Thursday, May 12, 2016

Just Pics, too tired to write.

and because ppl love before vs after pics

Chapter 1

But I've been thinking a lot - about very practical things. I will have more time shortly so will write more.  Instead for your eyes. Son-of-a-gun, I am telling you that there is no better quality and more optimizing that went into this reno. All was custom made - fabrication done with measurements taken as-it-was happening - nothing was square or plumb in that space - it  this is definitely more than your 'average IKEA kitchen hack' that I typically do, but it was required. I am not including the shots of the upper hanging units - they've got 'Best of Blume' servo-hardware - and you actually have to 'teach them' for it to operate properly - I will do a video - it's like smart cabinetry - and in this case it it is the optimum option. 

All design decision were taken to maximize the space - in actuality and psychologically. That's right people - you can influence perceptions of space,
 - make it feel larger, more robust, beautiful - by carefully selecting finishes and proportioning them appropriately. Lighting is the key. 

ps. I can't wait to read this book - found at IKEA, about IKEA. 

[EDIT] The move happened! You cannot possibly fit more handmade mugs on those shelves. The selection of seamless backsplash [Italian laminate from ABET, from their new collection] gave it a really nice modern look, all backlit to visually create greater depth. 
Nice! I love it.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

IKEA Hacker's Greatest Fear + Sneaky IKEA!


See the pre-paint video - Attention 2 Details [it doesn't just happen!]

This is the entry and accent wall of a really cool loft. The ultra modern kitchen - will be immediately to the left  - design will balance the very traditional look of well done modern paneling. Sometimes when you want things done properly, you have to do them yourself. Win and win - it was so rewarding seeing that trim go up. I am very proud of the fact that I manage to pry off a security feature that we had no key for, off a steel door frame with absolutely minimal damage - #accomplished - I briefly considered an option of becoming a burglar, 'Wow', I thought to myself, 'this felt so natural.' Another trick that I know, is how to lock front doors /w manual knob, from the outside, without a key - very impressed is someone who finds out that I can do that. 'Tricks of the trade?' I want to say. 

But this interior started like this - what struck me in the first conversation we had about the space was that new owner has IKEA Ivar shelving unit that she takes on the road for showing work - a ceramicist - modern ceramics - but otherwise it would stand in the corner, right up against the paneling. And then I immediately recalled an image out of IKEA designed and produced book about interiors. This is the shot I sent her as an 'inspirational image' - it's got a 'raw wood' shelving-type situation. And I love herringbone floors - they are very classic - we did herringbone tiles, really cool. 

BUT This is how IKEA is sneaky - they furnish these incredible interiors with their own, very functional but rather low-price furniture. And those interiors are expensive to recreate. I know because I am doing one. We make smart choices - one of them is going with an IKEA kitchen that's faced with custom doors. And a whole bunch of other things. Mouldings from Brenlo -  in Toronto is where you go for great selection of mouldings. 


1. That IKEA will go after me. But they won't, not openly at least. That would not be an optimum move on their part. IKEA has accepted the fact that hacking its products is a lifestyle for some people, or just being plain smart and creative. There is now IKEA hacking at 'academic level' - students at universities do it - engineering, architecture and design. IKEA Hacking is here to stay - by retaining some influence [say, just by the virtue of letting it exist, for example] it is able to give it some direction*. 

It is rather likely to be in the form of digital rights management - intellectual property claims. Right? I think IKEA has pretty strong case on that front - IKEA felt no nostalgia when they killed off - it was an American based website - too much liability*. My own blog experienced, what I know, were some blackouts of videos and there was copyright for music violation. It's like the counter on the videos got stuck, I could not access the files, and my blog was experiencing unusual activity - listen, there are thousands of Google engineers working around the clock, around the globe to ensure the Google products run smoothly, and you are telling me the the counter on the videos broke down and I was not able to view or access the videos - sob! - for few days - that's not a coincidence. Anyhow I am preparing an academic presentation on IKEA hacking - based on all the things that I managed to accumulate for the convention that I want to host.  Of course IKEA is notorious for not giving any interviews to 'private individuals' - but hey! either they will 'lift the veil' or it is going to be written about them without their participation. 

*[I love IKEA legal! in their newly published books - which you should absolutely look through, have, I believe, a 1-sentence legal. 'Zero liability for what you see in this book.'

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

WHY kitchens FAIL - what YOU can do ABOUT it - and why IKEA is a great deal.

I've got ethics!

Firstly I want to post this pic - sorry about the coffee stain! I send it to David, oh about 6 months ago - he was thinking of hiring me because he had trouble setting up proper heights for his IKEA kitchen island - and this questions continuously keeps popping up - that's right people, doing IKEA kitchen islands IS NOT EASY! But I told David that 'it is not really efficient' for me to get hired for 2 hours a day, and that I have a minimum charge - I hope that you see it as reasonable people. 

