28 December 2010

A Word on Lighting

I've just finished re-reading The Smart Approach to Small-Space Living and I thought I'd share with you their guide on lighting that I found useful:

Page 163 - Dimmers connected to ceiling lights give you flexibility. When you want to rev up the lighting and brighten the whole room to make it look larger and more alive you can do so. Then with a quick turn of a dial, or flick of a switch, you can dim the room down into cozy intimacy.

For economy and energy savings, you can also dim the lights just slightly to extend bulb life without making any significant change in the light level. For instance, dimming the light to 50 percent will be perceived as though you had dimmed it to only 70 percent.

Page 164 - Your lighting needs. When a room is not bright enough, many people simply exchange low-watt bulbs for high-watt ones. Wattage, however is simply a measurement of how much electricity a lamp consumes. The actual light output of a bulb is measured in lumens. If the bulbs you're using aren't producing enough overall illumination, replace them with ones that have more lumens. The next time you shop for bulbs read the labels, which indicate the lumens per watt (lpw) produced by a bulb. The more lumens per watt, the more efficient the lamp. When looking for intensity produced by a lamp, refer to its candlepower (Cp). The more candela (units), the brighter the source.

Page 168 - Most lighting specialists agree that light for dining should come from an overhead fixture centered on the table. In a room with 8-foot-high ceilings, hang the fixture so that its bottom is 27 to 36 inches above the table; raise the fixture 3 inches for every additional foot of ceiling height.

24 December 2010

Lights - Set C

Robles Heritage 16007 - Php 800 - ground floor ceiling bathroom light. Original price was Php 880.

Eglo Nomo - Php 1330 each - pendant lights to go over the kitchen peninsula. Original price was Php 1399.75 each.
LiteSource Koshi - Php 6320 - green room overhead light.
Mark Slöjd Mirage 43 - Php 1440 - blue room ceiling light.

18 December 2010

UP Lantern Parade

You may ask, what does the University of Philippines (UP) Lantern Parade have to do with the house? The answer: six or nine. Pictures that is.

I've decided that we will print out six or nine of the photographs taken last night, frame them in white and arrange them in a grid. These photos will then go in the lavender room:




The plan is to decorate the whole house with framed photos and each set will be about a specific subject. The ones for the staircase, for example, will come from our recent vacation, the green room will have a series on our wedding, and so on. It will be like the house telling our story which is not only more personal but also easier on the pocket.

08 December 2010

36th Philippine Furniture and Furnishings Show


I am on the look out for furniture suppliers, so on my to-do list for this year was to attend the 36th Philippine Furniture and Furnishings Show at the SM Megatrade Hall. And though it was a nine day long affair from November 26 to December 5, I was only able to reach the place a day before it ended.

But my procrastinating had a benefit. I learned that they have a sale during the last two days. One lady told me that they would rather sell the display items than have to go through the hassle of packing everything again.

As we are not yet in the furniture buying mode, we will file this information for next year and come prepared! I must say though that this exhibit was smaller than I had imagined, but all was not lost as I was able to find at least two suppliers worth looking into for the dining table.

For those who wish to get the schedule of future shows, you can check the Chamber of Furniture Industries of the Philippines' website: http://www.cfip.ph/

04 December 2010

Study Room Bookshelves: RMV Hardwoods & Antiques Shop


While we're going with the cheapest supplier mentioned in the last post, we can't vouch for their workmanship so we've decided to be cautious.

Our first "experiment" will be the bookcase. It costs more than the linen closet but I was thinking that since the books will just sit on open shelves, there will be less "wear and tear" compared to the linen closet whose doors will be opened more frequently (with bedsheets and blankets being changed weekly).

Another consideration are the shelves themselves. I want them to have a very smooth finish with no rough edges on all sides otherwise it will be a pain to clean.

Currently, we have a desk and a TV cabinet that's rather hard to wipe as parts of it are rough (makes the dust stay put and accumulate). These were also custom-made but only some areas had a smooth finish as the supplier did not follow the instructions given to him.

So if this bookshelf does not work out as planned, we will then try Juro Furniture.

