Magazine.  Lots of great photos and ideas.  Go to their website for more information.
These 30 White Kitchens Are Anything But Ordinary

View Photos

More than just a blank slate, these pristine white kitchens expertly use the tried-and-true shade to open up small spaces, visually tidy, and give old cabinetry new life.
 A cooktop and refrigerator from Gaggenau, Bulthaup cabinets, a Miele oven, and an Asko dishwasher outfit the all-white kitchen, which is located on the entry-level floor.

 The living room, office, and kitchen are sunken into the concrete floor, providing delineation in the open plan.

An expansive skylight extends the full width and length of the kitchen, flooding natural light into the core of the open and connected living spaces.

A crisp, clean, eat-in kitchen with high-end appliances from Viking, Bosch, Sub-Zero, and LG make this space a chef’s delight, while exposed beams, an arched stove hood, and a second arched carriage entrance along the back wall connect the room to the home’s rich past.

Photo: Shannon McGrath Faced with size constraints in the kitchen area—the designers were unable to build above 10 feet on the West side of the house—Robson and Cohen installed steel clerestory windows, which add extra illumination. A black Aggregato Saliscendi Suspension light, designed by Enzo Mari and Giancarlo Fassina for Artemide, accents against the white Calacatta marble countertops and MAP’s oak Milky Stools.

“There’s a nice tension that exists in this renovation. The building has exquisite original architectural details, and we kept the delicacy of that detailing at the front of our minds as we designed—allowing it to serve as our inspiration for the slender proportions that prevail in the kitchen and the dressing room millwork. We added arched elements on the existing windows. An extra arched framing device that springs from corbels acts as a divider between the kitchen and dining room.

Built on a hilly, South-facing site populated with mature heritage trees in an established neighborhood, this home finds its sophisticated form through the traditional motifs. The highly linear, open floor plan is adorned with chic finishes, including a sleek wall of custom cabinetry.

 The all-white kitchen has an L-shaped work area and several cupboards. The work surfaces and cabinets are made of Corian, which gives the kitchen a soft elegance that blends beautifully with the oak parquet and the black steel wall. The highlight is the corner window seat.

 The interior features neutral colors and streamlined appliances like the Miele oven, stovetop, and refrigerator, along with the Espace Cuisine cabinets.

The design studio, Studio Block, strives for their work to be “enduring and uncomplicated, modern yet warm, and embracing simple luxury with playful moments.”

“The ground floor layout and kitchen have been designed for simplicity and functionality. The darkly weathered zinc on the exterior communicates with the blacks, whites, and grays of the interiors. The design of the interior achieves a softer touch by using bespoke detailing and a rich palette of materials such as stone and timber

12. A Minimal Yet Mighty Home in Brooklyn, New York

A couple takes a minimalist approach to their Brooklyn apartment, focusing on supple materials, subtle gradations of color, and custom finishes by local craftsmen. The Mandayam–Vohra family gathers under one of Workstead’s signature three-arm chandeliers, shown here in its horizontal configuration. Bartenschlager designed the white cabinets and is responsible for the walnut counters both on the kitchen island and near the stove.

The open plan of the white kitchen helps keep the interiors bright, while also creating a greater sense of spaciousness.

 The narrowness of the house required the design to make effective yet frugal uses of space. Precise positioning of walls, doors, and windows was crucial as each floor was planned to serve a purpose. The first floor is a continuous public space with a living room, dining area, kitchen, and library opening to gardens in the front and back.

The open concept design in this cabin features wooden details and a white kitchen.

 A minimalist interior located in Tel-Aviv, Israel, has been designed by Yael Perry. The apartment was renovated and includes a bright living space, kitchen, and one bedroom, along with a wide bathroom. The designer, who wanted to provide a unique aesthetic that made the space feel more spacious and bright, chose to design the apartment in one shade of color: white.

 The cooktop, refrigerator, and wall ovens are by Jenn-Air; the sink and faucet are by Kohler, and the countertops are from Caesarstone.

