A little ditty about Paper Towel Holders

Dear Sir or Madam, will you put me on a hook?To be at hand for that spill or mess when you cook? I’m not very pretty but you always want me near.And I do the jobSo I wanna be a paper towel holder. 

(To the tune of Paperback Writer by The Beatles)

The Quicker Picker Upper! Scrub Strength Brawny! Strong Absorbent & More on a Roll!

Rosie the Waitress, played by actress Nancy Walker of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Rhoda fame starred for decades in the Bounty commercials when I was growing up. When we saw her memorable face, my brother and I would race to the kitchen for a snack during the commercial break of our favorite programs, Gilligan’s Island and Good Times.  In our 70’s kitchen, we had the standard plastic dispenser mounted under the upper kitchen cabinets. Kitchen aesthetics be damned. Function over refined. We were messy kids.

In today’s world, replacing paper towels with reusable options is a little slow in adoption. We love the convenience and reliability of pulling off the perfect size wipe for our everyday issues. And just like everything, you can customize your paper towel experience! Horizontal vs. Vertical Dispensers. Inside vs. Outside Cabinetry Mounted Dispensers. Custom Designed Deep Cabinet Drawers. Artistic Weighted Bases. You can find options in every material and finish and cost bracket to suit your look. Let the good times “roll”.

 

Dish Whisperer

Have you encountered a dishwasher that is so quiet, you have to look for the light indicator to make sure it started? If you’ve always lived with a dishwasher that you can hear when it’s on, it’s a shock to encounter a really quiet one. I’m in a condo with a new GE dishwasher that is literally whisper quiet. I thought it was disconnected until I put my ear right up to the door. In a small space, it’s great to be able to start without worrying about the noise.

Moving many times, I’ve experienced a wide array of options… fancy brand name units that came with purchased properties and those that I had to replace. Over the past three decades, I’ve had multiple Bosch, Asko, GE and Whirlpool versions. None were as quiet as this newest GE edition… but in all fairness, technology has changed.  Newer Bosch and Asko models are highly favored for their quiet cycles so I don’t have an apples to apples comparison.

The average life span for a dishwasher is about 9 to 12 years with problems surfacing in the first 5. Dishwashers in homes that I purchased were not brand new.  What I vividly remember is the how repairmen cringed when quoting me replacement parts on my Bosch and Asko models. Little pesky plastic parts that weren’t made to last but cost hundreds of dollars to replace? Terrible. My GE unit is only 2 years old… so, we’ll see how it holds up. One option I would personally consider is the Miele. Despite the ticket price, they are known to last about twice as long as most other brands. Think 20 years. (I’ll definitely take a closer look next time.)

Are you planning on moving or remodeling soon? With open kitchens being positioned near family rooms, having a quiet dishwasher that performs well is nice. Having one that lasts without problems is even nicer.  At AKB, we can guide you through appliance selections to find the best option for you.

Transformations- and why we love them!

Before and after pictures are satisfying… largely because it makes the process look easy! No matter the subject (person, place, or thing), seeing the end result without all the hard work is fun, but a bit misleading.

Remodeling kitchens is a messy, inconvenient, and intrusive process. (Wearing your bathrobe and greeting your work team early in the morning becomes normal.) What can you do to mitigate the hassles? Contract with professionals who will create a well-designed space that can be executed by construction and installation crews in a reasonable time frame. One of the reasons why professional remodelers do the job faster is that they have immeasurable experience. Kitchen remodels take careful thought and planning. AKB knows all about it.

The pain is worth the gain.

Kitchen cabinets that have seen better days can make any space feel tired and worn out. Cabinetry with curls, twists and other similar details are quick candidates for updating. Sometimes the layout is just all wrong. If changing the floor plan is going to help you accomplish your goals, RUN, do not walk to a professional kitchen designer. Moving plumbing and electricity takes a bit more finesse than just upgrading a current layout. Working with your contractor, AKB can come up with solutions to all the serious quirky issues older homes pose.

We get it. People love getting inspiration for what we can do in their space, even if many don’t end up finding the courage to take the leap and make the change. Just want to look? We have a huge portfolio of “makeovers” for you to enjoy. Here’s a few!

 

Could this be Love?

Finding the perfect house in the right neighborhood at the right price in this current market is downright fanciful. It rarely happens. Instead, most young couples seek that perfectly priced fixer upper. Ideally, this means one that needs cosmetic, not structural improvements. Full stop. If this means anything beyond a fresh coat of paint, take a seat.

“If we just… “
•reconfigure the kitchen with new cabinets 
•remodel the bathroom
•create a storage area
•move the laundry room upstairs 

Remodeling takes a lot more than day dreaming. It takes a sharpened pencil and serious budget discussions. The good news? Your dream space might be accomplished at several budget levels. You just need to know the options. In fact, budgets are the most important component, no matter the size or scope of the project. Be realistic with your contractors and then work back. Accomplish your goals by weighing the best options.

