Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's All About The Outdoors

  These days, AK is finding ourselves doing more exterior work then ever before! Could it have started with our guest blog for the CedarStore early this spring about designing a deck? Could it be the rain we've gotten around Atlanta in the last year has finally made our yards verdent and lush - and once again people want to be outside? Or possibly, it's as the Joint Housing Studies commission at Harvard University says: This will be the first year since 2006 that the housing industry will see an increase in spending.
   Many homeowners still find themselves "underwater" so to speak in their mortgages and unable to sell their current home or to upgrade on the schedule they had once planned. AK wrote about this remodeling trend in July of 2009 "Are You Under House Arrest?" Now that many people find themselves more or less stuck in their current homes they have decided to improve, upgrade and even add-on to their dwellings instead of moving! Now how this translates to all our outdoor and exterior work lately, we can only imagine Spring Fever is playing a small part!
    Whatever the reason - all of the AK team enjoys the outdoor work in the most beautiful of seasons! We encourage homeowners we meet with to consider this kind of exterior maintenance as an effort to keep their most valuable of assets in tip to shape. AK offers much in terms of home maintenance and generally makes complimentary recommendations to new and existing clients on the most critical things to tackle first!
   So let's hear it for the outdoors! Be it decks, windows, siding, outdoor kitchens or sunrooms....we're ready for you!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cabinetry & Countertops Still Available! Know Anyone Looking To Redecorate? Instant Gratification! http://ping.fm/WCN2N

AK's Latest GuildQuality Survey

Our Latest Client Survey Results: Read What Others Are Saying About AK!

"We 'thought' we knew what we wanted, but then Ed showed us other options to consider. We ended up with a far better design and still stayed within our original budget." - Apr 25, 2010 in Marietta, GA

"I make it a practice to not recommend contractors, vendors, professionals etc. Ed Cholfin is the one time I make an exception and recommend without hesitaiton." - Apr 25, 2010 in Marietta, GA

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Do You LIKE Us On Facebook?

 Did you notice a change to Facebook this morning?
Today Facebook introduced the LIKE button for business pages! Starting today people will be able to connect with your business page by clicking “Like” rather than “Become a Fan.”  The goal is that the action of liking something will feel much more lightweight than becoming a fan, and that it will increase the number of connections made across the site. Here's what it looks like:

   Now remember not to ask for fans, and to ask for....Likes? We'll await the new lingo that accompanies this Facebook change. Can we ask for people to "Like-Like" us? Like we did in 5th grade? Do we ask for them to become "Likers" of our company?
   Ask any parent of a teenager and we think, like, the last thing, like, we need is, like, more people using the word...like. Like seriously.

   Well, however you say it, we sure would LIKE YOU to LIKE US...on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/AKHomeRenovations

Monday, April 19, 2010

Luxury Kitchen From Television Set - AVAILABLE For Sale! | HomeSavvi

Looking To Remodel A Small Kitchen?
Want to add a morning bar & butler's pantry? Kitchen for an in-law suite? Poolhouse? Basement bar & kitchen?

It's not often a custom design/build firm can offer a completed kitchen, ready for sale & install, but AK has a unique opportunity...Get instant gratification, not months of construction.
The AK team designed & installed the gorgeous set used for years on the popular television show, Atlanta & Company, a live studio-based weekday show on 11Alive. The show used the high-end classic kitchen to create an upscale and homey feel on the set. After many years of being a stunning showpiece, and receiving zero use, this kitchen is looking for a new home.




Wednesday, April 14, 2010

AK's Kitchen Renovation Series - II - Backsplashes

 Technically speaking, the kitchen backsplash is the upright area at the back of the sink and the range/cooktop designed to keep that area safe from water and cooking splashes and heat. These days the backsplashes typically runs the full length of the countertop and occupies the space between the countertop and the cabinets.
   Aesthetically speaking, the kitchen backsplash serves as a decor and design element. The color and texture of the backsplash also helps to bring together the color palette of the various elements in your kitchen. AK's designers recommend to design your backsplash color and texture in contrast to your kitchen countertops. This rule is explained in the very technical term of "no matchy-matchy!" Instead of trying to match your countertop or cabinets your backsplash color and texture should pick up on elements within them both! Consider other pieces around the room as well, like the elements of the floor or kitchen fixtures that will not change over time; as opposed to using appliances and accessories that are more will be changed and replaced over time.

