The place where two sets of base or wall cabinets meet at a 90 degree angle is called a blind cabinet corner.
Kitchen designers hate blind corners. That's because kitchen designers are trained to use every available square inch of space, but to do it in an elegant fashion.
Problem: there is no perfect solution to blind corners. But there are some semi-elegant ways to help:
- Classic Lazy Susan - Not the best solution, these totally round lazy susans don't fit in a square space.
- Better Lazy Susan - A round susan with a "bite" taken out of it, to make it fit better.
- Even Better-er Lazy Susan - This susan both pulls out and turns. Cool!
- Diagonal Corner Cabinets - It's a classic solution: a wall or base cabinet set at a diagonal.
- Base Cabinet Swing Out - Boxy cabinets that slide and then swing out.
- Drawer Pull-Out - Pictured here. It utilizes that corner space where the two counters meet.
- Curved Cabinets - Very expensive. Gets rid of corners entirely.
Image: (c) Sabine Schoenberg; Courtesy Sabine Schoenberg - Kitchen Magic
For years, it has been difficult to obtain do-it-yourself replacement windows because: a.) few people had the gumption to DIY their own windows; b.) few window companies believed there was enough of a market for this.
But it's like the ready-to-assemble kitchen cabinet industry: it only recently sprang up in such force. Now, there is no shortage of RTA companies out there.
Is there a replacement window equivalent?
Not really, not yet.
I spoke at length with Derek Baker of Window E-Store, one of the few companies out there that supplies replacements on the consumer side (not just to contractors). He has made the process easy with a super-simple online form. Windows come at competitive rates. Using one of mine as a sample product, I priced it out at $339.26--not too bad.
Another way to go is through the big box home improvement stores. It will take some arm wrestling to convince them, but they should sell you replacements minus the installation.
Image (c) Window E-Store
How can you get a designer kitchen when you can't afford a kitchen designer?
No, this isn't some Greek riddle...
A: Getting ideas from a designer doesn't mean paying hundreds of dollars per hour. Sometimes, they write books that convey insider ideas, for far less than an in-person consultation.
Sabine Schoenberg, in Kitchen Magic, provides tons of sumptuous pictures of oh-so-fancy designer kitchens. As a designer, she charges top-dollar for her advice. As a reader, you can translate ideas from these costly kitchens to your own kitchen, to wit:
- Should you ever place a wall oven next to a fridge?
- Where is a certain "secret" spot to hide the microwave?
- Cabinets perpendicular to a wall: yes or no?
- How can you get the look of thick slab counters...for cheap?
- What's the hottest kitchen flooring trend? (OK, I'll give the answer for that one: ceramic tile that looks like wood)
And as they say, much much more.
Image: (c) Sabine Schoenberg
An electric brad nailer looks like a gun. It's got a "muzzle," a magazine, and "bullets" (brads). It gives off a satisfying th-whapp! It doesn't just push in the brads--it fires them. You can maim yourself, even kill yourself if you tried hard enough.
Brad Nailer Does Not Equal Gun
Since it's so much like a gun, you already know how to use it? Not so.
Yes, they are fairly intuitive. They aren't obtuse tools like floor surface laser levelers or even more familiar tools like wet tile saws or paint sprayers.
Nailer + brads + force = brad in wood. It's a simple equation.
What's Less Than Simple:
- Knowing you've bought the right nailer for the right purpose.
- Orienting your nailer to the correct position on your work piece so that your brad lands in the right spot.
- Adjusting depth of the brad.
The third one is the biggie. Depth adjustment takes a lot of fiddling with dials, combined with test-firing into test materials that are the same--not just similar, but the same--as your eventual work piece.
The second one is just a matter of test-firing into lots of scraps until you burn it into your head that the brad fires in a different place than the nailer's contact point.
The first one just means that the world of tools is filled with nailers for different purposes. The one we're discussing fires 18 gauge brads up to 2 inches long and is cordless or corded; in any case, it's electric. It's mainly for interior trim work.
Do You Need One?
Does every household need an electric brad gun? No way.
Every household where more than just a couple windows or doors worth of trimwork is going on? Yes, probably so.
Image © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com
Recently, we had an interesting comment from one of our readers about the usage of plastic crown molding. I had previously written that using plastic crown molding can be just as good, or even better, than using wood crown molding. It has many strong points:
- Easy to Nail Up
- Doesn't Mean Cutting Down Trees
And it doesn't look much different than wood molding. The reason for this is that, unlike trim that goes around a door or window, or base board that runs along the lower edge of a wall, crown molding runs along the very top of a wall: thus, out of reach and out of sight.
When you have trim that can be touched and seen up close, you may want it to be real wood. Wood simply feels better than plastic. And if you plan to go for a natural finish, of course you want to use real wood. Fake wood grain plastic trim looks terrible.
But for crown molding, when you paint it and place high up, it really doesn't matter if it is plastic or wood. Or so I thought. Until this reader brought up the point that the plastic crown molding in her house off-gassed fumes for well over a year. She reported that the smell of the crown molding was very offensive.
I do not know if she painted the moldings, but I am certain that it if she had, the paint would have limited or maybe even completely eliminated that plastic smell. It is tempting to leave plastic crown molding unpainted. It has a nice, smooth matte finish that doesn't look so bad when it's up on the wall. The brads that you fire into the crown molding will likely be small enough and sunk into the trim far enough that they will be invisible, even unpainted.
