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Friday, October 30, 2009

Everything about Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinets are the key ingredient in any kitchen layout. They will influence the look and feel of the kitchen, which is the heart of your home, more than anything else because it is the most visible part of the kitchen. Picking the right style of kitchen cabinets is essential in creating your kitchen's personality. This article helps you in choosing the right type of cabinet design.

What are Stock, Semi-Custom and Custom Cabinets?

'Stock', 'Semi-Custom' and 'Custom Cabinets' are terms that denote the type of production method used to make the cabinet.

Simply put, stock cabinets are mass-produced, semi-custom are stock cabinets that can be slightly altered and custom cabinets are built to order to meet individual needs and specifications. All three varieties are available in framed (a box with a frame surrounding the front edge) and frameless (a box with no face frame) construction. With the amount of styles, materials, brand names, accessories and hardware in the market, the price can greatly vary.

Stock Cabinets

These are the economical cabinets, because they are produced in large quantities on a mass production scale. Cabinet manufacturers, dealers and home improvement centers stock pile large quantities of cabinet parts so cabinets can be assembled quickly. Stock cabinet manufacturers have greatly improved and expanded its product line to include a large variety of sizes, shapes, styles, wood species and finishes.

The drawback to using stock cabinets is that you cannot make any modifications, so what you see is what you get. You may also have to use filler materials to fill up any changes in size during fitting. Stock cabinets still remain the most popular choice because they're affordable and readily available.

Semi-Custom Cabinets

Semi-custom cabinets are a stock line of cabinets where simple modifications will be made at the time of production. Semi-custom also offers you more choices when it comes to style, construction materials and colors. You can be a little more creative when going semi-custom by choosing some unique built-ins like pullout bins, matching interiors and inverted frames. Be sure to ask the manufacturer about the options available. Be thorough with semi-custom designs because changes can be very expensive and increase delivery time (which is usually a month or more) and they may not be returnable if they don't fit.

Custom Cabinets

The word custom in the case of Kitchen cabinets does not mean that you will be able to draw a design and have it made to your specifications, because that is hard to find and very costly. In the world of Kitchen cabinets, custom can mean anything from slight modifications to elaborate add-ons. Most manufacturers start out with a basic product line offering cabinets in standard sizes and customize from there. The big difference between a semi-custom and a custom manufacturer is the number of changes they are willing to make to their product lines. Most manufacturers offer a large selection of finish options, trims and storage configurations and accessories. You will have to be patient if you order for custom cabinets because it can take 3 months or longer before your cabinets are delivered; and in many cases payment in full is required when the order is placed.

Cabinet Doors

Be sure that your countertops, flooring, and other design elements complement the cabinets you choose. The first thing you need to decide is the material you want to use and how you want to finish it off. Their style, color, and decoration will contribute most to your cabinets' overall look.


Wood doors remain the most popular choice, not just because they're so plentiful but because they're durable, beautiful and versatile. The top woods in Kerala are teak and mahogany. You can decide on what natural wood to choose by the kind of wood grain and color you like.

Shaping The Door - Slab, Raised and Recessed Panels

When it comes to deciding the shape of your cabinet doors you can choose flat, raised or recessed in a pattern that can be plain and simple or intricately carved.

Slab is a flat door style that gives the appearance of a solid piece of wood with no raised or recessed profile. They're usually made out of several pieces of sawn timber and joined with an adhesive. If you opt for laminate slab you'll get a door made of plywood or MDF panels and then covered with laminate.

The best way to understand the look of a recessed panel is to think of a picture frame with a flat panel. The frame can be attached to the panel by using a cope and pattern joint. These panels are easy to decorate and popular when made with a groove.

A raised panel is constructed in the same manner as a recessed panel except it is given an edge by cutting it dimensionally and then routing or shaping the desired edge profile, like square or arched.


Due to modern hi-tech finishing techniques used by cabinet manufacturers, cleaning your cabinets is no longer a major household task.

By using polyurethane finishes, your cabinets should only require a good dusting or wiping. Think about durability, when you choose your finish, because a clear finish will show the natural changes in wood over time, while staining the wood in its natural color will lock that shade in forever.

The interior of cabinets

Always keep in mind that the primary purpose of Kitchen cabinets is storage. After deciding on the Kitchen cabinet appearance and material, it is time to get practical and decide about what is inside the cabinet. After all, a cabinet is a storage box...and the quality of the cabinet lies in the construction of the box and not the door. The majority of cabinet manufacturers offer several different levels of prices based on quality.

Your storage area is usually combined of a series of individual cabinets, joined together side-by-side. Cabinets that are on the floor (base cabinets) are covered with a countertop, and may have all drawers, doors, shelves, pull-outs or a combination of these.

Kitchen sinks usually have doors, but no shelves or drawers, leaving the interior space open for the sink and plumbing.

