Category Archives: Kitchen & Bath

Basics of Kitchen Layouts

Kitchen by Greentea Design

Greentea Design Kitchen by Trilogy Builds

For those lucky enough to be able to remodel their existing kitchen, the project probably seems totally daunting what with budget, space, time, and building constraints to consider. And of course storage:  between furniture, appliances both big and small, and the cook- and bakeware already in your possession, it’s a challenge to figure out how to fit everything in, let alone fit together.

But do yourself the favour and let utility be your guide.  Before you get carried away with aesthetic elements, be sure to think of the flow and function you require.  Who will be using the space, how often and why?  Meal prep of course happens in the kitchen, but so often now it’s where families and guests gather, where groups are tackling not just the eating, but the making of a meal, where plans for the future are hatched and work – business, family, grade school – is tackled.  So figure out what applies to you and what your space can realistically accommodate.

Your first order of business is to figure out what layout is best suited for your kitchen’s space. Kitchen designers use three basic kitchen layouts that get the best flow of movement, and enhance manageable work efficiency in your available kitchen area.

Open Concept Layout

Kitchen design - open concept layout

Both small and large kitchen designs can fit an open concept layout.  There’s no better internet past-time for me then scrolling through design sites that feature those jaw dropping images of immense open concept chef’s kitchens, but really the open concept layout started gaining popularity as living spaces started to shrink with the rise (quite literally) of condo living.

In an open concept space, all kitchen elements are designed in a straight line on one side of the kitchen space.    With the open concept kitchen, it’s all about the glorious island:  this hardworking piece of furniture is positioned at the centre to separate the kitchen from the other living space, typically (but not always) the dining room.

Greentea Design kitchen by Trilogy BuildsGreentea Design Kitchen by Triology Builds

Galley Kitchen Layout

kitchen design - galley kitchen

For maximum mobility in the kitchen, the galley kitchen is actually your best bet.  This kitchen layout organizes your kitchen furniture and appliances on opposite sides to establish a walkway through your kitchen area. More space means fewer obstacles.  The galley concept is a takeaway from ships, where space was always at a premium.  If the space you’re looking at is small the galley is a great option.  It’s also good for those who want their kitchen space, in all its messy glory concealed from guests.

Image via Zsazsa Bellagio

The U-Shaped Kitchen

kitchen design - u-shaped layout

The u-shaped kitchen is a truly efficient layout, really working hard for accomplished home cooks. With the perfect triangle of fridge, sink and stove all a pivot away and miraculously still affording ample counter space, this layout works well in both small and larger spaces.  For those lucky enough to just be drowning in space, this layout can create a cozy smaller space in a larger expanse all while adding counter space.  U-shaped kitchens are also wonderful for those who want an open concept look, but still prefer to keep guests on the other side of the peninsula.

Images via Houzz

Good luck with your kitchen reno!

The Asian Kitchen


Asian food is as diverse as the cultures across the continent. Each country and its regions have its own style and method of food preparation, that have a significant impact on the type of cuisine and the flavors in each dish.

Integral to the whole food preparation process are the utensils used in preparation, which can vary as much as the regional tastes of each country. While most traditional Asian cookware have contemporary, modernized counterparts, sometimes the traditional materials add a sense of authenticity to the flavors and overall gastronomic experience.

Chopsticks

Chopsticks are most commonly seen as eating utensils, but in most asian countries they are one of the fundamental kitchen tools, that serve multiple functions. They can act in the same capacity as tongs, whisks or beaters, and ladles. Cooking chopsticks are usually longer than the regular dining kind, and made of a durable wood such as bamboo.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Image from Daily Icon

Mikiya Kobayashi’s Ukihashi might be dining chopsticks, but have a slight angle at the tips so that the end that touches the food never touches the surface it rests on. This slight modification makes the traditional rests unnecessary.

Bamboo Steamers

Image via The Kitchn

While these commonly seen tools originate from China, they are used throughout Asia for steaming food. Bamboo steamers differ from modern synthetic material steamers because they absorb excess moisture and prevent condensation from touching the food – which is why dimsum dumplings look perfect every time! They were also traditionally used for space and time saving reasons – by stacking the steamers you can cook several types of food at once over the same heat source.

