Keeping Things Cool

March
26
2014

 

This is the story of how crazy I’m making myself trying to decide on a refrigerator.  It’s just so difficult, especially for someone who likes to do a lot of research and comparisons.  And if you start reading the reviews….forget it!  There are as many negative reviews as there are positive for every single brand.

Jenn-Air

Jenn-Air either has the dispenser or the panel overlay, but not both in the 48″

There are a few things I have already decided.   Okay, I already know I want a built-in fridge, and I also know I want a side by side.  I know many people don’t like the side by side, and there are a lot of you who love the freezer on the bottom, what I consider “the new style.”  However, I have that style in the Crab Shack, and as I suspected, I don’t like it.  For me, I don’t like bending down and rummaging through what ultimately becomes a mess of items. My hands get too cold.   I like the entire side to be freezer, plus even though your argument against the side by side is the narrowness of the freezer, we will have a second (albeit cheaper) fridge in the garage for overflow, and that will probably have the old-fashioned freezer on the top.  Or we will have a small stand alone freezer like we have here in our basement and either option will solve that issue.

Dacor

Dacor also has either the panel-ready door or the water dispenser, not both

Okay, so two decisions down, easy, right?  Nope.  Still so much to decide!  You probably remember me saying I don’t like stainless.  And that’s really because of the fingerprints.  I hate looking at them, and I would hate having to clean that giant appliance all the time.  So it would have to be the smudge-proof stainless, and not too many are made in that size. So my number one choice would be to have a “panel ready” fridge that would match the cabinets.  Which is fine because I love that design.  I love it so much I have it now!  I have white cabinets and I have a white cabinet covered KitchenAid Refrigerator.  I’m happy with it, the problem is they don’t make the same one anymore with the front water dispenser.  I actually could live without the dispenser, you could count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used it in 20 years. (Not the same fridge we purchased 20 years ago, although yes, the same model.) But John likes it and uses it often.

KitchenAid

KitchenAid

This is the model KitchenAid has now.  The handles are completely different, mine go from top to bottom and are white, and match the cabinets.  That was a big disappointment.  Not that it would have been my first choice maybe.  I probably would have liked something different.  But at least, I figured, I could always go back to this one if I couldn’t find something else.

I ruled out the Viking right off the bat, it had many, many, many terrible reviews, which was surprising for such a high-end appliance. I did give them a peek a while back though, they have a model that has a glass front, and there was one in a Sea Glass color.  It was just beautiful but I see now they don’t even make that color anymore.

There was one I’ve never heard of before, a Marvel.  Then I saw it was made by AGA, and I have heard of them. They can accept the panel, but they don’t have the water and ice dispenser.

 

Marvel by AGA

Marvel by AGA

One that has come pretty highly recommended is the Sub Zero.  I know two people who own them, and although they have had to do  repairs, they still love them.  Also, this brand has the water dispenser and will accept the panel overlay. Of course, with the price tag (let say $10,000 to $12,000 range) I’ll have to skimp somewhere else to afford it!

Sub Zero

Sub Zero

The last one I think I will be considering is the GE Monogram.  This model does accept the panels, and has the dispenser, the main thing I don’t like about it is the handles.  I’d prefer the ones that go from top to bottom, or at least most of the way.  These are a little skimpy looking to me.

GE Monogram

GE Monogram

Okay then, the last feature I would like to have is the Energy Star rating.  We are going a little more green now that we are building, we have a wind turbine, we will incorporate some solar, and having Energy Star appliances fits right in, besides the fact that they will save us money.  The GE is Energy Star rated, but the Sub Zero in that configuration is not!

It looks like from my research, and from laying all the facts out here, the GE Monogram will be the way to go.  However, if you knew me, you’d know I’m not done looking.  I may just start looking at the 42 inch refrigerators now to see what I come up with. See how I drive myself crazy?

If you own any of these brands and want to weigh in, I’d love to hear what you like or dislike about them.  Have you ever had to repair it?  How was it dealing with the customer service department? Do you mind cleaning the stainless, or do you recommend the smudge-proof kind?  Save me from myself and send me some info!  I’d appreciate it!

Kitchen Backsplashes

January
23
2014

 

While there is still nothing going on metal building-wise (formal permit still not received)  – I’ve been thinking about designing my new kitchen.  This is one of my favorite things to do, especially since I do not make decisions quickly.  I like to think about it, make a “faux” decision, live with it for a while, then change my mind.  This method works for me, even if in the past it has sometimes driven John crazy.  He’s learned now, after 30 some years, that this is just the way I’m wired.  I mean really, this is something I’m going to have to live with for a long time.  I certainly don’t want to make the wrong decision.  And you might say there is no “wrong” decision because all the backsplashes that I’m looking at are pretty.  And yes, you would be right.  But I’d still hate to think, “I wish I picked the other one.”  So it’s good I have lots of time to decide. Here are some ideas:

This was the first one I fell in love with

This was the first one I fell in love with

I really like flowers, and I figured, since I can look out the window at a water scene, I’d go with flowers.  And blue hydrangeas are so pretty.  But I’m not really crazy about the basket.  I’m thinking now I’ll have a blue kitchen (with white cabinets) so this would go with it.  But then again…….   (this is the story of my life).

