Top 6 Kitchen Design Mistakes People Make

modern-kitchen-design-mistakes-berloni-americaThere’s a reason why the kitchen has become a focal point and the center of much attention for most homes—it’s where the activity happens.  For many busy families, it’s where they meet in the morning, it’s where they meet after work and school and it’s where guests are entertained on the weekends.  Given this very fact, this is one of the reasons why the kitchen has to be designed with a great deal of thought and deliberation when designing or remodeling the kitchen area. However, as with most things in life, there are a number of “do’s” and “don’ts” when it comes to kitchen design.  Thanks to the kitchen designing experts, Berloni America, here are the top six kitchen designing mistakes that people make when remodeling and designing their new kitchen space.

Design Mistake #1: Boring, boring, boring. If the kitchen is the center of attention in the house, then find a way to attract people to it other than just the food.  There are so many design trends to integrate into your kitchen design that there is simply no excuse to be boring in your design.  From back splashes, kitchen islands, cabinets, sinks, appliances, lighting—there’s simply too many elements and designing opportunities to take advantage of!

Design Mistake #2: Forgetting about seating. Even if you have a dining area in your home, forgetting about seating in your kitchen area is a big mistake.  In most kitchen these days, there is a lot of entertaining, chatting and socializing that takes place in the kitchen itself.  It’s no longer just the place to prepare the food.  Between bar seating, kitchen islands and even small breakfast nooks, don’t forget about seating to entertain in your new kitchen.

Design Mistake #3: Don’t waste valuable storage space.  Storage space is a must in any kitchen.  From storing dishes, cookware, spices, utensils, pantry foods, small appliances and other items for the kitchen, utilize as much space as possible (floor to ceiling, under the sink, kitchen islands, etc.) for storage.

Design Mistake #4: Poor lighting. Lighting is really important in the kitchen, particularly since it’s now a huge part of entertaining guests.  Whenever possible, natural light is always a plus.  However, having right functional lighting for kitchen tasks balanced out with ambient light for creating an environment that welcomes people in to come in and socialize is a must.

Design Mistake #5: Wrong kitchen island. Finding the right kitchen island for you is important.  Whether you need a kitchen island for a second sink, additional seating, overhead storage, added counter space, a place for the kids to do homework while supervised, etc.  Whatever the need may be for your home, make sure that you find the right kitchen island to fit your family’s needs.

Design Mistake #6: Not hiring professionals. Last, but certainly not least, one major mistake made in kitchen design is not hiring professionals to help you—both in design and in the remodeling of your kitchen.  The kitchen involves a number of integrated pieces of hardware, including plumbing, electronics and appliances.  It is important that these items are installed correctly and properly so that you don’t have to deal with the headaches (and costs) involved in the do-it-yourself disasters that ensue on construction projects gone bad.  Professional designers can also help you identify various designs that fit your needs and personal style.

The next time you are considering remodeling or upgrading your kitchen, consider contacting the professional designers at Berloni America - - the leaders in modern kitchen design.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America—leaders in modern Italian kitchen remodeling.  Contact us today for more information on how we can assist you with your next kitchen remodel.  We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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Consider the Ideal Use of Your Kitchen in Addition to Decor

family in kitchenOnce you decide to remodel the heart of the home, be sure to consider the optimization of you and your family’s needs in addition to the aesthetics. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Americans whip up meals faster than residents of any other country: 30 minutes total.  The actual design of your dream kitchen can help you make the most of those minutes.

Each family is different.  By answering the following questions, you’ll ensure that your particular family’s needs are met and your kitchen dreams come true:

How will your family members use the new kitchen?  While today’s open concept designs are sleek and streamlined, many contain open shelving which could prove disastrous if you have young children at home.  Shelves are certainly ideal for displaying your favorite things: photos, vases, cookbooks, etc. However they should be high so that a new walker or toddler cannot climb them and risk falling- or getting into things you wish they would not.  If you or your spouse works from home, considering hiding electrical outlets inside of cabinets or selecting drawers vs. shelved cabinets in which to store file folders.  There are many options available to provide flexible work spaces within the kitchen and to keep counter-tops clutter free.