Image via Design Milk

This take on the steamer, designed by Office for Product Design for JIA Inc, rethinks and streamlines the steamer’s stacking capabilities, combining it with stoneware components so you can cook and steam at the same time.

Clay Pots / Palayok

Image via Edible Communities

The Palayok is the Philippine incarnation of the clay pot. In Filipino cuisine today it is mostly used for serving traditional dishes, but it was originally used to cook food over a fire. The pots are still widely made today and are a Philippine cultural icon. The pots are used mainly to cook soups or stew-like dishes over a charcoal fire stove. They can also be used to cook rice.

Image via Purple Yam

Rice cooker

Image via Appliance Wise

Speaking of rice, rice cookers have now become a typical household appliance, but are usually associated with asian cooking since rice is the main staple in most asian countries. Rice cookers these days however have gotten more sophisticated and are almost like mini-computers.

Image via Squidoo

You can program certain types with a timer to start cooking at a certain time of day, and most have functions that allow you to chose between regular rice, or rice porridge (congee). Some come with a steamer add on that converts the cooker into a steamer, and some can even make bread.

Most of these tools and appliances have made their way into the mainstream kitchen, and have proven to be useful and effective tools that transcend cultural origins. Whether you’re cooking asian food or simply adapting a method, these tools will surely enhance your kitchen experience!


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Heart of the Home: The Kitchen Island

It’s Foodie Tuesday and the launch of Greentea Design’s Kitchen and Bath Event!

Greentea Design custom islandGreentea Design custom island.  Image via Trilogy Builds

Once upon a time, not too long ago, once the dishes were stored, groceries unpacked, and the kitchen aid mixer and espresso machine made their homes on the counter permanent, there was precious little room to actually cook in most kitchens.  What was the serious home cook to do?

Concrete island.  Image via Josephine Interior Design

The answer?  The glorious kitchen island, a relatively new piece of kitchen furniture, gaining in popularity in homes in the 90s and really proliferating along with open concept design schemes.

Image via Greentea Design

Suddenly the kitchen was a home’s show piece, growing in size,  guests welcomed in! The buzz of the house really moved from the hearth to the kitchen all thanks to one centrally located standalone counter-topped piece of furniture.

Image via Digs Digs

Not only was there suddenly room to whip up a grand feast like the TV chefs do, there is a new place to gather, where families catch quick meals, homework is done under parental eyes, meetings are held and everything from the easiest to the most elaborate of meals are made.  The kitchen island is a hardworking piece of furniture, perhaps the hardest. (It sure is in our home!)

4 Drawer Greentea Design kitchen islandImage via Greentea Design

While kitchen islands were really first devised by kitchen designers to up the counter space, today islands can be customized to accommodate appliances and plumbing and can double the amount of kitchen storage in a space.

Reclaimed wood island.  Image via Beautiful Life

Lego island.  Image via Digs Digs

But it’s not all about utility.  The kitchen island is a great way to add some character and warmth to your space.  Ultra modern cabinets can be paired with a rustic reclaimed wood island.  Heck build one out of LEGO if that’s your thing.  Bottom line, it’s a piece you can have fun with, that can really reflect your design tastes and will certainly be the focal point of your kitchen if not open concept space.  And if there’s one place you want to put your design dollars and sense it should be the heart of your home.

Counter Intelligence: New Choices for Kitchen Countertops

We bought our condo from plans and were presented with several upgrade options: stainless steel appliances, porcelain tiles, and hardwood floors, to name just a few.  Our consultant realized our budget constraints and waved most of these options aside, insisting that we could probably do them ourselves for less money than the builder was asking.

