Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Ups and Downs of Kitchen Ventilation

Cooking produces a host of harmful by-products—heat, smoke, grease and odors—that not only accumulate on surfaces and give the kitchen a dingy appearance but also make the room uncomfortable for someone preparing a meal. The right range hood will keep the air in your kitchen clean and comfortable. Here’s what you need to know to choose a ventilation system that fits your cooktop and your space.

Ups and Downs

Any kitchen ventilation system falls into one of two main categories: updraft and downdraft. Updraft systems, the favorite among kitchen-design professionals, install directly over the cooking surface. These devices use a blower to gather vapors that rise naturally during the cooking process and then push them outside through a duct.
Updraft Systems
If you think an updraft system has to be accompanied by a boxy metal hood you’re in for a surprise. Newer models from Miele, GE Monogram and Zephyr utilize what is known as perimeter capture, a system that pulls contaminants to the edges of the hood rather than the center, allowing for slimmer, sleeker designs, such as flat or gently curved panes of glass or metal panels that project out from a wall and fold away when not in use. Gaggenau’s AH 600 ventilator makes use of the Coanda effect, a physical principle that allows it to lift and remove vapors before they escape from the hood. The awninglike device employs two fans instead of one. The first fan, positioned at the front of the ventilator, generates a flow of air that pushes smoke and steam toward the back of the unit, where a second fan pulls them up into the duct-work and out of the house. By comparison, a traditional ventilator uses a single fan to capture vapors and draw them up and out of the house, explains Brian Wellnitz, kitchen ventilation marketing manager for Broan-NuTone, a manufacturer of ventilation products.
Downdraft Systems
Downdraft designs pull air across the cooking surface and down through a duct that leads outside the home. Unlike hoods or canopies, which are purchased separately from a cooktop or stove, these devices are often integrated into the surface of the cooking appliance. Since these units rise no more than 10 inches above the cooking surface, they’re too short to capture vapors rising from a tall pot, and because their methods of capture fight the natural laws of physics, most designers prefer to reserve this type of ventilation for situations where a hood won’t work. “They’re best in kitchens with cathedral ceilings, where the length of the ductwork would be too great to work effectively, or in an island configuration where the homeowner doesn’t want to block the view,” says Arcadio Lainez, director of marketing for Zephyr.
Hoods or downdraft units without ducts leading outside the home are not true ventilation systems. They recirculate air, and have a limited ability to reduce grease, smoke, heat and odors.

Pump Up the Volume

Whether updraft or down, the effectiveness of any ventilation system depends on the volume of air the blower can move in one minute in relation to the heat output of your cooking surface. This measure, CFM (cubic feet per minute), generally ranges from 100 to 1,500. To calculate the CFM your cooking surface requires, you need to know its total heat (Btu) output, which can be found in the appliance’s user guide. For example, a range with four 10,000-Btu burners has a Btu output of 40,000. For conventional (less than 60,000 Btu) cooking products, measure the width of the cooking surface in feet and then multiply by 100. For example, a 30-inch (21/2-foot) cooktop requires a 250-CFM system. For 60,000 Btu–plus pro-style appliances, the formula is different: Determine the Btu output and then divide by 100. So a 90,000-Btu cooktop will require a 900-CFM system. In addition to operating at a high enough CFM, the unit must also fit the width of your cooking surface. A 30-inch range requires a hood or downdraft vent that is at least 30 inches wide. If space permits, bigger is better, say manufacturers. The reason is simple physics. The larger the capture area, the less likely grease and odors will escape. “For a 30-inch range, a 36-inch hood is best,” says Wellnitz.
A hood’s depth—the distance it projects from the wall—is also important. “You want to make sure it covers the middle of the front burners,” says Blake Woodall, director of sales for kitchen ventilation manufacturer Vent-A-Hood. “Otherwise steam and vapors will escape every time you use those burners.”

