Home Sweet Home: Create Your Own Island

August 1st, 2016

kitchenislandBy: Cathy Osoria

A kitchen island is a relatively modern addition to the kitchen. It is named an island as it is a free standing area typically at the center of the kitchen that is used to add a little additional working space to the kitchen. An island can be the heart of the kitchen whether square, L shaped or rectangular, and it can bring an entirely new appearance to the kitchen. Islands can be secondary cooking and prep stations, and surfaces selected for the island top can make cooking less complicated.

Chopping vegetables on a butcher block top or making pastries on slick marble makes for a quicker clean up after the food prep.  Everyone can use more area to serve their guests food and beverages when entertaining. The main entree, desserts or veggies on serving trays and platters can all fit and be displayed on the newly created island top. Seat space is consistently short in a kitchen so the kitchen island is a method for adding working space, appliance stations and maybe even bonus storage. Kitchen islands with seating add a great deal of convenience.  They even may be used as a dinner table and are great places for kids to do homework.

It is a good idea to consider the kind of seating that is preferred before the island is installed as different kinds of seats will need  different heights and overhangs of the island top. An island can bring in other accent materials into the kitchen space to inspire a more interesting look.  The base of the furniture can be reclaimed wood orshelves with baskets or crates or a contrasting paint color from existing cabinets. The island top could be stainless steel, marble, granite, concrete or wood and can coordinate yet be different from existing counter tops to add interest.

There are portable and fixed kitchen islands.  The fixed model is built into the kitchen floor and after installed cannot be moved or modified easily.  It is built into the home so it can be shaped to be more customized to the kitchen size and offers the option of having plumbing or electricity built into this structure. Plumbing can accommodate a dishwasher, main sink or a smaller vegetable sink.

Electricity comes in handy for plugs and appliances that can be an island addition like a microwave, warming drawer, oven or stove.  Installing pull out trash cans,cooking utensil and spice drawers and pop up mixer cabinet will make one wonder how he/she made it this long without an island.

The portable kitchen island is an island that can be moved to different locations possibly when entertaining or moved nearer to the stove or sink when prepping food. It is an excellent alternative when there is limited space in the kitchen. It can be wheeled wherever it is needed. It can have the exact same characteristic as an island that is fixed such as an excellent table top made of wood, stainless steel or marble. It provides extra storage for wine, cook books, dishes, cooking utensils, linens or pots and pans. The bonus feature of a portable island is the possibility of moving it outside when entertaining.

Portable islands can be custom built to your specifications just like a fixed island or pre built ones may be purchased at a furniture store or online.  Even if pre built, they can be modified by adding towel bars for kitchen towels or painted an accent color or a different top may be purchased to add to the standard island but customized to make it fit the current space and needs.

Islands are functional, attractive additions to the home that can be the center of attention and family gatherings.

Home Sweet Home: Deck the Halls…and every other room in the house

November 13th, 2014

fireplaceAs winter holidays unfold, here are some ideas to simplify, beautify and bring cheer to one’s holiday home.

By Cathy Osoria

Keep the color palette simple — Sticking to two or three colors makes decorating easy, and the end result looks thought out and put together. Traditional colors such as red, gold and green are Christmas decorating staples, or Christmas can be more whimsical by decorating with teal, pink and silver accents instead.  Adding lime green instead of holly green to the red and gold Christmas colors also adds whimsy.

Holiday lighting — LED pre-lit trees are a popular choice because they last thousands of hours longer than traditional lights and use almost 80 percent less electricity.  LED lights are usually brighter than traditional bulbs so less strands can be used when decorating to get the same visual impact. A Christmas tree should be lit from the top down working in sections rather than wrapping around the tree. Work the lights in towards the trunk of the tree, and then back out to the tip of the next branch.

Spotlights can be placed on top of cabinets and aimed toward focal objects that should be highlighted more than the surrounding decor. A spotlight can draw focus onto a wreath hanging on a fireplace or door or a Santa’s face in a table centerpiece.

Copy of untitledUsing good sense — Scents of pine, eucalyptus, apple cider and freshly baked cookies can all be purchased in scented holiday candles. Place candles near your entry and throughout your home to create an inviting holiday sensation. Boiling cinnamon sticks, cloves and oranges will get guests in the holiday spirit. It’s always good to decorate using lots of candles. Nothing makes a room feel warmer and more inviting than candlelight.

Mix styles — Try juxtaposing natural elements with sparkle. Don’t be afraid to spray paint an old object with metallic paint and possibly add glitter to create a metallic makeover. Natural elements like branches, leaves, feathers, pinecones and berries make good additions to mix with the metallics so they play off each other.

Decor with double duty — Buy ornaments like glass snowflakes and hang them from tree branches either inside or outside when entering the home. Guests will enjoy their beauty during the party and be able to choose an ornament to take with them as a party favor when they leave.

IMG_0260Bigger is better — Group collections and display in one area using different levels create more visual interest than spreading the collection around. Instead of hanging individual ornaments on the tree, save time decorating by wiring the ornaments together and using them in a cluster on the tree or wreath.  Instead of a traditional bow, ornaments can be hung with varying lengths of ribbon from the top of a wreath to create an unexpected modern look. Big oversized ornaments can be placed closer to the tree trunk to make the tree appear to have more depth and create more sparkle.

Time savers — Tree enhancers are simple to make and easy to install and make a Christmas tree look  larger and more plump and professional.  Enhancers combine a long piece of artificial greenery, branches, ribbon, ornaments and maybe a sparkly accent piece. The greenery is layered with a branch, and these pieces are wired together at the top. Then ribbon is tied around the wire and a bow is tied with the tails of the bow hanging to the bottom of the greenery. The ribbon tail is then attached with wire at the bottom and an ornament added, dropping off the end of the enhancer. Sparkly accents can be added and placed in the arrangement. Enhancers made in varying lengths can now be tucked into the Christmas tree. Pre-making enhancers saves time from hanging each of those items individually onto the tree. It’s faster to take the tree down, and they pack really well in a storage tub.