Who is ready for some Bull Riding? WE ARE! Mark your calendars for the Rockin’ Bull Bash May 16th at 6:00pm, and don’t miss the Pro Rodeo May 17th and 18th!
It’s all fun and good to daydream. Indeed, visualization is a key part of the creative germination process. But at some point, you must take action. Otherwise, you may forever be stuck with a dishwasher from 1954, a galley kitchen with practically zero room to prep food, and an old stove from the previous owner that you fear may spontaneously explode at any moment.
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Green Kitchen Remodeling
- Avoid products that give off VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are released from paint and various other products commonly used for Castro Valley kitchen remodeling such as drawers and cabinets. They tend to reduce the air quality in your home and could possibly cause a number of health problems. Fortunately, there are various paints and other products that use ingredients which are specifically designed to give off little or no VOCs.
- Instead of using traditional cabinets manufactured from medium density fiberboard, consider cabinets manufactured from bamboo or wheatboard. Bamboo is a highly sustainable source of wood which grows extremely fast compared to other types of wood commonly used in Bay Area general construction. Wheatboard cabinets are another great sustainable option manufactured from wheat chaff and other farm waste products. Bamboo and wheatboard cabinets are typically assembled with glues and finishes that give off little or no VOCs.
- If you’re going to replace household appliances such as the refrigerator or the dishwasher, look for appliances that are labeled with the Energy Star logo. This indicates that they meet federal standards for energy efficient appliances. Replacing your appliances with energy-efficient models can provide a substantial amount of money saved on your energy costs. A modern energy-efficient refrigerator could save you over $100 per year, while a dishwasher designed for energy-efficiency can save as much as $50 per year. When choosing a refrigerator or dishwasher, look for refrigerators which have the freezer on top and dishwashers which offer energy-saving cycles, as these will be more energy-efficient than other models.
- Lighting is another area where you can explore energy-saving alternatives. Fluorescents are very long-lasting and even a low-wattage fluorescent bulb will put out the same amount of light as a comparable standard light bulb. Fluorescents don’t necessarily have to be harsh white glaring tubes – they can be produced in a variety of different shades to accommodate your lighting needs and taste. LEDs are another excellent option for lighting your kitchen – they give off a good deal of light but use only a small amount of electricity and will last for years.
- Green flooring is also a great option for kitchen remodeling – choose between cork, concrete or linoleum. Cork is produced from the bark of trees, allowing it to be sustainably harvested for use as a flooring material. It is comfortable underfoot, waterproof, and the surface texture makes it excellent as a slip-resistant flooring material. Linoleum is an all-natural flooring material manufactured from linseed oil and various wood products to provide a sturdy long-lasting floor covering that is resistant to water. Concrete is another great choice for kitchen flooring since it can be colored or patterned just about any way you like, plus the surface can be textured to make it slip-resistant.
15 (or More) Ways to Incorporate Universal Design
Remodeling a home with universal design in mind often requires structural changes, such as widening doorways and removing walls, particularly when wheelchairs and other mobility devices need to be considered. But there are plenty of ways to incorporate aging-in-place elements into a remodel without changing a home’s layout.
Here are 15 features of universal-designed homes that can make your clients comfortable for the long term, no matter what their age or abilities. As always, check your local codes and manufacturers’ recommendations when implementing certain changes. Flip through the slideshow at left for 20 products that fill many of these design elements.
Consider the Kitchen
Storing pots, pans, and foodstuffs in cabinets translates into lots of reaching and bending around the kitchen. Here are ways to make access easier.
Raised base cabinets. Taller toe-kicks help raise base cabinetry off the floor for easier access with less bending. Moreover, setting toe-kicks back a few inches leaves space for wheelchair foot rests. Raising an appliance boxes to certain heights means a more convenient operation of dishwashers, microwaves, or wall ovens.
Drawers and pull-outs. Even able-bodied homeowners hate to dig for items that get pushed to the back of their cabinets. Pull-out cabinetry, slide-out shelves, lazy susans, and other organizational solutions help bring items to the user, eliminating difficult reaching.
Pull-out work surfaces. For wheelchair users, being able to access a work space designed for seated use and with knee space underneath is key. Look for cabinetry that incorporates pull-out cutting boards. Kitchen designs should feature different countertop heights for users with different needs. Table-style islands and peninsulas (with only legs, and no cabinets beneath), allow for roll-up access.
