I've Got Steam Heat: Replacing Radiators In Philadelphia Kitchens.

Many homes in Philadelphia feature radiators. These cast iron behemoths are usually a kitchen designer’s worst enemy. They’re bulky, attract dust, and are typically located in front of windows (just where you wanted the sink to go!) Like most homeowners, you are probably focused on new countertops, high-tech appliances, or beautiful new cabinets, but don't overlook the basics. If your home uses radiators then they will be an important detail of how your new kitchen looks and works.

This new radiator was sourced to match older existing ones.

This new radiator was sourced to match older existing ones.

When replacing or adding radiators you have many options. Old-style cast iron radiators, which look best in older homes, are still being made and come in both ornate and plain styles, large and small.  Chances are good that our kitchen designers can find a model that nearly matches the radiators you already have.

Don’t let the current placement of your radiators limit your ideas. Radiators can be moved but this will involve getting under the floor to move pipes. While best done in the summer this work is not difficult especially if you are already planning to pull up and replace your flooring. If you're keeping the floor, pipes can be accessed through the ceiling of the room below. If that room is an unfinished basement, you're in luck!

This modern wall mounted radiator is sleek and easy to clean around.

This modern wall mounted radiator is sleek and easy to clean around.

Thanks to the large market for radiators in Europe there are plenty of contemporary radiators available including some which are positively gorgeous. These include low profile baseboard radiators, wall panel radiators, and radiators that practically double as sculpture. You don’t have to sacrifice your dream kitchen’s sleek, modern look because of radiator heat. However, installing european style radiators may cost more and it's important to note whether they use steam or hot water for heat.

Why use a radiator in the bathroom when you can have a towel warmer?

Why use a radiator in the bathroom when you can have a towel warmer?

Bathrooms are the spot for that elegant alternative to a radiator: a towel rack. These home luxuries are heated by the water from your boiler and will warm your bathroom and your towels.  Like radiators, these come in both traditional and sharply contemporary styles. 

Determining the size and number of radiators for a space requires some complicated math and an understanding of the thermodynamics of the room.  You can find tutorials and calculators for this on the internet, but most of these calculations are best left to an HVAC professional.

Electric radiators can be great for small rooms.

Electric radiators can be great for small rooms.

Even small radiators can get very hot and may deliver too much heat to a tiny room. For a very small space, like a powder room, consider a wall-mounted electric radiator with a thermostat. There are many models available for cheap but these often perform poorly and have only an on/off switch. Higher quality units offer convenient features like child lock-out and they typically look sleeker too.

When in doubt, paint it black and put some marble on it.

When in doubt, paint it black and put some marble on it.

While your old radiators are disconnected during the project you may want to consider having them renewed.  A build-up of old paint on the outside and sludge on the inside can decrease a radiator’s efficiency thereby increasing your heating bills.  The outside of a radiator can be sandblasted and the inside can be flushed out.

For those homeowners who don't want to move their radiators, consider installing a shelf,  towel rack, or even shoe rack above them. Why not use this powerful heat source to your advantage and dry those winter boots? If your radiator is an eyesore consider having Airy Kitchens design a custom radiator cover to match your cabinetry. Remember, radiators are not simply heating elements but can be an opportunity to add a special touch to your new kitchen or bathroom.

Where should you put kitchen outlets?

From microwave to phone charger, everyone needs outlets in the kitchen, but who wants to see a beautiful backsplash dotted with poorly placed outlets? Lets look at some options to hide kitchen outlets and places where you shoud keep them visible.

Our favorite hidden plugs, these angled outlets are easy to reach.  See more of this contemporary kitchen.

Our favorite hidden plugs, these angled outlets are easy to reach. See more of this contemporary kitchen.

1) Under cabinet plugs.

When your backsplash is the special feature of the kitchen (think marble slabs or a tile pattern you don't want to interrupt), under cabinet plugs will keep it looking uniform. These plugs can be hidden along with under cabinet lighting to create a functional kitchen that looks sleek. However, under cabinet plugs aren't as convenient to see or reach as standard wall plugs and may not be a good choice for homeowners with arthritis or poor vision. If you are going to keep an appliance like a coffee maker plugged in all the time, cords won't be hidden, rather they will dangle from above. 

This wall plug blends in seamlessly with it's surroundings and is placed in a convenient location.

This wall plug blends in seamlessly with it's surroundings and is placed in a convenient location.

2) Color coordinated wall outlets.

Because wall plugs are easier to see and use, every kitchen should have a few. This kitchen uses black outlets with simple flat cover plates to help them blend into the backsplash. Place wall plugs in an area where cooks and guests can easily charge their phones or anywhere you plan to keep small appliances like coffee makers or toaster ovens.

This outlet is easy to access and grouped with two light switches.  See more of this charming kitchen.

This outlet is easy to access and grouped with two light switches. See more of this charming kitchen.

3) Group outlets with switches.  

While we may be able to hide outlets under the cabinets, light switches aren't going anywhere. Light switches are usually placed in an area that's easy to see and convenient to reach. Sounds like a good spot to charge your phone, right? Grouping a wall outlet together with light switches will reduce the amount of interruptions in your backsplash. These white outlets with black switch plates are easy to see and look appropriate against white tile with black grout.

Add an outlet in your island. Love these counters?  Learn more about soapstone and seven other counter options.

Add an outlet in your island. Love these counters? Learn more about soapstone and seven other counter options.

  4) Always add an outlet to your island.