Bonus Features

The newest systems do more than remove smoke and steam. Many have sensors that will switch on the fan automatically when they detect heat rising from the cooking surface. Delayed turn-off keeps the exhaust running for up to 20 minutes after the cooktop has been turned off, ensuring all vapors are removed. Some vents can be tied in to a system that monitors ventilation throughout the home. Broan’s LinkLogic allows kitchen ventilation to work in conjunction with attic ventilation and ceiling fans throughout the home to maintain quality indoor air.

Pricing Guide 

Good: $200 to $600

These budget-minded updraft units are perfect for ordinary gas and electric cooktops and stoves. Minimal (150-CFM) outputs mean these models cannot be used with pro-style appliances. Expect a basic awning shape and a limited range of finishes and colors—white, black and biscuit being the standards. Downdraft units begin to appear at the upper end of this price range. AK does not use or recommend any of these units; they are not sufficient for regular cooking.
Better: $600 to $1,200

Step up to a more varied selection of up- and downdraft designs, improved features and CFM outputs of 500 or more. Added features like built-in warming lamps, remote control and variable fan speeds are common. Stainless steel and other metal finishes are an option. If you want to create a custom look, this is also where you will start to find power packs, fans, motors and other interior workings sold without an enclosure. You hire a carpenter or metalworker (at additional cost) to make a housing, and end up with a one-of-kind focal point when you’re finished.
Best: $1,200 to $1,800

If design is a primary concern, this is the category to consider. Here, you’ll find sleek units that quietly make a powerful presence without taking up too much space. Blowers with increased CFM capability (600 and up) make these units ideal for pairing with pro-style ranges and cooktops. Extras, like built-in heat sensors and delayed shutoff, make them more functional.
Ultra: $1,800 and up

Here, style is the name of the game. Look for elegant European styling and designs that fold up and out of the way when not in use or that are so unobtrusive you hardly notice them. This is where you’ll find use of advanced technologies like the Coanda effect and perimeter capture. When it comes to finish, stainless is the most common, but there are other options. Miele, for example, offers custom colors for their standard designs.
Have you seen this?

The compact Mini-Om (there’s a bigger model for larger installations) uses a perimeter capture system, which puts more powerful suction in a sleek, low-profile design. Its aerodynamic styling makes it quieter and it consumes no more energy than conventional ventilation systems. In black or white backpainted glass and six colors, including Electric Blue, shown. From $2,300;

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Protect Your Southern Home From Arctic Weather

  Though the northerners love to laugh at us for it, those of us who migrated south are not used to dealing with freezing temps. We're all starting early this year with this November arctic blast! Here are some reminders for our Atlanta homeowners on what you can do to protect their homes from the freezing winter weather!

  • Keep your attic well ventilated to maintain a temperature close to that of the outdoors to minimize the risk of ice dams forming. A warm attic melts snow on the roof, causing water to run down and refreeze at the roof's edge, where it's much cooler. If ice builds up and blocks water from draining, water is forced under the roof covering and into your attic or down the inside walls of your house.
  • Ice dams are an accumulation of ice at the lower edge of a sloped roof. When interior heat melts the snow, water can run down and refreeze at the roof's edge, where it's much cooler. If the ice builds up and blocks water from draining off the roof, water is forced under the roof covering and into your attic or down the inside walls of your house.
  • To help reduce the risk of ice dams: Make sure your gutters are clear of leaves and debris. Keep the attic well ventilated so snow doesn't melt and refreeze on the roof's edge.
  • Bursting pipes occur when frozen water causes a pressure buildup between the ice blockage and the closed faucet. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to extreme cold. To keep water in your pipes from freezing:
  • Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow heat transfer. Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking. Keep cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around pipes. Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through an unheated or unprotected space.

  • Bonus Suggestion: Review your homeowners insurance policy periodically with your insurance agent or company representative to make sure you have sufficient coverage to protect the investment you've made in your home. Report any property damage to your insurance agent or company representative immediately and make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.

  • Thursday, November 6, 2014

    Best Front Door Paint Colors: Change Your Home In 30 Minutes

      There is one sure-fire, easy-peasy way to change the look of your home in 30 minutes. Don't believe us? Try it: Paint your front door! That's right! That's it! It's so easy but so dramatic. Have a look...