30 November 2010

Window Shopping: Built-in Cabinets 1


During a particularly strong typhoon late last year, our room got flooded. The cabinets (pictured above), which we had purchased from Our Home in 2007, got drenched and turned into cardboard. Think of a paper towel soaked in water - you can create a hole just by poking it slightly with your finger.

Since the cabinets were not made of solid wood (i.e. medium-density fibreboard), it was not only susceptible to water, mold also grew in abundance no matter how many times you cleaned it or sprayed it with Lysol, alcohol or bleach. Oh, did I mention how poorly it was made? Needless to say, it was a nightmare that cost us Php 13,290. Affordable but not exactly the cheapest thing considering how long it lasted and the mold incovenience.

In comparison, our custom-made furniture also got soaked but did not suffer the same fate as the ones bought from Our Home. They've also never had mold. I then vowed that if ever we were to buy cabinets again, they would be made our of real wood. Expensive, but we'd somehow find a way.

I then started asking for quotes to see how much it would cost to replace the aforementioned cabinets. I sent a sketch to three suppliers and here are the rates they gave:

Three-Door Closet
Dimensions: 48.75" X 21.5" X 77"H

Two-Door Closet
Dimensions: 34" X 21.5" X 77"H

- Danilyn's Enterprises, Inc.

Office: B7 L19 Gladiola St., TS Cruz Subdivision Almanza I, Las Piñas City
Telephone Numbers: 850 4638 to 39, 809 2269
Email: danilyns@pldtdsl.net, danilynsmail@yahoo.com

Price for Two Door: Php 26,135
Price for Three Door: Php 33,710

Specifications: Proposed 3/4" thick ordinary plyboard panel and shelving construction. Drawers with handle and full extension drawer guide. Woodstain finish.

Note: I found out about them through Real Living magazine. I was also thinking that they might be cheaper considering they're located near our house. Turns out not.

- Juro Furniture

Office: Pampanga
Telephone Numbers: 0918 676 3911, 045 322 6117
Email: jurofurniture@yahoo.com

Price for Two Door: Php 23,500
Price for Three Door: Php 33,500

Specifications: All plyboard with laminated edges, solid wood KD tanguile and varnish wenge color, stainless handle, concealed hinges. Metal rod stainless.

Note: They were recommended by Earl's officemates. One of them saw the shop while in Pampanga, went in and liked what they saw. They placed an order then recommended them to another officemate who also ordered and told Earl about it.

- RMV Hardwoods & Antiques Shop

Office: Pangasinan
Telephone Number: 0915 925 9919

Price for Two Door: Php 15,000
Price for Three Door: Php 20,000

Specifications: All Gmelina wood except the handles and bottom of drawers (plywood), stainless handles. Metal rod stainless. Thickness of wood: 1 inch.

Note: They have made furniture for some of the expatriates at work.

This was a no-brainer but we decided that we'll try two of the suppliers as we don't know how any of them will turn out. We'll skip the most expensive one though for obvious reasons.

27 November 2010

Kitchen Journal 2

The kitchen isn't done yet but we think it's coming along quite nicely thus far. Here are the pictures taken at the Cusm Furniture Shop in Las Piñas:





24 November 2010

Kitchen Journal 1

The kitchen plans have been finalized and the down payment already deposited to Cusm Furniture Shop. And a few days ago, they sent an email with pictures of what the cabinets currently look like.

But first, an update. The kitchen went through many changes as we tried to decide on a design would best maximize the space. The overhead cabinets now extend all the way to the ceiling whereas before, there was still some sort of shelf space at the top. Another change was the addition of pull out shelves in the base cabinets (refer to Elevation C below). Since we are going to store the pots and pans there, it will make the heavy items easier to reach.







Of course, all these changes also brought about an increase in the price tag:


Next up, the kitchen's progress!

21 November 2010

Renovation Update 5


Well, the grills are up but they're not exactly how I envisioned them.

My plan was for it to look like the green house on the left. The difference between the two is that in our house, the rectangles are in a horizontal position while the green house has vertical rectangles.

I wanted to have them done all over again but Earl would not hear of it. He didn't like the vertical version at all. Though since I'm getting my way with most of the things concerning the house, and the fact we would spend more to redo the whole thing, this is my version of compromising.

