Whippin’ it up in the kitchen

The kitchen is called the heartbeat of the house. It is the one place where you spend most of your time either cooking, eating or entertaining. It is no wonder that whether you are buying a new home or in the process of renovations the kitchen is the most sought after room in your entire house.

Kitchens come  in all shapes and sizes ranging from the popular island theme to U-shaped kitchens, galley kitchens to L-shaped kitchens and the single line kitchen. Therefore, there are certain rules or guidelines one should follow to maximize your kitchen for efficiency.

  1. Most importantly a kitchen should be functional for those who are using it.
  2. Allow plenty of workspace. Ample counterspace is always a huge plus.
  3. The “work triangle” consisting of the refrigerator, stove and sink should be ideally located to work in a triangle. This is the main contributor to efficiency in the kitchen.
  4. Provide plenty of storage/ cabinet space for pots and pans along with spices and pantry items. Try to keep the countertop as uncluttered as possible.
  5. Lighting is crucial. There are three types of lighting to consider: overhead, task and natural light.

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color me happy

A lot of you who are reading this probably put your outfits together and are the most stylish fashionista.  Does your living space reflect the same?

Color is a fabulous and inexpensive way to create a focal point, a contrast, a graphic statement or just creating a mood for the space. You’ll be amazed with just how much you can accomplish and change the way you live by taking or adding a few simple things.

You can paint walls, add accent or throw pillows, create a focal point with a gorgeous work of art, introduce a waterfall with L.E.D. lighting (now this would be amazing), brighten up with fresh flowers/plants, bring in some pop with a funky area rug/carpet, jazz up your windows with some decorative fabric or apply some wall covering … the list goes on.

Studies have shown how color affects the mood of your space and in terms psychology of the user/users. “COLOR is literally the wavelength medicine of the future. It calls to us and asks us to recognize its value as an alternate medicine that the environment can provide” – from The Power of Color.

If you look around, you’ll find hospital rooms, fast food restaurants, classrooms and offices are painted  certain colors to influence the mood and behaviour of the people using these spaces. Even the products on the shelves at your local supermarket have been packaged in colors carefully chosen to attract your attention and encourage you to buy.  Red is known to stimulate the appetite, blue and green are considered calming and fresh, yellow and orange are energizing as the sun. The color wheel shows a range of colors both active (bright colors – red, orange , yellow) and passive ( cool colors – blue, green, violet) complementing one another.

No two people see color exactly the same way, there will be some differences in the way two people react and respond to the same shade of color. Different cultures create different meanings for colors. For example, red is considered very auspicious in China, India and Nepal.  White is used in the western world for christening and wedding . Dark colors in a room make the room feel smaller. Neutral colors ( beige, taupe) work in any setting.

You can experiment with bold colors in a setting that is not used as frequently such as a corridor or entryway to make a bold statement. You can always do one bold color and complement it with more subdued colors to create the right mood.  You can use a painting, rug or sculpture as an inspiration and create a palette.

I suggest you pick colors you really like and start experimenting with your furniture, walls, wardrobe and yes, even on unsuspecting humans …

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Forward to the past

There’s a saying take a look back at history and learn … In this context, it means looking to the past, the generation of our great-grandfathers. Life was simple, clean and pure. There was no pollution and most importantly they were the pioneers of organic products.

Flashback – I remember my childhood days visiting my grandmother on Saturday mornings and enjoying the freshly made butter with toast followed by a glass of organic milk (which was milked early morning by Ram, the cowherd who has been a staple figure for the last thirty years). For meals we would enjoy rice with fresh corn and veggies picked from the three acres of vegetable garden my grandparents owned. Food was cooked in clay pots and sometimes served on big banana leafs. I come from a big extended family growing up in a mixed population of young and old. Rarely, did any of us get sick.

Forward to the present – it is the year 2011 and now we realize how planet Earth is rapidly degrading and deteriorating. And the credit goes to us. We have been selfishly pre-occupied with the industrial revolution and the concept of getting rich and richer, that we have failed to think little of Mother Earth, our homes and our future.

Better late than never, right? We have seen emerging new trends in green concepts and the trend/movement will continue to grow stronger. We all can help support this in our own ways starting with simple, easy to do steps:

  • Maximize daylight – through skylights, shades, south-facing windows
  • Use energy-efficient lighting – look for Energy Star labels, replacing an incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent, halogen or L.E.D’s saves up to third of the energy and lasts ten times longer
  • Opt for low VOC products – when buying paints, carpet and furniture look for low VOC (volatile organic compounds = that are harmful to human health) labels
  • Buy locally – as much as you can, this helps reduce transportation costs, resulting in less air pollution and gives you a better value for your money
  • Select energy-efficient windows – again look for Energy Star label
  • Decorate your space with green – besides looking great and giving that natural feel, plants help to remove harmful chemical from indoor air
  • Wood products – help conserve and save our forests, whenever purchasing wood products, look for the label FSC ( Forest Stewardship Council)  the only certified agency that promotes sustainably harvested wood and wood products
  • Avoid using plastic bags or bottle – replace them with cloth or paper bags,  they are harmful to the environment releasing chemicals and toxins to the air, water and soil.

What I talked earlier about my childhood, life was indeed simple, there was no pollution, my grandmother would never serve anything that was coated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals : organic was the way to go then, it was locally available (24/7), inexpensive , highly nutritious and emitted very little pollutants.  So start your veggie garden, replace your bulbs, bring in some plants indoors and inhale some fresh air!

More green topics to come.

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The Open vs Closed Office Debate Continues…

To have an office with an all-glass facade, skylights, palm trees …that would be a dream office come true! Alas, we have come a long way from disengaging ourselves to the stereotyped office layouts but still have a long way to go in accepting solutions that are beneficial to both the environment and man.

Studies show how surroundings affect mood, health and overall productivity and performance of office workers. Fifty years later after the introduction of open plan office concepts, we are still arguing the value of open vs closed office spaces. There are various reasons.

In a recent study performed by Ohio State University, workers were significantly happier and their productivity level was two times higher when they were placed in an open cubicle with skylights compared to the stress level of working in a closed and window-less space.

Organisations like open plan offices because they tend to be smaller and thus cost less on a per employee basis. The design is more flexible and encourages communication and interaction. This indirectly leads to organisational learning, decision-making speed and employee job satisfaction and commitment.

Open office layout

What is an open office? An open office can mean anything from a high-panel cubicle ( that does not allow you to see above and beyond while seated) to a low-panel cubicle formed in clusters. It could be a shared office space with 2-10 employees sharing a space.

The different types of “open” offices preferred also co-relates to the age of the workers. It has been shown that older employees prefer a closed office.

A few may argue that it is easier to control unwanted noise, distractions and interruptions that may be of an issue in an open office.  Rather than being viewed as interruptions, the short, frequent communications allow fast feedback and response time thus allowing  work to move forward. Additionally, it is a whole new learning process – being able to see and hear and observe how others handle different situations. We learn by watching and hearing and not just by being formally “instructed”.

I sign off now from my studio located on the third floor with a view to the rolling hills, clear blue sky and the cool breeze coming in.

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Why should you hire an Interior Designer

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We are excited to connect with you all! Stay tuned for exciting, new and cool trends coming soon.

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