Wall cabinets offer storage above countertops and appliances using shelves. The panels (sides) that make up the cabinet need to have enough strength and structural integrity to keep it stable. In the base cabinet, the side panels support the full weight of the cabinet on the floor in framed cabinets.

Solid wood is rarely used for cabinet panels. This is because solid wood tends to warp over time when exposed to moisture. Engineered wood, particle board, furniture-grade flakeboard, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and plywood are more stable than solid wood, and are used in majority of cabinets.

To help make the panels more water-resistant and durable they are usually treated with special chemicals. All of these material have an excellent reputation for durability and screw-holding power, especially plywood. So before you make you're final decision, be sure to look at the quality of its panels.

It may not sound like a big deal now, but when you start washing dishes or preparing a meal you'll want to know that your toekick board was installed properly. The toekick is a recessed area at the front of the cabinet near the floor that allows you to stand close to the counter. It also adds support to the cabinet floor and keeps unwanted insects from getting inside of the cabinets.


The cabinet drawers are usually made of solid wood or MDF, have framed or flat slab fronts and be held together by dovetail, mortise-and tenon or butt joints. Always go for bigger drawers, because that is usually the first place where storage space is never enough. A top drawer should be able to support at least 30 kilograms.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Stainless Steel Charupadi

Stainless Steel Charupadi

Ferrocement charupadi with wood-like finishes

Apart from wood as seen in traditional houses, ferrocement or stainless steel can also be used to make charupadi. These are more durable and resistant to weathering.

Charupadi designs-

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Charupadi- Functional & Aesthetic Seating Area

Traditionally, houses in Kerala had the charupadi, a built-in wooden seat running around an extended porch or balcony called the Poomukhom facing the entrance.

Meeting Place

In olden days, the elders of the family used the charupadi as an informal meeting place to interact with the household and outsiders. The design of the seating offered both privacy and the facility for public interaction.

Typically, the charupadi is a wooden structure with a flat base and a contoured backrest with horizontal wooden slats to let in air and light. The structure is mounted on the base of the building and often juts out to save space. The flat base also acts as a bench to put up one's feet or take a mid-noon nap.

There were two types of charupadi, one with a full-length backrest extending up to the ceiling and the other with a halfback. The curved supporting columns often bore elaborate carvings, loudly proclaiming the family's stature in society. The popular designs bore the shape of a horse or a peacock.

Functional Purpose

The more decorative designs were found in palaces and Amma Veedus dating back to the Travancore era. While the halfback charupadis were usually constructed with the men in mind, the ones with full-length backrest were used on the upper floors to offer the women of the household an exterior view without being seen from the outside.

Both in terms of architectural style and functionality, the charupadi served a purpose. It was located in a major activity centre in the house where people would gather, exchange ideas or settle the day's accounts with caretakers. It offered a facility for the family members to read, listen to music or just indulge in thought. Because of the proximity to the garden, it offered an environment in harmony with nature.

The Revival

The revival of traditional architecture has seen the charupadi make a comeback in recent times. Quite a number of new houses in the city today sport the wooden built-in seats on the verandah or balcony. Designers have made good use of their skills to blend the traditional component with modern style.

Quite a number of house owners prefer the charupadi for the simple reason that it removes the need to purchase furniture for the verandah. This also makes it a practical idea for public buildings and offices where people turn up in large numbers. Designing the seats in ferrocement can drive down the cost by up to 30 per cent while enhancing durability.

Proportionality is key to the design of a charupadi. A disproportionate charupadi could spoil the looks of the building. The profile of the structure has to be designed so that the backrest offers the right amount of support. The contoured shape has to fit the shape of the body for maximum seating comfort.

Inside a house, the charupadi is usually constructed all around the inner courtyard to offer full seating in the living room.

Typically, it is designed as an overhang jutting out into the courtyard so that the occupants can enjoy natural light and air. Because of its durability, teak is the most preferred material for a charupadi but other species of country wood are also used. The seating base forming the frame is first mounted on the concrete basement and reapers are nailed to the columns to make the backrest.

Designing and carving a charupadi requires the services of skilled craftsmen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Types of Windows

The decision of what kind of windows to use on your new house will be one of the most important decisions you will make. Windows add warmth, beauty and light to your home. Since windows are one of the most visible features of your home from both the inside and out, you'll want to make a wise and practical choice. Most people spend 10 to 15 percent of their home building budget on windows and doors.

Window Configurations

Windows make a big impression on how your home is looked at - from the inside and out. Your windows should fit in with the overall style of your house and they should make you house look inviting. How you create that look depends on personal taste. Some people like lots of large windows, while other people are more conservative and opt for smaller windows. No matter what size, style or quantity of windows you choose it's important to remember that the view you see from your home is a powerful one - one that controls the ambiance of the room you are in.

