Thursday, 2 August 2012

Are Sub-Zero refrigerators worth the price?

If you're planning a high-end kitchen renovation, chances are you're working with a designer, and if you're working with a designer, she's probably mentioned Sub-Zero as a possible refrigerator to consider. Among pricey, built-in models, Sub-Zero is perhaps the most recognized brand. But is it worth the $7,500 or more you'll have to pay?

Speaking strictly in terms of performance, the answer is no. Just within the built-in category, Thermador and Jenn-Air are two competitors that cost slightly less than Sub-Zero and earned higher overall scores in Consumer Reports' latest refrigerator Ratings, largely on the strength of their quieter operation. The Sub-Zero B1-36U, $7,700, is particularly noisy, which could be an issue if you're sound-sensitive.

Looking across all types of refrigerators, the highest overall scores belong to several French-door bottom-freezers that cost between $1,500 and $2,700. That top performance has helped make French-door fridges the fastest-growing configuration. But then, part of the reason people spend $7,500 on anything, including a refrigerator, is so that they can own something that everyone else doesn't have.

That gets to the less quantifiable value of a Sub-Zero, or any built-in refrigerator for that matter. Take style, for example: there's simply no mistaking the imposing 80-inch-high frame of a built-in—a foot or more taller than other configurations. Then there's the fact that integrated panels, often desired in high-end kitchens because they make the appliances disappear into the cabinets, are easier to do with built-in models because they often don't have through-the-door ice and water dispensers.

Last but not least, there's brand recognition. Like we said at the top, Sub-Zero is one of, if not the biggest name in high-end refrigerators. So anyone who visits your kitchen is going to know you spent top dollar on the appliance. That includes would-be buyers down the line. Indeed, real estate professionals have told us time and again that most luxury-home buyers expect to see professional appliances in the kitchen.

So are Sub-Zero refrigerators worth the price? There's no easy answer. But if you're going to spend that much on a refrigerator, make sure you're doing it for the right reasons.

Via: Are Sub-Zero refrigerators worth the price?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Color Watch: Chartreuse Green

Here is another fun color to think about incorporating into your home, Chartreuse green! And, yes when you think about this color Im sure your mind goes to the movie Shrek or Muppet movie. This interesting color is half green half yellow has become a really hot color of 2012 in home and in fashion.

Here are a few interiors that have embraced this hot new color well.

Not sure how long this chartreuse hue will last but, it maybe popular for a while longer. Well it certainly looks great on the painted hardwood floors and in the kitchen above. I my actually consider using this color in my home, maybe not my whole kitchen or hardwood floors though. A accent wall or paint a old piece of furniture is more along lines of what I was thinking.

So, what are your thoughts? Would you use Chartreuse green in your home or office?

Happy Wednesday!

(Images: Linda Holt Interiors)
- Xoxo Jessica

Via: Color Watch: Chartreuse Green

Frigidaire's three dishwasher spray arms clean the same

As dishwasher features go, the lower spray arm is vital to the wash process, ever present beneath the racks no matter where the other sprays are situated. So when Frigidaire introduced three new dishwashers with three different spray arms, Consumer Reports brought them into its labs to compare washing performance.

The three models have been added to our dishwasher Ratings of almost 90 models. All Frigidaire Gallery units, the FGBD2435N[W], FGBD2445N[F], and FGHD2465N[F] range in price from $400 to $600 and are more alike than different, with slight variations in water use, cycle time, and a few features. Except for the spray arms.

The lowest-end model of the trio, the $400 Gallery FGBD2435N[W], has a traditional spray arm. The company makes no specific claims—other than the general "high-performing"—on the Frigidaire website. In the $550 Gallery FGBD2445N[F] the spray arm looks like a spinning capital T. The company says the blade spray arm "provides more water coverage for better cleaning" on its website. And the $600 Gallery FGHD2465N[F] departs further from traditional arms with a circular spray outlet (see photo) that spins at the end of an arm to provide, "four times better water coverage and a clean no other dishwasher can beat," according to Frigidaire.

