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.

Hidden in Plain Sight

For a clean and calm look in your kitchen, consider these five tricks for hiding appliances and trash. Whether you are looking to design a sleek and modern kitchen, or a simple and traditional kitchen, hiding trash and appliances will make your space look and feel cleaner. Most homeowners get used to seeing the toaster or coffee maker on the counter and don't think twice, but when you see a kitchen that really does have clean, open countertops, you will notice! These tricks will change the way you think about kitchen design, and how to organize your space.

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1) Move Small Appliances To a Counter Top Pantry.

Most homeowners keep small appliances on the counter because they use them daily, or because they don't have a convenient storage area for them. A countertop pantry cabinet provides extra storage and allows you to keep your coffee maker, toaster, or mixer easily accessible. After breakfast, close the cabinet doors, and you have a neat and tidy kitchen with a clean countertop. Consider including glass panels in the top of the pantry doors for a traditional hutch look. 

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2) Instal Panel Ready Appliances.

We love stainless steel appliances, but using a stainless stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, and oven hood in a small kitchen can start to look overwhelming. With that much stainless steel, the room can look like a commercial kitchen. If you need to locate the dishwasher right next to the range, seeing two similar sized stainless appliances side by side can look funny. if you can't brake up a run of appliances with cabinetry, we suggest using a panel ready dishwasher or refrigerator. These appliances are made to be used with a panel that matches your cabinetry. Panel refrigerators are more expensive than panel dishwashers, but hiding a bulky fridge and making it look like cabinetry can be a big payoff. 

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3) Keep Trash, Recycling and Compost In the Drawer.

Trash and recycling bins are an eyesore and take up kitchen floor space. Countertop compost bins get smelly and take up counter space. Even if it means losing some cabinet storage, we think pull-out trash drawers are well worth it. Cabinet fronts and hardware match your kitchen for a seamless look and smells are contained.  The pull-out trash drawer shown above holds two bins, but many configurations are available, including a single bin with storage and a single bin with stainless compost bucket. Don't be afraid to instal multiple trash drawers, recycling is bulky, and larger bins mean less trips to the curb.

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4) Use Cabinetry Instead of Closets.

Many Philadelphia families would love to relocate their washers and dryers from the basement, but don't know where to put them. Other homeowners want to use square footage from a laundry room to increase their kitchen size. Building a closet or small room involves thick walls and door frames, but cabinetry can be made thiner and looks seamless in your kitchen. Pantry cabinets can be sound insulated, fitted for electric, plumbing, and venting to hold pretty much anything. With electric available, even the microwave, wine fridge, or standing mixer can be stored and used in the pantry. If your home has the space, consider adding a laundry sink or drying rack behind pantry doors too. 

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5) Hide Your Kitchen Behind Barn Doors.

For small kitchens, like this poolside outdoor kitchen, closing the whole kitchen off with sliding doors may be the best way to get a tidy look. Closing off the entire kitchen is another way to keep your home looking tidy without having to worry about dishes in the sink or stuff on the counters. When designing your kitchen, or working with an Airy Kitchens Designer, think about how you use your kitchen and your habits. Most of the tips we listed will force even the messiest people to keep a neater kitchen, and when all else fails, just cover it with a barn door! 

Are you interested in designing a new kitchen in Philadelphia or the Main Line? Fill out our Contact Form today! 

 

Create lounge seating in your kitchen

People love to gather in the kitchen, so why not give them a seat? Keep guests happy by creating a comfy area where they can be part of the action, but out of the way. A lounge area in the kitchen is nice for aging relatives who don't want to sit on a bar stool for hours.

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How to Choose a Kitchen Counter, Eight Beautiful and Durable Options

The kitchen designers at Airy Kitchens surveyed our favorite stone suppliers around Pennsylvania. Here's what we found:

This carrara marble creates a bright and elegant counter and backsplash.

This carrara marble creates a bright and elegant counter and backsplash.

1) Marble is classic and timeless. This durable stone will last a lifetime... with some maintenance. Marble is available in a wide range of colors, but white is the most popular. Different varieties of white can be very inconsistent in color and pattern, so make sure you see the slab before buying.