    Let's take a closer look at the materials commonly used for backsplashes and the looks they can help create:
  • Glass - Contemporary / Clean Lines - Clean, sleek lines and smooth surfaces are the keys here. No complex tile designs, rough textures or a busy stone. Polished granite on both the countertop and backsplash is perfect for achieving this look. Glass tiles can create an ultra-urban feel. Glass tiles are unique and beautiful. Better yet, it is possible to get recycled glass tiles, which appeals to those who've adopted a greener way of life. Glass is not porous like ceramic tile, so it resists stains, mold, and mildew and the colors and combinations are as limitless as your imagination! Because the tiles reflect light, the room where they are used will always look bigger and brighter!
  • Stone - Old World / Traditional - This style uses tumbled marble (travertine), chipped or worn kitchen backsplash tile, onyx, slate, limestone, cobblestone or generally any aged material in the subtle earth tones of beige, gold and light brown. Stone has a timeless quality, because of it's appearance. Some stone backsplashes need special attention and maintenance. Tumbled marble, also known as travertine, is very porous and requires a sealant after the grout and thinset, or mastic, has fully dried. (The full cure time for grout is 28 days) Stone is still one of the most popular choices for new homes as many homeowner's feel the universal appeal of stone will help boost the home's resale value in the future.
  • Ceramic - Endless Possibilities - Ceramic tiles, because they are available in a vast array of colors, textures, and finishes can offer endless design possibilities. They give the budget-conscious the opportunity to create a custom look and save on costs. One downside is that the grout needs be cleaned and resealed fairly often. Ceramics can mimic the look of stone or the sleek look of marble. Ceramics can be made in many textures, though, the more work that goes into the tile the higher the cost. Many people like using ceramic tiles as a neutral base to accompany accent tiles, mosaics or murals.
                            
  •   Metals - Urban / Retro - Copper, tin and especially stainless steel backsplashes and countertops are quickly gaining popularity with many new tiles and designs on the market! Solid stainless steel backsplashes, which have been used for years in restaurant kitchens, are starting to gain in popularity for use in the home kitchen. Metal backsplasheshave a definite functional appeal being easy to clean up the grease and grime, spills and splashes of everyday cooking, but they also offer some interesting and appealing design options. They are available in a variety of patterns and finishes, including satin or matte finishes.

         

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Making The Kitchen A Safe Place For Young Chefs

From K+BB
By Ellen Sturm Niz

The image starts in your head like a perfect Norman Rockwell painting. You and your kids will gather in the kitchen to cook up a great meal of spaghetti and meatballs. Sally will stir the sauce while Junior butters the bread. You’ll all sing Beatles songs as you cook together happily. And then something happens—the painting morphs into a nightmarish scene. There is spaghetti sauce splattered on the walls, meatballs stuck to the ceiling and Junior almost sliced off his finger with the butter knife. Welcome to dinnertime.



Cooking with children isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Hot stoves, sharp knives and messy results make many moms and dads decide the kitchen is no place for their kids, but with the right kitchen and task planning, little hands can be a big help—and learn valuable lifelong skills.

“Kids learn to eat healthier and appreciate food that’s made from scratch,” said Julie Fabing Burleson, co-founder and co-owner of Young Chefs Academy (YCA), a cooking school for kids with 60-plus locations in the United States and four internationally. “Kids also are more willing to try things if their little hands are part of the process of preparing it."

In addition to teaching cooking skills, food and kitchen safety, and healthy eating, kitchen time with kids can reinforce math and reading skills, teach how to follow directions, foster teamwork and encourage creativity. Plus, it’s a fun way for families to spend time together. “When they reflect back, many people’s best memories are eating a meal or preparing it,” said Burleson. “Sometimes preparing a meal together is more important than sharing one."

So how can you make your kitchen a safe, accessible and fun place for kids to learn to cook? Designing a kitchen for kids is just like making a meal: Create a recipe for success, stock up on the right ingredients and then get cooking!

CREATE THE RECIPE

All YCA classes are taught in kid-friendly classrooms that provide “real” kitchen settings. “Our locations all look as different as any kitchen in a home might,” said Burleson. “Kids go home to standard kitchens and we want to help them learn to adapt. We don’t believe in lower countertops because kids are always growing. A nice, sturdy stepping stool with rubber legs that won’t tip over is all you need."

While you don’t need a special countertop height, a large, easy-to-clean work surface is a must. “Make sure you have plenty of uncluttered workspace for your kids to use,” said Burleson. “I love my kitchen island, so I can set my kids up on the side away from the stove and oven and know they are out of harm’s way but still right there."

Many appliances and fixtures are designed with kid safety in mind. Dishwashers, refrigerators, stoves and ovens with child-lock features, as well as anti-scald faucets, can reduce a child’s risk of injury. Of course, basic childproofing supplies like cabinet locks can keep little hands from exploring where they should not. “Kids should also tie back their hair, wear closed-toe shoes and roll up their sleeves while cooking,” said Burleson. “You should also teach them about cross contamination, how to clean up spills and the proper way to wash your hands. Keeping the workspace neat makes for a safer kitchen."

STOCK UP

To help kids participate in meal preparation, Burleson suggests investing in utensils and tools made just for little hands. YCA uses and sells Furi, Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! line of children’s cooking products, which includes knives with blade guards, soft-grip kitchen scissors and cut-resistant gloves. Launched in 2006 by Rachael Ray, Yum-o! is a nonprofit organization that empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking by teaching families to cook, feeding hungry kids and funding cooking education and scholarships.



Curious Chef also offers a line of utensils and gadgets for kids. Designed with small hands in mind, the complete line of 49 cooking products and accessories includes nylon knives, cutting boards, spoons, whisks, rolling pins and a pizza slicer, apple corer, melon baler and lemon zester.

