Tame the Tangle
We all dream of achieving that clean-counter look featured in design magazines. You know the one. The quartz kitchen counters cleared of everything except a coffee maker, sleek hand soap dispenser, and tastefully arranged floral bouquet. Or the office desk featuring nothing more than an open laptop and a stylish family photo.
But with all the devices and tools we use everyday, that kind of organization seems impossible to achieve. Fortunately for fans of clean lines, Docking Drawer is here to solve one of the most nagging organizational issues of them all: pesky charging cords.
This innovative product allows you pull your cell phones, tablets, or other commonly used devices off your countertops or desks and into your drawers. How? Docking Drawer is an electrical outlet you mount to the back of any drawer, allowing you to charge, power, and store your devices out of sight.
Imagine stashing your cell phone in a kitchen drawer while you’re making dinner. Or storing it in your desk while you’re under deadline. With Docking Drawer, your cell, tablet, or laptop stays out of the way while it’s charging but remains within easy reach if needed.
A Docking Drawer for Every Need
Docking Drawer charging outlets come in four different series designed to fit drawers between 2 and 5 inches deep.
The Blade series fits drawers 2 inches deep and includes two USB charging ports and two AC outlets.
The Slim series fits drawers 3 inches deep and includes two USB and two AC outlets.
The USB Narrow series fits drawers 3-5 inches deep and features four USB charging ports.
The Docking Drawer series fits drawers 4 inches deep and includes two USB and two AC outlets.
If you’re powering hair dryers, curling irons, or anything requiring 20 amps of service, the Powering Docking Drawer will best serve your needs. These outlets feature two AC outlets and a Ground Fault Interrupter for added safety.
Docking Drawers are designed with a hinged guiding arm that keeps cords from tangling as you open and close your drawers. As you’re choosing your own outlet, use your drawer depth as a guide so your drawers can open all the way.
A Safe Solution
Docking Drawers are designed to be convenient, stylish, and most importantly safe. These outlets are ETL listed, which means they’ve been tested by independent testing laboratories recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health administration.
What’s more, Docking Drawer tests well beyond prescribed product safety standards. More specifically, a standard cycle test is 25,000. Docking Drawers test to 500,000, which is the equivalent of a drawer opening and closing every 15 minutes for 30 years. And according to the manufacturer, they’ve never had a Docking Drawer returned because it failed to pass inspection.
That means you can rest assured that this innovative product will be a safe and reliable addition to your home.
Docking Drawer is so versatile, there’s a near endless number of ways it can be used. If you’d like help including this product into your new home or remodeling project, the designers at Douglah Designs can help.
Call us today at (925) 284-4560 or fill out our contact form here. Douglah Designs is recognized as one of the Bay Area’s premier interior design and remodeling companies serving Contra Costa and Alameda Counties along the 24/680 corridors. We have the experience to make your clean counter dreams come true.
A Constant Struggle
If you love to cook, you’ve probably spent hour after hour rearranging your kitchen. Cutting boards, bowls, and colanders have all lived on different shelves, in cabinets, or on tabletops. Cutlery and kitchen tools move from drawer to drawer while appliances migrate between counters in a never-ending search for added efficiency. But no matter how many changes you make, there’s never extra space to be found.
This problem is common in kitchens across America and is due in large part to the clutter caused by dozens of different items all designed to work independently from each other. But imagine instead designing your kitchen around a central workstation - comprised of customized components - operating as a hub where every task could be accomplished. Doesn’t that sound nice? Well The Galley was designed to do just that.
Made in the USA from 16 gauge double stainless steel, The Galley is tough enough to be the centerpiece of your indoor or outdoor kitchen. At its heart, The Galley is a sink with a double-tiered design that allows cutting boards, platforms, and racks to float above colanders and bowls. Want to prepare raw vegetables? Slide the cutting board between the colander and bowl and you can rinse, chop, and transfer your veggies all in one place. And when you’re done, just push the remnants directly from the cutting board into the sink below for disposal. And that’s just the benefits from a single layout. With over 50 different products in The Galley line, your customization options are nearly limitless.
