Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery

Everything Including the Kitchen Faucet

I'm sure you've heard the old saying, "everything including the kitchen sink" as a metaphor for packing too much. But in this instance, Grohe has packed almost everything you can imagine into the kitchen sink faucet and its a good thing! 

GROHE Blue® Chilled & Sparkling  Ultimate Refreshment.

Chilled & Sparkling

Ultimate Refreshment.

In the world of kitchen remodeling, clutter is the enemy. Everyone wants a magic wand for making it impossible for them to put it all back when they move back in. But at the kitchen sink, we tend to add more during the remodel. First there is a faucet, followed by an air gap (required by code to prevent dirty sink water from back-flowing into the fresh water lines), and the aminity items that improve our way of functioning, air-touch disposer switch, soap dispenser and filtered water/instant-hot water dispenser. And on top of all that, we want our sparkling water small appliance like the "Sodastream" sitting on the counter too.

The Grohe Blue series now has a Chilled & Sparkling option. Not only can you have filtered water at the same tap, but you can make your own italian sodas too! When I asked the representative a few weeks ago I found out that they are beta-testing an instant-hot water feature in Europe (I'm holding out for this version). Its nice that this is on display and functioning at the Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery showroom where I have my office, I can have chilled and sparkling water anytime I like!

The Disneyland Effect

What is the #1 thing homeowners are looking for in their remodeling process?


Unfortunately, this is the complete opposite experience that even the best showrooms have to offer. In a continuing education course this week I was reminded of the clutter experienced by someone who walks in for the first time. Its so easy to to be overwhelmed! Homeowners who work with me have often experienced this before discovering me. They have tried to select or shop for their materials (plumbing fixtures, cabinets, tile, lighting fixtures etc) on their own. They have walked into some fabulous and not so fabulous places only to turn around and leave equally because there are too many choices and they are afraid of making the wrong one. For example, did you know there are 1000 different granite possibilities for your countertops? And thats not counting all of the other countertop possibilities like marbles and man-made options. I often refer to this as the Disneyland Effect.  

Disney's Main Street USA

Disney's Main Street USA

Imagine. You've just walked through the gates of the "Happiest Place on Earth" and instantly you have emotionally shrunk down to the size of a child. You're excited and intimidated, you feel like you should know where to go, and at the same time feel lost on where to start. You take a few steps in wonderment, looking around in every direction with an almost bobble-head bounce and with every step you continue to emotionally shrink and don't feel as happy as you had hoped. You find and check a map to collaborate with your group and decide where to go first. Once you've made it through the Main Street gauntlet the Wonderful World of Walt's dreams is opened up to a seemingly limitless expanse. But now you have your guide and a starting point and because and thats what you do. You keep yourself from going on all the other attractions before getting to that first destination. After you have had your first fun attraction experience you are at easy, you feel empowered you can explore the many nooks of delight without fear. It is now the happy place that was promised. At the end of the day you leave a little exhausted from all of your hard work, relieved that you were able to conquer the beginning frustrations and satisfied as you walk hand-in-hand smiling and wearing your mouse ears proudly.

Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery

Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery

The same is true of the showroom experience, only there are sales persons as guides. Of course, we have all been trained by our parents not to "trust" sales people. Yes, while some of them can have the "used car salesman" approach, most are simply overly trained in all of the product details, and they often try to teach homeowners which adds to the overwhelming feeling. This is where the team approach provides a more positive experience. The homeowners I work with are also needing a guide and a starting point. Someone who will help to narrow down the choices quickly and simply. Someone who is not "trying to sell" the most expensive items to bump up their commission and who can work with the product educated showroom associate side by side. Someone who has the full picture in mind even when the homeowner can't fully picture everything in their own mind yet. In the end, they may be a little tired, after all making decisions is hard work. They go home and have a good night's sleep. They are confident in their choices and comfortably at ease in knowing that the next showroom they walk-into to finish their bathroom or kitchen materials selections will be a smooth experience too.

It's Not your Grandmother's Grab Bar

Bathroom safety is a designer's top priority with function and style running a close second. You may have heard the commercials saying "I've fallen and I can't get up!". Well, its a more serious topic than the silly commercials leave you to believe. Many seniors fall in tubs and showers and opt to sponge bathe for years rather than take a chance at being that person crying for help. The market is littered with ugly grab bars, suction-cup attaching things and other white plastic hospital style temporary safety stuff which gives bathroom safety a bad name. 

Its my job to tell you that grab-bars are not just for seniors! They are for everybody, and they don't have to be an eyesore to your newly remodeled home!

