Sunday, July 15, 2018

Shower Benches

If you are having your shower remodeled or considering building a new house, one question you need to answer is “Do I need a bench in my shower?” There are several different types of benches you could have in a shower, but why do you need a bench? A bench is helpful if you need to shave your legs, wash your feet, just need to sit down or have a broken foot and aren’t able to stand in the shower for much time.  Below are a couple of options to consider.

1 .Built in bench-whether this stretches wall to wall in your shower or is a triangular corner bench, this permanent structure is often tiled to match the rest of your shower. You have great flexibility over the size of this bench and it is very sturdy. It can be a collecting point for shampoo bottles so make sure you also have a built in niche to wrangle those items.

2. Fold Down Bench-often times made out of teak wood, this bench is mounted to the wall with metal brackets and can fold up against the wall and out of the way. This is especially great if you don’t have much space to work with. Typically these benches can hold 220 pounds. They can be a great aesthetic addition to your space.

3.  Freestanding Bench- a moveable piece of furniture this can be made out of plastic or teak and can be moved around the shower and taken in and out of the space giving you the most flexibility.

4. Foot prop-maybe you don’t have space or need for a full blown bench, but would like a small shelf to prop your foot on to clean or shave your legs. Small corner shelves can be mounted down low, approx.. 14-18” off of the floor and are perfect for that need.

What have you found to be the best solution for your space? Do you have any other ideas for benches? I’d love to hear.  Email me at

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Quartz Countertops FAQ’s

Quartz countertops continue to enjoy a rise in popularity and manufacturers keep coming up with more and more beautiful options. Below are some questions I am frequently asked.

1.      Can I set hot pots or pans directly on the countertop? While the manufacturers do not recommend setting hot things directly on the countertop, many homeowners have without incident.

2.      Is it stain resistant? Yes, most manufacturers claim their products are stain resistant and are easily cleaned with a mild cleaner like 409. Do not use abrasive products or pads on the countertop.

3.      Can I cut directly on the countertop? Manufacturers suggest using a cutting board, but again, many end users have cut directly on it without any trouble.

4.      Will it chip? There are conflicting comments out there about this. Some people have reported chips on the edges or sink areas. If this happens to you, check your warranty.

All in all, quartz countertops are fantastic and I would not hesitate to use them anywhere. Do you have quartz tops in your kitchen or bath? Have you experienced any of the above issues? I’d love to hear. Email me at

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Garbage Disposal Air Switch

Do you have a garbage disposal on your kitchen sink? Do you turn it on with a switch in the wall or in the cabinet underneath your kitchen sink? A counter mounted air switch is a great alternative.  What exactly is an air switch?

Made by InSinkErator, the sink top air switch is a convenient alternative to a wall switch. Ideal for island installations where you don’t have a wall nearby, this switch is air-activated and easily mounts to the counter top or cabinet face. Just press the switch and a blast of air travels to the module below to turn on the disposal. Press it again and it stops. The SinkTop Switch can be used with any disposal. Not only is this an ideal use for islands, it also attractive and a great way to get a switch out of your tile backsplash.

Keep this great accessory in mind. It can be added to your existing countertop at any time. Questions? Contact me at

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Sheen vs. Gloss

A common decision in kitchen and bath projects is what sheen paint to use. Whether that be on the cabinets, the walls, ceiling or trim, sheen or gloss can make a difference. What exactly is sheen and gloss and how do you need to use them?

Gloss and sheen are 2 aspects of the same thing: the amount of light reflected off a painted surface, independent of its color. Gloss is measured in units from 0 (no gloss) to 100 (mirror like) by reflecting the light onto the surface at a 60 degree angle. Sheen is measured using the same units but by reflecting the light onto the surface at an 85 degree angle.

Most paint companies will list a numerical measurement for the amount of gloss and/or sheen contained in the can. The higher the numbers, the glossier the finish. Paint falls into 4 basic categories:

1.      Flat or Matte-no to very low reflection
2.      Eggshell, Low-Gloss, Low-Sheen, Satin, Velvet-low to medium reflection
3.      Semi-Gloss, Pearl, Medium Luster-medium to moderate reflection
4.      Gloss or High-Gloss-high reflection

In many ways, the gloss and sheen can be just as important as the color itself. Using paints with different gloss and sheen values can create subtle shifts in color and depth perception. It used to be that gloss was the most durable finish. But changes in technology of paint means you can use any sheen or gloss and have just as good a performing paint. Questions? Email me at

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Coverings Show

There are three main events worldwide each year dedicated to the ceramic tile and natural stone industry. Cersaie, Cevisama and Coverings.

In Italy, Cersaie, held in Bologna, Italy, is the 36 year old major Italian trade fair for ceramic tile and natural stone. In Spain, Cevisama, held in Valencia Spain, is the 36 year old Spanish ceramic tile industry’s major annual trade fair. And in the United States, Coverings, held in rotating locations, is the nearly 30 year old preeminent event for the tile and natural stone industry in North America. These 3 events showcase the latest and most cutting edge designs, materials, colors, installation techniques and tile and stone equipment.