Beyond cabinetry. Kraftmaid offers these tips for universal design in kitchens:
- Remove threshold areas to allow barrier-free entry and exiting from the room.
- Allow a five-foot radius of clear turning space throughout the room.
- Smooth surfaces for countertops and cooktops make it easier to move items and clean up.
- Bright task lighting helps with food preparation, while in-cabinet lighting banishes dark corners and makes labels easier to read.
- Single-lever faucets and pulls rather than knobs on cabinets and drawers are easier to grip.
- Non-skid flooring provides a safe environment for young and old.
A “range” of options are available for outfitting an accessible appliance suite.
Drawer appliances. Several manufacturers offer dishwashers, microwaves, refrigerators, and freezers in pull-out are installed below the counter, keeping them within easy reach. The downside of drawer-style appliances (microwaves excluded) is their generally smaller capacity compared with standard size models.
ADA-compliant appliances. Several manufacturers offer appliances that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). GE offers these guidelines for different appliance options:
- Ranges, cooktops, and dishwashers have a maximum high forward reach of 48 inches for controls, and a maximum low forward reach of 15 inches.
- Controls must be operable with one hand without the need for tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist
- Range and cooktop controls must be located so as to not require reaching across burners
- Ovens or cooktops with knee space underneath must be insulated or otherwise protected to prevent injury.
- All dishwasher rack space must be accessible from the front of the machine for loading and unloading.
- Controls for top-freezer or side-by-side refrigerators must allow a parallel approach by a person in a wheelchair with a maximum high side reach of 54 inches.
- Top-freezer refrigerators must have 100% of the fresh food space below 54 inches and 50% of the freezer space below 54 inches.
Small changes let homeowners get around the house with more convenience.
Lever-style door handles. Doorknobs can be difficult for achy hands to grasp and turn. Lever handles make operation easier. For entry doors, consider push-button locks so older homeowners don’t have to fumble with keys, and children or household helpers can come and go more easily when allowed access.
Smooth transitions. Use smooth, low-profile thresholds to ease transitions between different types of flooring, such as hardwood-to-tile. Also, designers recommend defined differences in color and/or texture to indicate level changes in a home.
Switch and outlet heights. When considering accessibility for homeowners with limited mobility or reach, or homes with children, a lowered light switch can offer unexpected convenience. One designer recommends light switches mounted 42 inches high. The Americans with Disabilities says outlets can be installed as high as 18 inches.
Remote controls. We all use remotes to turn on the TV, but now lighting, HVAC, window shades, range hoods, and numerous other home systems can be operated by remote control.
Alarms and sensors. Security systems are usually meant to keep intruders out, but many home automation items can also help keep family members safe inside. Alarmed door locks can alert if a child or older adult is trying to leave the house. Plug-in sensors for small appliances can turn off automatically if the iron or coffee pot is left on, and some can even be operated remotely with a smartphone or Web access.
Elevators. It may seem out of the budget for many homeowners, but the convenience and security a home elevator offers could be worth the investment. This is particularly true for homeowners who want to stay in their multi-level homes, but have mobility concerns. Other options include stair lifts for homeowners with limited mobility, or even motorized dumbwaiters to more easily move heavy items (think full laundry baskets) from one floor to another.
Many aging-in-place design changes are made in bathrooms first. Here are some easy steps.
Grab bars and rails. These aging-in-place standards need not be institutional. Bands including Kohler, Watermark, and Great Grabz offer sturdy models with stylish detailing that can coordinate with any bathroom décor. Some manufacturers offer full unviersal-design showers with good-looking grab bars built in.
Comfort-height toilets. Whether the concern is being able to transfer someone from a wheelchair to the toilet, or simply being able to get up easier after use, toilets that with a seat between 16 and 17 inches above the floor work best for universal design. Wall-hung toilets add convenience by keeping the floor surface clear and easier to clean.
