Monday, March 17th, 2014

State of the Cabinets Address

YAY!2 lines, no waiting

So about a month ago, we broke the news that we’re now offering a 2nd cabinet line called Besh with our kitchen & bath design projects. We’re happy to report thus far that we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive reception of Besh from homeowners, architects & designers and builders & developers alike.

A quick number crunch revealed that out of 14 active projects, 12 of them are using Besh, not IKEA. That’s a whopping 86%!! Early in the game, yes, but numbers are numbers.

2014 & beyond

Up until this point, we specialized in design & installation using only IKEA’s kitchen cabinet line. There’s a change afoot with IKEA’s kitchen cabinet line. That change has already been rolled out in Europe, and is set to roll out in North America in 2015. Here’s a link to some of the chatter on the IKEAFans forums about it.

Because we do still get requests for IKEA kitchens, we are still providing those services through 2014.

However, we’re not at all convinced that the new IKEA line – to be called SEKTION in the States – is an improvement. That being said,  we have and will always stand behind only robust, quality products. For that reason we will not yet commit to using IKEA’s kitchen line beyond 2014. If IKEA’s new line proves to be a continuing level of quality as in the past, we may consider projects on a case-by-case basis with it.

Long story short: we’re using both Besh and IKEA through 2014.  In 2015,  Besh will be our sole primary cabinet line.

Besh: Modern cabinets for work and play

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Giving Back: GS Troop 52 Little Free Library Project

Show me the ropes

Most of my skills came from watching my Dad do small projects around the house. Later I just taught myself, & gleaned what I could working alongside both good and bad carpenters & contractors. I asked a  lot of questions. No one seemed to mind that at all.

I don’t run across many women on construction sites. I’m not sure if it’s because

  • they’re not wired that way, or
  • because it’s a stereotype that only guys swing hammers or
  • because they want to but are afraid or don’t know how.
  • Or some combination of all of those.

Cookies to Libraries!

I scarfed up several boxes of Girl Scout cookies from a local setup a few weeks ago. While I was there I asked if they would be interested in learning how to use tools like drills & saws.  The response was a resounding YES!

When they told me an upcoming project for their troop was a Little Free Library, & asked if I’d like to volunteer, I said “Sure!”.

LFL’s are just cool things, all the way around. The troop leaders explained that girls & women who read are more likely to go on to higher education & ultimately have more success in their lifetimes. (I didn’t know that!) These libraries are dotted all over the world (& even have their locations mapped).

Fast forward

A few email exchanges later, with plans & materials in hand, we got together for our first LFL building meeting. First, I showed them how to measure & mark the cuts we were going to make.

Measure twice!


After a few practice cuts to get the feel & weight of the saw, they went to it!

Skil saw skilz



The two hours blew by & we did get all the pieces cut, but only had a few minutes for assembly:

assembly beginnings


Just look at those faces! So focused & eager to help – really good kids. They were observant, careful, very safe & conscientious. A few were too timid to try the circular saw, but they jumped all over using the drill once I got the first screws started.

Next meeting is in April where we’ll finish assembly! Stay tuned for a write up on that one.

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Now offering Besh Cabinets

Cat = out of bag!

Out of the bag!

After almost 7 years of designing with Ikea kitchen cabinets, we are happy to announce that we’re now offering a new line of cabinets called Besh!

Besh: The deets!

Besh is made in the US and is fabricated locally to each project site. It’s got a combined core plywood construction for the boxes themselves. That gives it the structural heft for support & reliable bite for hardware, while having the uber smooth skin ideal for both painting and veneers.

Besh is truly modular in design based on 3″ increments. No more random skipping of sizes in the lineup! That means we can maximize available space you have for storage, not fillers, and without modifying stock components!

Besh: Modern cabinets for work and play

Swappable Fronts!

Besh utilizes genuine, robust hardware from Blum and Hafele, and get this:  it has a SWAPPABLE FRONT system option!! This is huge! Up until now, you could change all kinds of things in the room: paint, wallpaper, plumbing & lighting fixtures, & wall decor. With Besh, you can now change out the door & drawer fronts easily, because it’s modular!

So let’s say next fall, you know winter’s coming, right? You can swap in some bright gloss doors to keep it cheery on those short gloomy days. Or, if you get the dream job on the west coast & suddenly have to sell, the cabinet fronts are now fair game for staging. So if you like those high gloss Back the Pack red doors, but a potential buyer doesn’t, swap in some neutrals.

The greenest strategy of all: use as little as possible

Everyone knows a kitchen sells a house. Now we can change the looks without yanking out the whole carcass. And all of it can stay out of the landfill. Win-win-win.

We are super excited to be able to offer another option to folks who are fans of modern at a modest price point! For now, Ecomod is the official US Besh dealer.

We’d be remiss not to let folks know that we know Besh inside & out, because we created it. And we’ll continue to improve and innovate it: we see it as a living system. Something indeed you’ll be proud to use daily and keep our collective footprint as light as possible.

Go check it out!

Friday, January 17th, 2014

New material alert! Environite

New green countertop option!