This year Coverings was held in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2017, I was selected as one of their Rock Stars. The Coverings Rock Stars – an Emerging Leaders Program – honors the best and brightest young talent in the tile & stone industry. Since its conception, the program has recognized dozens of young leaders who have connected at Coverings through mentorship and networking opportunities. The program underscores Coverings mission to support the growth and success of the industry by recognizing top-notch talent and fostering networking and educational opportunities. It is a great honor and experience last year in Orlando, Florida. This year I was invited back for the induction of the 2018 class of Rock Stars. It is so encouraging and inspirational to see the rising leaders in the industry and make new connections.

But back to the actual Coverings show…It was held at the Georgia World Congress Center and featured over 9 miles of the latest products, trends and tools from over 1,100 of the world’s leading manufacturers and suppliers. There is a strong presence from North America, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Brazil businesses. There are also continuing education seminars and the great opportunity to make connections with new businesses and say hello to your current network.

This year I noticed several trends I wanted to share with you. First was the large display of plank tiles. In varying sizes and colors, this wood plank trend is not going anywhere! There is also a lot of large format tile-48”x48” specifically but even larger as well. Texture, texture, texture-that is the name of the game.  Tiles just screaming for you to reach out and touch them. I also saw a lot of small 3D tiles. And plenty of angular, linear shapes and designs. I love tile and natural stone and the endless possibilities and can’t wait to use some of the products I saw in some upcoming projects. Questions? Email me at

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ice Cooking

My mouth dropped open when I read about this newest form of cooking the other day and I just had to share it with you. We’ve had a lot of great new appliance introductions to the industry in the last few years such as induction cooking and steam ovens. Recently Miele announced their newest oven: the Dialog Oven. It looks like the traditional oven complete with a touch screen, however, it is much different.

At a recent trade show in Berlin, the Miele team demonstrated exactly how the Dialog Oven worked by cooking a piece of raw cod fish in a surprising way: inside of a block of ice. The chef showed the raw fish sitting inside the ice, which was then covered with a top and placed in the oven for nine minutes. After that time, they took out the perfectly intact ice, removed the top and revealed a steaming hot, thoroughly cooked fish fillet. While not many of us will find ourselves cooking with ice, here’s another example of what the oven can do.

Take a traditional German meal of veal, vegetables and potatoes. Instead of preparing each of these components separately and cooking them at different times or temperatures like in a conventional oven, all of the elements were placed inside of the Dialog Oven at the same time. After 30 minutes, the chef removed the dish to reveal that the veal was evenly cooked through and the vegetables and potatoes were cooked just enough and not overdone.

This method of cooking is possible with electromagnetic waves. The Dialog Oven features a modular unit that generates electromagnetic waves in a specific frequency range and distributes these in the oven with two antennas. As the molecules in different foods are arranged in different ways and even rearrange during the course of cooking, the technology provides the Dialog Oven with feedback on the amount of energy that has been absorbed by food, and the oven targets the right foods and responds. This is how different foods are detected and cooked accurately. Another advantage of the oven is that food is cooked volumetrically; a filet of meat is for instance cooked uniformly from the edges right through to the core. In a conventional oven, this is much more difficult since heat travels from the outside in. In the Dialog Oven, electromagnetic waves ensure the food is cooked from the inside out.
Since cooking with electromagnetic waves does not brown the surfaces of food, bread can be baked entirely without a crust. For a classic loaf of bread and the roasted aromas in meat, the oven technology always combines with radiant heat.

The oven first launches in Germany and Austria. While you may not see this oven in your neighbor’s house for a while, this is definitely something to keep your eye on. Questions? Email me at

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Where Does Color Come From?

Have you ever wondered where color comes from? Who is in charge? And who gets to name all of the colors? I wonder this all of the time when I am looking at paint colors and all of the interesting names they are called.  Well, today we are going to find out.

Begun in the early 20th century by Edward Waldo Forbes, director of the Fogg Art Museum, the Forbes Pigment Collection is housed under the greater umbrella of The Straus Center for Conservation and Technical studies at Harvard Art Museums — the United States’ oldest fine arts research, training, and conservation facility. Forbes would collect his samples from his travels all over the world, bringing back pigments from excavated sites at Pompeii to rare lapis lazuli found in Afghanistan.

By the 1920s, Forbes had amassed containers of deep blues, rich purples, vibrant yellows, and myriad other colors from his travels to Europe and the Far East. Through the years, word of mouth helped the collection to grow as other art lovers and experts donated their own pigments.

Though growing all the time, today’s Forbes Pigment Collection comprises a technicolor array of 2,500 samples, arranged most pleasingly by color. Displayed in little jars, the pigments mimic artists’ color wheels in 3D, morphing from purple to red to yellow to blue and back to purple again along the cases’ shelves.

If you can’t make it to the floor-to-ceiling display of pigments in Cambridge, you can see an electronic directory of these materials through the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston’s Conservation & Art Materials Encyclopedia Online (CAMEO) database. Next time you are in Boston, stop by and take a look.