But if there is one thing I'm loving at the moment, it's the window screens. I really like how they came out and Maricel tells me that the screen itself, which was made in the US, is under warranty. They still haven't finished screening the bathroom windows but once done, I can cross out "screens" from my to-do list. Not sure if you can see it from the picture below though.


Rabacon has also started putting up the wood casings framing the windows (refer again to the picture above). Now this part is completely unecessary but in my mind, how many times will we get to fix the house? Might as well do it now while we can.

When I was planning this, I based most of my ideas from the internet and the decorating books I've been reading. It did not occur to me that Manila would not have the same selection range that western countries might have. Yes, it should have been obvious but it completely slipped my mind. What happened then was that I've had to settle for the next best thing.

                                   The Ideal                                Reality

For the window apron (which is the bottom part of the casing), this will be custom-made as Maricel could not find anything remotely similar to the one in the picture. I'm into details so it was a bit disappointing that what I really wanted would not be possible. But we will have to wait until the window casings are complete to see whether the idea was worth the expense.

Not all the windows will have aprons though. The windows on the second floor will just have ordinary wood casings framing them (see picture below). The reason behind this is becuase the windows in the bedrooms might be partially covered by the headboards, so I didn't see the point in installing them upstairs.


On a final note, the installation of the laminated wood floor is done. The only items left to finish the renovation stage are the built-in cabinets and the remainder of the baseboards and cornices. After that, on to the decorating stage!

16 November 2010

Range: La Germania

In the end, function won over form.

A major factor that played into the decision making was the cookie sheet. The size of the said sheet is 42 cm x 36 cm. Basically, I wanted to be able to fit large items into the oven but still be within the alloted width of 60 cm.

At first, I was gunning for built-in everything. But there were a few things to consider. One, was that a gas built-in oven was more expensive than the electrical version and it would require two gas tanks - one for the oven and the other for the stove. Two, was the fact that blackouts usually occur during a heavy downpour and it gets much worse during typhoon season (there are times we will not have electricity for days on end). In this country, half the year is rainy season and typhoons happen all year round.

As to the brand, Ariston is quite cheap and has built-in ovens that can amply fit the pan along with Elba. But a bit of research on the internet was all it took to find a lot of complaints about Ariston and not enough feedback about Elba which is more expensive than La Germania. Also, Elba's freestanding ranges don't have "feet" so you can't clean underneath the range.

So we decided on La Germania. Since the brand and the size were set, it greatly narrowed the playing field thus making it easier for me to make up my mind. (Making decisions is not easy for me as I usually want everything.)

The built-in oven of La Germania looks good but the pan won't fit properly inside. One end of the sheet acts as the "handle" but the door won't close if the pan is positioned correctly. You would need to arrange the sheet so that the handle is at the side for it to fit (refer to the AirBake Cookie Sheet picture on the left). Unfortunately, this would then deem the handle useless.

I make cookies quite often so it was a pain to bake with smaller cookie sheets as it takes longer to finish everything. Thus, as much I wanted built-in, aesthetics had to take a backseat to practicality.

Now this left me with the freestanding range. It solved the blackout and oven depth problem at the same time. Only catch was that it was not as pretty. There were "sleeker" options but they also cost more. Here are the differences:

1. T651 22X - Php 36,450 - enamel trivet without safety device
2. M64C 71X - Php 44,849 - enamel trivet with safety device and heat surround-fan assisted oven
3. N64C 71X - Php 54,849 - cast iron trivet with safety device and heat surround-fan assisted oven

The first one is the most basic of the three. The other two have a safety device which automatically turns off the gas if the sensors detect that the flames are already out. Basically, if T651 22X's burners are on but for some reason did not light up, it might be leaking gas indefinitely especially if you are not aware that it's on.

M64C 71X also has a sturdier looking trivet (thicker enamel than T651 22X) while the last option has a cast iron trivet. As far as I could tell, cast iron was the only difference between options 2 and 3.

I'm definitely not shelling out cash for a cast iron trivet as there are other priorities. But was I willing to pay Php 8000 more for a heat surround-fan assisted oven?

I wrestled with this question for weeks and even as we were about to pay for the range, my mind was still divided. But in the end, I decided on the first option as Php 8000 can go a long way with the many things we still have to buy.

