Author: Larry Burton

How To Design A Kitchen

You and I both agree that the kitchen is the heart of a home. It’s the hub of all delicacies. But, truth is: no one enjoys cooking in a poorly designed or cluttered kitchen. Or is there?

If you want to know how to design a kitchen, or are you simply looking for ideas on how to remodel your kitchen, this article is for you.

Read on for easy and practical steps on how to create your dream picture.

Design A Kitchen

1. Start by Looking At The Bigger Picture

Are you building a new home? Or do you want to upgrade your current kitchen?
Whatever the case, begin by visualizing the end product. What kitchen layout would you want? How big will your kitchen be? We will look at the various kitchen layout options shortly. Also, take note of all the things you wouldn’t want in your kitchen.

Then, consider the positioning of your kitchen to the other rooms in your house. Is it an open plan kitchen or closed kitchen? The design of the kitchen you choose should blend in well with that of the rest of the house.
Look at the type of kitchen appliances you intend to have. Also, consider their sizes. Now draft a sketch of your dream kitchen on a paper.

Here are the five main possible layouts of a kitchen.

• Galley Kitchen

There are two variations of the galley kitchen design: a single or a double gallery. A single galley kitchen is designed such that everything (including the cabinets) is on only one side of the wall. This design is popular in small l kitchens. On the other hand, a double galley kitchen design has two units on two opposite walls, which creates a passage (or galley) between them. This design is simple yet extremely efficient.

• U-shaped kitchen

In the U-shaped kitchen, units are arranged around three adjacent walls to form a U shape. This type of kitchen design is ideal for larger kitchens. You can create lots of storage space. But, it is recommended that upper cabinets are installed on only one or two sides of the U shape. Otherwise, the kitchen may feel too closed with cabinets on all three sides.

• L-shaped kitchen

This is one of the most common kitchen layouts. It is perfect for both large and small kitchen spaces. Here, the units are arranged along perpendicular walls. If you want to achieve a more elegant and less cluttered L-shaped kitchen design, consider installing wall cabinets only on the longer side of the L shape.

• Open-plan kitchen

As a general rule of thumb, an open plan kitchen should be in the darkest side of the space. It should be close to the dining area and farthest from the main door. Another trending variation of an open plan kitchen is the inclusion of sliding doors to somehow separate the living area and the kitchen.

• Island Kitchen

This type of kitchen design is common in open-plan kitchens. It is also often incorporated in large U shaped kitchen designs. In an island kitchen, an extra working surface (the island) is included in the middle of the kitchen.

You can as well add one or two seats to your island to form a small kitchen hangout joint.

• Pro-Tip

When designing your kitchen, ensure that you create as much storage space as possible. It will come in very handy. But, if your kitchen cabinets will utilize even the corners spaces and other curvy areas in your kitchen, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, ensure all cabinet doors can open freely without inhibiting the adjacent doors or shelves. Also, make sure that these cabinets do not block the natural light in the kitchen.

In case feel the kitchen is a little tad too dark, consider adding extra lights.

Design A Kitchen

2. Have The kitchen Triangle In Mind

Irrespective of the type of kitchen design, be keen to maintain the golden kitchen triangle. The sink, stove, and fridge should form a triangle. The triangle increases the efficiency of the cook. The smaller the triangle, the better the navigation is in the kitchen. However, it is recommended that no side of the triangle should be below 4 feet.

3. Choose a top-quality kitchen worktop

When it comes to the choice of kitchen countertop, it all narrows down to your tastes, preferences, and budget. Remember that the type of countertop you select is going to be in your kitchen for years. Thus, it must be durable. It should also match the style of the other sections of your home.

One of the most elegant options of a kitchen countertop is granite. It is attractive and classy, extremely strong, and very durable. However, be ready to spend a few extra dollars. Other cheaper options include quartz, concrete, glass, marble, tiles … the list is endless.

4. Consider The Location Of Lighting And Other Electrical Features

Next, consider your preferred type of lighting in your kitchen. Where would you want lighting fixtures to be? A good idea is to install different types of lightings at different height levels. You can even have some of the lights integrated with your kitchen cabinet.

