Interior Design on Your Own Time

Archive for August 2009

I must admit that I’m a bit of an environmentalist.  I don’t use paper goods (except the rare paper napkins or paper towels on occasion when the kids spill things) or other disposable food items (plastic wrap, disposable tin pans, etc.).  I turn off the water when I’m washing dishes so that no drops go to waste unnecessarily.  And I try to purchase energy efficient appliances whenever possible.   That’s why I’m so excited to learn that soon the government will be providing incentives to consumers who want to exchange their old, non-energy efficient home appliances for more efficient models.  Not only will a rise in the use of energy efficient appliances have a great impact on the environment, but they provide a great way to improve the look of your kitchen without breaking the bank.

According to the US Department of Energy, lighting, refrigeration and cooking appliances consume 41.5% of a home’s energy consumption.  For this reason alone, I encourage you to take advantage of this new ‘cash for clunkers appliances’ deal to improve the look and efficiency of your kitchen.  (The deal will likely go into effect around November 2009).  Please note that at this time there is no such thing as an Energy-Star approved oven or stove.  Still, there are many ways to improve the energy efficiency of your kitchen.  Here are my top picks for energy efficient appliance upgrades:

1- Energy Star Refrigerators with Top Mount Freezers.  Not only do top mount freezers offer maximum storage space for frozen foods, but they also use 10-25% less energy than side-by-side or bottom freezer models.  Although this model may not be considered the most aesthetically popular design, you can easily enhance the look of your new appliance with new appliance pulls that match your existing cabinet hardware.

2-  Energy Star Dishwashers.  I love energy efficient dishwashers because not only do they save money on your electric bills, but they also use less water than less efficient models, which is better for the world and easier on your water bill.  Consumers should be aware that Energy Star guidelines for dishwashers were amended on August 11, 2009, though some models that are still being sold only conform to the outdated standards.  I highly recommend purchasing models that conform to the latest standards to ensure that your appliances are as energy efficient as possible.

3- Energy Star Freezers.  A spare freezer is a great place to store extra food- but many times extra freezers are left running when they aren’t completely full, which means that you are spending money to run your spare freezer.  To get the most bang for your buck on a spare freezer, upgrade to an Energy Star model which will save nearly $50 a year on your electricity bill.

What energy efficient appliance would you like to buy with your government rebate?

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People with small kitchens often wish that they could have a larger workspace, more cabinet space, or simply just a more luxurious kitchen.  Unfortunately, this is not always possible due to space constraints, permit problems or budgetary restrictions.  Still, there are many ways through which we can maximize the efficiency and beauty of any small kitchen.  The following small kitchen ideas will yield big results- and will enable you to love your small kitchen instead of cursing it.

– Install cabinetry up to the ceiling.  If you are lacking storage space, a great way to take full advantage of even the smallest kitchen is to put double cabinetry on top, so that you utilize every inch of available space for storage.  What’s more, double cabinetry is not only useful, but it’s also beautiful.  Of course, my favorite benefit of having cabinets up to the ceiling is that you eliminate the need for dusting above your cabinets…

– Optimize your corner cabinetry.  If your corner cabinets are a mess, implementing a more efficient system will improve the entire look and feel of your small kitchen.  Ideas for making this happen include installing blind corner cabinets or a large lazy Susan that can make it easy to find what you’re looking for without rummaging through the entire corner cabinet.  While lazy Susans are definitely a more affordable option, there’s no question that blind corner cabinets offer optimal efficiency and can completely revolutionize any corner cabinet.

Rev-A-Shelf Blind Corner Cabinet

Rev-A-Shelf Blind Corner Cabinet

– Paint your kitchen with a light color.  Small kitchens often feel even smaller because they are painted with dark colors which will make the space feel closed.  Choosing a light and warm color such as cream, warm yellow or beige can make a big difference in the way the room feels, and can make the room feel instantly larger.

Take things off the countertops.  If you find that your kitchen countertops are cluttered with accessories, get rid of them.  Instead of having a counter-mounted paper towel holder, install a hanging paper towel holder under your cabinetry.  Instead of keeping your bread box on the counter, hide your bread in a bread drawer organizer.  Instead of keeping your mixer on the counter, stash it in your cabinet on an appliance lift, which will prevent the mixer from ever taking up space on your countertop again.

–  Use long cabinet pulls to create an elongated look. Oversized cabinet pulls are a great way to trick the eye into thinking that a space is larger and longer than it is.  Replace your old cabinet hardware with cabinet handles that are at least 8 inches in length.  Place the handles horizontally on drawers and vertically on cabinet doors to make the most of the look.

Sati Nickel Bar Pull by Top Knobs

Sati Nickel Bar Pull by Top Knobs

Whether you try just one of these small kitchen ideas or implement them all, you won’t believe how a few small touches can really change the feel of your kitchen.