D ear Debbie: Our kitchen cupboards and appliances are almond in color. It is time to replace the appliances. We cannot decide whether to go with stainless steel or white. I don't like the fact that stainless steel shows marks. Is there an alternative? - Claire
Dear Claire: In Europe, you can buy appliances in a rainbow of colors, from bright green to vivid pink. A typical European kitchen does not follow the more conservative North American plan where all appliances have to match. The good news is that North America is catching on! Here our choices are limited, but bright, cheerful colors are available in Canada and the U.S. I've discovered some choices that will surprise and inspire you.
It's back to the '50s at www.bigchill.com, where modern appliances are styled to cruise and jive. The flashy Beach Cruiser fridge is two-tone with dazzling metal trim. Ovens, ranges, fridges, microwaves and dishwashers are all available in eight colors, including pale pink and blue, orange and red, or you can order a custom color. There are styles and sizes to fit small condos and studios as well as regular kitchens.
Italians are renowned for their exuberance and artistic elegance. Now these special qualities are brought to your kitchen by Bertazzoni in a choice of sensational colors, inspired by the wonderful produce and culinary traditions of Emilia Romagna, the heartland of Italian food. Shown here is a luscious contemporary kitchen brightened by crisp white and lemon yellow cabinetry and a juicy tomato red gas range (www.bertazzoni.com).
The Brigade lineup is equally colorful. Originally Viking Ranges, these classically designed kitchen appliances are found at www.vikingrange.com. Check out their colors, from apple red, cinnamon, Dijon, burgundy and cobalt, to brigade blue, as well as stainless steel, grey and white.
All these products are top quality enhanced by exciting design and colors. They offer a creative alternative to stainless steel and white that will be a sure hit.
Hi Debbie: We have honey oak flooring downstairs, with ceramic in the kitchen and foyer. The stairs going up to the bedrooms are now carpeted. I would like to remove the carpet, but don't want to put honey oak wood because I don't like it. Can you suggest what I could do with my stairs to remove the carpet, please? - Valerie
Dear Valerie: Do you know what is under the stair carpet? It may be plywood, but you can paint the stairs a solid color, or add some painted tile accents on the risers - finish with a couple of coats of varnish. The stairs could become a focal feature. Or why not a carpet runner with the sides painted rather than wall-to-wall carpet?
Dear Debbie: I plan to knock down a load-bearing partition wall in the main level of my two-story home by replacing the wall with a supporting beam. The span is about 24 feet. I need advice on how to do this, please. - Zubaidi
Dear Zubaidi: I don't recommend doing this yourself. Knocking down a wall to open up living space is a common renovation project, but if the new ceiling beam is not supported properly, your upstairs will come downstairs through the ceiling. You can check the Internet for instructions, but get help from a knowledgeable friend or professional.