• So you think a warming drawer is really that impractical? I beg to differ. In fact, I would argue that the larger your family, the more essential a warming drawer becomes to the kitchen. With its’ sleek design and compact drawer-sized fit, a warming drawer can be a welcome and strategically designed element of your next kitchen. Here are 5 reasons (and 1 bonus suggestion!) that you should consider when deciding whether a warming drawer would be right for your kitchen.

    The kids are at practice.
    In my house, Sunday nights are the only night of the week where someone is usually not going somewhere. The rest of the week is non-stop with sports, music and more. We’ve all come home to the plate that’s been sitting on the countertop for hours, or worse chilled down in the refrigerator. A warming drawer would keep those meals warm and fresh and ready no matter what time they get home.

    Warming drawer heats up kitchen appliance options

    The whole family is coming for dinner.
    Be it for the holidays or just because, we love it when the whole family gets together! And while the company is second to none, getting everything to the table hot and ready is the real challenge. Whether you just want to keep food warm while you pull everything together or you want to warm up plates to keep the food on your plate warmer longer, a warming drawer can help with both.

    You overslept – our favorite!
    Whether you turned off the alarm and missed Sunday breakfast prepared by your kids or significant other, or had a quick afternoon power nap turned into a full on extended cat nap, whatever meal you missed can be waiting for you in all its’ glorious warmth with your warming drawer. I mean, who really wants to re-heat an omelet?

    The proof is in…the drawer!
    Not only do warming drawers provide warmth for foods, many current models have additional features to make them even a more practical appliance option for the kitchen and in some cases, an alternative to your time-tested crock pot. Like making your own bread? Certain models like KitchenAid offer options to proof bread as well as slow cook beef and other dishes, all while tucked away in the confines of your stylish warming drawer!

    The occasional hot towel
    This one may not be as practical but if were being completely honest, who doesn’t absolutely love a warm towel? Whether is a clean dish towel for drying or a strategically placed clean towel to welcome in a backyard pool swimmer or all day snow man, a crisp hot towel wraps your child or whomever in the warmth of your towel (and love of course).

    And the 6th reason you need to warm up your kitchen doesn’t involve a warming drawer at all. Rather, we suggest warming up another way with a heated floor because you like being barefoot. Seriously, who doesn’t love kicking off their shoes at the end of a busy work day and feeling what’s beneath your feet. No more brisk fall or chilly spring mornings. Your heated floor lets you enjoy being barefoot in the kitchen year round.

    I for one know that my wife and kids would warm up to these ideas immediately. We live most if not all the reasons above. Don’t let it become a “heated” conversation about the thing you wish you had added to your kitchen. Consider all the reasons a warming drawer (or floor) would make sense for you in order to make a good decision for your family and your kitchen.

  • Fall Out Boy’s song “Light Em Up” could truly be considered the theme song for LED lighting, which is currently lighting it up as the choice for kitchens and many other parts of the home. And there are no signs of the trend towards LED lighting slowing down on any fronts. In a recent Forbes.com article by Peter Kelly-Detwiler, Todd Manegold of Philips is quoted saying that he sees the LED industry continuing to make progress, and that there are two trends we will see: First, we will see LED bulbs get even more cost effective, and within 5 years we may see price parity with compact fluorescents. This is important to know because LED lighting is on the more expensive end of kitchen lighting. While its lifespan is a huge improvement, the initial cost can create a bit of sticker shock not unlike buying a pair of concert tickets (though we guarantee you the LED’s will last longer than the concert!).

    LED lighting lights em up

    Too often, lighting for a kitchen is one of the last things selected or is delayed until after the main part of the project is completed. What many don’t realize is that lighting has a dramatic effect on the appearance of the kitchen and not taking that into account can have a huge impact on how your kitchen looks and how well you can perform in it. What’s the point of going to a concert if you can’t even see the band?

    Good lighting is essential to the kitchen, creating a focus whether you are on the outside looking in or on the inside working. So, just why has LED become the “rock star” of lighting for kitchens? Here are 3 reasons why it is clear to see how LED has become the hottest ticket in kitchen lighting:

    LED’s last. In some cases you see LED’s last for up to 50,000 hours (that’s roughly 6 years straight if you left them on all day).