Besides size, color and shape, when selecting windows you will also need to decide the window's configuration - in simple terms, how, or if, it opens and closes. There's no one "right" choice, and each has certain advantages and disadvantages but certain areas do lend themselves for easier opening and closing options.

Fixed Windows

A fixed window, also called a picture window, doesn't swing, tilt or glide. Its sash is permanently fixed to a frame, so if you're looking to let some fresh air in - fixed aren't the way to go. Fixed are often flanked by double-hung windows or casements or set above or below an awning or hopper.

From an architectural standpoint - you can get fixed windows in a variety of shapes, including, round, half-round, diamond, trapezoid and custom to enhance the face of your home. These windows won't throw your budget off too much because they're the least expensive style and very energy efficient.

Casement Windows

A casement window, often used in traditional homes, opens like a door with hinges on one side and the lock and handle on the other. Casement windows open outward by using a crank handle and allow the entire window surface to be opened.

On the down side, they are typically one of the more expensive types of windows, and the outward opening pane can present a potential hazard on lower-floor windows. Casement windows are most popular above a kitchen sink, where you don't want to lean forward and lift a window to open it.

Awning Windows

Awning windows are hinged on the top and open out from the bottom - like a door that's been turned on its side - with the latch on the side opposite the hinges. These windows are often seen in contemporary-style homes. They provide minimal ventilation (and a nice look) under large, fixed-pane picture windows.

Awning windows open out to an angle of about 30 degrees, which allows you to keep it open on rainy (not rainy and windy) days.

Sliding Windows

Perhaps the most common of the operable window configurations is the sliding window, which consists of one fixed pane of glass that is half the width of the window and a second, movable pane of glass of equal size that slides horizontally across to the inside of the fixed pane. In larger sliding windows - typically those over about 8 feet in width - there will be a fixed pane in the middle combined with one sliding pane on either side that move horizontally toward the window's center. Sliding windows are typically the most economical configuration. They have a handle and lock in the center or along one edge, along with a secondary security ventilation lock that allows you to open the window about 2 inches and then lock it in that position.

Sliding windows are designated by which side opens, as viewed from the outside. "X" is used to designate the sliding portion of the window, and "O" for the fixed portion. Therefore an "X-O" window - the most common - will have the left side operable and the right side fixed. A large window with a fixed center pane and two side sliders would be an "X-O-X."

Double-Hung and Single-Hung Windows

Double-hung windows open vertically, and both panes are operable - the lower pane moves up and rests inside the upper pane, and the upper pane moves down to the outside of the lower one.

Double hung windows offer more ventilation options because you can let air in from both the top or bottom of the window, and are also one of the more traditional styles of window in European houses although they are not common in Kerala.

Single-hung windows, which duplicate the look of the double-hung at a lower cost, have an operable bottom pane that moves up and rests inside the fixed upper pane. Both styles have a center handle and lock, and some also have a security ventilation lock.

And added feature to consider is a tilt-wash version of a double-hung window, so you'll never have to go outside to wash your windows. Instead, the windows come to you.

Bay and Bow Windows

Bay windows are a combination of three or more windows that angle out from the house. The center unit is parallel to the house, while the side units sit at an angle (if the angles are squared it's called a box bay).

There's also small box bay windows with a glass top that are called garden bay windows and usually are used in the kitchen.

Bow windows are multiple windows that curve gradually rather than forming angles.

Hopper Windows

These windows are like awning windows in reverse - they're hinged on the bottom and swing in.

Hoppers are typically used in basements or high up on a wall over a large, fixed-pane window.
More links on Windows-

Monday, October 5, 2009

Indoor & Outdoor Lighting Design in Kerala

One of the most important elements in home interior decorating is home lighting. Being a tropical climate, Kerala homes can make efficient use of the abundant sunlight available, and have a home-lighting scheme that can complement it. Lighting is instrumental in setting the mood of any room.

When deciding what lighting to use in your new home think about how each room will be used. This will allow you to choose fixtures that fit your style, budget, enhance your architectural features and are energy efficient and functional. To ensure you create the right effect in every room, you should understand the four basic types of home lighting.

The Four Basic Types of Home Lighting

Ambient lighting or general lighting illuminates the whole room. It is a good idea to install a dimmer with your track and recessed lights so that you have the flexibility to adjust the brightness. Examples of ambient lighting are recessed downlights, cove lighting, soffit lighting, valance lighting, wall light, sconces, surface-mounted lights, pendant lights, track lights, chandeliers, under-cabinet lights and portable fixtures.

Task lighting provides sufficient light to help you perform the task at hand, for example cooking, office/school work, reading, grooming, etc. Task lighting should be glare free and it should make things easy to see without tiring or straining your eyes. Examples of task lighting are valance lighting, recessed lighting, pendant lights, under-cabinet lights and portable fixtures.