Included with your Galley workstation is a culinary kit filled with cutting boards, deluxe colanders, platforms, drying racks, drain covers, and bowls so you’ll have dozens of set-up configurations on day one. You’ll also have the option of selecting from a host of other accessories - including knife blocks, condiments boards, basins, and more - all designed to work together to form your ideal kitchen workspace.
And you won’t need a commercial-sized kitchen to benefit from The Galley. With configurations including six single and four double bowl lengths, as well as a reversible side drain location, you’ll find a solution that fits your layout perfectly. You can also select your preferred finish options so your Galley workstation will look just as good as it performs.
Once you design and install your Galley workstation, you’ll quickly find it to be the most important and used appliance in your kitchen. You now have a space where you can prepare, serve, entertain, and clean up all in one convenient place. And that’s not all. The Galley will also make your kitchen a more social space. While a normal sink would subtract valuable kitchen space, a Galley workstation actually adds to it. That extra room allows others to join in and assist in the fun of preparing a meal, while the home’s head chef can stay more involved with family and guests. The Galley’s unique eye for design, nearly endless customization options, and its ability to bring people together will truly change the way you think about and use your kitchen.
Call Today for More Information on The Galley
Does The Galley sound like the perfect solution for your kitchen conundrums? If so, the Douglah Designs team is ready to show you how. Our design and installation professionals can work with you to create the perfect Galley for your unique space and install it with precision and care so your new workstation will always function when you need it to.
Call us today at at 925-284-1772 or fill out our contact form here and we’ll respond right away. When you speak with one of our designers, don’t forget to ask about the Galley Tap and Galley Dresser, both new this year and designed specifically to compliment your Galley Workstation. You’re one step closer to finally having the kitchen of your dreams. Don’t wait any longer!
A Healthy Economy
The United States is currently enjoying one of the longest job growth streaks in its history. As of February, 2017 unemployment stood 4.7%, which continues a trend of sub 5% unemployment throughout 2016. At an unemployment rate of 5% or less, it’s generally understood that anyone who’s able and willing to work has found a job. So if this is true, most industries must have plenty of workers, right? Not so fast.
A Construction Skilled Labor Shortage
The construction industry - long a bellwether of overall economic health - has seen year-over-year growth in construction starts in each of the last four years. This growth has spawned a corresponding jump in construction hiring according to a recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLT) report. But unlike the economy at large where growth and job opening signal health, this new data underscores the uncertain future for America’s construction industry.
In 2015 the Associated General Contractors of America commissioned a report surveying 1,358 U.S. Contractors. The results neatly capture the problem the industry faces:
“... 86 percent said they are having difficulty filling hourly craft or salaried professional positions. Seventy-nine percent of responding firms nationwide are having a hard time filling one or more of the 21 hourly craft professional positions, particularly carpenters (73 percent of firms that employ carpenters report difficulty), sheet metal installers (65 percent) and concrete workers (63 percent).”
So during one of the longest job growths streaks in the country’s history, in an economy enjoying full employment, the majority of contractors report difficulty finding qualified workers. So what gives? A closer look at the jobs data shows us why.
Jobs Data Shows Aging Workforce?
By now we all know the role housing played in the Great Recession and in many ways, the construction industry bore the brunt of the subsequent losses. Between 2007 and 2011 - during the worst years of the housing crash - approximately 2 million skilled tradespeople left the industry. Those workers didn’t just drop out of the workforce. They went back to school, acquired new skills, and moved on to other lines of work. As a result, the industry has struggled to replace those lost jobs, even as the sector heated up over the last few year.
To make matters worse, the construction workers still on the job are a rapidly aging group. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows the median age of a U.S. construction worker is between 41 & 43 depending on their exact job. The same data reveals that more than half of the total construction workforce is over 35, with more than a third - close to 3 million workers overall - nearing retirement age. The construction workforce under the age of 35 might be enough to replace all those retiring workers alone, but BLS data also predicts the construction sector will grow by nearly 15% - adding 800k new jobs - through 2024.
So we have a sector struggling to return to prerecession employment levels, currently experiencing heavy demand, with more growth predicted for much of the next ten years. Alongside it, there’s a rapidly aging workforce that lacks the young workers necessary to fill all the new jobs. Therein lies the skilled labor shortage.