This one also has the basket, but a more neutral white flower:

Same basket though

Maybe not enough color

I do like the “raised” flower, it’s kind of interesting.  But then, will it be harder to clean?  You know how greasy it can get behind the cook top!

These are also pretty:

Backsplash picture5

I like these dogwoods, and it doesn’t have the basket but it is kind of small.  My cook top is going to be big, I’m thinking 48″, so this would look tiny behind it.

I like poppies, and these red flowers would be fun with a blue kitchen. It’s not a mosaic, but it’s not tiles either:

backsplash-Lobel2

It’s also kind of cute with the shutters on the sides.  I like this one a lot!  This one is a real contender.   There is also a picture of poppies in a field, you may have seen it on Pinterest or somewhere.  If I was going to have somebody custom make a backsplash, this might be nice:

231231762087645104_DX7UT8hw_c

I could go with a blue crab, Maryland is famous for them.  But I think I’d get tired of this pretty quickly.  They did a nice job with it though.

Blue crab

Blue crab

There are other flower types that I gave a little thought to, but I realize now when I look at them, I just don’t see myself choosing them.

backsplash-Fangman1

Backsplash picture3backsplash picture2Backsplash picture1

They are all very pretty, especially that last one, so I still go back and forth about it.

I did a mosaic of a blue heron once.  We have them in our cove occasionally and Jon and I really like them.  But the crab shack has a tile backsplash of herons (not mosaic) and I would need to get somebody to custom make it.  I don’t know how to make a backsplash.

Here's the picture I did

Here’s the picture I did

And here’s the one from the crab shack:

Little Choptank 2013  H August 2 to Sept 4 496

I don’t think I want to go with regular size tiles.  There are a lot more pictures to choose from in tiles though, that’s the plus side.  And truthfully, full size tiles would probably be easier to clean.  Now I’m talking myself into them.  You can see how I go back and forth!  Here’s another one with tile:

backsplash3

It’s kind of pretty, you see a lot of the Italian countryside done up with the regular tiles.  I don’t know if it really goes with a house on the water in Maryland though.

Then I found a picture of a boat on the water.  And like I said before, I do see the water out my window.  But it’s really pretty and if I was going to have to have someone make this, I could put our boat in the picture.  That would be interesting!

2012-07-11_1035

So many choices!  Too many!  It’s good I have a long time to make this decision because this is going to be a hard one to make.  What are your thoughts on this?  Do you have a decorative backsplash?  Tile?  Mosaic?  Is it easy or hard to clean and do you get tired of looking at the same picture all the time?  I’d love to hear your opinions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Talk Kitchen Sinks

October
23
2013

 

 

I was browsing around the Houzz site the other day, when I saw a discussion about sinks.  I haven’t decided yet on what type of sink I want to install in the kitchen of our new house, (although I know I want just the one bowl, very large and deep) and I’d love to hear your opinions on what you have, and why you love it or hate it.

In the Crab Shack I have a stainless steel sink, and here at my present home I have a Corian sink, since we have Corian counters and I wanted a totally seamless design. (This kitchen was put in over 20 years ago, and Corian was a big upgrade.  I didn’t realize how much I would have loved granite!)  In other places we’ve lived I’ve also had stainless and clay, now updated to be called “fireclay.”  I suspect all of them have their good points and bad points.  There are some new materials I didn’t know about though, or didn’t realize were being used as sinks.   Here’s a rundown:

Stainless Steel: this is the most popular material for a sink by far.  Many people have it and love it. I have it in the Crab Shack because Lowe’s gave it to me free with the Granite counter top.  (Yes, we bought the counter top at Lowe’s.  It was the same one as in the kitchen store we were looking in, for about half the price.)  I’m going to admit something here because we’re buds and I know you won’t judge me too harshly….   I hate stainless steel.  There I said it.  And the ceiling didn’t fall in.  I just cannot stand the fingerprints.  It never looks clean, even after it’s just been cleaned. The sink has marks that look like scratches and constantly shows water spots. I want to love it, it looks so professional. But I just don’t want to spend that much time trying, without too much luck, to keep it shiny and finger-print free.  And no, my mind hasn’t really changed.  This will be an issue in my new kitchen.  I’ve already planned on getting the refrigerator with the panels that look like the cabinets (I have that now and love it!!) but I’ll probably be getting a stainless dishwasher, double oven and microwave.  But not a stainless sink, that’s for sure.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Apron