Modern homeowners are installing more kitchen islands in place of breakfast tables because an island can be used for storage and seating. While a cook might like to have an outlet for small appliances, homeowners and their kids are likely to use these outlets everyday for charging phones and iPads. It's also safer to plug things in at the island instead of draping cords across walkways.

Remember, most cities have special rules about outlet placement and safety features like GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupter) in kitchens. You should check with your local buildings department or hire a qualified kitchen designer before installing electrical outlets in your renovation.  

Five Elements to Create a Beautiful Farmhouse Kitchen

Considering a farmhouse style kitchen? Lets take a look at the details that make this charming style perfect for Philadelphia homes.

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Farm Sink

An easy way to make a big statement, farm sinks have become popular in kitchen design and are a great way to give your kitchen a farm house look. Farm sinks are available in stainless steel, copper, and cast iron, but our favorite is porcelain (sometimes called fireclay). These sinks give a soft look by breaking up square cabinetry with thick rounded corners. Farm sinks feel like a historic family heirloom that can be reused in your grandchildren's kitchens. 

Chestnut Hill Farm house

Furniture Pieces

We love to design farm house kitchens with mismatched cabinets that look like furniture. This is a great opportunity to reuse historic built-ins or upcycle a furniture piece like we did here. Farm house style is not about perfection, so don't be afraid to use a few reclaimed pieces. It's okay if counter heights and drawer pulls don't match, it all adds to the charm! 


Bead Board

This simple and inexpensive material is an easy way to add farm house charm to any kitchen. Bead board was once built of multiple interlocking smaller boards with a groove, or 'bead' cut into each one. Today, homeowners can avoid the small pieces and purchase sheets similar to plywood that have this pattern cut into them. Bead board can be used as a backsplash, cabinet door panels, or a wall covering like this kitchen above. This material is a great way to add texture to your kitchen without spending a lot.

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Traditional Flooring

Farm house kitchens should feel comfortable, a little vintage, and never fussy. We love to use wood floors in these spaces for a warm feel. Painting a wood floor also works great for this look. While ceramic and stone tile can work, avoid newer styles and shapes of tile that will give a modern feel. Have to repair your wood floor? Don't be afraid to leave seams or patches, they will only emphasize the age and character of your home. 

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A Big Country Stove

What could be more farm house than a big vintage stove? A large stove is great for cooking big meals and a vintage style works well with the farm house look. If you are looking for new appliances, there are new stoves still built in this style. Or consider a refurbished antique stove. Even a newer stainless commercial stove will work better than a boring standard kitchen range. It's all about making a statement with a piece that will last a long time. So, even if you don't want a vintage look, purchase something that is built to last.

Farm house style works with the architecture and character of older homes rather than against it. Consider this style to give your Philadelphia kitchen design a comfortable and vintage feel. If you're looking for a kitchen design in the Philadelphia area, fill out our Contact Form.


Solid Surface Backsplash Ideas

The kitchen is a unique room. It must be designed for cooking, eating, cleaning, and entertaining. Unlike other rooms in your home, every aspect of a kitchen’s design has to look good while also being functional.  Even the walls themselves can serve a purpose in a kitchen, especially when we look at the latest trend in kitchen countertops: the solid surface backsplash.  More than just a way to end the countertop, a backsplash serves the important function of making surfaces behind sinks, stoves, and other messy areas easier to clean.  These days, designers are taking the concept of a backsplash to the extreme, extending it all the way up to meet upper cabinets, or even all the way up to the ceiling.  Here are a few ideas from Airy Kitchens for solid surface backsplashes that are attractive, contemporary, and most importantly, functional.

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Countertops That Keep Going

The simplest iteration of the solid surface backsplash is to just continue your countertop material all the way up the wall.  At the moment, we often see this style used with granite or quartz countertops, which can be quite dramatic depending on the size of the area you’re covering and the natural pattern of the material used.  For a stainless steel stove with a hood system, a stainless backsplash can easily become the centerpiece of the room.  This style works best with light-colored quartz or granite, as a dark material can make your room feel smaller when covers the entire wall.

A Bit of Contrast

Another option is to use a material that’s drastically different from your counter material to create some contrast and visual interest.  For ultra-modern kitchens, a light-colored marble countertop can find a perfect textural complement in white subway tiles.  Or, if you feel your kitchen is too monochromatic, a granite or ceramic tile backsplash can add visual interest with dark cabinets, try a light-colored counter and backsplash or offset white or steel appliances with a bold, dark backsplash.

Consider Functionality

Of course, the most important function of a backsplash is to protect your kitchen walls from water damage and food splatter.  Keep in mind when selecting backsplash materials, that some are easier to clean than others. Tile and marble will take more work than granite, soapstone or quartz. If you’re interested in a minimalist look and easy cleanup, a smooth, seamless surface like granite is probably best. For a lower-cost option, you might consider choosing from the range of laminate materials available at most hardware stores.  Some designers opt for other surfaces like tile or even wood; in these cases, you might love the look but you should be prepared to spend a little more time cleaning.

The solid surface backsplash is a relative newcomer to the kitchen design world but we think it’s a trend that will stand the test of time.  Not only can it take a dead wall space and turn it into the focal point of the room, it also protects your walls and makes for easy cleanup.  If you’re interested in a solid surface backsplash for your kitchen, you’ll want to speak with Sean Lewis, the Lead Designer at Airy Kitchens.  All you have to do is call (215) 853-6060, send an email to sean@airykitchens.com or visit our website and fill out the online contact form to schedule your free consultation today!