While minimally modern in the aesthetic, this home provides a comfortable space for the occupants to immerse themselves in nature.

 The architect placed the windows at Sabrina’s eye level so that she’d be able to see her son, Rocco, playing in the yard outside.

For the kitchen, architect Ivan Priatman selected an oven, hood, and cooktop from Teka and a Samsung refrigerator. While the table is his own design, the bar stools and chairs are from Informa.

Along the Southern side of the passageway is a living room, dining area, and kitchen, along with a workspace and guest bathroom. The door next to the kitchen opens to a striking courtyard.

For convenience, Eva and restoration architect Victor Drapszo moved the kitchen from the second floor to the first, which originally housed a garage, laundry area, and guest room. The cabinetry is Gamma by Arclinea, the countertops are Lagoon quartz by Silestone, and the floor is polished concrete.

The homeowners,  avid cooks worked with a design duo and contractor for the home’s renovation. To make the kitchen seem larger the team decided to place the largest cabinets and appliances near the entryway, making less clutter toward the window.

 The kitchen has been designed in collaboration with Henrybuilt. The laminate cabinets are paired with a marble countertop.

 Three thin slabs have been staggered vertically through the space to create three distinct floors and allow light to flood in from the front, back, and roof. The white Saari kitchen makes the most of a compact space.

To complement the white-washed custom cabinetry in her kitchen, the architect designed a tile backsplash to resemble “melting butter in a white pan”. Daltile arranged her two-color AutoCAD design white and off-white onto a mesh backing for a small fee. To soften the edges of the cabinets’ drawers and doors, Schaffer requested radial edging.

This kitchen was renovated in the late 1970s and has been beautifully maintained since.

The white kitchen is undeniably the focal point of the house. All lighting is custom made by the architects

The orientation of the kitchen was changed to allow sunlight from the slanting windows to better illuminate the cooking station.

The interior palette in the extension includes bespoke limed oak cabinetry from the kitchen to the bathroom, polished concrete floors, and black steel accents, such as in the staircase and windows.
 30 White Kitchens out of the ordinary!

CONQUER KITCHEN CLUTTER

Here is another interesting article from Kohler, on how to declutter your kitchen.  I love a simple and clean countertop, so hide a lot in the pantry and in an appliance garage.  Here are a few more ideas.

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Looking for the secret to easier cleanup, clearing away clutter and getting your kitchen organized once and for all? Zero in on hard-working products that speed up your workflow and keep everything in its place to make kitchen time more enjoyable.

Cut Down On Counter Clutter

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Shown: The Riverby under-mount kitchen sink with utility rack, soaking cup, colander and cutting board.

Adding simple storage to your space is a great way to keep your cleaning tools organized and within reach. Pare down the number of sponges, scrubbers, and brushes crowding your countertops and drawers by swapping them for tools with multiple uses. Our kitchen accessories feature a variety of simple, purposefully designed products, from dishwasher-safe caddies to a one-of-a-kind squeegee/brush combination. You could be enjoying a clutter-free kitchen in no time.

Accessorize your Kitchen Sink

e5f214306a8430dcd25aad98e306ca3e75a5c0d6.jpgThe Prolific under-mount kitchen sink with bamboo cutting board, colander and washbin.

Many of our kitchen sinks have added accessories like prep bowls, utensil trays, colanders and cutting boards to make cooking and cleaning faster and easier. Using integrated tools within your sink space transforms your standard sink into a fully usable workstation. So you’re not only containing your messes to one easy-to-clean area, but you’re also keeping bulky accessories from cluttering your countertops.

Go Hands-Free with Your Faucet

ded822c54100055a3d8df054d10384719b56c1b4.jpgShown: The Beckon Touchless kitchen faucet.

Upgrading to a faucet that accommodates the way you work around the kitchen can save time and effort. And when it comes to function and cleanliness, motion activated faucets just make sense. Touchless technology turns on with the wave of a hand, making messy tasks easier and keeping the kitchen more sanitary — especially during cold and flu season.