You can't blame a manufacturer for trying out new innovations. A Frigidaire-commissioned study found that 78 percent of dishwasher owners admitted to re-running the dishwasher—with 22 percent of them doing so because the dishes weren't clean, according to Appliance Magazine. But will reconfiguring the spray arm solve that problem? In our Ratings, the three Frigidaires were all mid-pack models with virtually identical wash performance. Another concern: Frigidaire is among the most repair-prone brands of dishwashers, according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center's Annual Product Reliability Survey.

If you're in the market for a dishwasher, don't miss our buying advice, which includes a video on how we test.

Via: Frigidaire's three dishwasher spray arms clean the same

User-friendly thermostats pay off in energy savings

Nearly half the money you spend on home energy goes to heating and cooling. For the average household that's about $1,100 a year. A programmable thermostat can save you money by automatically reducing heating or cooling when you need it least. The thermostat has to be properly set, of course, and our latest tests of 30 models reveal that many are now much easier to use.

That wasn't always the case. Energy Star stopped certifying thermostats in late 2009 mostly because they were so hard to use and could lead to wasted energy. Energy Star is developing new standards that include ease of use, but in the meantime you'll find models in our new thermostat Ratings that are very simple to use with screens that are easy to see. Most models accurately maintained temperature settings within one to two degrees so our thermostat tests focus on ease of use based on our panelists ability to set them up and make routine adjustments before reading the manual and then with the manual if needed.

And here's the really cool part. The top three thermostats, like the Venstar ColorTouch Series T5800, $170, have interactive displays and color screens. Some allow you to monitor energy use and make changes via your smart phone or laptop while you're off trotting the globe. The $250 Nest Learning Thermostat can be programmed remotely. It's unlike any thermostat we tested in form or function and a recommended model. It's round and sleek, with a rim dial for making adjustments, and a techie's dream. You can program it yourself or let it automatically program itself based on changes you make the first week. It notes your preferences and schedules and keeps on making adjustments. Pretty cool. And that's the whole idea.

Via: User-friendly thermostats pay off in energy savings

Okay, Pinterest I give in!

I resisted Pinterest for as long as I could. At some point, one simply has to put the social networking down and back slowly away from the computer. But then I had an actual use for it, and thats when I folded.

Im creating a new garden (more about that in a minute) and I actually needed (well. Needed in the way one needs anything related to a garden) a place to store ideas and plans. Pinterest was, of course, the exact right place to do that.

Id been a Pinterest spectator for a while, but it wasnt until I joined that I really started noticing what all our friends are doing there.

Like Debra Lee Baldwins gorgeous board of decorative glass.

And Dee Nashs collection of espalier ideas.

And Rebecca Sweets vertical gardens.

And Willi Galloways chickens.

And Genevieve Schmidts goth garden.

And Jayme Jenkins garden cocktails.

And Susan Morrisons lawn-free gardens.

Andwell, I could go on. Good stuff, thats what Im saying.

What sent me off the deep end on Pinterest was this: I was choosing colors for a cocktail-themed garden Im building, and as I was choosing paint colors for the fence, I realized that a lot of paint colors are named after iconic cocktails and their ingredients. You can get a paint color called Whiskey Sour, Negroni, Gimlet, Bloody Mary, or Cosmopolitan. If you want to mix your own, there are paint colors called Grenadine, Orange Bitters, Rye, Dark Rum, and Lemon Zest.

So I lost an entire evening to the create of a Pinterest board of paint colors with cocktail names. The combination you see here is Margarita: Tequila Lime, Orange Liqueur, and Crushed Ice.

And heres an Old-Fashioned: Bourbon, Orange Bitters, Maraschino Cherry, Sugar Cube:

and this is a Mojito: Rum, Lime Juice, Spearmint, Sugar Cube, Soda Water, Crushed Ice:

Okay, Ill stop now. You see what Pinterest does to people?

Ill keep you updated on the cocktail garden as it progresses. Oh, and is the brilliant, Pinterest-friendly site where I found all these paint colors, btw.

Via: Okay, Pinterest I give in!