Accent lighting is focused lighting that is used to illuminate an object in your home like a sculpture, piece of art, or architectural element. Accent lighting is about three times as bright as ambient lighting. Examples of accent lighting are wall washers, sconces, track lights and under-cabinet lights.

Natural lighting comes through windows, doors, and skylights and depending on the time of day, season, or weather, it can vary in brightness and intensity.

Some general design trends to keep in mind to help you choose the right type of lighting for every room in your home.
  • Since the average home has increased in size, particularly with design elements like high ceilings, open floor plans and expanded kitchen and bath areas be sure the fixtures you choose are large enough to handle the task at hand.
  • You may need more lighting and larger fixtures, but you don't need to add to your electric bill — use compact-fluorescent lamps (CFLs), LEDs (light-emitting diodes), dimmer switches and whole-house control systems.
  • To accommodate the trend in high ceilings, manufactures are now designing floor lamps that are nine or ten feet high — the standard size is eight feet.
  • Consumers are moving away from the plastic and resin look and opting for Old World-styling look with brass and copper fixtures.
  • A big trend to brighten up task areas is using recessed lighting, under-cabinet lights, mini pendants and island lighting.
  • As more and more homeowners look to enhance their outdoor living space, lighting is becoming a key element in enjoying their decks, patios, balconies, outdoor kitchens and pools. The selection for outdoor lighting is as stylish and functional as indoor lighting.

Lighting an Energy-efficient Kerala home

When you construct a new, energy-efficient house in Kerala, you'll need to consider lighting as part of your whole-house design — inside and out. Since you're most likely purchasing all new lighting fixtures, it is a good idea to install compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). These fixtures are a great choice for accent and ambient lighting, because they achieve the same light quality of traditional filament light bulbs (incandescent lamps) but at a much greater savings.

When it comes to designing your indoor lighting for energy efficiency, you will want to consider some basic design principles and methods.
  • Remember that more light is not necessarily better and that quality really matters, especially with task and ambient lighting.
  • Match the amount and quality of light to the performed function.
  • Install task lights where needed and reduce ambient light elsewhere.Use energy-efficient lighting components, controls, and systems.
  • Maximize the use of natural light.

A proper balance of task and ambient lighting has to be maintained.

Here are some easy ways to achieve energy-efficient indoor lighting:

  • Install fluorescent light fixtures for all ceiling and wall-mounted fixtures that will be on for more than two hours each day. These often include high-usage areas like the kitchen and living room, bathrooms, halls, bedrooms, and other higher-demand locations.
  • Install compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in incandescent fixtures, so that the fluorescent bulbs can be used for the life of your home.
  • Use occupancy sensors for automatically turning on and off your lights as needed and dimmers to control the amount of light you need.
  • Consider light wall colors to minimize the need for artificial lighting.

Outdoor Lighting

When it comes time to designing your outdoor lighting, you'll need to consider the purpose of the lighting along with the basic methods for achieving energy efficiency. Generally speaking, outdoor lighting serves one or more purposes, which include aesthetics to illuminate your home's exterior and landscape, security near your home's entranceway and driveway and utility to illuminate your car porch, veranda, garden, deck and/or driveway.

Here are some easy ways to achieve energy-efficient outdoor lighting:

  • Security and utility lighting does not need to be bright to be effective.
  • Consider incandescent floodlights with combined photo sensors and motion sensors in the place of other security lighting options.
  • Make sure your outdoor light fixtures have reflectors, deflectors, or covers to make more efficient use of the light source and keep them from getting weathered.
  • Use timers and other controls to turn decorative lighting on and off.
  • To line a driveway or pathway or outline a pool or patio, use outdoor solar lighting.

Employing a Lighting designer in Kerala

In Kerala cities like Kochi, Trivandrum & Calicut, and also in many towns, companies that sell Electrical and Lighting fixtures, also provide professional Lighting designers to create the best Lighting scheme for your residence. Lighting design is one of the most important aspect of your home's interior and exterior spaces.

It is especially important to work with a competent lighting designer when building a new home, because every aspect of lighting design, from installing electrical wiring to hanging fixtures is a lot easier and cost effective during the early stages of home construction. A good lighting professional will be able to offer valuable and innovative ideas that can be incorporated into the structural design of your home. Together you can create a custom lighting plan that meets your tastes, d├ęcor, personal habits, budget and compliments your home's living spaces.

Most importantly, make sure your lighting plan is functional, because a good lighting design isn't worth the expense if it's more difficult to operate than it is to enjoy and utilize. By working with a lighting professional you'll end up with a sound lighting plan that will pay off in satisfaction and convenience for years to come.

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