How Does This Shortage Affect the Construction & Remodeling Industries
Like many other aspects of our economic system, the job market is subject to the laws of supply and demand. A growing number of jobs with fewer workers available to fill them means wages rise as competition increases for qualified candidates. This results in higher labor costs that are ultimately passed down to consumers. In addition, a smaller hiring pool makes it more difficult for construction contractors to scale up to meet increased demand. As a result, new projects often face long delays. This all spells trouble for the long-term health of the construction sector, and there’s no easy solution in sight.
How Does this Problem Get Fixed?
Many people point to the decline in trade school attendance and trade school education in high schools as a source of this current predicament. As a counter, many industry associations are sponsoring efforts to encourage younger people to consider a future in the trades. They hope more younger workers will be enticed by the promise of long-term stability and comparatively higher wages. The available data certainly underscores this argument.
Douglah Designs Sees the Impact
As a company dedicated to luxury home remodeling, Douglah Designs understands how important skilled tradespeople are to the health of our industry. That’s why we employ our own in-house team of construction managers and skilled installers. It’s the only way we can guarantee your remodeling job will be completed on budget and under the timeline we’ve promised. If you’re interested in learning more about our process, please feel free to contact us.
We all benefit from a construction industry that’s able to provide fast service for a competitive price but unfortunately, current trends are discouraging. If you know a younger person considering their own future career path, encourage them to consider the trades. There’s plenty of opportunity and the future health of the industry - and the nation - might depend on people just like them.
If you wish a bathroom in your home could be a little larger without adding more square footage, here are a few design tips to make your bath look and feel more spacious.
Freestanding or wall-hung vanity: Replacing wall-to-wall built-in cabinetry that goes down to the floor with a delicate free-standing pedestal, a furniture-style freestanding vanity, or a sleek wall-hung vanity will make the bathroom floor space appear larger (try Furniture Guild). Being able to see the flooring continue underneath the vanity, as well as space around the sides of the vanity, will give the illusion of a larger room, or at least a less cramped one. Remove extra wall shelves and accessories that cut into the space.
Select a fresh color palate: Clean neutrals, fresh whites, and soft “cool” colors can make your bathroom look more spacious. Strong colors on the walls will shrink your space.
Keep it clean: Stick to a clean, minimalist style when choosing fixtures and finishes. Reduce décor in the room; try only one piece of art instead of several small ones. Store toiletries away instead of on tub and sink surrounds and other surfaces.
More light: Adding more lighting to the bathroom, such as recessed cans and wall sconces, will brighten and therefore open up the space.
Glass and mirrors: Glass accent tiles and a large mirror can help pick up light in the room. Better yet, use a mirrored medicine cabinet that’s fully recessed into the wall (try Robern cabinets) for extra storage without taking up extra floor or wall space. Always choose clear glass instead of frosted glass, especially for the shower door, to keep the bathroom more open.
Choose the right tiles: Stick with larger scale tiles instead of busy mosaics. Try rectangular floor tiles like 12” x 24” and run them length-wise down the bathroom so the space appears to continue. White subway tiles on the tub/shower walls provide a clean yet timeless look. Choose grout colors that match the tiles if you are using small tiles, as contrasting grout lines can visually shrink the bathroom’s floor space.
If you are planning a bathroom remodel with a designer or a contractor, you have likely been asked what kind of shower system you want. There are only two basic systems, and chances are you have used both at some point, but the technical plumbing lingo can make it all a bit confusing.
Pressure balance shower system
With a pressure balance valve, you have one lever that is your on/off function and controls only the temperature of the water, not the volume of the water. When the valve is on, it is all the way on (2.0 gallons per minute in California). You cannot decrease the volume of water coming out, but you can always use an adjustable shower head to change the pressure.
Thermostatic shower system
With a thermostatic system, you typically have two levers or controls. One lever controls the temperature of the water (thermostatic valve), and a second lever controls the volume of the water and the on/off function (volume control valve). This system allows you to set the temperature once and for all so that each time you take a shower it’s set the way you want it. You can also adjust the volume of the water coming out, but 2.0 gallons per minute is still the maximum. This valve is more complex and therefore is more expensive than the pressure balance valve.