    LED’s offer a variety of light. Not only does the lighting do a much better job than fluorescent, their slim, flexible offering fits just about anywhere, providing you with traditional lighting options as well as options for under cabinets, inside cabinets and more. By combining a variety of lighting styles, you can create the necessary layers of light need to properly illuminate your kitchen. TIP: look for LED’s classified as “daylight”.

    LED’s stay cool. In the past when placing lights inside of or underneath cabinets, there was always the fear of how hot the fixture or contained space would get. Today’s LED’s run cool and lower the temperature on concerns that other lighting sources like halogen create.

    Lighting is a critical element to any design, be it the kitchen, bath or any space of the home. And LED lighting is finding its way into other areas as well as part of showerheads, faucets and other elements of the home. Sony just announced that they put a Bluetooth speaker in an LED light bulb (cue Fall Out Boy theme song). Don’t miss your chance to “light em up” in the kitchen and throughout your entire home!

    By Jim Grace

  • I’m a lover and not a fighter. I would not even classify myself as a boxing fan, as proven by the fact that the last fight I really remember watching was when Mike Tyson lost to Buster Douglas (could that really be almost 25 years ago?). But even I have to admit that the hype of this Saturday’s Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight is starting to get to me. It has become one of the most anticipated fights in the history of boxing. Everything about this fight is quickly falling into the “record-breaking” category, from ticket prices to audiences, payouts and more.

    So when I saw that pay-per-view cost for the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight was set at a new all-time pay per view high of $99.99, the non-boxing fan in me started to dominate the inner conversation as I asked myself “what else could I do with $100?” Being the kitchen guy that I am, I started thinking about some kitchen cabinet accessories I could buy for the same price or less that the $100 price tag for the fight.

    Kitchen Cabinet Accessories to punch up any kitchen

    So, in order to help others who find themselves in a similar predicament over this and would prefer to avoid a quick $100 pay-per-view punch to the gut, I’m coming out swinging with 5 kitchen cabinet accessories from Merillat that can punch up your kitchen for years to come:

    ROUND 1: 18” Cutlery Divider ($22 estimated cost before tax)
    Keep your drawers neatly organized with a cutlery divider. Everything from silverware to odds and ends can be neatly arranged. 18″ cutlery dividers fit both 18″ and 36″ wide cabinets (36” requires 2) or can be cut down for 15″ and 30″ wide cabinets (30″ requires 2 as well).

    ROUND 2: 12-18” Door Spice Rack ($36 estimated cost before tax)
    Get extra storage space in your wall cabinets with a solid wood door spice rack installed on the backside of your cabinet door. Herbs, spices, baking decorations and even small containers can be organized and neatly tucked away.

    ROUND 3: Utility Tray Kit ($34 estimated cost before tax)
    Keep your sink clear of clutter with this plastic tilt out sink tray kit. Conveniently store soap, sponges and scouring pads out-of-sight on the backside of your sink base drawer front. Counter punch tip – don’t forget hardware if you choose to punch up your sink base with this accessory.

    ROUND 4: 18” Foil Box Rack ($37 estimated cost before tax)
    Make the most of the space in a 36” sink base cabinet with a white, epoxy coated wire foil box rack. Installed to the back of the door of your cabinet, it offers organized storage for foils, wraps, sandwich bags, trash bags and more.

    ROUND 5: Chrome Sliding Towel Bar ($56 estimated cost before tax)
    Designed for use in sink base cabinets, this slide towel bar is mounted to the inside of the cabinet and keeps keep dish towels neatly under the sink and out of the way until you need them, with 3 extending bars for easy access and sufficient storage.

    Every cabinet manufacturer offers similar kitchen cabinet accessories at mostly comparable prices, so the options to punch up your own kitchen with 1 or more new kitchen cabinet accessories are plentiful. Whether you are a lover or a fight, it is up to you to decide which “punch” you want to take.