At AKB, we get it.

Here Comes the Sun?

Within minutes after searching “solar power”, I was receiving online ads for Kentucky Free Solar Program

“Save immediately and get paid for switching to solar with $0 spent out of pocket.” LEARN MORE!

These micro-targeted advertisements are no coincidence. How many times have you been discussing something …ex/replacing your windows… and ads start popping up on your social media, ex/ Renewal by Anderson! Even creepier is when you’re just thinking about a topic and without saying, searching or reading about it, you start receiving ads. True story. A friend whose parent had passed away started receiving ads for flowers on the anniversary of his father’s death several years later. Reminds me of a song that was popular when I was a teenager.

As it relates to the housing industry and the potential impact on the design of residential projects, I was tuned in August 16th, 2022 when Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. This $1.75 trillion law is part of his Build Back Better campaign promise and according to the official website will

lower costs for families, combat the climate crisis, reduce the deficit, and finally ask the largest corporations to pay their fair share. President Biden and Congressional Democrats have worked together to deliver a historic legislative achievement that defeats special interests, delivers for American families, and grows the economy from the bottom up and middle out.

It also boasts that it will lower healthcare, cut prescription costs, save the planet and reduce your taxes.

Part of the goal is bringing solar energy to low-income homes by building a digital platform to connect them with community-solar initiatives. So in other words, connect PARTICIPANTS in a FEDERAL program that subsidizes energy costs for low-income residents with DEVELOPERS of community solar projects, which SELL subscriptions to households for renewable power with the PROMISE of lowering their monthly electricity bills.

This isn’t like the solar power panels you see people installing on their roof tops. These are community solar projects that would be public/private partnership entities that will have to build some means of transmitting the energy from point A to every home in need. Am I getting this right?

Stay tuned. Curious minds will be watching how Kentucky is impacted by this massive climate, health, and tax bill.

Housing Blues

It’s a struggle in the home buying market these days. Locked in nicely at below 3% mortgage rates, current homeowners have little incentive to sell. A combination of low inventory and rising interest rates have forced many prospective home buyers into the rental market. There is a solid demand for single family residences… and landlords are taking advantage, demanding unprecedented rates. According to a 2022 Real Estate edition of money.com, overall rent prices have climbed 17% over the past year, with some parts of the country affected more than others.

Top 10 Cities where Rent is Rising the Fastest

  • Miami, Florida: 55.3%

  • Orlando, Florida: 35.4%

  • Tampa, Florida: 32.3%

  • Austin, Texas: 28.1%

  • San Diego, California: 25.4%

  • Las Vegas, Nevada: 25.1%

  • Phoenix, Arizona: 25%

  • Jacksonville, Florida: 24.9%

  • San Antonio, Texas: 24.2%

  • Memphis, Tennessee: 23.4%

The current state of our economy isn’t helping. As the cost of goods and services rises, budget items get realigned. If you followed the old rule, 30% of your gross income went toward rent. Ex/$3000 take home monthly pay pretax= $900 rent. But wait, gas has increased nearly 50% and food prices are averaging a 5%-7% increase. So how much can you really spend on rent if your groceries and gas have skyrocketed?

If you’re looking to rent, make the best of your situation. Be selective. Look for properties with quality features. There is something to be said about not worrying about maintenance issues, utilities, closing costs, taxes, etc. Not having to anticipate home maintenance costs gives you the opportunity to save for when home ownership is financially right for you.

At AKB, we’ve renovated dozens of investment properties. Our experience has shown that installing quality cabinetry, countertops and fixtures saves investors in the long run. Kitchen and bathrooms are the most often used rooms in the house and quality cabinets should retain their function and use for decades.

A Brief History of the “Kitchen”

Kitchen

noun

  1. a room or area where food is prepared and cooked.

From a historical perspective, the kitchen makes an interesting study of how we have adapted and changed to meet the basics of living. Once we evolved from the open fire to a dedicated room for meal preparation, we set in motion the changes we enjoy today.

A time traveler would have lived with constant smoke and soot until effective ventilation systems were developed. And who needed more than one room? I’m sure pioneer living was delightfully cozy sleeping with the extended family in the same space that you slaughtered meat, baked bread, pickled vegetables, brewed ale and prepared smelly poultices. Living and working in a multi-use room must have been interesting. But by the early 1900’s, the “kitchen” was a dedicated, out of the way workroom for women. It was a warm spot to gather, sew, do laundry and cook thanks to the addition of heavy cast-iron stoves, the primary appliance of the day for cooking, heating water and heating the home.

Washing and Preserving

Imagine our current germ phobia society washing things in the nearby stream or with the pump in the yard. Thanks to marvels of indoor plumbing, running water became available to the average household by the 1930’s. Around the same time, GE rolled out their ‘monitor-top’ refrigerator eliminating the need for ice houses and other crude means of preserving food. Originally offered at $525, it was a nice to have vs. today’s, can’t imagine life without one. With modern advancements, the kitchen became more than just a women’s workroom in the back and the term “heart of the home” began to take hold.