A kid-size apron is also great to have, suggested Burleson. “It would stress me out that my kid might spill something on his favorite shirt,” she said, “but if he has an apron on, I don’t worry as much about messes."

“Keep all of the kids’ tools and utensils in a tub or a drawer that is easy for them to reach,” advised Burleson. “Keep the placement of their drawer or cabinet in mind so they are not coming into your work area or near the stove to get what they need."

GET COOKING

Once you’re set with your kid-friendly kitchen design and equipment, it’s time to start cooking. But what can kids really do? “Kids can do more than you think,” said Burleson. “If they can read, they can learn to do it."

“Teach kids basic kitchen skills when you are not in the middle of preparing a meal,” advised Burleson. “It’s less stressful to show them how to measure dry ingredients when you are not trying to get dinner on the table. Kids would much rather crack an egg and stir it than put plates on the table, but when you are making a meal is not the time to try that for the first time."

Once kids learn the basics, you can get them involved in actual meal preparation. “Mise en place is our mantra,” said Burleson. “It means ‘all things in order.’ Have your child order ingredients in separate containers, and then you can check them before they dump everything all together."

While you should always give kids jobs they can handle, Burleson suggests you try to kick it up a notch. “Kids are smart these days,” said Burleson. “They know if you are giving them an easy job and just trying to get them out of your hair so you can get a meal on the table."

Remember that cooking with a child is about being together and getting creative. “If a recipe calls for the juice of a lemon, your three year old can probably do that,” said Burleson. “Lemons are cheap, so let her juice 10. She’ll have a great time and you can use the extra juice to make lemonade."

YCA offers guidelines for what are age-appropriate jobs for kids in the kitchen, but supervision is always the key. “If it’s one on one, there is a lot kids can do,” said Burleson. “But Mom usually knows best. The same task might be a ‘no’ for one 10 year old but a ‘yes’ for a different six year old.” Activities to try include stirring, rolling, getting items out of the refrigerator or pantry, using the microwave, reading a recipe and more. “With a kid-safety glove, they can even learn to use a knife and chop,” said Burleson. “It’s limitless what kids can do when they learn the basics."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Five Things Most Contractors Don't Know About the New Lead Paint Laws

By: D. S. Berenson For Remodeling Magazine 2/10/10
D.S. Berenson is the Washington, D.C., managing partner of Johanson Berenson LLP (www.homeimprovementlaw.com), a national law firm specializing in the representation of contractors and the home improvement industry. He may be contacted at 703.759.1055 or info@johansonberenson.com.


Based on construction lawyer D.S. Berenson's hundreds of discussions with home improvement contractors concerned about lead-paint laws, these five questions are most common:


Do I need to start testing for lead paint on April 22, 2010?

No. You probably need to start testing for lead paint much sooner. The lead paint guillotine falls on April 22, 2010, which means that any jobs you have in progress (sold, pending installation, installation in process, etc.) are automatically subject to the new laws on that date.


Does my company need to be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as a renovation firm?

Yes. And do it now - the EPA can run up to a 90-day delay on approvals - if you are going to perform remodeling or home improvement work on houses built before 1978. The application is easy to fill out; the fee is $300, and registration is good for five years before it needs to be renewed. For a copy of the application, click here.

Should my installer be registered with the EPA as a renovation firm?

Yes, if your installers are being treated as independent contractors. We suggest that anyone performing remodeling on houses built before 1978 (assuming they end up working on lead-paint surfaces) should be registered as a “renovation firm.” The law does not distinguish if the person or entity performing the remodeling work has been hired by the consumer or by a general contractor.

Can I tell before I visit the house if there is lead paint?

Yes, to a certain degree. If you can determine that the house was built after 1977, then you know that there is no lead paint to be concerned about. You may want to review HouseAgeCheck.com, a national database of public and private “year-built” information. A contractor can submit addresses to HouseAgeCheck.com in an electronic format and the addresses are then researched and coded by color to indicate if the home is pre-1978. Turn-around time is usually a few hours, and the submitted information is strictly confidential.

You may also want to check county records — land records, tax assessments — online. Often, this information will show the year that a house was built. However, some jurisdictions do not provide this information or certain counties may be missing from the state’s public database. Moreover, the records available are often difficult to read and are only from the past 20 years, when states first began scanning and computerizing land records.

Will siding work trigger the lead paint laws?

No, not always. Traditional, so-called “layover siding,” where siding is applied over an existing wall or painted surface through the use of fastening devices (nails, screws, etc.) is not going to be considered to be a renovation under the lead paint laws and in itself is not going to trigger the need for lead-safe work practices. However, if the subsurface or wall is being modified or removed prior to the siding being applied, or the work is disturbing soffit or fascia, then you do need to treat the job as subject to the lead paint laws.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dress Up Your Easter Kitchen

The Easter season is the perfect time to bring some color to your kitchen. Using fruit, flowers, and colored eggs will surely do the trick, but why not also set a special table this year?

The "Dress Up You Easter Kitchen" article has some great tips using Gingham Easter Baskets, Riedel Wine Glasses and even some ideas for what to serve!

And Have A Very Happy Easter From AK!