       Have we convinced you? It's hard to believe what a few coats of paint can do to change the exterior, or interior, of your home. But just picking an accent color that represents your personal style and painting the front door can change the look and feel of your home. Better yet this is an easily changeable thing - so if you don't like what you pick, you can change it again. No major time or cost commitment. 
       Need some recommendations for front door colors? House Beautiful made a great list, here are our faves:

    Benjamin Moore Mountain Ridge 1456

    Benjamin Moore Moroccan Red 1309

    Farrow & Ball Folly Green 76

    Benjamin Moore Gold Rush 2166-10

    Friday, October 24, 2014

    Atlanta Kitchen Remodel: The Story Behind The Transformation

    You see our gorgeous Atlanta kitchen and bath renovations on but you don't always get the full story behind the remodel: Why did the homeowners need the change? Why did they choose that design? How did AK redesign that space? Install that fixture?

    Let us take you through this gorgeous kitchen remodel and tell you a story about a little kitchen that became a masterpiece!

    Wednesday, October 8, 2014

    The 6 Things You Must Include In Your Bathroom Remodel

       Bathroom remodeling is still the number one top requested, most searched and most executed home remodeling project this year! Hanley Wood even found that 58% of those planning a renovation in 2014, were planning a bathroom renovation. That's a huge number considering the hundreds of possibilities that exist for home redesign and remodeling! But what are these 58% of homeowners putting in the new bathrooms? 

    By AK Renovations
    #1 - More than four in ten are taking the tub OUT of the master bath!  Large showers have a great appeal to all ages! Over-sized walk-in showers with seating and even accessible design components are becoming more commonplace than the exception. Whereas many thought the tub was a must for resale value, even some realtors are now saying this old rule no longer applies.

    #2 - Still in the shower, young homeowners have a rain shower on the list while older homeowners request a hand shower. What can you learn from this? Multiple spray options are key!

    #3 - Frameless shower glass. Though this carries a slightly larger price tag than it's framed counterpart, frameless glass gives even a simple shower a high-end, custom look. It opens a shower area like adding a window does to a room. 

    #4 - Water closets. Surveys show these are neither a "must" or a "don't" - but goodness knows a comfortable place for the toilet is of great importance when planing a bathroom remodel. Take the time to go over the pluses and minuses with your contractor of all the options your space can offer.

    #5 - Lots of lighting! Whether it's a large glass block window in the shower, etched glass behind the tub or even a chandelier, sconces and an LED showerhead... several light sources are needed in one bathroom. Not only for things like dressing, makeup, etc. but also for safety and visual appeal of the space.

    #6 - In the end, it's all about the upgrades. When those 58% of homeowners were asked WHY they wanted to remodel their bathroom, the majority of them said it was to upgrade their fixtures and features. Keep this in mind when you're deciding on your remodeling budget. If you don't put in what you really want now, are you going to regret it in 3 years when you're itching to renovate again? 

    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Black Kitchens Are The Hottest Trend!

    As the ubiquitous all-white kitchen starts to look sterile, designers are thinking inky—with dark cabinetry, appliances and accessories

       Knockout Black. Down Pipe. No, these are not the latest craft cocktails; they're the names of some of the surfaces and colors that are leading kitchens into a new Dark Age. And we're talking about more than just granite countertops or a wall splashed with chalkboard paint. Referencing butler's pantries as well as Art Deco and steam-punk styling, designers are beginning to abandon the all-white Parisian patisserie color scheme—the prevailing millennium palette—for dramatic kitchens infused with smoky hues like charcoal gray and licorice black.

       "It's definitely a sophisticated, decorated feel," said Christopher Peacock, founder of Christopher Peacock Home, a Greenwich, Conn.-based high-end manufacturer of custom kitchen cabinetry. "It says, 'been there, done that' to those who still own a white kitchen."
        "I hate white kitchens," Joe Lucas, a Los Angeles interior designer, declared. "A deep lacquered color makes a small city kitchen look amazing and, in an expansive kitchen, dark shades help ground the space." For a client in Hermosa Beach, Calif., Mr. Lucas used Down Pipe by Farrow & Ball, a rich gray paint that the company said has more than doubled in sales within the past four years.