Is there anything you wish to hide?  If you love using your blender, convection toaster oven, food processor and Espresso machine, but are not fond of looking at them, have garage doors installed.  Appliances remain plugged in and out-of-sight until you actually need to use them.  When preparing meals, simply lift the garage door, pull the appliance out and get to work!  If it annoys you to see your family’s mobile phone chargers, iPad, hand blender, etc. plugged into the wall, have the electrical outlets installed within the actual cabinet.  No worries; they’ll still get charged behind closed doors and you won’t have to stare at nests of cords.

How will you use your kitchen to entertain?  Many people are opting for larger, eat-in kitchens vs. a separate formal dining room to combine smaller, separate spaces or simply because the open-flow concept has become so popular.  If you like to serve your meals to guests buffet-style, consider if you would prefer to arrange the meal on an island or a separate buffet, away from the main workspace.  It may seem awkward to serve food on an island if the stove or sink is built into it because of messes which occur during food preparation.  You may want to store and display wine and cocktail glass in cabinets with glass doors if you tend to tell guests to ‘help themselves’ vs. making them open every cabinet door searching for the right glass.

No matter what, your kitchen renovation should be the result of your very own family’s needs!   By considering these questions, you’ll ensure that your new kitchen will be a dream come true vs. a dangerous or cluttered nightmare.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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Kitchen Remodel Survival Tips

Perhaps you’ve decided to remodel your kitchen and now have the design plan, final budget and a licensed contractor.   But wait!  The renovation process won’t be easy, especially if you’ll be living in your home during the remodeling process.  Here are some steps you can take to minimize dust, stress and family quarrels:

  1. Mind over matter- Above all, explain to your family that the remodeling process may be stressful and you’ll need everyone’s cooperation, but that the end result will be well worth it.  You can expect a few bumps on the road including delays, unanticipated costs and decisions you hadn’t planned on having to make.  When you want to scream, take a deep breath and remember your end goal and vision of a new, fabulous kitchen.
  2. Create a substitute kitchen- When we gutted our kitchen, I set up a small kitchenette in our laundry room with a small toaster oven, mini fridge, microwave, George Foreman grill and essential cooking and dining supplies.  The substitute kitchen should be set up away from dust such as a finished basement or unused bedroom.
  3. Store and purchase necessary supplies- If you are replacing all of your cabinets, set aside enough time to pack all of your dishes, pots, pans, vases, linens, pantry items, art, anything on display, etc.  My husband and I started accumulating large boxes in advance of the ‘breaking ground’ date, packed on the weekends and stored everything in our garage during the renovation.

As an environmentalist, I never used paper plates or plastic utensils…until my kitchen remodel began.   Since you and your family must eat and you more than likely will not have a dishwasher set up during your kitchen renovation, I believe it is perfectly acceptable to use paper plates, styrofoam cups and bowls, and plastic utensils during that time.

  1. Eat out/Take out- Weather permitting, use your outdoor grill to prepare meals so you aren’t relegated to restaurants for most lunches and dinners.  If possible, place a cooler with ice on the back porch or deck to keep soft drinks cold and to avoid running out constantly for ice.  Plan on spending a larger portion of your disposable income on take-out meals and at dine-in restaurants than you normally spend.   Purchasing individual servings of frozen meals and healthy snacks like fruit, granola bars, cheese and crackers, etc.  will help defray costs if you will have access to a microwave during the renovation.
  2. Everything but the kitchen sink!  Instruct your contractor to remove your old sink last, so you have access to running water in a large sink up until the absolute last minute.  Often times, the delivery of cabinetry, flooring, tiles and other supplies can be delayed, so it’s important not to remove the kitchen sink too soon.
  3. Take cover- Place plastic sheeting over all appliances, unless they are being replaced, in order to minimize the dirt during the day.  This way, you’ll have access to them so you can resume meal preparation during the evenings. Cover the doorways with plastic sheeting to minimize the spread of dust to the rest of the house.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook. 


Tips for Storing Wine at Home

Lovers of fine furniture, like the beautiful Italian lines offered by Berloni America, are often also purveyors of fine wines. However, many times people do not realize the importance of proper wine storage and how it is properly done. There is no substitute for wine storage with proper wine temperature and the only way this can be achieved is through a wine cellar or wine room with a cooling unit. The easiest and quickest method for wine storage and wine cooling is to buy a wine cellar. Wine cellars can be found in stores or even online at affordable prices. A wine cellar offers not only a place to store as many bottles of wine as capacity will hold, but also a place to keep your wine cool and away from the sun light. These units can be built in any room in the house it does not have to be under ground just as long as it stays out of direct sunlight.

