Savvy Storage Ideas

With the carefree days of summer ending and the routine of Fall upon us, it’s a natural time to do some cleaning and re-organizing of the house. We wanted to share a few creative and smart storage ideas for the kitchen to get you thinking.

  • Hanging shelving combines extra storage space with an artistic display.
  • Mixing wire and wicker baskets gives a warm touch and keeps your pantry foods sorted.
  • Upright utensil drawer: Simple to put away. Even simpler to grab.
  • Make use of your knife drawer by adding a slide-out cutting board.
  • No one enjoys bending over to get kitchen cleaning supplies crammed in the back of the cabinet. Drawers make it less painful and easier to keep supplies organized.

 

Keep it Cool, Baby

Refrigerators are the marathon runners of the kitchen appliance world. While ovens and dishwashers have intense bouts of work to do, the fridge needs constantly and reliably work all hours of the day and night. With the variety of choices, picking a good refrigerator can be an overwhelming task. Here is a breakdown of size and type of fridge to help you start shopping.

The first element in picking a fridge is size. You need to make sure it fits your kitchen correctly. Remember to factor in the door swing in relation to adjacent walls, cabinets, and other appliances. And leave at least a 1-inch clearance around the unit and the surrounding cabinetry to ensure adequate air flow. The other important, though often-overlooked, size feature to consider is the capacity of food a fridge can hold. All models list the cubic space of the refrigerator, but this number does not take into account the “usable” space. We recommend checking an independent testing site which will often list the actual usable space (Consumer Reports or Reviewed.com).

Secondly, and possibly more important to your style appetite, refrigerators are categorized according to design type. This category is based upon placement of freezer in the unit and the door. Here are the four basic types of fridges with their benefits and drawbacks.

Top Mount Refrigerators
The top-mount refrigerator is the traditional type and the most affordable. Widths typically run from about 30 to 33 inches. It offers the most storage for its space and decently wide shelves make the back easily accessible. Some drawbacks include bending over to reach the bottom shelves and a wide-swinging door requiring sufficient clearance.

Bottom-Freezer Refrigerators
The bottom-freezer style offers the convenience of an eye-level refrigerator while still boasting space. Widths run from 30 to 36 inches for most models. The claimed capacity can measure up to 30 cubic feet, though usable space doesn’t quite match the comparable top-freezer units.

French Door Refrigerators
This category includes french-door models, with two refrigerator doors. The added benefit of this model is the narrow door swing of a side-by-side and the option of opening only half the refrigerator for smaller items.

Four-Door Refrigerators
The newest model, the four-door version takes a french-door configuration and adds a refrigerator or freezer drawer between the fridge and freezer compartments for even more flexibility of food storage. The general drawback to the bottom-freezer category is added cost the more doors/drawers you add to the fridge, as well as, limited width variety in the french and four-door models.

Side-By-Side Refrigerators
Side-by-side models refer to a vertical split with the freezer on one side and refrigerator on the other. Side-by-sides often come feature through-the-door ice and water dispensers and rapid ice-making cycles. The width typically measures 32 to 36 inches. The narrow doors are the greatest appeal to this category. It does offer both refrigerated and frozen items at eye-level. Claimed capacities can reach roughly 30 cubic feet, though typically only 65 to 70 percent is usable, perhaps the largest drawback. Most doors don’t open wide enough for wide items to fit, and tall, narrow compartments make it difficult to reahch items toward the back.

Built-In Refrigerators
Sometimes listed as its own style, built-in models refer to the fit and installation in the kitchen. Designed to fit almost flush with cabinets and counters, they offer the sleekest look, and most can accept a front panel to match cabinets or other elements of your kitchen. They usually come in the bottom-freezer (including french and four-door) or side-by-side styles.

Price and space efficiency are the main issue with this model. They are at least 36 inches wide but relatively shallow, 25-26 inches front to back. Claimed capacities can reach around 25 cubic feet but only around 70 percent of that is usable. This style of fridge is a good option if you want a seamless look and have extra space to consider installing a separate fridge and freezer into a 72-inch-wide opening. For the same sleek look as the built-in but at a cheaper price, cabinet-depth fridges are a good choice.

Which type of fridge fits your kitchen and style best?

