Recently I stopped in a new job site and was surprised to find the family’s two large dogs running around while contractors were working on ladders. We quickly went and bought a baby gate to keep the dogs out while we were working there. I realized this error was my own fault for not setting expectations, but the issue was very obvious the second I saw it: the dogs were not safe and the contractors were not safe. Safety is a priority at Airy kitchens, so I recently sat down with Adina Silberstein, owner of Queenies Pets in Mt Airy Philadelphia to find out what else can be done to keep pets safe and happy during a home renovation.
First let’s talk about an initial meeting before work begins. We love dogs, but they often jump on us and can be very disruptive, making it hard to communicate with clients.
How can you keep dogs calm when visitors arrive?
“ It doesn’t matter if a dog is friendly or not, because you want to make sure people coming into your house are comfortable.” says Silberstein. She recommends keeping pets away from meetings because if people are nervous or jumpy it makes the pets nervous. “A containment system of some sort will make the dog know it’s okay and let the person say whether or not they’re comfortable.” If your dog is crate trained, Silberstein recommends the crate, otherwise baby gates are a great way to let the dog see what’s going on without jumping on guests. If contractors are okay with the dog being in the room, Adina says the best way to deal with jumping is to stand still with arms folded. “When a dog is jumping, what they want is engagement. A lot of people make the mistake of putting their hands on (the dog) to push them down. That’s actually exactly what the dog wants, engagement.” Adina says to play with the dog only when it has four paws on the floor.
How can contractors and pets stay safe and sane through a renovation?
“The reality is, when the house is a major construction zone, the best thing possible is for the dog not to be in the house.” says Silberstein. She recommends asking your contractor to notify you what days will be the loudest, and consider doggy daycare or leaving your pets with a friend. If the pets need to stay in the home, she says “have them in an upstairs bedroom, music on, a nice comfy bed, and make it a comfortable situation for them.” Adina advised that keeping the door shut will keep dust out of the room and reduce noise and stress for your pet. She also warned that “a lot of times we hear stories about pets escaping during construction, either because there’s the opportunity to escape, or because they’re scared and they want to run away from the sounds”.
If you do need to bring your pets through the work zone, are there any dangers that pet owners should watch out for?
The first thing that comes to Silberstein’s mind is insulation. Fiberglass is harmful to swallow and pets often want to eat it. Another dangerous issue that pet owners might not think about is dust. “ Because cats are constantly cleaning themselves, the dust that’s in the air will get licked off their fur and paws.” If your pet needs to walk through the construction zone to get to the yard, Adina recommends using a damp washcloth to wipe legs and paws every time they walk though it. Considering low VOC paint? if you own a bird, Silberstein says it’s a must. “Anybody who has an animal smaller than a dog or cat must remove them from the home during construction, especially birds. Birds can die very quickly from paint fumes, or any kind of fumes.”
What can Queenie’s Pets offer to help pets through the remodeling process?
Queenies offers hourly pet sitting where your pet gets to hang out in their office on Germantown Ave. They offer dog walking and can schedule extra walks to keep your dog busy during noisy construction days. Queenies also brings dogs on group hikes where your dog can socialize and burn some energy in the Wissahickon. The more you tire them out, the less disruptive they’ll be at home.
Any renovation ideas that will make life easier for your dog walker or pet sitter?
Silberstein recommends a quiet and safe space for your pet to eat and suggests separate eating areas for multiple pets. Additionally, she loves a good mud room. “put hooks up where you can hang a towel to wipe their paws, where you can always know where the leash and collar is. One of our challenges is (working with) households where things are in disarray.” Finally, if your space allows it, Adina loves a double door entry. “If you have a cat that likes to dart out, two doors are better than one.”
Any other kitchen renovation ideas for pet owners?
“A system to move air through the house. Pets get really hot in summer.” Silberstein recommends high transom windows that can be safely left open when homeowners are away. For cabinetry, Adina says lose the toe kicks. “Every time I’m doing a project in my house I think of cleanliness. I have five pets.” While toe kicks are useful in front of the sink and main work areas, she says they always collect pet hair. A final piece of advice: “For heavens sake, please don’t put air ducts in the floor because they’ll just be full of fur. “ Good advice from a woman that knows! Thank you to Adina Silberstein. If you would like to contact Queenies Pets about dog walking or pet sitting, click here. If you are interested in a pet friendly kitchen remodel in Philadelphia or the main line, fill out our contact form.
