Archive for the ‘Kitchens’ Category

A Kitchen Conundrum

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Having a love for cooking can test all our limits if we don’t have space to chop away.  One of my readers asked what could be done with her small London kitchen.   I have a few ideas so hopefully it will come to life one day.


The biggest problem in all smallish kitchens comes down to storage.  In this example, the valuable work space is being over-taken by ingredients required to prepare a great meal.  Additionally, the wall to the left is angled, preventing the easy install of some store bought shelves.  Here are some recommendations that will work in this kitchen and so many others.


  • Add shelving as sketched in the photo.  Although you’d never find shelves to fit this space, it would be worth every penny to have a couple custom shelves made to fit perfectly in the niche.  They could be free floating and slide on and off the bracket if the need ever arises to access the instant hot water unit on the right.
  • Decide what you want to showcase visually.  In this case, I’d move the glass jars that are too big for the shelves on the right to the new lower shelf on the back wall.  I would add smaller jars (replacing all the little bags under the right cabinet), following the angled wall.  Opening up the existing shelves on the right will allow for less visually appealing storage such as canned goods, etc that are better hidden.
  • Cookbooks work nicely in corners when you position the spine in the corner versus the face of the book against the wall.  If you have too many, just showcase your favorites and find a new home for the less used ones.  If you have any large appliances, they usually tuck nicely in corners too!
  • Cereal boxes could go on the top shelf on the back wall and continue to fill the smaller, angled space with either more jars or serving dishes.
  • On the counter, leaving a fruit bowl and a serving piece or two would work under the new shelves.


Other suggestions:

  • If you need to free up a drawer for cabinet, consider installing a peg board that you can hang pots, pans or utensils from.  
  • Add some very shallow shelves (with a lip) to an open wall to showcase your serving pieces.  The one below is very well done but it doesn’t need to be this ornate or built-in.


If you have any other clever ideas that you’ve created over the years, let us know.  We love hearing about your smart solutions.  Happy kitchen organizing!

A First Home in Denver

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

I had hoped to be ready to post some “preliminary” shots of our new house, but didn’t want you all to think we are total slobs.  We have been in the new house for just over a week.  Step one was getting things out of boxes and into piles.  We have succeeded at that, but the next step of finding everything a home has been a bit trickier, so here are some photos to give you a feel for the space, but none of the belongings in the pictures are ours. Hence, my personal disclaimer:  I am going to cheat a bit with the first photos of our new home today.  These are the photos taken by the realtor and whoever staged our home prior to us buying it, so none of the furniture it ours – also, please note they used a wide angle lens so the spaces feel slightly larger than they really are.

I love this picture – our new place has tons of windows and light.  As you can see the space is long and fairly narrow – I can’t wait to paint and get some really fun carpet on the stairs.

Once in the door, this is your view directly to the right.  I am thinking this will be where our TV has to go and maybe a small chair in the corner by the window.

This is your view to the left of the door, essentially our living space.  It looks clean and simple with this furniture, but our pieces are slightly larger so I am going to have to play with it a bit.  A bold patterned rug is something I am looking for and a new light fixture or fan – I am undecided if we actually want a fan in this space or not.

This rectangular table fits nicely in the space, but ours is round.  It will be interesting to see how it fits.  We also have a large armoire that we want in this area to serve as a pantry since there isn’t one in the kitchen.

I love the island in the kitchen and the huge sink!  Our biggest issue is the limited number of cabinets and drawers.  We only have eight cabinets and five drawers.  Storage solutions will be my initial focus in this space.

The half bath downstairs is enormous and a poor use of space.  Down the road I would love to reconfigure it and add a pantry and coat closet.

The master bedroom has doors or windows on every wall, which makes using the space a bit more challenging.  I am hoping to get a dresser, two small night stands, and a little vanity table in here.