    By Jim Grace

  • 5 Earth Day inspired Kitchen Ideas

    Kitchen Ideas for Earth Day and Every Day

    Today we celebrate Earth Day and its’ 45th anniversary as a day recognized for creating awareness about our environment, protecting our planet and embracing more environmentally friendly choices and lifestyles.

    A lot has changed since the first Earth Day in 1970. Kitchen ideas were nowhere to be found during a time where leaded gas and air and land polluting factories and power plants were some of the biggest challenges people protested against here in the U.S. It was this first Earth Day that led to historical changes in the way our country looked at the environment, paving the way for the Environmental Protection Agency to be formed and the eventual introductions of the Clean Water, Clean Air and Endangered Species Acts. Today Earth Day is celebrated around the world, bringing together people of all nations.

    These days, we are all looking for ways every day to live in a more environmentally friendly way. To help you find that in the kitchen, here are 5 environmentally friendly kitchen ideas for you to consider:

    1. Open Shelving – one of today’s most popular kitchen design trends is the movement towards open shelving. It requires less materials and in some cases, reclaimed wood is used to give the kitchen a very unique and distinctive feel.

    2. Recycling Center Cabinets – paper, plastic, metal, glass…you should be recycling it! Whether you have room for 2 bins or 4, a pull out trash storage and recycling center cabinet allows you to easily separate recyclables and insure they don’t go somewhere to sit in a landfill for the next 50 years.

    3. Hands Free Faucets – hands free faucets help you to use less water and do so in a more hygienic way. But not having to touch anything when preparing food you have less chance of passing on germs and the faucets sensors quickly respond when hands or other items have been removed.

    4. Wood Cutting Boards – replace plastic cutting boards with wood ones, particular regenerating species such as bamboo. Not only are the better for the environment, but studies have shown that wood cutting boards are less likely to contaminate food when used.

    5. Indoor Herb Garden – who doesn’t love fresh herbs year round? An indoor herb garden provides instant access to a natural food source, saves money, helps keep your indoor air quality healthier and can even provide subtle touches of aromatherapy and be a therapeutic resource as well as a food one.

    Even changes to the smallest of behaviors can help in the fight for a better environment. Don’t stop at a few kitchen ideas. Earth Day is every day! Look for little (and big) things you can do today and every day to help the environment and make every day a little better, brighter and greener.

    By Jim Grace

  • I’m a hockey fan and this year my favorite team, the Washington Capitals, are back in the NHL playoffs and in search of their very first Stanley Cup trophy. Every game matters, just like every decision in kitchen remodeling matters. The smallest detail can win or lose a game, just like it can make or break your kitchen.

    Rock the Red Cabinet finish

    So it should come as no surprise that the Caps “Rock the Red” slogan goes well beyond the ice, making its’ way into homes and in particular kitchens as homeowners look to pump some life into their kitchen remodeling project. Red is a positive, energizing color. It excites the emotions and motivates us to take action. There is nothing like the color red to get the heart thumping, adrenaline pumping and that kitchen look jumping.

    So how do we add red to our kitchen? At the simplest level, it may be how we accessorize the kitchen. The dinnerware we use, the mugs we drink from, even that red KitchenAid mixer or those red Le Creuset baking dishes can add a subtle pop or eye grabbing look to the kitchen.

    Rock the Red Kitchen Appliance finish

    But for others that is not enough. Red is their color. It truly inspires them. For some it is a glossy red finish on their cabinets, either as a whole or as a strategically designed focal point. And it’s not just cabinets that are getting the “red carpet” rolled out for them. Appliances are popping up in a bold variety of finishes from red to purple and beyond. Dacor, one of our appliance partners, is leading the way. Their DacorMatch™ Color System allows select cooking appliances to be personalized to any color imaginable, just by sending a color swatch.

    So put away any fears of repeating the frightening choices our parents had in Avocado Green or Harvest Gold. Whether you choose to rock the red in your kitchen or you find another color that suits you, think big and bold and put your imagination to work to create the kitchen of your dreams.

    And…Go Caps!

    By Jim Grace