As to the range-hood, I chose the N-3601SS which is the upgraded version of the N-4601SS and costs Php 900 more. That was the difference between a zinc-coated galvanized iron filter and one made of stainless steel thoughout. My thinking was that having saved a lot of money on the range itself, the extra cost for the range-hood was quite minimal in the greater scheme of things.

13 November 2010

Security Detail


Finally, Avida has done something we're actually happy about - they have started to install the electric fence on the perimeter wall. And based on the truck, the supplier is ProFence.


As far as we know, not too many villages have this feature so we're quite pleased with this development. Yes Avida, if you do something good, I will blog about it.

But then we thought of how much the association dues will cost because let's face it, who's going to pay for all the electricity consumed by this fence? Well, I guess that would be a small price to pay for better security.

Of course we are aware that this will not stop the possibility of crime, but at least it will lessen the probability.

06 November 2010

Price Wars

I'll let the figures speak for themselves:

T-651-22X                                      M64C71X


 
N-3601SS


Based on the price tags, Anson's is more flexible and has the lowest rates. But if you were to pay in cash, Automatic Centre offers the following discounted prices:

T-651-22X - Php 34,600
N-4601SS - Php 4,750

While it is possible that Avant and SM Appliance may give even lower rates for cash purchases, I did not ask as we're using Ayala Electronic Gift Certificates (E-GCs) to pay for the items.

01 November 2010

Window Shopping: Range

To buy a range or an oven with a stove (also called "hobs")? Pardon my ignorance, but I just discovered recently that they are three different things (which you can read about here). And if I found that confusing, just deciding which option to go with was an even bigger quandary!

As mentioned in a previous post, the kitchen is something I'm quite particular about so a lot of thought went into this one item.

Which Brand?

Some are way out of our budget and others do not have name recall. So we went with brands we were familiar with and whose costs were not too steep. Here's our shortlist:

Ariston - I've seen ads for this in foreign magazines and their products looked nice. Their prices are cheaper than Elba or La Germania and come with a three year warranty.

Elba - This is the one currently being used by my Mom and from all accounts, it's not too bad.

La Germania - My parent's first gas range which lasted over 15 years and was replaced only because my Mom wanted an upgrade.

Built-in or Freestanding?

This can also be translated as "vanity or practicality?" Built-in looks sleeker but we had a cookie sheet to consider. To give a short background, after more than 15 years, my Mom decided to replace the old range with a new one. When it was delivered, she found out too late that her larger baking pans would not fit. Happily though I get to inherit said baking pans so I needed to find an oven that could accommodate them.

Once we decided on the brand, we found out that their built in ovens could barely fit the 42 cm x 36 cm cookie sheet mentioned earlier. Also, we wanted a gas fueled oven, but not only is it more expensive than the electric version, we would need two fuel tanks - one for the stove and the other for the oven. We do not have room for this set-up and no one could tell me how to connect both units to just one tank. (Here in the Philippines, gas lines are not connected to houses. Instead, we buy individual fuel tanks.)

Gas or Electric?

I'm used to gas but I've asked around and some have said electric is better for baking as the temperature is always even. Then again, those I know who really cook a lot say that gas is better.

Another factor to consider is the fact that there's usually a blackout every time there's a typhoon. If we go electric, we'd have a problem since typhoons are very frequent visitors in this tropical country we live in.

The Contenders

Ariston

Product Code: FB 51 A1 (IX)
Type: Built-in electric oven
Price: Php 18,495
Warranty: 3 years
Features:
- 60 cm
- 5 Multi-function program
- Electric oven
- Minute minder
- Convection
- Oven Capacity: 56 L

Product Code: FBG (IX)
Type: Built-in gas oven
Price: Php 26,995
Warranty: 3 years
Features:
- 60 cm
- Gas oven w/ rotisserie
- Electric grill
- Minute minder
- Oven safety device
- Oven Capacity: 51 L

Product Code: PH 640 M (IX)
Type: Built-in Hob (Stove)
Price: Php 11,665
Warranty: 3 years
Features:
- 60 cm
- 4 Gas burners w/ electric ignition
- Pan Support: Heavy grid