The Final Ingredient
Achieving a cleaner, more organized kitchen that you love is doable without a remodel. You just need the right recipe and the active ingredients to make it work.

CONQUER KITCHEN CLUTTER

What is your state’s dessert?

Here is how to explore desserts, one state at a time by “The Daily Dish”

Minnesota: Seven-Layer Bars

ALABAMA: CREAM CHEESE POUND CAKE

“I’m a northern girl, who tries so hard to cook southern delights — this cake does not disappoint. It was a HIT!”

Idaho: Spudnuts

Louisiana: Brennan's Bananas Foster

 

What is your state’s dessert?

Home-made Flour Tortillas

I watched this and thought, finally a way to make tortillas that might actually work.  With the steak from my left over Beef Wellington (not letting that go to waste) I will be making Steak Tacos for dinner tonight!  Tomorrow recipe for tacos and photos.

8-inch Flour Tortillas

Homemade tortillas are not as difficult as you think.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

While testing recipes for our Easy Flour Tortillas, we learned that too little fat produced brittle tortillas, too little salt yielded tasteless ones, and baking powder made them doughy and thick. Adding hot water to the dough melted the shortening, which then coated the flour and prevented it from absorbing excess moisture. This resulted in less gluten development and yielded more tender tortillas. A brief rest in the refrigerator firmed up the shortening again so that the dough wasn’t too sticky to roll.

INGREDIENTS

Makes 12 tortillas
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

I plan to use low-gluten flour from Sheppards Farm that I can buy locally.  It is not gluten free, but if you are only intolerant, this may work for you.  

1 ½ teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 6 pieces
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water, heated to 110 degrees
½ teaspoon vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS

1. MAKE DOUGH Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Rub shortening into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until combined.

2. FORM BALLS Turn dough out onto clean surface and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball. Roll 2½ tablespoons dough into 1½-inch balls. Transfer balls to plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

3. COOK TORTILLAS Working on lightly floured surface, roll balls to 8-inch rounds. Heat oil in large -nonstick -skillet over medium-low heat until just smoking. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Lay 1 round in skillet and cook until -surface begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until browned and puffed, about 1 minute. Transfer to plate and cover with kitchen towel. Repeat with remaining rounds. Serve.

MAKE AHEAD Tortillas can be cooled, layered between parchment paper, covered in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for 3 days. To serve, microwave on 50 percent power until heated through, 10 to 20 seconds.

TECHNIQUE

ROLL YOUR OWN

After the dough has chilled for at least 30 minutes, roll out each ball to an 8-inch round.

Home-made Flour Tortillas

Perfect Pasta

Must be the weather….  Rain – Rain – and more – Rain.  I found an article by Claire Saffitz in the recent edition of Bon Appetit and could not find it online, so scanned it (thus a tad crooked) and share it here.  I think it makes some good points.  
Carbonara

At restaurants, those noodles get coated in a silky, glossy sauce—the secret is an emulsion of fat, pasta water, and cheese.

Here are the 5 key steps to replicating that at home.

There’s something about pasta at a restaurant that just seems different. The sauce clings to each noodle perfectly, as if separation were physically impossible. That alfredo or carbonara is so sublimely smooth that it could never be replicated at home, right? Wrong. Here’s how to make pasta at home that is every bit as saucy and glossy as it is at your neighborhood trattoria. Get out your Dutch oven (or sauce pan or large skillet), and follow these 5 easy steps to at-home pasta perfection.

pasta-dutch-oven-sauce
Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

1. Start in a Dutch Oven

A big one, so you avoid half-cooked pasta caking onto your stovetop, which can happen easily when saucing with a skillet. Higher sides mean the pasta won’t flip out as you’re tossing—and there’s going to be a lot of tossing.

pasta-dutch-oven add-flavors-cheese
Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

2. Build Your Flavors

Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into the Dutch oven (enough to cover the bottom) and heat over medium. Add some aromatics like garlic or shallots, then cook mushrooms or other veg in the oil until they’re tender.

pasta-sauce-dutch-oven-drop-noodles
Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