Also, consider the best position of electrical sockets and switches. Generally, a kitchen needs plenty of sockets. The sockets should be in proximity to the areas where your fridge and other electrical appliances will be.

5. Choose The Best Services Providers

Research shows that an average American spends more than 13 hours per week in the kitchen. Thus, there’s a need for using the best service providers available.

Choose the best architects and interior designers. Select the topmost cabinet manufacturers within your budget. And, also, hire only top-notch contractors. You will not only get the ultimate value for your money but you’ll also love the output.

The Bottom Line,

There is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to how to design a kitchen. It all depends on the available kitchen space, budget, and personal preferences.

However, you can achieve an elegant kitchen design by following the simple steps outlined above.
I hope this article helps you design your dream kitchen!

A Day of Exploration

Earlier this week, was a day celebrated by many historians. It is also a day celebrated by everyday people. Don’t get me wrong, Columbus Day is no match for Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day in terms of festivities, but it’s still just as important. Why?

Columbus Day commemorates the day Christopher Columbus discovered the New World on October 12, 1492 (remember the old quip we learned as kids: “Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492.”) Originally, Columbus meant to travel westward to chart a sea trade route to Asia. However, he unknowingly landed in the Bahamas, making him the first European to explore the Americas since the 10th century. It was not until several trips back to this new land that he realized he never reached Asia to begin with.

Columbus is not only remembered for his accidental discovery, but for the ships he used during his first trip to the Americas as well. The Spanish monarchs of the time, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, decided to fund Columbus’ first trip to “Asia” so he could bring back gold and trade spices for them. They gave him three manned ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria—the last of which being his chosen flagship. All three vessels made it to the New World, but not all of them took the same path—or even made it—back.

The Santa Maria stayed behind—and eventually sank—while the others set sail for their home land. The Niña and the Pinta were the only ships that were able to return safely. Interestingly enough, of the two survivors, only the Niña continued travels of exploration while the Pinta faded from history. As these three ships had their own fate, Dwight Edwards allows us to have our own in his new book, A Tale of Three Ships: Setting Sail for Your Extraordinary Dream.

Tale3Ships_cvrEdwards’ book is an extended parable about the three directions every person’s life can take, using Columbus’ ships as a metaphor. Edwards dubs them each the sinking ship of survival, the cruise ship of enjoyment, and the battleship of meaningful influence. By reading this book, in addition to learning about the path these historical ships took, you also gain insight about which direction your own life is taking—and how to adjust your sails to guarantee the most successful journey. Filled with history and inspiration, A Tale of Three Ships: Setting Sail for Your Extraordinary Dream will have you discovering worlds you never thought you’d find.

Dallas vs. Houston

Dallas and Houston are both outstanding examples of America’s many centers of commerce and diversity. Both cities represent success and advancement in many sectors, from medical innovations to well-established sports teams to marvelously crafted art centers.

In Bragging Rights: The Dallas-Houston Rivalry, Carolyn Kneese, John DeMers and Lynn Ashby conduct an in-depth investigation of the growth in both Dallas and Houston through a series of interviews with leaders across many sectors within their respective cities.

Both cities have developed in unique ways: flashback to 2000, a time when Dallas residents were donning loafers, drinking chardonnay and driving Volvos. Meanwhile, 240 miles to the south, Houstonians were sporting boots, hard hats and driving pickup trucks. While both cities enjoy and promote the Texas standard of hospitality, their trends could not be more different. Despite the proximity of Houston and Dallas, each has its own distinctive feel and style.

Dallas and Houston are both in the top ten highest populated cities in America. While Houston ranks as the fourth largest city in America, Dallas is only a few notches lower at ninth. In terms of population, the rights to brag are Houston’s!

One of the many things that Houston can pride itself on is the Texas Medical Center. Planned in the aftermath of World War II, the Texas Medical Center is the largest in the world. The Medical Center houses no fewer than fifty medical institutions and receives around 150,000 visitors on a daily basis. With an estimated 18,000 patients from other countries, Houston’s reputation as an international city is further solidified.