Pros: Marble is the only natural stone available in a soft white color. Marble's natural cool temperature makes it perfect for baking. You can set a hot pan on marble and use it outdoors.

Cons: Marble will easily stain and needs to be resealed every 6-12 months. Acidic foods like lemon and tomato will etch the surface and it will scratch easily. This stone works better for folks who like a natural weathered patina because it's hard to keep it looking new.

This leathered finish granite has a softer look and feel.

This leathered finish granite has a softer look and feel.

2) Granite is durable and beautiful. While some darker colors may look subtle, most granites have distinct patterns of iridescent speckles and swirls. Most granite is inexpensive compared to other natural stones, but rare types can get pricey.

Pros: Granite gives a show stopping look and is durable. It comes in many colors and resists scratching well. You can set a hot pan on it and use it outdoors. 

Cons: Granite is not subtle, so it will be the star of your kitchen. If you want to use other colorful, patterned tiles or curtains, it may get busy. This natural stone can stain and needs to be resealed yearly.

This soapstone has distinctive veining with a hint of green.

This soapstone has distinctive veining with a hint of green.

3) Soapstone has a soft look and feel. Most soapstone is grey and will darken over time to black. This can happen naturally or you can wax it to darken the color. Soapstone can scratch, but scratches can also be sanded out. 

Pros: Soapstone is chemically inert, meaning bacteria won't grow on it. This stone will not stain or etch and you do not have to apply chemical sealers. You can put a hot pan on it and use it outdoors.

Cons: Soapstone is only available in blacks, grays, and greens. It is more expensive than granite and marble. The natural patina can look dirty and waxing is needed every few months to give a consistent finish.

Quartz looks neat and clean in a solid color.

Quartz looks neat and clean in a solid color.

4) Quartz is a manmade product combining natural quartz chips with resin and color. This material is harder and more solid than granite, but it doesn't have the beautiful patterns found in natural stones. 

Pros: Quartz will not stain and is very hard to scratch. It doesn't need to be sealed or maintained. Quartz is available in every color you can imagine.

Cons: Quartz is more expensive than most granite and marble. It is heat resistant, but you cannot leave a hot pan on it or use it outdoors.

Butcher block counters add warmth to painted cabinets.

Butcher block counters add warmth to painted cabinets.

5) Butcherblock counters are a great way to add warmth and a touch of nature to your kitchen. These counters are available in an assortment of wood types and can be stained a variety of colors. Butcher block will show its age faster than stone and needs regular maintenance, but scratches and stains can be sanded away.

Pros: Butcherblock is inexpensive and easy to DIY. Wood is warmer and softer than stone, making it kid friendly and less likely to shatter a dropped glass. 

Cons: Wood will get mildew around water sources and can crack with age. These counters should be oiled every 2-3 months. You should not put a hot pan on these nor can they be used outdoors.

Concrete counters introduce texture and a consistent color to this kitchen.

Concrete counters introduce texture and a consistent color to this kitchen.

6) Concrete counters are strong and can be poured on site. This makes them a possibility where other counters can't fit without a seam. Concrete looks industrial, but it needs upkeep.

Pros: Concrete is customizable and has a unique look. You can put hot pans on it and use it outdoors.

Cons: Concrete is more likely to crack than stone or wood and it's expensive. It is very easy to stain, and must be sealed for food use. 

This quartzite counter has a distinct look

This quartzite counter has a distinct look

7) Quartzite is a natural stone with beautiful patterns and colors. This expensive oddity is becoming more popular in stone yards everywhere.

Pros: Quartzite is scratch resistant and will not etch. It is durable and beautiful. You can put a hot pan on it and use it outdoors.

Cons: Quartzite will stain and needs to be sealed yearly. Most varieties are more expensive than granite or marble.

Stainless looks great outdoors

Stainless looks great outdoors

8) Stainless counters are durable and can be easily customized like with this seamless sink. They are great for outdoor use, but will get hot in the sun. Easily scratched, stainless quickly develops a beautiful aged patina.

Pros: Stainless steel will not stain and you can put a hot pan on it. The metal surface will reflect light in your kitchen.

Cons: These counters will show more dirt and smudges than stone. Stainless can be noisy to work on and it can dent if you stand on it or drop something heavy.