       "People aren't afraid of the dark," said designer Maria Stapperfenne, the 2015 president-elect of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. While natural wood cabinetry has made inroads against the all-white look, too—injecting a warm, organic quality into kitchens—she noted a rise in espresso and ebony stains on cupboards and in dark oil-rubbed bronze and black iron for hardware.
        Led by the recent popularity of trophy stoves such as the black-enameled cast-iron models by upscale European manufacturers AGA and La Cornue, American appliance companies are also embracing the dark side: Viking offers its VGR 7 series ranges in black and graphite gray and, this fall, Jenn-Air debuts the $8,499 Obsidian, a stainless steel refrigerator with an anthracite interior.
       "Younger consumers don't want the Tuscan stone or flowery French country kitchen their moms had," Ms. Stapperfenne added. "They're seeking out nontraditional, even industrial materials, with a more masculine flavor for kitchens that can accommodate multiple cooks."
    Timberland Cabinets

       Kitchens are now "absolutely gender-neutral," said Mark Hanna, a partner at Leeza Surfaces, which developed a proprietary glass countertop, Kool Glass, in Knockout Black and a gunmetal shade called Shock Black. "Black is sexy," he said. "And the kitchen has clearly become a cool place for the man of the house."
        Yet women are also drawn to dark kitchens. For the actress Cameron Diaz, designer Kelly Wearstler paired ebonized floors with deep emerald-green cabinetry. And New York architect Richard Sammons, a partner in the firm Fairfax & Sammons, created a kitchen for the actress Liv Tyler in an eggplant shade so deep he calls it "bible black." He used the same hue for the cabinetry in the Greenwich Village townhouse he shares with his wife.
        "Dark materials create atmosphere," said Mr. Sammons. "They are a corrective antidote to the antiseptic quality of the 20th-century white-enameled kitchen or the 'professional' stainless steel kitchen so recently in vogue."

        Dusky kitchens let appliances and hardware shine, said John Day of LDA Architects, which designed a black, Art Deco-inspired kitchen for a modern shingle-style home north of Boston. The firm used fumed oak floors and maple cabinets finished with a satin-black European conversion varnish. A stainless steel range and nickel pendant lights, along with white Caesarstone back counters, act as tonal counterpoints. "The kitchen did not get a lot of natural light and was used mostly at night," said Mr. Day, "so we just decided to embrace it."
        Sometimes just a touch of black can transform a kitchen. In a historic apartment, New York designer Fawn Galli painted the wainscoting black and added wallpaper in an inky, overscale lace pattern above it. "It made an uneventful kitchen exciting—not smaller but cozy and memorable," she said of the steam punk-influenced look. "These days, the kitchen is a real decorated room, rather than just a functional space, and black is the new white." Acknowledging that it's not for shrinking violets, Ms. Galli allowed: "Yes, black is badass. There's no way around it."
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    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    Life Inspired Tile

    Walker Zanger
     We're very excited about Walker Zanger's new lines of tile! Some of our most acclaimed remodels include
    Walker Zanger tile. It's classic, eye-catching and completely timeless. Take, for example, the new Duquesa collection: These handpainted tiles, draw on influences as disparate as Italian textiles, Portuguese ceramic tiles, Moroccan mosaics, Egyptian wood inlay and Chinese decorative screens. Each tile is handpainted on a cream background, creating a rich vintage look that fits a home with historical roots or brings gravitas to a newly constructed space.

      You've seen how prominent large prints have become in fashion and home furnishings, and now Walker Zanger can bring them in to your home's hardscape in an elegant way.

    Stone Mosaic
    Chevron :
    Finish: Honed
       The Tangent Collection is a complex line of simple tiles. We think these stone mosaics are going to be top requests for our Atlanta bath remodels!
      The release of a new line inspired by Robert A.M. Stern architects is set to be released this fall. We're looking forward to seeing the amazing shapes and textures that this line will offer. We think it will be ideal for contemporary or traditional kitchens and baths!