While Houston boasts its sprawling medical center, Dallas prides in its widely-known general surgery program and utilizes a variety of hospitals and medical centers. Dallas’ talented physicians are proud to practice in the capital of preventative medicine, a title earned after years of effort and studies.

Both cities aspired to create a more public show of culture and art, creating large art museums and performance halls. Houston shone in the theater department and is home to the most district theater seats outside of New York. However, Houston’s theaters were not the only attractions budding. The Houston Symphony has now begun its second century as a world-class symphony orchestra.

Dallas has also made strides in the arts. The Dallas Arts District’s urban revitalization has attracted millions of new visitors. The Dallas Museum of Art is also the first museum of scale in America to offer both free membership and admission. Buildings designed to perfection by Pritzker Prize-winning architects are more often found in the Dallas Arts District than any other neighborhood. Another point for Dallas is the Norman Foster’s Winspear Opera House, which was named the best in America by Opera magazine. The Dallas Theater Center also gained recognition, this time from First Lady Michelle Obama for Project Discovery.

So, which city do you think deserves the bragging rights in the rivalry? As a proud Houstonian, my vote goes to Houston. What about you?

The History of the Hamburger

May is National Hamburger Month and most Americans will proudly celebrate with cookouts and tailgates this Memorial Day weekend. It’s no secret that we love our hamburgers hot and juicy, with a side of salty seasoned fries, some type of baked beans and an iced tea or cold beer to wash it all down. However, few people know where the hamburger got its start.

I’m sure we all assume it was in Hamburg—the name gave it away—but there is more to the story! In the late 19th century, a New York restaurant served a dish called the Hamburg Steak that featured a minced beef filet, salted and smoked, served raw with breadcrumbs and onions, and occasionally with a raw egg. Although this sounds more like the precursor to meat loaf than to our beloved hamburger, the minced meat was the crucial step that first gave us the burger patty to sandwich between two buns.

Before the minced meat mania, around the year 1765, English aristocrat John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, coined the term “sandwich” to describe his preference to eat his food between bread so as to not dirty his fingers while he played cards. Though the sandwich had its origins in Sandwich, by Sandwich, it was never written into a recipe until Elizabeth Leslie Cook included the sandwich in her cookbook in 1840. This was the beginning of sandwiching meat between bread in U.S. cuisine. Interestingly enough, the sandwich trend coincided with the rise of fairs, festivals, and amusement parks as a staple of American outdoor fun.

A local fair-man named Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin, wanted his fair-goers moving about the festivities from booth to booth while eating instead of stopping to sit and eat. So Nagreen put this minced meat patty—the Hamburg Steak—between two pieces of bread. And we have: the hamburger. Though there is debate on the first innovation of the hamburger and by whom—with potential discovery dates ranging from 1885 to 1904—what remains true is that we can celebrate the hamburger today in all of its cheesy, franchised glory! And for that we are grateful.

What I have learned at Bright Sky Press

Fourteen months ago—my first month as an intern—I slaved over a 300-word blog for two days before it was submitted. Google showed me, “How to Write a Blog” and “Catchy Openings for Your Blog” that did nothing but increase my nerves. Fast-forward to today, I may open Google to check if a word is hyphenated, but after writing many blogs and editing even more, I am happy to say I no longer need “5 Ways to Make People Read Your Blog.”

Today is my last day at Bright Sky Press. I move forward with a heavy heart, but knowing that throughout the course of the past year I have learned new things, made many new friends and overcome several challenges. Fourteen months after my first blog, I want to share with you my last thoughts—what I have learned during my time with Bright Sky Press.

Books Make A Difference

I think that everyone in the book industry starts as a book lover and I was no different. What I didn’t realize was how much effort goes into each book. Seeing the process from manuscript to edits to design to final product opened my eyes to the intricacies of book creation. Beyond that, the first time I sat down with my godson and read Silly Shoes, I realized that OUR books—Bright Sky Press books—are important. We tell Texas stories in their many different forms and those stories touch people, young and old.