I will post another update in the next few weeks once our belongings are settled.  We are in the process of picking paint colors so I will keep you posted on that progress.  Until then…


A New Home in NYC

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

As some of you may know, my husband and I have recently moved into a new place in New York City.  We are thrilled to have an updated, warm and quiet space.  I wanted to share  pictures of it in progress and then I’ll post the afters as they happen.  I’ve found that it’s WAY HARDER to do my own space.  I know too many great vendors and want to use them all!

A bit of background on the place.  It was built in 1910 and the last owners updated the kitchen & dining area before moving.  It is a duplex, which in NY means the unit is two floors, not side-by-side.  It has a great layout for entertaining our friends and family.  The first floor consists of the kitchen, dining, living, main bath and a great little patio out the back door.  Down a tight, little  spiral staircase is the basement consisting of two bedrooms and a half bath.

Giang and I live very casual lives.  We love being home and entertaining which means lots of cooking.  We tend to use what we have until it falls apart.  We don’t like having lots of tchotchkes around and prefer a pretty low maintence home.

The kitchen is small, but we have a Wolf!  It beats our last stove that was so uneven that we had to prop up the burners with aluminum foil “pads” so that the pans would be level.  I probably won’t be doing much with this room but it needs a rug and a shade to for the window by the dishwasher.

The dining room is one of my favorite rooms.  It’s large and comfortable.  I love that they hide the refrigerator in the wall of cabinetry (far left).  The center of the cabinetry was this strange, large cabinet.  We didn’t want a TV so we made it into a bar.  I painted the inside red and built the small bank of drawers to store more utensils and charge our iPad.  The dining table was built by yours truly out of reclaimed NYC water tower wood and I found the legs locally.  The last bit to do here is find art for the wall.  We painted the core color a pale yellow you see pictured.




The living room is probably one of the few rooms that came together quickly.  Our furniture came with us from Denver and we added the coffee table by Palo Samko.  We plan on relocating and hiding the TV in a wall at a later time.  The wall of photos were taken by Giang and I on our travels around the world.  We selected pictures that are serene yet graphic.  Some of the shots are recognizable, some are not.


The main bath will become more of a powder room (without removing the shower) once we finish the basement bath.  The basement bath will add much needed storage for all our toiletries so we can remove them from the main bath that everyone sees.  I plan to put carrara mosaic on the floor, install an interesting vanity with some storage, add better lighting and replace the mirror and toilet.

Our little staircase to the lower level.

This is where it happens!  The dreaded office.  It’s only dreaded because it is the room I spend the most time in and will likely be the last to be complete.   I thought about doing a large built-in but they realized I wanted the space to function differently so the plan is:  I want to make this room come to life.  It’s DARK!  There isn’t much natural light so color and accessories are where it will happen.  I’m currently making a long desk to replace the existing one we have.  This will split my husbands space from mine and not protrude so far into the room.  I’ll also be making new storage pieces to replace the plastic ones.  Also on the drafting board is a plan for a large magnetic chalk board with a high gloss white frame so that I can post even more inspiration pictures.  And let’s not forget, we need wallpaper or paint!  Behind the door is a little temporary book case made out of wine boxes.  I recycled a shoe storage rack on the back of the door for storing fabric samples, samples and paint decks.



The master bedroom is also a work in progress.  We have two bikes that are currently residing in here and I need to find them a better home.  Art above the bed is a must!  Another project is building nice night stands…but, as we all know, all in time!

Basement bath as is.  The cabinet is being made and I’m selecting the top today.  This should be done within the next few weeks.  Yippeee!

It’s patio season.  We are working to finish the patio in the next couple of weeks as well.  We’ve found some dining chairs, have all our pots, have a rug ordered so now it’s just a matter of planting all the greenery.  I’ll post pictures on Facebook and Twitter as these projects come to life.


Room Re-do Contest!!!

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Post pictures of or write about your LEAST favorite room in your home on our Facebook page for a chance to win a room re-do between now and February 20th!  Leave a brief description about what you dislike and why. Encourage friends to “like” your post.  The person with the most “likes” will win. The winner will be announced Monday, February 27th. Details are below!