3. Drop the Pasta

In a pot of very salty boiling water, cook noodles until they’re several minutes shy of al dente. Transfer them to whatever you’ve got in the Dutch oven, along with a ladleful of pasta water. The noodles should swim, and the liquid should be bubbling.

dutch-oven-pasta-finish-butter-noodles
Nikole Herriott

Photograph by Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott

4. Marry the Noodles and Sauce

Toss, toss, toss as the pasta finishes cooking. Then add a bit more pasta water. Toss some more, then slowly stir in some finely grated hard cheese—Parmesan, Pecorino, Grana Padano—little by little so it melts evenly and completely.

5. Finish It Right

Keep tossing until each strand or shape is coated and no bits of cheese remain. Remove from heat, stir in a spoonful of butter, and top with more cheese and some crispy bits (prosciutto FTW), then serve directly out of the Dutch oven at the table.

Perfect Pasta

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen

This a great article from Dwell Magazine.

If you have serious culinary chops and take pride in preparing meals that wow your family and friends, keep these tips in mind when designing or renovating your kitchen.

If boiling eggs is not your forte, and you’d much rather eat out than experiment with new recipes, then a basic kitchen may be all you need. But if you’re serious about cooking and love nothing more than spending hours trying out new dishes that’ll impress guests at your next dinner party, then here are some elements to incorporate for a professional-grade kitchen.

1. The Magic Triangle

When planning the layout for your kitchen, refer to the “kitchen work triangle” with the cooking area, sink, and refrigerator at its three points. Though modern kitchens have evolved, and it is sometimes geometrically impossible to abide by this configuration (for example, in a single wall kitchen), the triangle is a good concept to keep in mind when designing to maximize functionality and ease of movement.

What they did not talk about is the new triangle, where the refrigerator is off to the side and a little out of the way.  There needs to be space across from it or beside it to put food when cooking, but it does not absolutely need to be part of the triangle anymore.  I love the cooktop part of my triangle, as I am working there, more than in the refrigerator. (unless I am really hungry)

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen - Photo 1 of 7 -

 

2. Two Sinks

Install two sinks so that you can clean fruits and vegetables in one while washing or stacking used pots and pans in the other. Ensure that the sink is deep and the faucets are high, so you don’t have to worry about water splashing onto the countertop as you strain your pasta or wash your dishes.

I have a little different take on this.  My utility room is adjacent to my kitchen, so I added a large stainless sink in there if I need a place for pots and pans.  If I am entertaining, I do not want my guests to see dirty pans in my kitchen, so this works great! 

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3. Plenty of Durable Work Counters

As a home chef, you’ll be engaged in many food preparation tasks, so think about how to maximize counter space. Surface counters made of quartz, laminates, and solid surfaces are good choices for their durability, and antibacterial and anti-staining properties. Such surfaces are ideal for areas where you’ll do the most peeling, chopping, and blending.

Quartz is the new popular countertop and it is great, but if you select a plain one, be prepared to constantly be cleaning it, as it shows every spot.  I love a good granite that hides a little.  

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4. Built-In Appliances

Integrated appliances are your best bet for freeing up space, hiding unsightly electrical cords, and getting a clean, streamlined look. Wherever possible, choose built-in ovens, dishwashers, coffee machines, microwaves, and pullout fridges. This will help free up more counter space and make your kitchen look much more inviting.

I love making my dishwasher and refrigerator look like cabinets.  Now there are drawer refrigerators and freezers.  I hide my microwave and toaster oven in my pantry.  Clean is the new look!  

5. Good Lighting

A bright kitchen is not only healthier for your eyes, it makes preparing food safer and will probably put you in a cheerier mood. Locate your kitchen close to windows or incorporate skylights to increase the amount of natural light it receives. When choosing light fixtures, consider ambient lights, task lights, and accent lights. Use down lights to prevent glare and shadows, strip lighting under cabinets, and wide-rimmed pendant lights above the bar or island counter.