Whether you’re having a glass of wine with friends or cleaning up at the end of the evening you will want different amounts of light in different parts of your kitchen. A mixture of lighting types make a kitchen feel and work the way you want it to. There are three basic categories of light in the kitchen: task lighting, ambient lighting, and accent lighting. Let's take a look at fixtures available for each type and where to place them.
1) Task lighting should fall where you work. Light over the sink helps you get that last spot off a glass. Light over a food preparation area can keep you from slicing a finger. Task lighting can take the form of a focused and aimed recessed ceiling light, but is more often a low-hanging fixture like a pendant light or an under-cabinet light. Recently, LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) have overtaken halogen lights as the preferred bulb for this use. Pendant lights can be used over sinks and kitchen islands. Counters along walls are often lit by LED lights on the underside of shelves or wall cabinets.
In-drawer and in-cabinet lights are gaining in popularity and may be thought of as a type of task lighting. Putting lights in every drawer and cabinet is probably overkill but they can be helpful in darker areas where you don’t want to turn on the overhead light every time, as in a pantry, or in a particularly deep drawer or cabinet.
2) Ambient lighting illuminates the overall space. When you’re cooking and cleaning you want to be able to light the whole kitchen at once. Recessed lights in the ceiling are the most popular source of ambient light in modern kitchens. Alternatives to the contemporary look of recessed lighting include flush mounted lighting, which goes on the ceiling surface, and track lighting.
Because ambient light fixtures typically come with a bulb installed (or in the case of LED, no bulb at all) it is important to consider the color of lighting, which runs from blue/cooler to yellow/warmer. We recommend warm lights for most residential needs.
Sunlight is another form of ambient light, though it must be supplemented during evening hours. How much sunlight finds its way into your kitchen and at what times of day throughout the year may affect on where you plan to place things like a breakfast table.
3) Accent lighting adds drama or interest to a space. Typically, accent lights are an indirect light that highlights a particular feature of a room like a wall sconce that washes light against the wall. A modern twist would involve hiding LED strip lights to highlight structural features such as a beam or sloped ceiling. With the proper controller, modern LED’s can be adjusted to any color imaginable. Other types of accent lights include floor and wall lamps and lighting inside of display cabinets.
Finally, you will want to consider light switches and their placement. Should your lights be on a three-way switch that allows them to be controlled from two different places? Or do you want a single light on its own switch? Where will you be standing when you want to turn particular lights on and off? These decisions will have as large an effect on the usability of your kitchen as the position of the range. If done wrong, they will drive you crazy. For more on switches and outlets, see our post on where to place outlets in your kitchen.
When choosing your kitchen lighting fixtures there is more to think about than their design. Where do they go and what do they do? Thinking about kitchen lighting can illuminate other aspects of your kitchen’s design that you may not have thought about yet. When in doubt, more light is better. You can always add dimmers.
At Airy Kitchens we strive to create unique and beautiful kitchens that people will love. Today owner Sean Lewis tells us how he developed his love of interior design and everything kitchens.
What led you to designing kitchens in Philadelphia?
I have always been obsessed with art and design. I grew up creating paintings, sculpture, and many, many floor plans. I moved to new York after college and worked in interior design. I actually started gardening and ended up spending ten years as a landscape designer. Eventually I created my own line of outdoor cabinets as a partner at New Eco Landscapes. I guess that was the turning point. Kitchens are complex and fun to design, so once I started I loved the challenge.
What inspires you?
I was just thinking this morning about how much I love my bathroom. It’s an original 1920’s deco bathroom with amazing thick green tiles. It’s easy to see lots of modern inspiration on blogs and magazines, and I do love modern design, but classic details always win me over. I’m always checking out historic homes and even going to local open houses. If my kitchens and bathrooms look as good in one hundred years as these vintage ones do, then I’ve done my job.
What is the most difficult part of designing a kitchen?
I work in a lot of older homes and they all have tiny kitchens. Everyone wants more space. I want more space, but you don’t want to cut open your historic living or dining room, right? Luckily I excel at organization. I can work with what you have or propose some bigger changes like opening walls or building additions. If it’s done right, modern changes can look appropriate in historic homes.
What is the best part of designing a kitchen?
Thats easy, my clients (and their dogs). I get to change their lives in a big and exciting way. I really love designing, but without the people designs feel stagnant. Every client and every space bring their own challenges and that’s what leads to beautiful designs. People are always at the heart of what we do.
We are planning a new office and showroom. It’s going to be beautiful. Thats all I can tell you.
If you would like to talk with Sean about designing your kitchen contact us.