5 Easy Steps:

1. Log into your Facebook account.

2. Find us on Facebook at:  

3. Click on “Photo” which is write next to “Post”.

 4. Select Upload a Photo

5. Click “Choose File” to select the image you want to upload

Contest Details:

- Submit photos of one room – post via your computer or phone to Facebook.

- Encourage friends and family to like your post and picture.  The person with the most “likes” will win.

- There are no restrictions on the location of the property.

*Winner will receive a room re-do. We start by rearranging your existing pieces of furniture to make the space more functional and visually appealing.  Next we can help you select paint colors, accessorize, and fall back in the love with your home!

- Winner will be announced February 27th via Facebook and our website/blog.  Pictures of the before and after will be posted on our blog upon completion.





Quick Fixes for Your Home

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Bored with your home?  Looking for some easy, affordable ways to freshen things up?  Look no further!  Here are some quick fixes to update any room in your home.

Option 1: Paint

Get rid of the boring beige.  Below is a great example of how a little color on the walls can brighten up a space and make it feel larger.

 Work to find the right balance of light and dark.  This will prevent a room with dark walls from feeling small.  The light floors, cabinets, and ceiling are a beautiful contrast to the navy walls.

Don’t be afraid to try a bright color.

That said, neutrals can also make a statement when the right hue is used.  Notice how crisp this color looks with the white trim.

Try a pattern to make a bold statement in a small space.

Consider putting the pattern on the floor.  It is a great way to provide color and visual interest in any space.

Option 2: Revamp or upgrade a light fixture

This is a great example of how an old brass chandelier can have a new life if you have the time for a little DIY project.  Try a spray paint with a gloss finish.

I had to throw this in.  I made a wine glass chandelier to go with my thesis project back in college.  It took 36 wine glasses, fishing line, and a single light bulb.

I love using chandeliers in different spaces such as bedrooms, closets, or bathrooms.  They add a touch of nostalgia and intimacy to a room.

A funky grouping of fixtures can make a dynamic statement.

Option 3: Make your bed the throne of your bedroom

Reinvent your headboard.  Try a found material like the one below made of old plank floor boards.

Consider reupholstering an antique headboard with a bold color or pattern that draws the eye.

If you don’t have room or the budget for a headboard, consider a wall decal.  They are an inexpensive, fun way to give a room character.

Option 4: Reupholster or refinish

Find a piece of furniture that has good bones but is in sad shape.  Give it some TLC and the end product can be stunning.

This console has an old school finish, but a carefully applied coat of paint gives it a lovely new life.

Option 5: Invest

Invest in ONE “statement piece” of furniture per room.  It can be a piece that you lovingly refurbish or one that you choose to splurge on.  Whether a chair, desk, mirror, accent piece, table, or rug, the choice is up to you, but one thing is certain – it must steal the show.  What is your eye drawn to in the images below?


A Twist on the Thanksgiving Meal

Monday, November 7th, 2011


What you need:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4-1/2 cups peeled,cubed yams or sweet potatoes
  • generous tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground pepper


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a rim with foil.  Mist it with cooking spray.

Peel and chop yams into 2 inch cubes. Toss the potatoes with one tablespoon olive oil.  Spread on prepared pan.  Bake until tender, about 35 minutes.

Whisk remaining oil, honey, vinegar, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pour over hot potatoes.  Serve warm or at room temp.



Make this a day ahead!  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  Allow to come to room temp before serving.

This is great with roast turkey or ham.  I usually double or triple the recipe if your guests are adventuresome eaters!

What you need:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (this is spicy – don’t touch your face or eyes!)
  • 1 green onion (white and green portion) minced


Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Stir in cranberries.

Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes or until cranberries are softened, many will split and juice is thickened.  Remove from heat.

Stir in the jalapeno pepper and onion.  Cool to room temperature and serve.

Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce 500


Brussel Sprouts (serves 8)

A great recipe to convert anyone who thinks brussel sprouts are not tasty.   

