Kitchen Design – Is There a New Kitchen in Your Future? Take the First Steps to Success – Planning

INTRODUCTION

Many of my clients have, unfortunately, initiated the design of their kitchen without an understanding of the extent of what is actually involved in the process, in terms of design, budget, timeline and other issues. In these cases, our design process together, was frustrating for the client and for me. As a result, this article will clarify the process so that you will have the opportunity to become better informed before you begin your kitchen project, thereby avoiding uninformed decisions or possibly spending time and/or money needlessly.

This article is not about the specific design features of your kitchen and how to design it. There are many good resources available for that. Instead, it is about the process of designing your kitchen. It is meant to help in getting a head start and to expose anyone who is, or might be, embarking upon the design of a new or remodeled kitchen, to the first and most important step – Planning.

Designing a kitchen for a new or existing home is a big investment in time, money and energy and it is sometimes stressful and challenging. Unfortunately, some vendors and TV programs don’t like to dwell on this aspect and therefore mislead the consumer regarding the actual amount of time and effort that is required. Even though creating a new kitchen is challenging, most clients say that the results are more than worth the effort. I hope that the information provided herein will be a helpful contribution toward having you well on your way to a successful project.

Before you begin the process of designing your new kitchen, you will need to set the criteria for the design. I recommend that you engage a professional kitchen designer that not only designs the cabinet layout, but designs every element of the kitchen and is involved throughout the entire project, so that the final result will be a cohesive design that reflects optimum function and style. The designer will not only help you create a beautiful, efficient, kitchen but will save you significant time and money and you will both have fun developing your joint creation. I trust that what follows will get your energy flowing and thoughts racing, in preparation for actually embarking upon your journey. And, it “is” a journey!

THE KITCHEN OF TODAY

The kitchen has traditionally been the most important room in the house because cooking and sharing food has long been central to family life. Meals will always be important, but cooking has, in some cases, significantly changed. The grocery industry has focused on replacements for home meals and hundreds of restaurants have incorporated “to-go” in their business model. Whether we cook frequently or not, kitchens remain the foundation of family life because it is where we live and gather. It is where most of us start and end our days and share the information of our day.

Today’s kitchens serve more roles than ever before: entertainment center, home office, cooking and dining space. The electronics for an entertainment center may include TV, music and internet connection and the office area may have a desk, files, computer and bookshelves.

THE FIRST STEPS

Determine with your family, who uses your current kitchen and how, and discuss the conveniences you would like to have in the new version. Make a scrapbook of articles and notes on kitchens and kitchen features that interest you and photographs of kitchens you like. Evaluate how and when you cook, where you serve meals to whom and how often you entertain and how you entertain. Inventory your dishes, silverware, serving pieces, cookware, linens, and your typical grocery storage requirements so that you can be sure that the new design accommodates everything.

It seems that no matter how much time you budget for a remodeling project, it usually takes longer than you expected. For a complete remodel, the down time during construction can be at least two or three months and much longer, depending upon the size and extent of the project. Your family needs to eat in the meantime. So, before construction starts make arrangements to store, heat and clean up, enough to keep you going until the kitchen is back on-line. Many of my clients who have had the good fortune to have a bar sink in the family room, have moved in the old refrigerator and microwave near the bar sink and this combination becomes the interim kitchen during construction of the new one. The upside to this is that it provides a great rationale for eating out more often!

THE KITCHEN FOOTPRINT

Let’s start with the space you have available for the kitchen. Whether you are designing for a new home, or remodeling in an existing one, you are limited by how much space you have available in which to create your dream. If the space is fairly small, you will want to consider whether or not you have the option of expanding. You may be able to accomplish this in your existing home and, in a new home, very often you still have time to alter the architectural plan, if needed. In either case, if you can eliminate or relocate a wall or walls or add to the house to create more space for the kitchen, it will improve the function and value of the room significantly.

Of course, if you don’t create an addition to the house, and just remove or relocate a wall(s), you then have infringed upon a contiguous space and decreased its size, so you have to weigh which option is the best for you. Is it worth giving up the other space to increase the size of the kitchen? In my experience, if you can do without the adjoining space, it is much better to devote that extra space to the kitchen.

When you plan to remove or relocate a wall(s), the key factor to determine is, by so doing, will you encounter a load-bearing situation? This occurs when the wall(s) is part of the support system for the structure of the house. Usually a contractor can determine this. If the contractor is uncertain, you will need to have a structural engineer examine the structure to make that determination. If it is non load-bearing, when you are ready to start construction, the contractor can proceed to build out the space per the new plan. If it is a load-bearing issue, your local building authority will require that you retain a structural engineer or an architect to design a structural solution for removing or relocating the wall(s).