My good friends over at Common Ground Green now carry a countertop material called Environite. Locally made from a proprietary recipe of epoxies, recycled glass, refractory and other commonly discarded post consumer and post industrial materials.

According to their FAQs, Environite is scratch resistant, non porous, and heat resistant (though they do recommend use of trivets). We’re liking the color options, also! Check them out:

Environite Countertops Bossa-Nova Environite Countertops MORE-ROCKIN-RED Environite Countertops Laid-Back Environite Countertops GLACIER Environite Countertops Urban-E2 Environite Countertops Urban-E1

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Kitchen design tip: plugmold.

Ugly but necessary

undercabinet plugmoldThis post on houzz prompted me to share this design tidbit. Gotta have power in a kitchen for countertop appliances. They might not be out all the time (counter clutter Do Not Want), but when they are, you can’t just drape power cords all over the place. (A story about that in a minute.)

Outlets are just plain ugly, whether you can see them or not.  Here’s how we handle it: we spec under cabinet outlet strips commonly referred to as plugmold. It gets you plenty of plug in options, but because it’s nestled on the underside of the cabinet, it’s not visible.

Unless you’re crawling on the floor. & if you are, then I want an invitation to your next party, please.

I told you it was ugly. In this shot the end coverpanel on the wall cabinet hasn’t been installed yet. When that goes up, the end of the plugmold is covered (which is why it’s mounted flush with the edge of the cabinet).

The other great thing about having outlets like these? You don’t have to interrupt your backsplash for wall outlets.undercab plugmold

& if you wire tie most of the length of the power cord in a bundle, it keeps the cord at the outlet & appliance, not all over the counter.

Oh yeah, that story.

Back in my college days, we partied in people’s apartments that had older appliances. They still worked, why not? Rent money is rent money.

Check out this gem of an appliance from the late 50′s.

1950's GE push button range

Like lore says, the party ends up in the kitchen. Imagine lots of drunk college kids parked in a tiny kitchen with one of these. Buttons on the front that get turned on & off by butts leaning on them.

Thankfully someone noticed the smoke rising from the range top. It was the power cord from the hot weenie crock pot that was draped across the glowing orange burner. Good times.

No flames, and the party rolled on, but oh, what could have been that was not.  Cord control, people.

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

To 2014!

grape inflation

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Kitchen Design Tip: Gain wall cabinet space by closing up a door

newspaper door testDoors: love/hate relationship

Let’s say you have limited wall space available to put wall cabinets, or even just open shelving in the kitchen. Let’s also say there are multiple ways into & out of the kitchen.

That pesky door hogging both wall and base cabinet area is the solution, not the problem. So get rid of it.

Not sure about closing up an existing door?

Cover it up with newspaper & don’t use that doorway for a few days. Is losing it a dealbreaker? Or is it something worth eliminating to reclaim precious wall storage space?

We do this little exercise routinely with our clients who are attached to their doors & windows, but recognize they compromise their storage opportunity.

Not everyone opts to close in existing doors. But the newspaper test is a low risk way to find out what the real design priorities are.

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Before / After: a rare (for us) traditional kitchen

Once a year!

We do a more traditional kitchen project once annually.  As designers, we appreciate other styles & tastes, so even though the lion’s share of our projects are modern & clean lined, this rare traditional project this past summer was one for the archives.


before overall



We expanded the existing space a few feet out so we could get decent clearances all the way around the island. The wing wall remaining at the end of the sink cabinet run housed all the existing electrical feeds for the entire house. It also concealed a load bearing beam that held up the entire second floor.

We were able to reuse the existing exhaust duct for the hood, and replaced some of the hardwoods & then refinished the whole floor.

after - overall


And as always a few fun shots from the fabulous Anita Normanly:

island - interior

after - range area


eat in area from island  coffee zone  cats  island pendants  range area


Design Deets:

  • Cabinets: IKEA and custom
  • Countertops: Silestone Lyra quartz
  • Backsplash tile: (coming soon)
  • Cabinet pull hardware:  (coming soon)


Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Outfitting the kitchen with a Hurom slow juicer

Hurom slow juicer

Autumn = nesting season

I can’t help it. Once we’re beyond the 80′s and 90′s of summer, & the leaves start turning I go into nest mode. That goes hand in hand with eating & a place to prepare the eats.

Smart kitchen equipment

Not computer smart. Efficient smart. Excessive equipment is for posers. Just get what’s well made,  works well and maintain it. We’ve been missing one thing I’ve wanted for a long time: a slow juicer. Compared to traditional juicers, a Hurom juicer

operates at a only 80 RPM and uses a mere 150 Watts of energy, instead of 1,000-24,000 RPM and up to 1,500 Watts of energy like a typical centrifugal “High Speed” juicer. 

I like that it’s not loud. And that I can pour it into a to go cup, or even freeze it for later.


Something tells me our next piece of equipment might be a small chest freezer. That’ll be after we downsize our fridge.

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Beach week. Back on Oct 21.

Fall break!


To get your ecomod fix while we’re gone, poke around on our Pinterest boards. Back in a bit…


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