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in inspiration

Style Inspiration: NYC Restaurant L’Amico

These days no matter where I am, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a clothing store, a friend’s house, all I see are possible design ideas and inspiration. This was no different at L’Amico, a bright, modern farmhouse of an Italian restaurant with an open kitchen and wood everywhere.

What I noticed upon entering the restaurant was that I loved everything about it. It made you feel hip and yet at home at the same time. The front wall of windows had been retracted so that the whole restaurant was open to the busy streets of Midtown Manhattan and yet it still felt cozy. I began collecting observations so that I could understand how this ambiance was created.

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Open Kitchen: You can see the chefs hard at work in the background of the photo above. It was essential to me when choosing a floorplan for my own home that the kitchen be open to the family room. To me, a kitchen is a family room and they should naturally just be parts of the same room. This is how you achieve that feeling of warmth.

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Style Inspiration: $2.4 Million Mansion

When your local paper features a story on a new model home with a two story master closet, you go. Thus my lazy Saturday style adventure began. After you choose and purchase your new home, there seems little reason to continue looking at model homes. But this is actually the most beneficial time to go to model homes. As I mentioned in my previous post Model Home Mirages, model homes set a pretty unrealistic expectation of what your home is going to look like. They have all the bells and whistles and are decorated so fine, that you feel like you’re in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

And that is EXACTLY how you should see it. Now that I’ve already chosen my home, I am using this opportunity to walk through model homes only focusing on the amazing interior design. Instead of buying magazines for $10 a pop, I can simply drive to a few local model homes and experience the designs first hand; walk through the living exhibit, touch it, live it, and figure out what I want in my own home. Therefore price doesn’t matter and of course I chose to walk through a $2.4 million dollar, 5000 sq ft monstrosity.

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Baking + Photos

Part of the perfect home is the perfect hostess. Like many women finding their balance between career and domesticity, I have unrealistic dreams about throwing glamorous parties with beautiful centerpieces, calligraphy name cards, and photogenic dishes. I figure with these ambitions, I should start honing my baking skills.

The ultimate goal of course it to bake something so beautiful that there is a collective “Oooh” across the dining room and everyone can’t help themselves but get their phones out and take a photo.

In this post – a terribly photogenic but downright inedible lemon ricotta cake, the moistest chocolate cupcakes in the world with delicate matcha green tea buttercream, and some pretty decent yet unimpressive lemon bars.

No you didn’t misread. I did something stupid which is that I took a random recipe off of pinterest without doing any research on the blogger nor did I read any reviews on the recipe. Now the photos are gorgeous, just as they were the first time I saw it on pinterest. But I might as well have been eating sawdust. Now, to be fair, I made a very cavalier substitution of coconut flour for almond flour because I didn’t have enough almond flour left in the house – oops. Anyway, here are the beautiful photos but BEWARE DO NOT MAKE.

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Marble Paradise

Countertops are perhaps one of the most important things to me and my kitchen. Our house features a huge 60 sq ft island in the middle of the open plan kitchen and therefore it will be the centerpiece of our primary living space. My first visit to the design center produced mixed results in terms of countertops. The only option that they had that I was in any way happy with was carrara marble. But all I was given was a little 6”x8” swatch that really tells you nothing about a slab of natural stone. Leaving the design center with little confidence on the countertop options, I knew I would have to take things into my own hands.

After some internet searching I found a countertop fabricator in the Houston area that had a showroom and also happened to carry Blanco sinks. So I was able to accomplish two things at once. American Countertop Fabricators were extremely helpful and taught us a lot about what really goes into a kitchen countertop. One thing we learned, most edges, bullnose, beveled, waterfall, were free. This was something that our builder plans to charge us for. Haha, not anymore!

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Choosing Kitchen Appliances, With No Help from the Internet

I have discovered that the internet is the worst place for Appliance reviews. Did you know that according to the internet, every dishwasher is “without hesitation, the worst dishwasher you will ever buy”? There are no good ones. None whatsoever. And if anyone ever tells you it’s a good one, they are being paid off by the manufacturer. It’s completely ridiculous.

So I really have no choice but to go with features and looks and roll the dice. My house builder is partnered with electrolux, so I am limited in that way. But I can pick any electrolux/frigidaire appliances that I want. This is what I have decided to go with:

Dishwasher: Electrolux 24” Built-In Dishwasher with IQ Controls (E124ID50QS)

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I chose this dishwasher over the Frigidaire (FPID2497RF) for a few reasons. First, because of the third rack. I am in love with the idea of a third rack because where do you put all of the wooden spoons, spatulas, etc? Usually they end up crowding my glass space on the top row, but with a third rack, this becomes a problem of the past.

Second, true stainless steel. Frigidaire has a “feature” called smudge-proof stainless steel. The problem is that this is not the same color as actual stainless steel. So unless you plan on your entire kitchen being Frigidaire, your appliances won’t match. If you’re the type of person that reads that last sentence and thinks I’m crazy, then maybe you won’t care. Even as I write it, I find myself sounding a little crazy, but what I can I say. I’m a little obsessive about my future kitchen.

Now, according to the actual review on Reviewed.com, this dishwasher won dishwasher of the year in 2014. According to the comments on reviewed.com, this dishwasher is the worst on the planet. But then again, according to all comments online, every dishwasher is the worst on the planet. So just like every other first time appliance buyer out there, I am completely confused so I’m going to make a blind guess. Thanks a lot internet.

Double Wall Ovens: Electrolux 30” Electric Double Wall Oven with IQ-Touch Controls (EI30EW45PS)

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I chose this wall oven again over the Frigidaire (FGET3065PF), a much cheaper version of essentially the same thing. But there were a few features that won me over about the Electrolux:

1.) Easy glide oven racks. So with very little effort, you can glide the racks in and out. Sounds like a small thing, but with double ovens, the top oven is usually at a pretty awkward angle when you are trying to put things in or out. Or when you are trying to put a tester toothpick in a cake. If you bake a lot, this is a must have feature in my opinion.

2.) Blue interior. Yes this is irrational. I am aware of this. But the way I explain this irrational desire is that what I really wanted was the KitchenAid True Convection Double Oven (KODE507ESS) and it is also blue inside. These two ovens actually have a lot of similarities in features so I guess I’m trying to fool myself into thinking that I got my first choice.

(Kitchen aid pictured below, pretty close right?)

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3.) Built in Temperature Probe. I’ve never used a meat thermometer before. I usually just follow the recipe and hope that whatever I am making doesn’t come out undercooked. Usually a fine approach for beef, possibly disastrous for poultry. So the built in temperature probe in the electrolux is my new must-have that I have never actually had.

Cooktop: Electrolux Icon 36” Gas Slide-In Cooktop

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Let me start by how I decided on what kind of Cooktop I wanted. I grew up using Gas. I suffered through Electric in college and in multiple apartments. I am ready to go back to Gas. For me, it is easier to control, easier to use, and much prettier. Also if you trust the judgement of chefs around the world, gas is the way to go. I also new that I wanted 36” or bigger. I recently had a glimpse of a 27” cooktop in a brand new kitchen and it looked like a toy. Aside from the aesthetics, I also cook a lot. I cook multiple things on the stove at the same time. So more space is better for me. The last requirement was professional style knobs on the front. Again, this is superficial, it was more about my vision for my kitchen. Those requirements led me to this particular cooktop which is the only one that electrolux/frigidaire has with those key features.

This is not a review of these appliances, as I have not bought them yet. This is a pre-view. You could read this and say “no! no! don’t choose those!”, but it’s too late. You are on the internet and I wouldn’t believe what you say anyway. It is decided.

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