With either system, you can add a diverter function to the shower. A diverter allows you to have more than one shower head (or a tub/shower combo). In California, you can only have one shower head running at a time, so each shower head needs to be on it's own diverter port that cannot be operated at the same time as another, and the valve cannot have any shared ports. Today, "all-in-one" valves are available that combine the diverter, volume control, and thermostatic valve on one escutcheon plate for more simple look.
So what’s popular?
Our design team usually suggests a pressure balance system in hall, kids, and guest bathrooms, and a thermostatic system with a fixed shower head and a handheld shower head on a diverter function in the master bathroom.
We are frequently asked to explain the difference between stock cabinets, semi-custom cabinets, and custom cabinets. Here is a brief explanation of the three to help better understand why the differences drive the overall price.
Stock kitchen cabinets are pre-made based on a set catalog of options, finishes, and sizes determined by the company. Only these pre-determined sizes and options are manufactured. There is no option to edit or customize for your project beyond the standard offerings that the factory produces. Diamond is one of the stock cabinetry options that we offer.
Semi-custom kitchen cabinets are also made based on a catalog of options determined by the company. However, semi-custom cabinets are often available in more sizes, more woods and finishes, and with more options and accessories available. The factory is typically making these cabinets per your order. DeWils is an example of a semi-custom cabinetry option that we offer.
Choosing to work with a custom cabinet company gives you free reign in terms of woods, finishes, design options, sizes, and accessories. If you can dream it, chances are it can be built, as your cabinets will be made specifically for you based on your order. Different from a local cabinetmakers’ shop, the custom cabinet companies that we work with are still made inside a factory, which allows the temperature, humidity, and air dust levels to be controlled for a flawless finish. Bentwood is one of the custom kitchen cabinetry options that we offer.
We recently became dealers of an exclusive handmade tile collection called Tabarka Studio, and it is already one of my favorite products we offer. Tabarka specializes in beautiful handmade ceramic and terra cotta tiles that are hand glazed or painted with intricate patterns. The tiles are perfect for any indoor floor or wall application and look especially beautiful as a kitchen backsplash, fireplace surround, or a powder bath floor.
The shapes, patterns, and colors of Tabarka tile are influenced by art, architecture, and design from all over the world and from many different eras. Tile inspiration stems anywhere from the Art Nouveau style Paris Metro signs, to the Moorish patterns of Alhambra, and beyond.
Here are some beautiful pieces from the Tabarka Studio collection:
We could all use a little inspiration.
Porcelain is one of the most popular tile options due to its durability, cost, and consistency in color and texture. Porcelain is typically more durable than natural stone due to its resistance to staining, etching, and scratching. Porcelain tile can be used anywhere, and most are suitable for outdoor use and wet applications. Many types of natural stone contain calcium that can wear with time, but that will not happen with most porcelain. Since porcelain is man-made, its color and texture are controlled, unlike natural stone where variation is inherent and often quite prominent.
Porcelain tile can look almost any way, shape, or shade imaginable. A porcelain tile can be as small as a fraction of an inch or as large as several square feet per piece. Porcelain tile can be made to look almost exactly like natural stone, hardwood flooring, concrete, or anything else you can think of. And trust me, the technology to do so is getting better and better.
Here are my favorite porcelain "look-alike" collections:
Bamboo is one of my favorite "green" materials to use in interior design projects. It is a rapidly renewable resource and most bamboo products are FSC-certified. Not only do many types of bamboo regenerate without needing replanting, but it also grows easily on its own without pesticides or other chemicals. Its ease and speed of growth make bamboo one of the most eco-friendly materials on the planet.
Not only is it environmentally friendly, it also performs. The species of bamboo used for building materials is very hard and durable, making it a great option for hardwood flooring, cabinetry, butcher-block countertops, and more, and it looks beautiful in all of these applications!
Here are some of my favorite bamboo products:
Bamboo is an obvious option for achieving that "zen" feel in a space, but it actually works great in all styles of homes. Bamboo hardwood flooring is perfect for traditional and contemporary applications. Bamboo butcher block wood tops look good in every kitchen. Bamboo cabinets can be stained any color to work in all contemporary and many transitional applications.