Once you've selected where you want the wine cellar you simply construct it or set it up. There is a growing trend where most wine cellars look more like large wine cabinets. These particular types of wine cellars can hold anywhere between 300-5,000 bottles, depending on the size you are looking for. Typically they just snap and seal together with ease or can even be purchased pre-built, but expect a higher shipping price for larger units.

Another way to store and preserve wine is by use of a cooling unit. Cooling units are affordable, about the size of a small air conditioner, and are easy to install into any room with little effort. You can install a wine-cooling unit into a wine cellar or into a wine room, depending on your size needs. Cooling units can cool 75 cubic ft. to 3,000 cubic ft. and higher.

Whether you use a cooling unit or a wine cellar, or the combination of both to achieve the perfect temperature and storage for your wine collection, it will add life to your wine and help you to store any amount for years to come.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

Photo credit: Weathers ton


'Ciao' Down on Pasta

When it comes to pasta, there are many ways to ‘ciao’ down. Pasta comes in a variety of shapes, lengths and widths.  Most pasta is made from durum wheat semolina flour and water, and some has eggs.  You’ve probably seen a variety of colors which reflects ingredients such as light green from spinach or basil, or pink from tomatoes.  Tonight, I am pairing a fresh spinach salad with spinach and Chive linguini and stuffed cabbage.  It may sound like an odd combination, however my family loves pasta!   We eat it up to five times per week, often as a side dish.  I will sauté garlic in olive oil and toss it with the pasta add some Grana Padano parmesean cheese.

In the U.S., most restaurants offer angel hair, farfalle, fettuccini, gemelli, gnocchi (made from potatoes), lasagna, linguini, manicotti and spaghetti.  In Italy, diners are usually offered many more options than an American could possibly imagine.  Surprisingly, Italians accounted for 250 different pasta types and shapes at the end of the nineteenth century.  Today, that number has been reduced to approx. 55.

I can never eat enough pasta and enjoy finding and trying new varieties for my family.  When making new recipes, it is helpful to know which pasta types are ideal for the meal at hand, esp. in case one must substitute for the type of pasta specified by the recipe.

Pasta for Baked Casseroles- I prefer tubular shapes for baked dishes because the seasonings, cheese and ingredients seep into the pasta creating a flavorful bite.  Also, tubular shapes such as ziti holds up to longer baking times.  In my experience, mostaccioli, bombolotti and rigatoni are best size-wise.

Pasta in Sheets for Layered Dishes- Pasta types cut from larger sheets and divided into shapes used for baking pasta in the oven so that the layers fit the pan include lasagna, tagliatelle, pappardella, farfalle and cannelloni.  Like most Americans, I only use lasagna when it comes to layered pasta dishes, and love it!

Pasta for Soups- Smaller pasta shapes are ideal for soups so that they easily fit on a soup spoon along with other ingredients.  I’ve found that the following work best: sea shells, ditalini, elbows, orzo or acini de pepe.

The secret isn’t always in the sauce.  There are also ideal pasta types depending on the sauce.  Thin spaghetti is paired best with lighter sauces that use minimal oil such as fresh tomato sauce or seafood based sauces.  Fettucini and linguni are ideal for oil or cream based sauces.

If your favorite sauces are dairy-based or robusto, rich in flavor, choose a tubular shape like penne or shell-shapes like orecchiette.  Their ridged surface is ideal for trapping rich sauces inside and out; each bite will burst with flavor. The same holds true for ridged pasta which are best paired with heavier sauces that are very thick such as chunky meat, pesto or spicy sauces.

No matter what pasta type you choose, 'Chi mangia bene, vive bene' or He who eats well, lives well.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook. 