Composite Granite: These sinks are 80% granite and 20% acrylic resin.   They are supposed to be very durable and come in a variety of hues. They have been known to crack during shipment, so it must be inspected carefully when it arrives.  It’s only available in matte and the finish can dull over time, but people have noted that this adds to the personality of it, and it’s not a “bad” thing.  The dark colors seem to be the overwhelming favorite because they don’t show the spots. It’s been recommended to clean and dry it with a dishcloth every night, which seems like too much work, (the drying, not the cleaning)  but again, people have noted that it’s not that big a deal, and with the darker colors, this isn’t even necessary.  These sinks are very pretty, I’m adding it to my list of possibilities.

Composite Granite

 Fireclay:  These clay sinks are highly resistant to scratches but can stain and chip!  Cleanup, however, is easy.  If you want a white sink, this material comes highly recommended.  It is mostly seen in the “Farmhouse” or apron style sinks.  It doesn’t come in a large variety of sizes, although I wouldn’t think this would be an issue.  It is very heavy, and would need adequate support and it’s not “friendly” to dropped dishes.  I’m probably not going with this one.

Fireclay apron sink

Enameled Cast Iron:  This sink is smooth, glossy and shiny, which gives it some appeal.  It won’t crack or dent, but I don’t think most sinks would dent.  (Maybe stainless)  It would be a consideration if you know you want a white sparkly sink.  (Although other colors are available.) It is also very durable, but can chip, and show stains and nicks.  Some people have said it shows pot “scrapes” and it is very, very heavy!  This (like the clay sink) will not be one of my choices.

cast iron

Natural Stone:  There are a couple of different “stone” sinks on the market, I hadn’t heard about them before but they are beautiful.  Like all the other options however, they have pros and cons.

Soapstone -  This sink is non-porous and unaffected by heat, bacteria and stains. It’s a little “softer” than other materials so some care has to be taken with it because it could get scratched or nicked.   I’ve read it’s not easy to install, but compared to the heavy cast iron or clay sinks, how hard could it be?  Also, I’ve read it’s not cheap.  But who wants a cheap sink?  If you buy cheap, you get cheap, that’s my motto.  (Well, it is now.)  The one thing in its favor is it’s absolutely beautiful!  I’m going to have white cabinets and this sink would be just gorgeous!  I wasn’t thinking about getting soapstone counters though, I was thinking granite.  And with the veining in the granite, do I need a sink with veining also?  I’ll put it on my list as a possibility for now.

soapstone sink

Slate -  I did not even realize this was a sink material.  However, it is resistant to fading, burning and scratching.  And custom designs can be sand blasted into it to make a truly custom look.  This feature would only be helpful if you have having the apron type sink, which I am not leaning towards, but am still undecided about.  It is a material that will last forever, and people have written it keeps its beauty, and even if it got a nick or two, it’s hardly visible.  The etching on this one is adorable, especially since our house is on the water, and we love the “water” theme.

Slate Sink

slate

Quartz -  This sink is made from 70% quartz and 30% resin filler.  It is a step below the granite composite in terms of wear and durability, but still a good choice.  It is resistant to dings, dents and stains, but the darker ones tend to show scratches more than the lighter colors, on ones with more of a pattern.  It would be a good choice if you’re using quartz countertops and want a seemless look.

Quartz

 

 

quartz.2

 

Copper:  Copper comes in various thicknesses like stainless, and that will be reflected in the price.It’s easy to shape so can come in a wide variety of sizes.  It is anti microbial, which is good, but people have written they would be worried about the copper leaching into food, such as vegetables soaking in the sink.  The finish will almost certainly change over time, this could be either a pro or a con, depending on how you feel about that.  For me it’s a con, the copper is pretty when it’s brand new, but I don’t like the change.  The thinner variety can dent and scratch.  The hammered sink is very pretty, in my opinion, but I don’t think this is one product that I will consider.

CopperCopper.2

The last two sinks I looked into and have pictures of are tile and hand painted.  But these, along with glass sinks, are better left as a “show” sink in the powder room.  Yes, they are beautiful and different, but keeping them clean and free of dings would be difficult in the hard-working kitchen area.

Tile -

Tiletiled sink

Hand painted -

Hand Paintedpainted

 

Well, suffice it to say today we have many, many choices when it comes to kitchen sinks.  It’s overwhelming at times.  But by narrowing it down, and doing a little research, and by being honest about how much you are willing to clean, or live with in terms of water spots or nicks, you and I  will finally figure out which one is the best choice.  I hope.