(Granite; Photo: Charles Luck Perspectives)

But the one change that she insisted upon was switching out our laminate countertops for granite. It seems like granite has become de rigueur in most kitchen renovations, to the point that I find it a little boring. Needless to say, we stuck with the laminate but lately I have been wondering what other options are out there to give our kitchen a little kick.

recycled glass(Recycled Glass; Photo: Vetrazzo)

Recycled Glass:

As someone who is always looking for a way to be more environmentally conscious, I love the idea of recycled glass countertops, which contain up to 100% post-consumer waste. Like granite, they are beautiful and unique; no two are going to have the exact same pattern. But, like granite, they tend to be expensive, at least until more manufacturers get on the bandwagon.

recycled bio glass(Recycled Bio-Glass; Photo: Interior Design)

Despite the high price point, there are a lot of benefits. Glass surfaces are easy to maintain, require no special cleansers, and are heat- and scratch-resistant. They will need to be resealed every few years but otherwise should last for decades if you can manage not to crack or chip it. Best of all, they come in a variety of colours and finishes, many of which mimic more expensive stone counters.

petrified wood(Photo: Houzz)

Petrified Wood:

Wood countertops have long been a popular choice, bringing warmth to the décor that granite or other stones cannot. And, depending on the variety of wood that you choose, it can be affordable. But wood is porous and I am not disciplined enough to keep it properly sealed and stain-free, and too uptight to not be bothered by discolorations in the surface.

close up petrified wood counter(Petrified Wood; Photo: Concetto)

But petrified wood is a relatively new option that solves many of these issues. It has the warm tones of wood but, depending on the pattern of the slab, it can look like wood or stone. It’s a show-stopper and conversation generator; only those in the business will probably have seen one before. And it’s durable! But, not surprisingly, it is a very expensive option.

Alkemi, a recycled material combination of post consumer acrylic and aluminum(Alkemi; Photo: Renewed Materials)

Recycled Metal:

The increased popularity of cooking shows has led everyone to express their inner chef through stainless steel countertops but it can look at little sterile. Maryland’s Renewed Materials has developed Alkemi, a surface that combines post-industrial and post-consumer acrylic with aluminum scraps.

alkemi colour options(Alkemi; Photo: Materials and Sources)

The metal filings under the surface provide a gleaming metallic finish, while the acrylic is available in several colours. Like acrylic counters, Alkemi is easy to clean but it is susceptible to scratches and burns.  And it is about half the price of traditional stainless or copper countertops.

Greentea Design kitchen

Concrete counters with a reclaimed wood Maru table in the Greentea Kitchen

(Photo: Greentea Design)

I’m very tempted by several of these finishes, though it might have to wait until our next place. If you are in the market for new countertops, don’t be afraid to break away from predictable granite. You might even want to do two different types: one for the main counter and the island in another; the options for some kitchen experiments are endless!

Feng Shui In The Kitchen

image via living etc.

Feng Shui is about paying attention to how objects, people and the world interact with one another, and striving to achieve balance in our surroundings so they can help us achieve our goals. Every room in your home can benefit from Feng Shui, especially the kitchen. Here are a few of the key principles for Feng Shui decorating and how they can be applied in the kitchen to attract health and prosperity.

image via red lotus letter

Layout

In no other room can the disruption of flow be felt as strongly as in the kitchen. In Feng Shui you should try to avoid putting fire and water too close to one another, so the sink should not be next to the stove. A wet island can be a good workaround for this rule. If you don’t have a kitchen remodel on the horizon, small changes like moving appliances and furniture can also be beneficial.

Colour and Light

Plenty of natural light is of course ideal, but even if you don’t have large windows or skylights light can be created using the right fixtures, and by reflecting existing light with brightly coloured walls. Choose a colour that also reflects what you want the room to accomplish; green for feasting, yellow for social gatherings, blue for eating less and weight-loss.

3 Drawer Kitchen Island by Greentea Design

Simplicity

The kitchen can be a room of chaos with frequent activity taking place and many people coming and going, but it can also be a place of tranquility. By keeping surfaces clean and clear and reducing clutter to a minimum a feeling of calm can be achieved. Knives are especially harmful to the Feng Shui of the room so make sure to store those out of sight, along with garbage, compost and reclycling receptacles.

image via planete deco

Shape

Rounded shapes such as pots and pans, round containers and plant pots can provide good feng shui in a room full of angular shaped appliances, cupboards and countertops. The kitchen table can also be round to offset the angularity in the rest of the room.

image via the selby

Add Life

A clean and clutter free kitchen can be uplifting, but don’t forget to add a few objects that please your senses as well.  A bowl of apples, an herb garden in the window, or hanging plants have positive life force energy that can be excellent for Feng Shui in the kitchen.

Here’s hoping your kitchen brings you health, prosperity and happiness.

Happy Friday Everyone!