Category: Advice

Pattern Addict and Designer Drew McGukin

Written by Kim Mays, content strategist for Monogram

A part-time college gig selling real estate in Atlanta brought Drew McGukin into the world of home ownership. “I fell in love with the whole process—begged my broker to hire me as her assistant. 10 years later, I had built a huge business selling 70+ homes a year,” said McGukin. That’s how he realized he had a keen eye for space. In 2008, he took a break from real estate to follow his new passion as he enrolled in The New York School of Interior Design. Now, he’s the lead designer in his own firm, which he started in New York in October 2010. McGukin also recently joined the Monogram Designer Council, where he shares ideas and suggestions with the Monogram team and other designers on the council.

As a self-proclaimed “pattern addict,” McGukin is known for his bold choices in home design. As for kitchens, he feels that bold choices should be expressed through use of unique materials. “I recently wallpapered walls, cabinetry, and my refrigerator in a chic Surfaces by David Bonk vinyl. It’s easy to clean and adds a nice layer,” he said. The island in this kitchen was designed out of copper so the natural patina will change over time, adding further depth and color to the kitchen.

“I also love thoughtful decoration in kitchens,” said McGukin, “people often forget to add artwork, mix in beautiful shapes, and accessories.” After installing a small art piece as cabinet hardware on a cabinet over his refrigerator, McGukin says “Who says we have to use a basic cabinet pull?”

If the kitchen is the “soul” of the home, designers need to capture the soul of the client and build a design around that in much the same way McGukin has done with his kitchen. He recommends a two-fold approach:

  1. Make strong decisions and thoughtfully design an envelope around timelessness and function.
  2. Allow your inner decorator to enjoy some freedom in the layers, color, texture, and overall mood of the space.

One big mistake people make in kitchen design according to McGukin is “trying to tick all the boxes.” Instead of trying to include every cool bell and whistle you like from other major kitchens, step back and try to make a list of what is absolutely important. Sometimes you have to let go of something you want to fit in something you really need—like nixing a second wall oven to fit in that Monogram Advantium oven.

McGukin loves how Monogram delivers products with a modern aesthetic that are also reliable and amazingly functional. “It’s inspiring to see how beautifully Monogram is integrating design and a designer’s vision into the basic tenants of their products,” says McGukin. He also feels that his clients enjoy Monogram’s breadth of options and deliver greater value than other luxury brands.

As for his time on the Designer Council, McGukin loves all the people and the team from Monogram. He also has a solid plan for his tenure: “I hope to be a strong voice for actual, true, good-old-fashioned interior design on the Monogram Designer Council.” We’re happy to have you aboard and thoroughly enjoy hearing your ideas, Drew.

Kitchen Renovation Recap 3 Months Later

Monogram had the pleasure of partnering with Kris Jarrett of Driven by Decor on her kitchen remodel earlier this year. The end result is completely elegant and beautiful, and one we are sure her family will enjoy for many years to come! In a recent blog post, Kris wrote about the appliance features she loves after using them for the last three months. Appliances are a critical feature of any kitchen remodel so it’s great to hear Kris’s thoughts on the importance elements to consider when making that decision. Some features were included in her initial requirements but some were surprise benefits!

5 Tips For Setting Up the Perfect Spring Table

Entertaining in the spring can be a lovely way to throw off the gloom of winter. A great spring table is at the heart of a springtime gathering. It will boost the energy and spirits of guests just by looking at it. Here are five tips to set up the perfect spring table that will leave your guests delighted.

1. Show off seasonal produce.

A good spring soiree needs to exude a feeling of freshness. There’s no better way to do this than to highlight local, seasonal produce. Arrange fresh flowers purchased at a local farmer’s market. You could also make a display of seasonal fruit and herbs to use as a centerpiece. Lay a sprig of fresh rosemary on each plate along with a name.

2. Don’t forget that food and drink can be part of the display.

Arrange a crudité platter featuring spring vegetables and pepper the table with small bowls for other snacks. Set up a drink station, featuring a selection of infused waters featuring springtime favorites like citrus fruits and berries. This can be as pretty to look at as it is refreshing and delicious to drink. You can also make fancy spring ice cubes, by dropping a berry or a citrus slice or some herbs into your ice cube tray before filling with water.

3. Let guests help.

A good group activity can make your guests more engaged, so why not let them help with some of the decorations? Get a selection of fresh flowers and gather a collection of lovely vases. Then, let your guests create their own floral arrangements while mingling. This is a great activity while you’re occupied in the kitchen. It also lessens a bit of your workload. Let guests take home some of the creations at the end of the gathering, for a special memento of the event.

4. Keep it colorful.

Spring is a colorful awakening from the gray days of winter, and your spring table should be bursting with colorful energy. Take your inspiration from nature, with springy greens, bright citrus colors, and robin’s egg blue. It’s a good idea to use these colors as accent colors along with a more neutral palette. Stick with white or cream dishes, as these are generally the most flattering for food.

5. If dining outside, include weather-appropriate accents.

An outdoor party in the spring can be delightful, but it can also be a little tricky. One way to manage the unique temperature concerns that come with a springtime party is to include some decorative but functional accents. An umbrella to block the sun is a good idea earlier in the day. As the temperature drops down into the evening, it’s nice for guests to be able to easily grab a throw to cozy up with. A colorful throw on the back of each chair is a thoughtful way to anticipate the needs of your guests, but it also looks lovely and can be a part of your overall color scheme.