He or she will submit design drawings and calculations of the solution, to the building authority for approval and permit. Upon receiving the permit, when you are ready to begin construction, the contractor can then proceed to build-out the structure per the engineer’s or architect’s specifications. This is the process in California, based upon the state building standards, Title 24. The process in the other states is very similar.

In any case, once you have made the decision of whether or not to expand or re-configure, you will know the size and shape (footprint) of the space that you have available from a horizontal standpoint – Plan View.

VERTICAL SPACE

You should also consider what size and shape the room will be from a vertical standpoint as well. If it is possible to increase the height of the room by raising, eliminating or altering an existing low ceiling or soffit, you should seriously consider taking advantage of this option. The additional height will provide more cabinet storage from the increased height of wall cabinets and the room will become more voluminous which is always more visually impressive and comfortable. From a construction standpoint, the load-bearing issues will apply to increasing the room height just as it applies to moving or eliminating walls.

Of course, in dealing with all of these design and construction issues and decisions that need to be made, you will not be alone. Your designer will be the pivotal person who will help you evaluate the choices you have available. He or she will produce drawings in order to visually demonstrate these options and will offer advice on which options are best and why.

I understand that this all sounds very tedious and problematic. In some sense these two words are a good description of the design/construction process. However, what I have outlined above is done thousands of times every day and most of those homeowners have survived and, as a result, now have the new, beautiful, functional, kitchen of their dreams. You notice I said “most”! Seriously, the project will be challenging and there will be some problems. This is just the nature of design and construction and that is why you should not proceed without experienced professional help throughout the process from the very beginning to the end.

UTILIZING YOUR KITCHEN

Are you an expert chef, who does it all: cooking, baking, barbecuing, or are you a minimal cook whose main goal is to just get a meal on the table for the family as expeditiously as possible, or are you somewhere in between? Do you always cook by yourself or do you often have family and friends help with the cooking? Do you often entertain and all flow into the kitchen while munching on your Brie between sips of chardonnay? Do you bake often and want a marble surface for that purpose? The questions can go on and on.

Some clients have large, prestigious, homes and entertain frequently and/or have large families. They may have someone do the cooking for them. Some of these types of projects may need the full treatment, such as a butler’s pantry or walk-in pantry, two islands, two refrigerators, two dishwashers, two microwave ovens, a wine cooler, a separate beverage cooler, a built-in espresso machine, sink, prep-sink and bar sink and glass-door cabinets to display the family heirloom china, etc.

Most clients require something substantially less than all of this, but I bring it up just to emphasize that how you utilize your kitchen has a strong influence on the design and therefore, as I mentioned, you should think about how you want to operate and what you want to accommodate in your kitchen. You can start to think about what type of appliances and features you would like. Think of the three major work areas of a kitchen: Food Prep (refrigerator and sink), Cooking (cook top, oven and microwave) and Cleanup (sink, dishwasher and recycling). You will find a myriad of styles and options available which you and your designer will need to carefully consider. More planning, of course!

HOW & WHERE YOU WILL EAT

You may prefer to be able to eat in the kitchen by having an island with seating. The size of the island that the room will accommodate will determine how many persons you can seat. Seating at an island reduces the storage space available in the island, so the balance of the kitchen storage will need to absorb this loss. You can basically sit at three counter heights: chair height (29-30″), counter height (36″) and bar height (42″).

If you have an adjacent breakfast room, you may want to eat there in the interest of having more storage space in the island. If the room will accommodate it, you may like the idea of a built-in booth in the breakfast room or kitchen, in lieu of a typical table and chairs. Many clients like to have the option of eating in both the breakfast room and at the island in the kitchen. In some cases there is no breakfast room and the dining room serves as both breakfast room and dining room. In any case, you should give these and other possibilities careful consideration.

THE DESIGN STYLE

There are many design motifs available to you: Traditional, Modern, Contemporary, Country, Craftsman, Cape Cod, etc. The design motif that you select will obviously heavily influence the selection of all of the other elements in the kitchen. The cabinet style and finish have the strongest influence on the design style of the kitchen. As I mentioned, you can start by collecting magazine photos of kitchens to get a feel for what you do and don’t like. They will give you great ideas for all things kitchen. Stock, semi-custom or custom cabinets have many different styles and finishes to offer and of course, custom cabinets can provide any design and finish.