Trench drains. Besides eliminating the threshold of a shower, streamlining the drain is the next best step toward shower accessibility. Linear drains:
- Require only a one-direction slope of the shower base, for faster and smoother installation
- Reduce the need for built-up membranes beneath the tile, improving roll-in access
- Evacuate more water than a standard round drain, so standing water isn’t an issue
- Can be installed out-of-the-way at the back wall of the shower, and
- Allow for larger tile sizes and uninterrupted tile patterns, since the slope only goes in one direction
4 Steps to Creating an Outdoor Kitchen
Follow these smart ideas to create a truly tasty outdoor kitchen.
1. Out of Site
Think about the best place to put your outdoor kitchen. For a low-key space, positioning it on a patio or deck that adjoins your primary kitchen makes sense, if you’ll be running inside for seasonings, utensils and other essentials. But if you want a stand-alone, fully loaded, outdoor-cooking arena, there’s no need to duplicate what you already have in such close proximity. In this situation, you’ll be better served to take full advantage of your best view, regardless of how far away it is from the house.
2. Raise the Roof
A roof isn’t necessary for every outdoor kitchen, but if you’re investing in top-of-the-line appliances, you’ll want to protect them. A simple post-and-beam structure can be a great complement to timbers inside your home. Or think about a retractable awning or an adjustable umbrella for more casual cooking centers.
3. Hook Up
It’s a good idea to wire an outdoor kitchen for electricity before construction on your home is done, since it will eliminate the hassle of retrofitting and save you money. A few outlets may be all you think you’ll need, but plan ahead if you want something more elaborate. A plumbing subcontractor can install a water line and sink for you as he’s finishing your interior. And, if you’re going to use a gas-fired grill, hook into your home’s gas main so you’ll never run out of fuel.
4. Materials Matter
Keep materials in mind as you outfit an outdoor kitchen. The flooring surrounding your grill should be fireproof—either concrete or flagstone is a safe bet. Stainless steel appliances will withstand rain and snow, and teak is a durable wood option. Ideally, fabrics should be treated with a sun-blocking agent so they’ll stand up to harsh UV rays, and they most definitely should be waterproofed. To test yours, spray the fabric with water. If it doesn’t bead, it could take hours for your seat cushions to dry after a storm—and that would really put a damper on the fun.
Outdoor Kitchen Design
Summer kitchen plans is made around getting fun. Take outdoor cooking! Benefit from the great weather and revel in the best tasting fire-grilled food. However, do not forget, success is dependent in your outdoor kitchen largely on being cleverly designed outdoor kitchen plans.
Begin by setting outdoor kitchen edeas smartly about additional factors outdoor, for example patio, garden or pool. Consider these if you are planning natural flow of traffic between your “rooms.” Your outdoor kitchen plans ought to be an all-natural flow of space for any barbecue and sitting area. Allow the open, to ensure that children can walk and go swimming due to hunger or boring.
Simple to between indoor and outdoor kitchen ideas is really a wise idea, through either the patio door, or perhaps open window. However, many importantly, make sure you prepare! Sometimes it is simple to find the grill within an isolated area for anxiety about smoke or fire. Many modern grills are fans or even the finish answer to reducing smoking; so that you can design your personal outdoor, kitchen island provides extensive grill-side counter seats!
If you are organizing an outdoor small-bar, refrigerator with your personal outdoor kitchen plans is really a wise idea. Refrigerator will keep drinks awesome and lightweight, and additionally it is convenient for food prep. To grow on the theme bar, add a little authenticity in beer dispensers, wine chillers, martini bars, and possibly even frozen treats! Look outdoors your kitchen plans online to obtain a concept of building a location around the island of the thirsty friends and family. Do not forget the little particulars, like a built-in bottle opener or perhaps a towel rack, allow the summer time kitchen along with a “real” bar feels.
Most significantly, the popularity outdoor kitchen ideas recently attempted to produce the climate from the traditional indoor kitchen outdoors. If this sounds like the reason and outdoor refrigerator is really a necessity. For those who have a refrigerator to set up, because you will prepare outdoors, ought to be a proper layout of the outdoor kitchen plans, sink and kitchen area between your refrigerator and grill, match this using the usual food prep process. Consider some tools and utilities would insist upon outdoor reasons.
Summer kitchen designs usually have a barbecue. Apply for a conventional charcoal or propane gas grill, or perhaps a hybrid grill. The hybrid grills usually are more expensive, however the flexibility may be worth the additional cost. There is even the potential of electric grills. Should you refuse this development, thinks the tastes will expand.