Jessica Kane is a writer for Silver Superstore, the online leader in silver flatware, gifts, replacement pieces and more!

Chef Jon: Sausage-ologist

Written by Georgie Vetter, Product Specialist at the Monogram Design Center

Monogram Design Center’s Chef Jon was in the kitchen this week making Nuremberg sausage, a traditional German bratwurst, from scratch for a delicious big game party today. Having grown up hunting with his family in Northern Michigan, Jon is a pro in all things meat related. Making sausage always brings Jon back home. He typically makes different types of homemade sausage a couple of times a year. Luckily, the Chicago team was able to witness the process and we learned that homemade sausage is fairly easy to make. Not to mention, much better for you.

First things first: safety and sanitization. Jon’s number one rule for making sausage is to keep everything cold. If there is any down time during the process, whether you’re taking a break or whipping up another batch, keeping your meat in the refrigerator is going to prevent bacteria from growing and spreading. Keeping the meat cold will also prevent the fats from rendering, which will be useful in the grinding process. He also recommends wearing gloves during preparation, this makes for a quicker process in general and not having to be concerned with having raw meat all over your hands.

Cuts of meat: Jon’s recipe calls for brisket, pork shoulder and belly.

Seasoning: Jon’s recipe calls for: salt, ground white pepper, ground mace (the aril that covers the nutmeg seed), ground nutmeg, and marjoram. Pretty simple!

Preparation:

Step 1: cube the meat into 1- inch pieces.

Step 2: Season your meat. Seasoning meat before grinding is important because during the grinding process, the different cuts of meat and seasoning will be combined more thoroughly if they have been mixed together once already before grinding.

Step 3: Grind your sausage using a meat grinder twice. Next, you are ready for casing!

Chef Jon hard at work making Nuremberg sausage at the Chicago Monogram Design Center.

Chef Jon hard at work making Nuremberg sausage at the Chicago Monogram Design Center.

Casing the sausage: Jon used natural casings sourced from a local Chicago market that were packed and cured in salt. Sausage casings can be tough to find in certain areas, so you can always order good quality casings online. Before stuffing, you must soak the cured casings in water for about 30 minutes. Jon uses a countertop tool made specifically for stuffing the casings. Alternatively, collagen casings are easily found online too.

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What to do with Nuremberg Sausage: Chef Jon says the best way to prepare a Nuremberg sausage is to heat it up in a frying pan with some butter, whip up (or purchase!) some sauerkraut, and serve on a toasted bun.

 Yum. Something tells me tonight’s gathering at Chef Jon’s is unbeatable!

#ScrapeAndLoad

picture1We have an interesting relationship with dishwashers. I’m in my 40’s and I remember my grandmother’s fancy new top loading “mobile” dishwasher. We rolled it around when needed and plugged the hose into the kitchen faucet. I also remember many, many family gatherings where we all hand-washed our dishes. Later on I remember Mom thinking our dishwasher wasn’t getting the food off so we rinsed all our dishes. Even today the habit has stuck with me.  Not only am I rinsing the dishes, but I am also using one of those sponges with soap in it and hot water. Other than sterilization, those dishes are pretty clean by the time I load them in the dishwasher.

The problem was, I didn’t trust the machine to do a good job. I hated finding food on the dishes after running the cycle.

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DID YOU KNOW? Today’s Energy Star-rated dishwashers are limited to 3 gallons of water PER CYCLE? And that non-Energy Star dishwashers average out at 4.5 gallons per cycle. Your kitchen faucet outputs between 1.5 and 2.2 gallons per MINUTE. Let’s do the math! Older faucets can be even as high as 7 gallons per minute. And yes, that is CYCLE vs MINUTE.

You don’t need to wait till the dishwasher is full to run a cycle. They are pretty smart these days and can sense how much food is on the dishes and adjust the cycle appropriately.

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Now this is important! A typical dishwasher cycle will use LESS water washing half a load than it would take you to pre-wash your dishes! EVEN if some dishes come out with food on them and you run it again, you will still use LESS water than pre-rinsing! Crazy, right? Let that sink in!

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So this is me trying to learn to practice what I am learning so I can turn around and start preaching! I have to admit to you I grew up with Cascade powder and I have always used powder detergent. I went out and bought my FIRST purchase of Cascade Platinum tablets last month.

And for the first time ever, I bought Rinse Aid! Hopefully most of you already know Rinse Aid really has nothing to do with rinsing and more to do with drying function. It actually helps remove water from the dishes, we should be calling it Dry Aid. Did your Dad ever put Rain-X on your windshield?

I also learned not to use generic brands of detergent, stick with what you know and what works. And many high end appliance manufacturers recommend the same thing. I have been surprised since I started using these products, and loading dirty dishes, at how nice and spotless the dishes come out.

Key take-aways:

  • JOIN THE CHALLENGE #SCRAPEANDLOAD @MonogramAppl
    • STOP PRE-RINSING/ PRE-WASHING
  • STOP USING POWDER OR LIQUID DETERGENTS
  • USE RINSE AID
  • SAVE TIME AND SAVE WATER

I’m not using an overly high end dishwasher in my rental house but it’s a newer one. Previously I thought it was a “bad dishwasher.” Now I know the issue was user error. We all need to learn how to properly and effectively use this wonderful machine.

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#ScrapeAndLoad

Paula Kennedy CMKBD CLIPPS, NKBA member 1997, Timeless Kitchen Design, Ignite Creativity

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