REMAINING ISSUES

The planning process will continue until every aspect of the total kitchen design is selected and specified. However, once you have established your footprint and vertical space, how you want to utilize your kitchen, how and where you want to eat, and your design motif, you are more than half way there. The planning process continues, on a smaller scale, as you are making more decisions about all of the items and issues that make up a total kitchen design.

Examples: Do you often make spaghetti and pasta, which requires filling a large pot with about four to six quarts of water? If so, you should have a pot-filler over the cook top or range top. Since there are only two of you and it takes a long time to fill up the dishwasher before you can wash the dishes, you should consider a two drawer dishwasher which enables you to wash one drawer at a time, thereby saving energy and providing you with clean dishes more often. Do you prefer an air switch in the countertop for the disposal or do you want the switch to be on the backsplash? Do you want a garbage disposal in the prep sink as well as the main sink? Do you want soft close on your cabinet drawers? Do you like the idea of pendant lighting above the island? Do you want a filtered water system? The questions go on and on!

The various categories you will be encountering in designing your new kitchen are as follows. This listing of categories will give you an idea of what is to come. I didn’t say it was easy!

APPLIANCES, CABINETS, HARDWARE, FLOORING, PLUMBING, COUNTERTOP, BACKSPLASH, LIGHTING/ELECTRICAL, WALL FINISH, FURNITURE, WINDOW TREATMENTS, ART WORK, ACCESSORIES AND CONSTRUCTION.

CONCLUSION

I trust that by reading this article, you now have an appreciation of how important careful planning is to the successful design of your kitchen. The more thought and quality time you devote to it, the better prepared you will be when you begin with your designer and the process will become easier and more efficient, which everyone involved will greatly appreciate.

Once you have made most of these macro-decisions that I have mentioned, you will be ready to tackle the micro-decisions that are coming next. As you can see by the examples I have mentioned and the listing of categories above, you have a lot more planning to do, but remember you are now over half way there. Be strong and resolute and I am sure that you will get through the entire process virtually unscathed. And, if you are thoughtful, organized and work in the spirit of mutual cooperation, you will probably have some fun too! Remember that not all of this is on your shoulders. Your professional designer will be by your side for the whole trip.

I sincerely hope that you have found this information helpful and I wish you the best of luck on your journey.

Businesses go in for the latest IT networks for more efficient business. With higher efficiency the business can achieve higher profitability. Setting up or even upgrading your network, hardware and software is not an easy task. You have to choose the right company for the supply of hardware and software that will give you a perfect set up and maintained platform for your business.

Private and public companies have to choose between the right IT suppliers. For them, to get a single supplier of hardware and software is like a dream come true; as it will simplify processes and communication. However, for this to happen the company has to make sure that the unique supplier is also able to deliver different types of services promptly and efficiently. A company hiring a supplier will look for a guarantee of reliability and quality; which comes if the latter has partnerships with major multinational computer hardware and software companies/manufacturers like IBM, Dell, Microsoft, Fortinet Firewall etc.

A good service provider offers greater accountability of your businesses’ IT needs. Issues like server problems, hardware malfunctions, and the worst network crashes stand to be resolved quickly. A professional IT support company will address these problems promptly and diligently, they will be solved with minimum delay, hence causing very little loss of time. Time saved is often referred to as money made, and an expert IT company will let you do just that. Overcome network clogs quickly and run uninterrupted towards completing targets.

An IT support and services company that provides complete and end to end network, hardware and software solutions, will probably service you with primary services like Internet, Intranet, Extranet (VPN and encryption, VoIP, etc.). Also they will work on the design, construction and maintenance of local area networks (LAN) and geographical (WAN). They will sell, install and support basic and application software and hardware support. Data support and data storage systems are other services that are extremely essential and are provided by these companies. So whatever be your business genre, be that finance, legal, construction, retail, government or leisure, technical support can make things a lot faster and easier, with these services:

* Networking
* Servers
* Storage
* Desktops and Laptops
* Printers

When you have chosen a reliable IT support company, then you can just sit back and relax as the experts are there to handle all such issues. They employ highly trained technicians and consultants that are skilled enough to handle basic network implementations to more complex and large scale deployments. Staff are usually certified by the biggest vendors in the industry and is given training to keep them up to date with changes and developments. This allows them to deliver enhanced support services without compromising on quality.

These support and service companies will provide you with the best suited software for your needs. This will let you work better and faster. One more service provided by these companies is training. Since they are the experts, when it comes to any hardware or software issues, they can impart some of their skills to the employees too. They can either train the employees on a new software, or as complex as utilizing a network to increase efficiency.