In my last home I had windows under the cabinets that looked out to the garden.  It had a wonderful effect.  We added another window when we remodeled last summer to take full advantage of our water view. 

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6. Ample and Intelligent Storage

Easy and intuitive access to a large pantry, spice racks, pots and pans, utensils, dinnerware, and cutlery can make all the difference when you’re preparing a feast for a large group. Consider storage systems which hold all your kitchen basics neatly and beautifully like a secret armoire.

I personally think that although this is “cool”, there are a lot better use of space, than hanging your utensils and knives.  One knife block on the counter is quite practical. 

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen - Photo 6 of 7 - On/Off Monoblock by Boffi

7. Wine Storage Facilities

Good food isn’t complete without great wine, so consider including wine storage facilities.  We love ours and use it every day.  

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen - Photo 7 of 7 - Perlick wine cooler

 

7 Design Tips For a Chef-Worthy Kitchen

Millionaire’s Shortbread

This is a recipe straight from America’s Test Kitchen.  It has several steps, but the results are “Oh My Gosh” delicious!  I am taking a batch to our local fire department and a batch to a meeting Tuesday morning.  If you put them in a sealed container in the refrigerator they will last up to two weeks.  You really should try to make them!  Next time, I am going to add a little salt to the top, as I think that would be amazing!

msb

Millionaire’s Shortbread

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

Millionaire’s shortbread has a lot going for it: a crunchy shortbread base; a chewy, caramel-like filling; and a shiny, snappy chocolate top. The only thing that could make it better would be foolproof methods for producing all three layers. We started by making a quick shortbread with melted butter rather than pulling out the mixer or food processor. Sweetened condensed milk is important to the flavor of the filling, but it also makes the filling vulnerable to breaking because the whey proteins, crucial to keeping the mixture emulsified, have been damaged by heat both during processing and during the cooking of the filling. We added fresh cream to supply just enough whey to keep it together. Melting the chocolate very carefully so that it never got too hot and stirring in grated chocolate at the end created a smooth, firm top layer, which made a suitably elegant finish for this rich yet refined cookie.

MAKES 40 COOKIES

For a caramel filling with the right texture, monitor the temperature with an instant-read thermometer. We prefer Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar for this recipe. Grating a portion of the chocolate is important for getting the chocolate to set properly; the small holes on a box grater work well for this task. Stir often while melting the chocolate and don’t overheat it.

INGREDIENTS

Crust

2 ½ cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
½ cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup packed (7 ounces) brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup corn syrup
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt

Chocolate

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (6 ounces chopped fine, 2 ounces grated)

1. FOR THE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Make foil sling for 13 by 9-inch baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil; first sheet should be 13 inches wide and second sheet should be 9 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir with rubber spatula until flour is evenly moistened. Crumble dough evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Using your fingertips and palm of your hand, press and smooth dough into even thickness. Using fork, pierce dough at 1-inch intervals. Bake until light golden brown and firm to touch, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack. Using sturdy metal spatula, press on entire surface of warm crust to compress (this will make finished bars easier to cut). Let crust cool until it is just warm, at least 20 minutes.

2. FOR THE FILLING: Stir all ingredients together in large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers between 236 and 239 degrees (temperature will fluctuate), 16 to 20 minutes. Pour over crust and spread to even thickness (mixture will be very hot). Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

3. FOR THE CHOCOLATE: Microwave chopped chocolate in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted but not much warmer than body temperature (check by holding in palm of your hand), 1 to 2 minutes. Add grated chocolate and stir until smooth, returning to microwave for no more than 5 seconds at a time to finish melting if necessary. Spread chocolate evenly over surface of filling. Refrigerate shortbread until chocolate is just set, about 10 minutes.

4. Using foil overhang, lift shortbread out of pan and transfer to cutting board; discard foil. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, cut shortbread in half crosswise to create two 6 1/2 by 9-inch rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half to make four 3 1/2 by 9-inch strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 10 equal pieces. (Shortbread can be stored at room temperature, between layers of parchment, for up to 1 week.)

 

Millionaire’s Shortbread