Motherhood, Apple Pie and Plumbing

As it is, the Fourth of July falls smack in the middle of next week, so a flip of the coin settled the before-or-after question for this Flashback Friday. But other questions arise from this 1934 snapshot, the most obvious one having to do with the relationship between the Statue of Liberty, baby's bath-time, and the Niedecken shower mixer. The answer is somewhat sweeping, I think; the ad's fine print optimistically invokes the 'modern American bathroom at its refreshing, inviting best.'

Whether you're celebrating this weekend or next, a happy Independence Day to you all.

Take a Dip

There's a soft awkwardness about the Ottocento that I find rather endearing, kind of like a child's drawing of a bathtub. Neither aggressive nor ambiguous in design, it is a welcoming object in the bath.

Summer Shower

A stainless steel frame and sustainable hardwoods empower the Oborain outdoor shower against the elements, while its well-considered design makes it an aesthetic asset to the backyard or pool. Modular in concept, the stall comes in different sizes—configured with multiple showers [Did I mention it's plumbed with an Axor Citterio showerpipe? Not exactly your garden variety fitting!] and/or changing areas, it can cope with a crowd.

Little Detail = Big Difference

Until now, specifying a custom appliance pull meant one and only one thing: your paneled refrigerator could sport an attractive [I trust you on this!] handle that complemented the decorative cabinet hardware used throughout the kitchen. Today, the design horizon broadens in a significant way. Viking's new D3 range offers the option to tailor its control knobs and oven grip with wooden accents of cherry, oak and maple [that last species is also available unfinished, if you want to apply a stain], or clear plastic inserts that can be painted as you like. Hooray for choice!

Comfortable Kitchen

For me, this kitchen strikes just the right balance between rugged and refined. Hefty black slate counters and light oak cabinets [check out the narrow, plank-like doors of the wall units] lend a natural note to the room, with stainless hardware and appliances add a bit of an edge to the space. The design is called CityCountry.02.

We Interrupt This Blog... let you know that next week I will be hosting a webinar for the National Association of Home Builders on trends in kitchen and bath design. For NAHB professional affiliates, a one-hour CEU is offered, but all are welcome to participate. The session will be held on Wednesday, 27 June, starting at 2PM EDT. You can find more info on the program here.

Now back to to my trusty PowerPoint...

Multicultural Cooker

Way to fire up an appetite! Giving the lie to that adage about too many cooks in the kitchen, this 1967 ad touts the performance of the range by highlighting its different technologies. It's interesting to note the inclusion of an infrared broiler, a feature that was rather ahead of its time. Reports on a revival of the Caloric brand have been circulating for a few months, now, with products promised to appear sometime in the fall.

Wine, Cooler

Just one day into summer, and the mercury is already flirting with 100º. To avert my mind from a meltdown, I'm fixating on this clever picnic-table chiller, designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects for the Medlock Ames winery in northern California. Not only would it deliver a refreshingly cool beverage, but I imagine the icy condensation dripping from the metal trough would feel mighty good on one's toes.

A Cultivated Look

Hovering about in the vegetable garden, anxiously watching the broccoli, I'm seeing a lot of green and brown interaction. This detail, from the Newlyn kitchen by Mark Wilkinson, takes a rich variant of that organic color combo and applies it to churning patterns of wood grain and granite veining. Pairing walnut cabinets—accented with what Wilkinson calls a 'flashline' of polished nickel—with Sequoia Brown [brown?!?] stone is a sign of a fertile imagination, indeed.

A [Very] Minor Appliance

Dropping in on the ever-inventive world of small electrics, we find the Snack Master. A mini-griddle flips down from the side of the two-slice toaster in a space-saving design. It's a cute idea, but suitable for only the most-petit déjeuner.

Open House

Usually the baths and kitchens I show on KBCULTURE are in private homes, but this sweet alfresco setting is an exception. Architects Markus Wespi and Jerome de Meuron renovated a villa in Treia, Italy, that's available as a vacation rental. Casa Olivi does have an indoor kitchen, but with a vista like this, I'd spend my time tending the grill outside.