His challenge was 2 fold:

A] he was adding to his existing IKEA kitchen; 
B] he was getting new flooring - and he was not sure what exactly it was going to be.

RULE #1 - regardless of who installs your kitchen island, which-ever way they do it - mine or IKEA's - the island has to sit on a 'fixed' subfloor. It can be concrete, it can be wood, it can be ceramics - BUT IT HAS TO BE STATIC! So do not set your island cabinetry on something that will be 'settling' - any floating floors are out. Uneven settling will cause stress to be introduced at variable rates to different areas of the cabinets - that 'settling stress' will translate to function of the cabinetry. Worst case scenario your soft marble slab - that has been reinforced with inlaid metal underneath - where you don't look at all - will crack [that will never happen] OR you will notice water running off you laminate countertop. It is very unlikely that it will be catastrophic - but best practices should always be observed. That's my philosophy. 

RULE #2 - If you are matching heights - that you have to compensate for appropriate heights - and the picture above will help you with that. 

Cheers! and Happy Island Installs People!

Chapter 2 - WHY kitchens FAIL - what YOU can do ABOUT it - and why IKEA is a great deal.

I've been watching kitchens fail, oh.....for about 20 years now...yup....20 years now.* This has come to me through various experiences. I started in this business just like anyone else - working for someone - right at the bottom of the ladder - doing demos - lowest cost labour. But with time I gained more experience and was trusted to do other things - moved up and someone else did the demos. But I was still watching and taking mental notes - there has to be a better way!

When cabinetry gets demo'ed [removed] there are 3 possibilities - 

A] Reuse
B] Re-purpose
C] Trash

Those are your only choices. Let's start with the ugliest of them all - 

C] TRASH IT!! - I've seen my share of old, mouldy, damp cabinetry, that was falling apart in your hands when you picked it up - and it was immediately tossed into a bin - I was always wearing protective equipment in those instances! And if that is your case you should too! It would be a risk to do anything other than to trash cabinets like that. Typically if you notice that the cabinetry is 'soft and puffed up' - than it is very likely that dampness has caused mold and rot to propagate in that area. This situation poses a health risk and it should remedied - if it is minor it could be as little as properly scrubbing and washing it with some appropriate harsh cleaners and then once clean, painting with a proper primer - talk to the staff at your local paint store - I am certain that they field questions like that all the time. If it major, than you should have a professional look at it. 

A] Re-use - this is when cabinets are good, structurally sound and 'healthy' - yup! RE-use them - take that kitchen cabinet and put it in the laundry. Or put it in the garage - if it is what I call a 'non-fussy' use then that cabinetry will serve you until the hardware fails or it starts annoying you. 

B] Re-purpose - this is my favourite. 

Many times it happens that you can give an old kitchen cabinet a new interesting take on life. Usually it involves some work - but often times you can do it yourself - no need to hire a professional.  Like this piece that was pulled out on a 'silent demo night'**. When we first pulled out it out it was just set aside with other cabinets. But then, when we took a break, we all ended up sitting on our 'new bench'. And it served that purpose for the next few days, long enough in fact, that we have plans for it to turn it into a real bench [we kept all the hardware and the doors].

So the moral of the above 'demolition story' is that the primary culprit in kitchens failing is moisture.  Now that is a no-brainer - kitchens are all about water - cooking with it and cleaning with it and whatever else you do in your kitchen with water. 

So what can you do about it? Well, if you are a DIY-selfer - like the majority of readers of this blog - than you should read more of my blog. The experiences I write about, issues I encounter and solutions I suggest are based on extensive professional experience, genuine curiosity to make things better and last longer and a strong, ethical commitment to my craft***. It annoys me to do crappy work and that is clearly reflected in my quotes - I have never found myself to be the lowest bidder on any project so far - I know what is required for a properly designed and installed kitchen - functional, beautiful and superior results that will last, and I price it as such - my install is not the standard IKEA install.***

*Crap! Saying that makes me feel old....middle age...macarena~

** that's right people, I was breaking rules, I was conducting a demolition on the weekend in a condo building - I was very quiet, did not use an impact-driver [that's the cordless drill that makes that lout 'ra-ta-ta-ta-ta' noise but is superior] choosing instead to use regular cordless drill, and there was no power cutting - if I had to cut something, it was done by hand. It was a success - no noise complaints in the condo. 

*** I've built bigger!

Friday Night @10pm, Charles' place

hackers, engineers, designers, 'pool hustlers' - optimizing world class prototype engine, machining metal, drinking non-sophisticated beer and eating self heating military rations*

*so you can see if you can survive on them.

Just another Friday night at Ultimate Workshop, it's really cool shop next door to mine. Charles runs it. I was just there drinking beer.