Architectural Influence in the Kitchen: Frank Lloyd Wright

“The architect should strive continually to simplify; the ensemble of the rooms should then be carefully considered that comfort and utility may go hand in hand with beauty.” – Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright, perhaps the most famous Contemporary American architect, designed such buildings as the Guggenheim Museum in NYC and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (or Falling Water). But he also designed simple homes for the middle class American family. Wright invented the concept of the Usonian home in the 1930’s, featuring a warm, open layout with convenience, economy and comfort at the forefront.

Wright’s innovative ideas incorporated the kitchen as the focal point of the home. He referred to the kitchen as the “workroom” of the house. His designs for cooking efficiency, speed and comfort continue to be seen in modern kitchens.

One such example of a kitchen in a Wright Usonian home is the Gordon House in Silverton, Oregon (pictured above). Designed in 1957, the kitchen contains no windows, but provides natural light with a 15-foot high skylight ceiling. This skylight not only creates an inviting environment, but paired with a wall fan, helps to remove heat and keeps the smell of smoke and other fried foods from lingering in the kitchen.

Other unique features for its day in this kitchen include over-the-counter lighting so you never work in your own shadow, back splashes to make it easy and fast to clean up wall spills, and generous counter spaces. The cabinetry is made with piano hinges, allowing the cabinet doors to fully open and the chef to work straight out of the cupboard.

Wright found many ways to cut costs to keep the Usonian homes more affordable, but he always invested in the most advanced kitchen appliances of his day. The Gordon House is equipped with state of the art built-in appliances including a a frost-free Revco Gourmet refrigerator (the first to have the freezer on the bottom) and a Jenn-Air double oven and a downdraft range top.

Wright is credited for saying:

“The architect must be a prophet… a prophet in the true sense of the term… if he can’t see at least ten years ahead, don’t call him an architect.”

Wright perfectly fit this definition of architect when we look at his practical and innovative designs in the kitchen. Paneled refrigerator doors, under-cabinet lighting and the understanding that the cook doesn’t want to be stuck in a claustrophobic room away from family and friends, are some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s ideas that continue to influence kitchen design today.

Wright might just have been 40 years ahead of his time in creating the first social kitchen!

Cleaning Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is inarguably the popular choice for appliances right now. Not only is it durable and have a long life span, it is aesthetically pleasing. Thanks to its sleek, gleaming metallic finish, stainless steel appliances complement almost any kitchen design and style. Since it doesn’t fade, discolor, rust, or stain, stainless steel will maintain its shine and aesthetic qualities for several years to come. So your stainless steel appliances will always look sleek and shiny, right? Absolutely! Unless, of course, you plan on actually using them.

While stainless steel is stain-resistant, it can still be susceptible to fingerprints, watermarks, and streaking. Just opening the fridge door after slicing up some veggies can make your sleek showroom into a showcase for smudges. Hey, messes are going to happen, especially in the kitchen. But do not be disheartened! Stainless steel is actually very easy to clean – and you don’t have to use harsh chemicals! Here we give you easy step-by-step directions to clean your stainless steel appliances using safe, natural, and inexpensive kitchen items you probably already have!

1. Find the Grain
Similar to wood, stainless steel has a grain. The grain consists of very faint grooves found on the surface of your appliance. Each sheet of stainless will have the same grain direction, though attached knobs or handles may go a different direction. You will want to clean along the grain to avoid filling these tiny crevices with residue and existing grime.

2. Choose a Non-Abrasive Cloth

It is important to go with a non-abrasive cloth to avoid tiny scratching. Microfiber cloths are best for polishing and won’t leave behind watermarks or residue. Paper towels can work just as well, though they may leave some lint behind.

3. Create a Vinegar/Water Solution

Mix 1 part distilled white vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle to make the perfect cleaning solution. Simply spray directly onto your stainless steel surface and wipe along the grain with your non-abrasive cloth. This will remove smudges and grime while disinfecting the surface. Since vinegar is an acid and can corrode mineral deposits, it is important to always dilute with water.


4. Shine with Oil

Now that your appliance is clean, give it a good rubdown with oil. You can use either a small glob of coconut oil or a spot of olive oil. Apply the oil to your non-abrasive cloth and rub your appliance along the grain using long, straight strokes. Immediately wipe away the oil with your microfiber cloth or paper towel to polish. This will give your appliance a beautiful shine and even finish!

Now stand back and fall in love with your stainless steel appliances all over again!