I recently had a client in her 40's comment "you must think I'm old". In truth, I had not considered her age when I told her that I was recommending a grab bar in her shower. What I had considered was basic human experience. I use a grab bar every day, and yes, I'm only 36. It is easy to over heat ourselves while relaxing in a warm bath or under a hot steamy shower and become dizzy. When we have the flue, or simply don't feel good we are even more prone to needing a little assistance, whether it's to sit down or step out or simply shaving our legs. When I was pregnant, with our now 3.5 year old, I was even more sensitive and even kept the bathroom door open so that my husband could hear if I collapsed.

It could happen to anybody. Have you ever stepped out of the bath only to accidentally grab the towel bar just to have it bend out and fall from being under very little weight? Have you ever stepped into the shower and grab onto the hand-shower bar? Of course, we all do, its a natural tendency. So why fight it?

Now in my best "info-mercial voice" But wait, there's more! 

Ginger Kubic Grab-Bar with Squared Corners

Ginger Kubic Grab-Bar with Squared Corners

Watermark Designs Loft Adjustable Sliding Hand-Shower Mount

Watermark Designs Loft Adjustable Sliding Hand-Shower Mount

Delta Contemporary Tissue Holder with Assist Bar

Delta Contemporary Tissue Holder with Assist Bar

Style doesn't need to be sacrificed! Ginger Co, Watermark Designs, Delta Faucet and many other companies at all ends of the cost spectrum, have designed grab-bars that essentially match their towel bars. Check them out, reach out and touch them if you can, the Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery showroom in Oakland has just installed a couple of these beauties in their live bathrooms. You'll find that they have a larger diameter than the average towel bar but otherwise, they have the same mounting trim detail as the rest of the accessories for your bathroom. Ginger was one of the first to provide aesthetically pleasing designs, Watermark Designs has integrated their vertical hand-shower slide-bar into a grab bar to make it more useful and Delta has taken the next step and integrated an "assist bar" into their towel bars and even their toilet-paper holders!

"Just a Toilet"

Over the past 14 years I've helped Bay Area homeowners select the right faucets and fixtures for their bathroom remodels, the majority of the time they tell me "this will be easy, it's just a toilet". And then they walk into the showroom to start their comparison and see the options in rows upon row.

Sure, you're basic toilet needs to function in one way, remove our biological waste as fast as possible so that we leave no trace of our unmentionable left overs from our digestive systems. The options come in in a mirage of ways and asking questions is the best way to narrow them down. How tall are you? How difficult is it for you to sit and stand? What is your consciousness of water usage? How much water are you trying to save? Who cleans the bathroom? Are their small children in your home who's aim is yet to be perfected? And so many more. 

What about personal hygiene? This is where the bidet comes in. The French invention designed for bathing our lower private parts without taking a full bath. Who really wants to take off all their clothes past their ankles to sit on cold porcelain backwards so that they can splash soap and water on themselves? And who really wants to dedicate another almost 3' of space to a non-storage fixture to sit right beside the toilet that they don't want to think about in the first place? Thankfully Toto, a Japanese company, and others have designed the bidet seat or Washlet (they have even made one for travel, now thats smart!). Simply use the toilet as usual and push a button to enjoy a warm cleansing rinse without the extra work of undressing or a cold seat! 

Homeowners I work with who choose this option are typically retired and are planning to live in their home as long as possible or they have an aging parent moving in who has trouble reaching after using the toilet. Others have experienced them on their travels across the world and have found that they are a relaxing part of using the restroom. For this reason it is my practice to design an electrical outlet near the toilet for a bidet seat, even if it may be a future amenity.

Now tech enthusiasts and moms of young children will love the next phase in the bidet evolution. It's the Toto Neorest. This toilet is simple, has clean lines, no extra nooks and cranny's so it's easy wipe down to keep clean. It's as close to Jetsons age as I have seen for homes. The lid opens upon walking up to it, it's seat is warmed. It will even flush and quietly close the seat and lid when you walk away! Oh, did I mention its virtually "self-cleaning"? With ewater technology they electrolyze a mist of water which the system sends into the bowl to disinfect after each use and after an 8 hour period of stillness.

Feeling refreshed isn't reserved for shower and bath-time anymore!

ps. If you would like to test one out for your self, come by the Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery showroom in Oakland!

New Office!

Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery

Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery

I am excited to announce that I am moving in with my favorite plumbing showroom, Jack London Kitchen and Bath Gallery! 2500 Embarcadero St., Suite F, Oakland, CA 94606 where I will be holding office hours from 10 am - 4:30 M-F by appointment.

As of Monday June 16th, I will have my office in the loft area of this fantastic showroom. Stop by and say "hello" or make an appointment and I can do what I do best as the "Sherlock of Design" by turning the overwhelming choices into an enjoyable experience in selecting what is just right for their function needs, style and budget while having fun.