Simple Ways to Save for the Kitchen of Your Dreams

Have you documented your 2012 goals?  If not, fear not: Statistics show that only 2% of Americans actually document their goals.  They do not realize that goals not written down are just dreams! If your goal is to remodel your kitchen in the New Year, here are some easy tips to cut spending so you can reallocate saved dollars and build the kitchen of your dreams.  These are just a few of many money-saving secrets I’ll reveal over the next few weeks:

Brown Bag It

You can cut your food budget by taking your lunch to work.  Instead, pack leftovers or buy pre-packaged meals in bulk at your warehouse club of choice.  The same goes for snacks: prepare them at home for as little as $.25 a serving instead of wasting a full dollar or more in the vending machine at your place of employment.

BONUS- You’ll cut calories too by selecting healthier ingredients when preparing your lunches.  If you choose to buy pre-packaged or prepared foods, you can easily see the nutritional information to select the healthiest option.  You’ll also save money by staying onsite, especially since gasoline prices are higher than ever.

If you truly value the socialization aspects of dining out for lunch with friends, colleagues, etc. consider a food-prepare and share program.  I’ve done this in the past and found that it’s best to:

  1. Select four friends or colleagues you enjoying catching up with.
  2. Once they’ve agreed to the program, determine each person’s preferred day to bring lunch each week.
  3. Set a date, preferably a Monday, on which to kick-start the new program.
  4. Gather at a community area at work or dine al fresco at a park convenient to everyone.
  5. Bon appetito!

You’ll save at least $3,000 annually- more than likely even more!  Here’s how: the average cost of a lunch meal is $10 - $15 including tax and tip while a brown-bagged lunch costs a couple of dollars.  By saving $12 every weekday for 52 weeks each year, you’ll save $3,120 per year!  Save even more with the food-prepare and share program since you’ll save by buying larger quantities only once per week.

Note: As long as none of the participating people have dietary restrictions- for health or religious reasons, this is a great way to save money and time because you’ll only have to prepare one large meal, one night, per week.

The same logic applies to your children’s lunches unless you receive assistance and/or the school’s cafeteria meals are subsidized.

Extra BONUS- If you deposit the average monthly savings of $240 for twelve months  into an interest bearing account  (assuming a 6.5% interest rate compounded daily), you’ll have almost $10,000 by the end of three years!

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.


A Latte More Than Just a Cup of Coffee

While many Americans visit their local Starbucks for coffee on a daily basis, not many realize that the entire establishment was first inspired by CEO Howard Schultz’s experiences in Italian cafes.  During a visit to Italy, Schultz discovered the sociological impact of coffee shops on the Italian way of life and pondered the possibility of providing the same experience to Americans whom he felt also would benefit from place other than work or home in which to savor coffee and socialize. Schultz was impressed with the manner in which the Baristas, or coffee bartenders, took pride in making and serving a variety of coffee concoctions.  He admired their connections with customers who customarily stand at a coffee bar sipping their Espresso before heading to work or during a mid-day break.   It is quite common to see Italians chatting while gathered at corner espresso bars similar to the proverbial American water-cooler conversations.

Starbucks would not exist without Italy, and Italians just might not exist without coffee.  Italians are coffee aficionados who will simply not visit an establishment that has bad coffee.  A typical Italian coffee menu looks nothing like the wide variety of cold and hot beverages served at Starbucks. reports that Italian coffee bars average sales are 230.3 cups a day of which:

  • 59.8% are sold as espressos
  • 13.5% are sold as cappuccinos
  • 12.3% are sold as correttos or Italian espresso that is modified by adding grappa, an Italian liqueur or brandy.
  • 9.9% are sold as macchiattos, which literally means 'marked' or 'stained' in Italian and in this case, is a beverage made with one shot of espresso and a teaspoon of milk, or the stain.
  • 4.5% are decaffeinated coffees

While nearly all Italians drink coffee every day, the National Coffee Association found in 2000 that 54% of the adult U.S. population drinks coffee daily (NCA Coffee Drinking Trends Survey, 2000).  This is another reason why the Italian lifespan is longer than the Americans’.  Many studies have shown that coffee drinkers, compared to nondrinkers, are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and dementia.  Better yet, coffee drinkers have fewer cases of certain cancers and strokes .

When you visit Italy, be sure to stop and savor an Italian coffee.  The experience is so much more than simply sipping a beverage; it’s a treat for all five senses.  From the slow-paced streets of Frosinone, the birthplace of my grandmother, to the canal-facing cafes in Venezia, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a poorly-pressed cup of Italian coffee.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Berloni America. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.