Green Builder Hardware Associations

Green Builder hardware association are those government as well as private bodies that monitor as well as promote sustainable building along with providing information on green builder manufacturers, suppliers and manufacturing associations and professional associations in all sectors of the green building industry. These associations provides and shares resources and various technologies to aid in the designing of high environmental standards that includes minimizing energy requirements, reducing water consumption, using building materials of low environmental impact, reducing wastage, conserving the natural environment and safeguard human health and well being.

Countries all over the world have configured their own set of rules and standards of efficiency for green building. These organizations play an active role in facilitating the learning process between the members and thus help the building industry in avoiding the hazardous impact on non greener buildings. The green builder hardware association have access to international network and they use their resources to bring together all the representatives of the green hardware industry and further expand its growth among the member companies. The advantages of these trade associations is that they provide source of technical expertize and focus on maintaining the green standards of the global green buildings industry. While browsing through these trade associations one can gather fruitful information on the latest happenings in the green industry. Promoting and sensitizing the building hardware manufacturers about the environmental impacts of sustainable building is the key aim of these green buildings associations.

Following is the list of some of the most popular green builder associations across the globe -

US Green Building Council is a non profit community of leaders that works with the aim of making sustainable buildings available for every generation. This 15 years old organization is the prime association among the green building trade associations and also license some of the other organisations that run on similar pattern.

Builders Owners & Managers Association, of Canada manages the building environment standards along with certification, along with replacing their Go Green and Go Green Plus programs.

The New Zealand Green Building Council, provide the construction industry with an objective measurement for green buildings and to recognize and reward environmental leadership in the property industry.

UK Green Building Council, was launched in February 2007 and aims at providing sustainable building environment by radically transforming the way it is planned, designed, constructed, maintained and operated. The participation list in this membership council includes businesses, NGOs, academic institutions and government agencies.

Sustainability Practitioners Association was formed in July 2004 by 14 consultants working in different areas of sustainability. Based in Australia, the vision of this green council is to endure, high impact association to connect and help in developing Australian sustainability practitioners.

What Is Electronic Design Automation (EDA)

When I mention about electronic design automation (EDA) a lot of people mistakenly think it is related to electronic component manufacturing automation which covers thing such as computer controlled of conveyor belt and PLC programming. In fact the two are very different in nature.

EDA domain is purely in software. It is how software are used to help integrated circuit (IC) designers to design ICs. These software are referred to as EDA tools.

While the high level stage of the IC design requires a lot of creativity, but the low level and details part of IC design can be very repetitive, tedious and boring. The EDA tools help the designers in doing the repetitive and tedious tasks.

While in collage, students majoring in electronics learn basic electronic system design using small number of components called gates. Basic system can be construct with less than 10 gates. By their final year, the students will learn how to construct larger system which consists of up to hundreds of gates. This is not how it is done in the real world.

In the real world, a system such as the Intel Pentium 4 chip is constructed from 14 million gates. And with the current trend, it will not be long before we pass the one billion gates (in one chip) mark. This is so much different from what is thought in college. That is why in the real world, IC is design using different method.

On the very high level a system can be described using special languages, called hardware description language (HDL). Two most prominent HDLs are Verilog and VHDL. Verilog is widely used by designers in North America, and VHDL is widely by the european designers.

Instead of designing a system on gates level, using these languages a system is described at a higher level. Then a software is used to translate this high level description into gates level. This process is called synthesis, and the software is referred to as a synthesis tool. One line in HDL can be translated by the synthesis tool into few gates. Synthesis tool is one of the examples of EDA tool.

Even before a design using HDL is processed by a synthesis tool, there are other EDA tools that can be used by the designers to check if their HDL codes follow certain rules and guidelines. These EDA tools are called rule checker software. The HDL design is check again good circuit design guideline in order to catch possible error which can caused circuit failure when it is converted into gates.

Network of connected gates which are synthesized are called netlist.There are various verification EDA tools can be used to analyze a netlist. The tools can be a static tools which can look at a netlist and resolve it functionality mathematically. There are also dynamic tools such as simulators which look at how the circuit behave virtually when it is operating. Simulated input voltages and currents are fed into the netlist, and the simulated output is shown to the designer.

Using these verification tools, designers can verify that their design work – at least in controlled simulated environment. Final verification of the actual chip is still needed because the long and intricate manufacturing process can cause problem to a circuit which not counted in during a simulated verification.

