I was. I thought of galley kitchens as being: dark, narrow, lacking in storage, lacking in counter space, short an appliance or two.
In reality, galley kitchens can have everything you need. Galley kitchens, in fact, pare down the kitchen to core essentials, removing most of the things you think you need but don't really need.
Galley kitchens are two walls. One wall is a real wall and it has counter space, probably the sink and stove, too. The other wall can be a real wall, or it can just be a half-wall or an island. It may have storage or a microwave, but most importantly, it has counter space.
The short third wall--the far end--might have the refrigerator.
But rules were meant to be broken.
The above kitchen by Nancy Hugo demonstrates the full range of the galley kitchen: large, bright, modern, tons of counter and storage space.
Image: Flickr/Creative Commons License; Nancy Hugo
Almost. A new service from Google called Helpouts has currently about 129 home remodeling specialists in the fields of plumbing, HVAC, windows, roofs, design, and general home improvement--poised and waiting to speak to you.
Being Google, this isn't in-person but via webcam. The Google end of the service is free, but specialists may charge fees up to $240/hour (there is no fee cap; this is the highest rate I was able to find). Specialists do not work for Google.
The free advice is OK, nothing spectacular. I lobbed easy questions at the free specialists, and they handled them with ease. I slammed difficult questions at them, and I got generic responses.
I recommend going with the free experts so that you can familiarize yourself with the Helpouts system. Perhaps they might be able to answer it, who knows? If not, try one of the less expensive Helpouts experts (I consider anything above $100/hour excessive for a web cam-based advice service).
In September, when I first received the review copy of Back To The Cabin by self-described "Cabinologist" Dale Mulfinger, no one in this household was feeling very cabin-y at all. Even here, the Pacific Northwest--prime cabin territory--the weather was balmy and sunny. Daylight Savings had not yet ended. Looking at a book of cabins at that time felt a bit like buying snow chains in July.
Now, with smoke wreathing chimneys and ice blanketing roofs, the idea of being in a cabin in the Olympics or Cascades, or up near Whistler, BC, sounds quite appealing.
Mulfinger hails from Minnesota, another hotbed of cabins. While he is an architect of high pedigree--educated at University of Minnesota, Principal Emeritus at a Minneapolis firm, and even complete with those round Philip Johnson glasses that architecture schools seemingly give out to every graduate--his background is one of a solid "cabin guy" having grown up on a dairy farm, whose "rural landscape and vernacular architecture...informed his many designs," according to his firm's bio.
Back To The Cabin, with its lavish photos (250+) and illustrations, is eye candy for anyone who has grown weary of the city and longs for a simple life of smooth river stones, rough-hewn logs, and warm, flickering lights.
It's a great book for cabin purists who insist on those rustic chimneys and bent-wood furniture--in particular, I'm thinking of Jim and Mary Krook's 1937 Wisconsin cabin, which is everything purists dream about.
The book also raises eyebrows: a shipping container turned "cabin," stocked with all the modern conveniences? Really?
But I think Mulfinger does this intentionally, to challenge our stock ideas of what a cabin should look like. So what if a cabin doesn't have those blasted river stones? What if it doesn't conform to a Disney ideal of "cabin." Does that make it any less a cabin?
A great book to get someone with a fever for a cabin. It's from Taunton, regularly costs $34.95 (though I notice it's currently listed at $26.21, 25% off), not a bad price for a large-format, hardcover picture book running 250 pages. Free shipping, too. It's found here:
Image: © Taunton
They're a bit ungainly, and when you're installing them, you think: "Isn't there anything better than this?" Then, two weeks later, you forget that they are there. What are they?
Not sure if you have any? You probably do. You've just incorporated them into your idea of what a house should look like and have effectively put them out of your mind.
The one pictured here is called a multifloor transition strip and it's actually the only one that I would recommend not buying because you end up paying for parts you may not need.
For instance, you may just need a T-shaped transition (the part on the upper-right of the photo) with its accompanying base piece. The other two pieces just become expensive firewood.
If you're looking for unique retro/vintage cabinet hardware, of course there's always Craigslist, Etsy, and Ebay. But are there any established online retailers that offer this sort of thing?
Yes, but not many.
Rejuvenation Hardware and Robinson's Antiques are two prominent online companies that offer an ever-shifting collection of hardware. The fun thing about these two sites is that they keep changing.
As an example, the bakelite Art Deco pull shown here, offered by Rejuvenation, is part of a limited stock of NOS (new old stock) pulls. When they're gone, they're gone forever--until a new batch happens to come Rejuvenation's way.
Image: © Rejuvenation Hardware
The Web is too clogged with knock-off cabinet hardware sites, with non confidence-instilling names like BestKnobs4U. Some don't even carry merchandise; they're just online drop-shipper "brokers" who shuttle hardware from a distributor to you, charging you a middleman fee for the joy and pleasure of wading through their cluttered websites.
I found nine in that article linked above, and even then only about half offer truly spectacular hardware. Many I included simply because they have extensive collections and their online ordering system works well.
Some, like SA Baxter, I could not include, because they sell only through designers.
If you know of any truly artisan cabinet hardware suppliers that sell online, I'd love to know. Please contact me.
Image: © Anthropologie
The hardest part of installing a kitchen faucet, in my humble opinion, isn't hooking up the water. It's all that crawling around under the kitchen sink and trying to keep your hands raised for the whole operation.
As far as laying under a kitchen sink, one problem is comfort: the edge of the cabinet bottom cuts into your back. Toss a bag of kitty litter on the floor next to the cabinet. It will help you bridge the hard cabinet edge.
The kitchen faucet I install in this demonstration is a one-hole faucet. See above? That's an old three-hole sink (just ignore the very right hole), with hot valve on left, cold on right, and the faucet in the middle. In the demonstration, I convert this three-hole sink to a one-hole faucet system.
Image: © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com
A reader wrote in recently, asking about the feasibility of changing his stairs from a closed-stringer type to an open-stringer type.
It's a fascinating question. At first, you'd think that it's just a matter of removing the shoerail (that long flat board upon which the balusters rest) and installing longer balusters.
Except that there are no stair treads below for the balusters to rest on.
So, the entire railing needs to be moved left until the balusters have a place on the treads to connect to.
In the article linked above, I give a few tips as to how newels work, since positioning the newel is a major factor in this project.
The elegant type of stair edging is the nose of the tread itself. The tread overhangs the riser by an inch or so, and being rounded-off we call it a bull-nose. With that, you don't need separate stair nosing or edging.
Aluminum or plastic stair nosing is less elegant, but it is highly effective, cheap, and simple to put in place. It both protects the "at-risk" sharp edge and provides better traction for your feet.
Install stair edging when you've got a perfect 90-degree angle between riser and tread (it won't fit on a bullnose, even if you wanted to use it here).
It's really a simple installation and the few instructions included with the kit are usually enough to go on. But in this article, I give a few pointers that will make it go a bit smoother:
Image: © Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com
Want to be original with your next kitchen sink? Here are seven very unusual kitchen sinks you might want to consider installing. Originality comes in either of two forms:
The most unexpected material I found: teak. Yes, a wood sink. We've also got a bamboo sink. Both are so resined up that they would withstand a 100-year flood, so the underlying material doesn't really matter.
My favorite is the curved Luna sink, pictured above, from Native Trails. Its "C" curve adds flavor to the kitchen, but doesn't descend (or ascend?) into useless whimsy. In fact, this prep sink's shape is expressly designed to be functional.
Image: © Native Trails