Monday, April 19, 2010

Ahhhh... Excess...

I own an Advantium microwave oven, a slide-in glass-top range with built-in warming drawer, a french door refrigerator with purified ice and water in the door, a state-of-the-art stainless tub dishwasher, an instant hot water dispenser...the list goes on and on. All of these gadgets are here to make my life better and to make cooking the ultimate adrenaline rush -- still we eat most every meal out.

This week I attended K-BIS, the world's biggest kitchen and bath industry showcase. Here, vendors from all over the the world showcase their latest and greatest wares. I enjoy attending the conference so I can be armed with knowledge and inspiration for my clients. I do have to ask myself if these wonder gadgets actually improve my quality of life. It seems my early ancestors may have had it much easier ... a fire, a sharp stick and a piece of meat -- dinner is served. I, on the other hand, need a degree from MIT to pop popcorn.

To me the excess is not the gadgets, it is the attention to self. I think what we need to do in such a blessed nation is to enjoy the gadgets and at the same time leave our fingerprints on the world, not just on the stainless steel. Now before anyone reading this decides not to do a remodel, I say hold on. Your kitchen or bath remodel adds value and beauty to your house and feeds the economy, which produces jobs, which feed people; this is a good thing. The call to action I propose is to use your remodel to help others. How? Simple. Here are a few ways.

The last few years, I have used Habitat for Humanity for my demolitions (they may or may not have this service in your area). Habitat will remove your old cabinets and appliances and then sell them in its home store. The money is then used to build homes for deserving people. Here's another: why not take $50 of your remodel budget and send it to Soles4Souls? Fifty dollars can buy 50 pairs of shoes for people in a needy part of the world. Imagine being able to look up rather than down as you walk; for many this is life changing.

How will you leave your fingerprints?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Reading, Writing and Retro

"I have often wondered what it is an old building can do to you when you happen to know a little about things that went on long ago in that building." -- Carl Sandburg

I recently visited the Carl Sandburg home as part of a trip to Asheville, NC, to see my son and daughter-in-law. One of the stipulations for making the house a historical site was that it stay exactly as it was the day Mrs. Sandburg walked out the door for the last time after the death of her husband. It is a wonderful time capsule of the year 1967. Everything is just as they left it, including unopened mail, copies of LIFE magazine, appointment books, even a trashcan that still has trash in it. Strangely enough, the lines of the furnishings look very modern and retro-chic, except they are not retro, they are the real McCoy...vintage '60s. Of course the room that interested me the most was the kitchen. With very little reworking, some smart appliances and a bit of cleaning, the "feel" of the room would rival the best IKEA kitchen out there -- only much, much cooler.

The kitchen cabinets were metal much like the cabinets I grew up with. I replaced those cabinets a few years ago while remodeling my mom's kitchen and looking back, I think I should have held on to them. Who knew they would come back? Trends always repeat themselves with slight alterations and deviations. I find it interesting that most of the furnishings in the Sandburg home could be lifted from his time and brought into our present design aesthetic and never miss a beat. And though I am not a fan of factory-made cabinets, the whole retro metal/clean line/'57 Chevy-inspired look is intriguing and fun. If I were going to use a factory cabinet in a design, it would definitely be metal.

What designs from a bygone era still inspire you?