Product Code: SL 161 (IX)
Type: Range-Hood
Price: Php 5695
Warranty: 3 years
Features:
- 60 cm, 1 Motor
- Extraction Capacity: 250m3/h
- 3 Speed settings
- Charcoal filter
- 2 x 40W Lamps

Elba

Product Code: 61-X-131
Type: Freestanding Range
Price: Php 36,290
Warranty: 1 year
Features:
- 60 cm
Stove
- Stainless steel surface 18/10
- 3 Gas burners, 1 hot plate
Oven
- Thermostatic oven

Product Code: S 66-X-630 IS
Type: Freestanding Range
Price: Php 45,150
Warranty: 1 year
Features:
- 60 cm
Stove
- Stainless steel cooktop 18/10
- 3 Gas burners (1 double ring) + 1 rapid hotplate
- Original SABAF burners
- Safety devices on all burners
Oven
- 7-Function convection oven
- Thermostatic electric oven
- Electric grill

La Germania

Product Code: F650 D5X
Type: Built-in electric oven
Price: Php 26,495
Warranty: 1 year
Features:
- 60 cm
- Separate thermostat
- Chrome support, fan anti-grease filter
- Multifunction oven: 5 settings, fan assisted
- Auto shut off
- Cooling fan
- Oven Equipment: 1 drip tray, 1 chrome shelf, 1 grilling mesh
- Oven Capacity: 60 L

Product Code: P-680 MX
Type: Built-in Hob (Stove)
Price: Php 13,405
Warranty: 1 year warranty
Features:
- 1 HIGH ENERGY triple ring burner
- 3 Gas burners
- Instant auto-ignition integrated in each knob
- Enamelled pan support in two sections with rubber feet
- Heavy gauge enamelled gas burner caps
- High grade stainless steel body

Product Code: N-3601SS
Type: Range-Hood
Price: Php 5880
Warranty: 1 year
Features:
- 60 cm, 1 motor
- 3 Speed settings
- 2 x 40w Incandescent lamps
- Metal grease filter
- 120 mm Air outlet
- 705 x 594 x 253 mm Packaging dim.
- 11.5 kg Gross weight
- 380 m3/h Max air capacity free outlet
- 350 Max air capacity IEC point
- 300 Pa max Pressure
- 250w Max input
- 66 db (a) Max noise level
- Stainless steel

Product Code: T-651-22X
Type: Freestanding Range
Price: Php 36,450
Warranty: 1 year
Features:
- 59.5 cm
- Minute minder
- Turn spit
- 1 Enamel baking tray
- 1 Wire shelf
- Tempered glass top cover
- Single piece worktop in stainless steel
- Large enamelled matt pan supports
- One touch ignition on worktop burners
- Minute minder
- Double glass oven door
- Thermostat for the oven
- Oven shelves on side chromed rails
- Adjustable feet
- Building-in approved
- One touch ignition for oven burners
Stove
- 3 Gas burners, 1 electric hotplate
- Enamel trivet without safety device
Oven
- Gas oven with electric grill
- Safety device

Product Code: M64C71X
Type: Freestanding Range
Price: Php 44,849
Warranty: 1 year
Features:
- 59.5 cm
- Tempered glass top cover
- Single piece worktop in stainless steel
- Large enamelled matt pan supports
- One touch ignition on worktop burners
- Minute minder
- Double glass oven door
- Thermostat for the oven
- Oven shelves on side chromed rails
- Adjustable feet
- Building-in approved
- Flame failure device for all gas burners (oven and worktop)
- One touch ignition for oven burners
Stove
- 4 Gas burners including triple ring gas burner
- Enamel trivet
Oven
- Heat surround-fan assisted gas oven with electric grill
- Minute minder
- 1 Enamelled baking tray
- 2 Wire shelves
- 1 Grill mesh

By the way, we will be using Ayala Electronic Gift Certificates worth Php 35,000 for the range and just paying the difference. Do we go with the cheaper option that way less cash out? Or do we go with the upgraded version already? I'm assuming that whichever we choose, it will be at least 10 years before we buy another oven.

I wonder though, what does "building-in approved" mean?

Note: All images were either obtained from various home appliance websites or direct from the company website.
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