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 lb. thick-cut bacon, cut in 1/4-inch lardons
  • 36 Brussels sprouts, trimmed, with outer 2 leaves removed, and halved
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 12 chestnuts (roasted and peeled, broken into chunks)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup New York grade-B maple syrup
  • 1/2 lemon


In a large sauté pan or cast-iron skillet, render the lardons over medium heat until they are a rich brown. With a slotted spoon, remove the lardons to a paper-towel-lined plate, leaving the rendered fat in the pan. Toss the sprouts in the pan, season with sea salt, and cook in the bacon fat over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the chestnuts, and continue cooking for 4 minutes. Sprinkle in the garlic and thyme, and cook for another 3 minutes. Pour in the cream, and reduce by half. Season to taste. Add the bacon, pour in the maple syrup, and give a squeeze of lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for another couple of minutes, and serve.


Mighty Duck (serves 2-4)

If you are tired of turkey this is a wonderful alternative.  My only word of caution is that it only feeds 2-4 depending on the duck size so you may have to do more than one.  This recipe is definitely not your standard way of cooking a duck but it turns out super juicy!  From Alton Brown.



  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 pint pineapple orange juice
  • 15 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 (5 1/2 to 6 pound) frozen Long Island Duck, thawed
  • 2 handfuls shredded chard
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • Dash sherry or balsamic vinegar
  • Directions:

    Combine all brine ingredients in a plastic container with a lid. Place the lid on the container and shake to dissolve the salt.

    Remove the pop-up thermometer, liver, gizzards, and heart. Cut off the wings.

    Using kitchen shears, locate the spine at the base of the neck. Cut up the line of the backbone towards the neck cavity. Turn the duck and cut straight towards the rear cavity. Remove the backbone.

    Turn the duck over and cut straight down the middle of the breast bone, leaving 2 equal duck halves. To separate the legs from the breast, flip your halves over so the flesh side is facing up at you. Using a knife, make a crescent shape cut between the leg and the breast. Lay your knife flat against the skin and make 3 marks in one direction and then in the other, making an X. Make sure that you are cutting through the skin and not the meat.

    Line the inside of a plastic lexan or a pot with a zip-top bag. Place the duck quarters inside the bag, and pour the brine over the duck. Seal the bag, ensuring that all air is removed from the bag. Brine the duck for 2 to 2 1/2 hours in the refrigerator.

    Bring 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Place a colander into the pot and line the sides of the colander with the duck. Do not stack the duck quarters on each other. Cover and turn the heat to medium low. Steam the duck for 45 minutes. Set oven to 475 degrees F. Place a large cast iron skillet into the oven.

    Remove duck pieces from steamer and place legs, skin side down, into the hot skillet. Place the skillet into the hot oven immediately and cook the leg quarters for 10 minutes. Add the breasts, skin side down, and cook for 7 more minutes or until the duck takes on a deep mahogany color and the skin is very crisp.

    Remove the duck from the skillet and rest under foil. Add the chard and the shallots to the skillet. Toss the chard in the fat until it barely wilts. Season with the sherry or balsamic vinegar.

    Serve the duck with the chard.


    Bourbon Pecan Pie

    A great twist on a pecan pie from Paula Deen.  Bourbon gives the pie more flavor depth. 


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups pecan halves
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality bourbon
  • 1 (9-inch) deep-dish pie shell, unbaked
  • Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

    In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, eggs, pecans, and bourbon, and stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour mixture into an unbaked pie shell, and place on a heavy-duty cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and continue to bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until pie is set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.


    Kent Village Remodel – Drywall

    Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

    Drywall has been hung and wow, this residence has taken a night-and-day change for the better.  Below are some pictures. 


    Above:  Looking into the den and out to the courtyard.  We opened the door from a small 3′ opening to a 9′ opening.  I knew light would come in but didn’t realize how much.  Light now floods from both sides into the living space. 


    Standing in the den looking at the fireplace wall.  The last bit of drywall to be installed.


    Looking at the front door.  To the left is the fireplace which has been covered to keep dust off the newly laid rock. 


    Master bathroom.  To the left is the new shower footprint.  To the right of the half wall will be the vanities. 


    Looking at the master bedroom fireplace wall.  This is same fireplace as the den. 