Time-saving and Convenience

The number of women joining the workforce rose from 29 percent in 1950 to 34 percent in 1960. By 1970, 50 percent of single women and 40 percent of married women were working. Time-saving and convenient cooking and cleaning appliances became the name of the game. Dishwashers, garbage disposals, and refrigerators with freezers as well as microwaves were becoming popular because they made life easier… for the working mother.

Note: Growing up in the 70’s, I hated the gender inequality of household chores where unloading the dishwasher was my job but mowing the lawn was my brother’s. 🙂

Today’s Must Haves

Today’s kitchens are all about design, aesthetics, ergonomics, lighting, accessibility and sustainability. We’re way beyond the refrigerator, sink, cooktop, oven and dishwasher. Coffee makers, espresso machines, grinders, toasters, blenders, food processors, slow cookers, fast cookers, air fryers, warming drawers, mixers, etc… have made their way into our daily use. Personally, I’m pretty hooked on the conveniences of a coffee maker. How about you?

Minimize to Maximize! Downsizing done right.

Downsizing isn’t for everyone. The prospect of letting go of square footage and everything in it is just too much to manage for some people.  But smaller spaces that are smartly designed minimize maintenance and can maximize lifestyle! Upgrade, not in size, but in quality and square footage with the right design elements. High ceilings, large energy efficient windows (made of certified materials and well installed) and custom storage (designed with your personal things in mind) can make your space a joy to live in.

Downsizing doesn’t mean doing with less stuff, it means doing with the right stuff! No argument here, getting rid of possessions is a challenge. Ask yourself: What items make your house a home? What activities bring you the most pleasure? Efficiency is vital and spaces need to be a celebration of function… and storage is not underrated! Seasonal items, sporting equipment, financial documents, hobby and cleaning supplies all need a place to go with easy access.

Custom cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms can be the answer to smaller spaces. At AKB, we can design cabinets to store all your important things. Coffee makers and mixers can be placed under the countertop on a platform equipped with a lift. Press a button and a section of the counter rises for use and descends when no longer needed. Pull out pantries for all your spices, dry goods, and cooking items aren’t only an excellent use of space, they make finding items easy. Vanity organizers in the bathroom work the same way. Vanities can be designed at AKB that allow you to store and power curling irons, blow dryers, electric razors and electric toothbrushes freeing up valuable counter space. AKB has done a variety of entryway organization centers, family locker solutions and laundry room storage areas.  Whatever means something to you, AKB can design a beautiful custom cabinetry solution.

Additional note: All your “good stuff” you’ve been saving for a special occasion? If you’re going to keep it, use it. You’re worth it!

Housing Woes

Just five short months ago, 30-yr fixed mortgage rates were below 3%. Six weeks ago, they averaged under 4%. This past week, they are sitting at 5.20%.

Interest rates coupled with inflated housing prices have caused homeownership to recently become very expensive… especially for young buyers who have seen nothing but cheap money their whole lives. Some of us older folks can remember the 1981-82 recession- worst economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression. Job losses were felt acutely in the goods-producing sector i.e., manufacturing, residential construction industry and auto manufacturers. The Fed responded by restraining growth in money and credit to counteract hyperinflation. The year 1981 actually made mortgage interest rate history at 16.63% (Freddie Mac). Unless you were paying cash, buying a home in the 80’s was seriously expensive.

Today? With inventory low and creeping interest rates, people feeling the effects of $6/gallon gasoline and looking for ways to reduce the commute are playing financial gymnastics. Backing out of a locked in sub 3% fixed rate mortgage requires serious consideration. Rollover your sale price to what?

To make matters more complicated, more than 45 million millennials will enter the housing market this year being of prime first-time home buying ages between 26 and 35 years old. Finding properties that are affordable will be a significant challenge for this group.

Looking for a new home? Don’t immediately discount the listing that needs a little TLC. Affordable properties usually mean need updating… and that is an area where it pays to do your homework. Consult businesses that are upfront and honest about supply chain issues and how your project will be affected both in time to finish and price for materials.  Home renovation costs can vary significantly based on materials, their availability  and good project management. And yes, AKB will provide you with the information you need to guide you through your options.

Behind the Range: Useful Art

Protecting your walls from cooking splatters and steam can be easily accomplished by using any stone or tile backsplashes. However, in the right kitchen design, don’t miss an opportunity of creating something special behind your range!  Tile designs using different colors, shapes and sizes, colored grout or actual artwork can create the perfect focal point, adding visual interest and dimension to your kitchen. At AKB, we can help you decide whether a soothing monochromatic scheme works best or something that draws the eye! Here are a few “focal points” from our portfolio! Talk to us about what works best.