Using various EDA tools,such as synthesis tools,rule checkers and verification tools today designers have been able to create a chip which contains multi million gates in it. Other than synthesis, there are also other EDA tools that help designers with other process of an IC design such as layout tools, and timing verification tools.

The trend is to move into high abstraction using higher level language, which is more abstract than the HDLs such as C or C++ programming languages and let the software to do more and more task in generating the gates. Enabling of the use of C or C++ in designing a hardware system is done with the goal that it will convert some of the software engineers become hardware designers.

Exploring the Design, Construction & Building of Enclosures

An enclosure is the technical term for housing or a covered framing for equipment or machinery. Enclosures are purposely built for their unique applications with different types of hardware. One example is a common sight on roadways, the electrical enclosure. An electrical enclosure houses electrical components for utility companies and the relays and switches for traffic control to protect equipment from the elements. In the home, stereo equipment comes in soundproof enclosures that channel the sound in one direction for better music quality. In the office, security enclosures protect expensive equipment like computer servers and sensitive materials such as patented material. Let us take a look further into each type of enclosure and investigate how industrial products, from fasteners to other hardware, are utilized for each specific design.

Electrical Enclosures

Electrical enclosures are a very common sight. They are seen on the side of roads, at nearly every controlled intersection, and at the end of the block. These enclosures protect a variety of electrical equipment, from the time relays that operate traffic lights to the switches that supply power to homes. Not only do they keep the equipment safe, but they are also meant to keep people safe from electric shock.

The primary purpose of electrical enclosures is to provide protection against the environment, specifically corrosion, for the equipment inside and to prevent electrical shock to people and maintenance personnel. The hardware utilized within electrical enclosures will emphasize corrosion resistance and the outer components will include insulation or non-conductive materials.

Certain materials will resist the corrosion caused by moisture and the elements. Aluminum is a soft metal that has good corrosion resistance and is also non-magnetic. Stainless steel will also perform well like aluminum, but has the added bonus of being extremely impact resistant. In most of these applications, however, stainless steel would be overkill and overpriced. Plastics will resist water damage, but they are typically sensitive to heat, which may cause a problem in an electrical box sitting in direct sunlight during the summer months. Regular carbon steel is always a decent choice due to its low cost and easy handling, but will require more maintenance and painting to keep rust-free.

For insulation, many enclosures can be mounted on and surrounded by wood, this being the simplest application. Rigid plastics are also non-conductive and are often used in the quick release fasteners for opening boxes. Brass heads on fasteners can also be used, as brass can be alloyed to be both corrosion resistant and since it is non-magnetic, will make a good insulating material as well.

Sound Proof Enclosures

In the home, the most commonly seen enclosures are sitting right in front of you on the entertainment system. Stereo components, subwoofers and speakers in particular are housed in enclosures. They perform double duty by protecting electrical equipment, but their main purpose is sound control. Speakers generate sound in all directions, but it is the job of the enclosure to properly direct the sound forward. If the sound waves are not focused towards the listener, sound quality will suffer from echoes and interference.

Sound control is achieved by the use of vibration control in stereo enclosure fasteners and in the housing itself. Materials that act as insulators against electricity will perform the same duty against sound waves. This is why nearly all stereo equipment is housed in wooden or plastic boxes. Inside the box, vibration control is obtained from fasteners and locking screws made of nylon with added washers to hold the hardware in place during operation. These materials will be able to hold up to the intense vibrations from music, TV, and DVDs.

Enclosures For Secure Storage

A third common type of enclosure is the security enclosure. Housing expensive equipment and sensitive documents is a common need among businesses. Security enclosures are built for strength and to resist a concerted effort at a break-in. Typically, expensive electronics like computer servers and valuable documents like industrial patents and accounting information will be stored in such an enclosure.

The obvious need for security enclosures is a high tensile strength. Materials must be resistant to impact and sheering in order to provide a durable structure to secure valuables. In this application, stainless steel is an incredibly potent material that will see a lot of use. Stainless steel can even be case hardened to provide further strength and protection. Carbon steel parts can also be used if they have been case hardened, but the most sensitive materials will undoubtedly utilize stainless. All of the outside fasteners and hardware will be of the highest strength to provide an enclosure without any weak points that can be used to gain entry. Inside the enclosure, less expensive materials can be used to mitigate the cost of large amount of stainless steel.

With the wide variety of industrial products available for use in construction, enclosures have the ability to cover many applications. From high strength secure enclosures, vibration controlled soundproof enclosures and insulted electrical enclosures; the choice of hardware is paramount to meeting design specifications.