    Looking at the garage entry.  Love having the stairs opened up. 


    Standing in the living room alcove looking into the den and the entry wall that will be the cabinetry to include the bar, desk, storage and coat closet.  Note that the stair walls have been removed. 


    Living room alcove where the baby grand will reside. 


    The doors to the patio. 


    Standing in the kitchen looking at the fireplace and den to the right.


    Living room view looking into kitchen.  Note the new skylights.  Even more natural light. 


    Guest bath shower alcove. 


    Guest bedroom.   Door on the left goes into the bathroom; space in middle will become a closet.


    From the garage entry looking over the stairs.

    Project: Kent Village Remodel – Construction

    Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

    The Kent Village project in the process of demolition.  Most walls have been removed but the old electrical and plumbing remain.  The pile carpet has been torn out to reveal old parquet floors. 


    Looking from the living room into the guest & master bathrooms. 


    Standing in the entry hall (behind the fireplace) looking into baths.


    This may be one of my favorite pictures.  I love that the chandelier is still hanging in the guest bath/powder.  You can also see the old plumbing for the shower on the left.  Look how LOW that shower head is. 


    Looking down the hall into the master bath and bedroom.


    Looking from the fireplace and front door back at the dining room and kitchen. 


    And a bit closer…Notice the framed stairwell.  That will be gone soon but it was discovered to be a load bearing wall.  So, for now, it stays until our metal beam is ready.  The wall to the left of the stair will be that great functioning wall of cabinetry.  Next up?  Selecting materials!

    Project: Kent Village Remodel – Before

    Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

    We all love before and afters so I wanted to start chronicling my projects.  This first one is a gut renovation of a ranch style home in Denver, Colorado.  The square footage is right around 2,000 on the main floor; basement is not included in the reno.  My client had purchased the house a while back and then rented it until they were ready to fix it up for themselves.  So on May 1st we began demolition by removing most of the walls in the public spaces.  Here are the photos that we took minutes before demo.


    Kitchen with door to patio.  The door will eventually become a window.


    Eat-in kitchen area.  To the left is an exterior door, stairs and garage access.  This corner will become part of the expanded kitchen.


    Dining room from kitchen door way and looking into the living room.  The French doors lead to the patio.  All interior walls will be removed to open up the space.


    Living room looking out to the patio.  Fireplace and the “wing walls” on both sides will be removed and the fireplace updated to a modern design.  No more brass here!


    Guest bath/powder from doorway.  The shower is to the left through the dark doorway.  Layout will remain fairly similar; just a dramatic face lift.


    Master bath layout will change however the vanities will remain on the same wall.  There is currently a large tub (see below) opposite the vanities.  The tub will be removed and a large walk-in shower will be on the far left of the vanities.  The toilet will be enclosed in it’s own room in the current tub location.

    Toilet & tub


    The den, which is off the living room, will remain the same foot print.  The bar and wood paneling will be removed and the entry way will expand from 3 feet to 9 feet so access can be gained through the living room not just the hallway.


    The entry hall by the kitchen.  The left wall will be removed to expose the stairwell going to the basement.  The right wall will be pushed out into the garage and house a wall of cabinetry to include a desk area, coat closet, pantry and a bar.  Goodbye long, dark hallway.

    Because we are now in June, I will post some of the construction photos next week untill we get up to speed.  Till then…happy remodeling!

    We’ve Been Awarded!

    Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

    On May 14, 2010 Paradigm Interior Design and Nest Architectural Design were awarded first place for Primary Residence Under 3,500 SF by ASID.

    Natural light floods this ranch style home located in Denver’s historic Bonnie Brae neighborhood.  The soft, neutral palette provide the perfect backdrop to the client’s extensive art collection while providing a relaxing atmosphere.

    Paradigm assisted the client with paint selection, granite and tile selection, draperies, art and furniture placement and decorative lighting fixtures throughout the home. 

    All pictures will be posted to the Paradigm’s ”Work” tab soon but here are some of the highlights.


    Living Room

    Dining Room-Web