Mr. Fix-It, I Presume?

Despite the sexual equality movement in the 1970s, some gender-based stereotypes persisted. Blueprints are for boys and Avocado Green is for girls in this polarized view of an appliance. But in real life, things aren't so cut and dried. Undoubtedly, some dads are tinkerers par excellence, while others aren't so mechanically inclined. On this Father's Day, let's not take sides, and show appreciation to all dads—regardless of their handymanliness.

Fizzy + Filtered

Of course there's more to this handsome tap than meets the eye—that's why I'm featuring it today. With a twist of the knob on the left of the Grohe Blue Chilled & Sparkling faucet you can control the amount of carbonic acid that's added to the filtered and chilled water. So if you like your H20 on the effervescent side and your partner prefers a more subdued bubbly treatment, you can each quench your thirsts without compromise.

Classic Commode

For the traditional-minded crowd, this toilet might set you [more correctly, your bathroom] apart from the generic school of design. To my mind, the Archive is possessed of good proportions and just the right amount of fluted details to complement interiors of a classic bent. Its elongated profile and comfort height appeal to body as well as eye.

Horizontal Thinking

I'm impressed with the organizational system underlying the new b3 kitchen; it's simultaneously logical and lovely. Orienting the compartments lengthwise eliminates the dreaded migration of smaller items to the back of the drawer. Small, weighty metal wedges [manufacturer bulthaup calls them 'prisms'] can be placed—and replaced—along the angled troughs to create open storage spaces; lidded containers are also available, as are faceted glass jars. It's a far more flexible approach than the typical rectangular bin design.

House Party

Unqualified gorgeous weather, the company of the best of friends, and a few celebratory bottles of bubbly made for a very happy and memorable weekend. If a kitchen could embody the experience—and why not?—I'd nominate this style-bridging space, gleaming with steel and sunlight. Alpes-Inox specializes in what I'll call culinary modules: appliances that are integrated into cabinets.

Ice Cubes for All

How times have not changed. Nearly 80 years after this ad was published, I'm struck by how Kelvinator tapped into what must be a universal constant: the gap between hostess and the hosted. Although the fact that the features of this fridge seemed to draw guests into the kitchen—rather than liberate the lady of the house from that room—seems a little bit self-defeating, let's let it slide. One rather poignant note: In 1934, the effects of the Great Depression were still acutely felt; the 'Thrift Tray', with its 'attractive containers for left-overs', was an important asset of this appliance.

A Fine Line

As a rule, I prefer the straight, wand-like style of handshower to the type with a circular faceplate; the linear look is just more to my liking. But alas, such aesthetic rigor comes at a price: unlike the multifunctional 'lollipop' models, wands offer just a single spray pattern. The Tube changes that, with four settings available with a simple twist of the top of the unit. Look for this innovative design to hit shelves in the fall.

Lighting Odd

Revealed a few weeks ago at ICFF, the Silk Road pendant light is a mixed media affair. Cylinders of glass, wire, and fabric are fitted into one another. As a consequence, the 18-inch fixture sends a mixed message, as well; I can't decide if it's art or artifice, but in any case, the design, by Jonah Takagi, is intriguing.

Rock Garden

I'm picking up an interesting mélange of graphic influences—Art Nouveau and Japanese—in this tile, which is called Fiori. The repeating glass and rivershell blossoms are so static, while the whorled pattern of the 'vine' is quite irregular...a very contemporary treatment.

Getaway Galley

Sun-bleached sailcloth drapes, improvised drawer pulls of manila cording, thick walls of limestone rubble: all cues that this kitchen, designed by Paola Navone, is located seaside. I find the space more about ambience than function, but summer's almost here, and so that's alright.

Counter Proposal

That's some strange place to hang peninsula cabinets, isn't it? It seems that a person working at the sink [once it's installed, that is] would be treated to an in-your-face view of knotty pine. But such details aside, I'm impressed by the bold combination—for 1953!—of natural wood and stainless steel. Those little kitchen gremlins [or whatever they are] were certainly ahead of their time.