Somehow I've been limping along lately without a brad nailer. But thankfully, I've got one in my shop again.
What Are Brad Nailers?
Brad nailers are indispensable for driving long, thin finish nails into trim. In fact, they're good for any kind of application where you don't need heavy-duty structural joinery. You won't be slapping together 2x4's with a brad nailer. These tools are for light-duty work.
Manual vs. Air-Actuated Nailers
The Ryobi 18 gauge cordless nailer is definitely a step up from something like the Arrow T50 Manual Staple & 1" Brad Gun. The Arrow is spring-loaded and barely sinks those 1" brads. It's not for trim work. You might use it for tacking up veneer.
A tool like the Ryobi is far more powerful: driving brads twice the length of those that the Arrow can handle, even into tough materials like 3/4" hardwood flooring (I know: I tested it).
I found this Ryobi to be a quite capable weapon. It balanced well in my hand, even with the massive 18 volt ONE+ lithium ion battery attached to the bottom. It lived up to its 60 brads per minute claim.
Not a Fan of the Depth Wheel
Only soft spot was a depth wheel (turn it to sink brads deeper or shallower) that doesn't indicate where you are on the range of depths. But even that was more an ergonomic/design weakness than a true flaw in the product's functionality.
Image: (c) Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com
Not just because wall fountains are cool. But because when you install something like this, it means you're done with all the other remodel projects.
Done with the drywalling and the dust and the stink of carpet adhesive and the rat-tat-tat of compressed air nailers. Done with window replacements and painting. Done with all the practical stuff.
Indoor wall fountains are not practical, if you haven't noticed; they are all about fun and decoration and swanking up your home's interior.
Here are 3 things to know:
- Most are modern in style. By this, I mean flat and either square or rectangular, and using slate as a stone backing.
- They are smaller than you may want. Unless you buy a big enough one, in which case you'll pay dearly for it. Case in point, Kenroy's Walla--a good fountain from a good company. But it's only 10 inches wide, 36 inches tall. How wide in 10 inches? If you're holding a full-size iPad right now, it's about 10 inches diagonal. That's not much.
- Bigger slate exponentially drives up the price. You can find plenty of wall fountains that use 12" x 12" slate tiles as backing. That's fine. The lower cost--a couple hundred dollars--reflects these cheaper slates. But to get those big slate backers (say, 46" tall by 22" wide), you'll pay closer to $1,000.
I like to drive those last two points home because things on a wall first might seem big (in your mind's eyes) but look pretty small when they are physically on the wall. Walls have a tendency to eat up whatever is hung on them; it's just the way the allocation of space works.
But you can beat that problem by installing your smaller wall fountain on a smaller wall. Got an accent wall? By definition, it's a small wall. It's probably begging for a fountain, too.
Image: (c) Adagio Water Features. Shown is Whispering Creek
Tile is a funny material: cost can range from dirt-cheap to exorbitantly expensive. But there are good reasons for this.
What's Inside It?
At the core of it, tile is just dirt. Tilemaking is an ancient craft that began with the Egyptians and was perfected by Romans and Greeks. It's dirt: dirt formed by hands or molds and left in the sun to dry. If it's just dirt, how can it be expensive?
Because it quickly became not just dirt. Extraneous elements were removed and essential elements were retained or added: sand, feldspar, quartz, to name a few. Then the sun became ovens, and those ovens had to be fired by wood and coal. As time passed, glaze was added to make tile impervious to water. And then it was learned that adding pressure to the tile (today, ranging up to 100,000 pounds per square inch) gave the tile greater tensile strength.
Tile's Cost Drivers: Operations and Shipping
If you look at a modern tilemaking factory, such as StonePeak's Tennessee facility, you'll see tile operations covering many acres, supplied with massive amounts of electricity and water.
Tile being a heavy product, the cost of shipping pays a large role in determining the final cost of the tile. This is not an Amazon shipment of a book wrapped in bubble wrap: instead, we're talking huge pallets laden with boxes of tiles, moved by semi-trucks, ocean-going ships, and rail. Once it gets to distribution facilities, it needs to be sent out to retail stores.
Image: (c) Dal-Tile
I've collected a few of my favorite kitchen tiles, including some unusual ones, like:
- A tile that is 75% limestone, 25% polymer.
- Massive ceramic tiles that are 5' by 10', perfect for counters or floors.
- Affordable tiles that have the relative look and feel of linen.
- Wood-look tiles; and
- Uncut mosaic tiles.
All here: Best Kitchen Tile
When you go with one of the smaller designer paint lines, you get something akin to the experience of visiting an independent bookstore (remember those?).
Indie bookstores don't have a lot of room, so they need to make their room count. They give consumers the benefit of their extensive reading experience by narrowing down book choices to a few that really rock.
The smaller designer paints work the same way. They don't have nine thousand choices, just a scant few.
But that's a good thing, because you can better concentrate on those available few. Studies have shown that shoppers do better with fewer choices that are better presented than the opposite. No one does presentation better than the small designer brands.
- Ralph Lauren Paint
- Chalk Paint (Annie Sloane)
- Farrow & Ball
- Allen + Roth (Lowe's attempt to create an in-house designer brand)