Book Publishing Is A Service Industry

We are here to serve—authors, booksellers and book buyers alike. We want to use our knowledge in the best way we know how to show and tell the story an author has created. We listen to input from booksellers in order to provide books in which they can generate interest. We work tirelessly to provide efficient service to customers who love our books. I think that the historical model of big publishing has pitted publishers against the world, leaving a sour taste on the tongues of readers. That’s not us. At Bright Sky Press, our real desire to is to use our gifts to contribute positively to the world through our favorite medium—books.

Coworkers Matter

You interact with people at work just as much or more than you interact with the people with whom you live. Having a positive work environment with coworkers you enjoy makes all the difference. I was lucky on both counts. If you know our employees—Lucy, Fiona, Marla, Eva, Lauren, Leslie and now a slew of interns—you know that you can rarely find more dedicated and hardworking people. From tea times to late-night book events, the people you spend time with at work can make a huge difference in your attitude. Coworkers matter. And I have had some of the best.
Although I am off to my next great adventure, the lessons I have learned and the people of Bright Sky Press will always be in my heart. I truly believe that we are the embodiment of our mission statement and I cannot wait to see how we will continue to grow.

Thank you for an amazing year!

Illuminating History

As the Fourth of July nears, I have to make a confession that will no doubt reveal I’m an amateur American: When I was a child, I failed to grasp the gravity of the Declaration of Independence. I noted it for one reason and one reason only: John Hancock’s sprawling, splashy signature. It was only later that I came to appreciate the document that affirmed our right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, and of course the other great men who’s significantly more sedate signatures donned the Declaration. In 1776, future president John Adams stamped his approval and declared the importance of commemorating the event in a letter to his wife, Abigail: “It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade…and illuminations…from one end of this continent to the other.”

These days we refer to “illuminations” as fireworks and put on pyrotechnic shows that would make our founding fathers swell with pride. Fireworks, much like our nation, underwent a series of evolutions before becoming the dazzling displays they are today.

According to the History Channel, the earliest iteration of fireworks was invented in China in 200 B.C. The Chinese created rudimentary firecrackers to ward off evil spirits by roasting bamboo—the hollow plants explode in fire generating a loud bang. Between the 7th and 10th centuries, Chinese alchemists developed gunpowder by combining various chemicals including sulfur and potassium nitrate. By pouring this volatile compound into bamboo stalks and throwing them into fire, the Chinese produced the very first fireworks! Not long after they replaced the bamboo with paper tubes and began lighting fireworks to celebrate special events like Chinese New Year.

The Chinese recognized the fireworks’ potential to revolutionize warfare. By the 12th century, they had used this technology to build rockets giving them an advantage over their enemies and laying the groundwork for aerial firework shows. Over the next several centuries, travelers spread firework formulas from China through Europe and into Arabia.

While we owe the original firework to our Chinese neighbor, we should thank our Italian neighbors for the recipe behind the vibrant, colorful fireworks that brighten the night sky every Independence Day. In the early 19th century they began integrating metals and other extra ingredients into the traditional firework equation. The resulting pyrotechnic stars, as they’re now called, were fireworks imbued with brilliant, prismatic hues and a broad new array of spark effects.

Fireworks have made quite the advancement from bamboo stalks becoming so popular that they are no longer reserved solely for celebrations. Pyrotechnic competitions from the Montreal Fireworks Festival to the World Pyro Olympics in the Philippines and other festivals devoted to fireworks span the globe from the Singapore to Switzerland.

This Fourth of July, there are several places to get your firework fix in and around Houston. Freedom over Houston, held in Eleanor Tinsley Park, packs a pyrotechnic punch and features country music legend Clint Black. The Fourth of July Celebration at the Kemah Boardwalk promises live music and a patriotic fireworks salute. If you’re in the Woodlands, check out the Red, Hot and Blue Festival for fireworks and family-friendly activities.

Fireworks are so much more than a light show—they are a testament to human inspiration, ingenuity and creativity. And that leaves me feeling pretty festive.