Let’s Reduce Poverty World-wide!

Posted November 12, 2009 by Trivonna
Categories: Poverty

Tags: , , ,

If you were living on just over $1,000 a year in a third world country and you had a good business plan to “lift yourself up by your own bootstraps,” where would you find the money to capitalize your business? Who would loan you fifty percent of your annual income to get started?  How could you give traction to your vision?

Enter Jessica Jackley, a graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business with a vision for helping third world entrepreneurs get started or expand their businesses.  Jessica is co-founder of Kiva.org.  Jessica and her partner, Matt Flannery realized that, when people of any culture are given resources, they may feel blessed, but not necessarily empowered to chase their dream.  But when they are loaned the same money at a very low interest rate and are expected to pay it back, they tend to feel trusted and empowered to take on the world. 

In Three years Kiva has helped raise over $61,000,000 and connected thousands of people across 120 countries.  These loans are being paid back on time over 97% of the time.   When paid back, the investor can loan the money out again, or reclaim their investment.  This morning, I loaned $50 to a shoe salesman in Mukono, Uganda.  Combined with other investors, he’ll borrow $1300 to buy shoes in bulk.ozombo

As an entrepreneur myself, I think of Kiva is a method that could reduce poverty significantly worldwide.   Instead of giving aid from our government to third world governments, often to be pilfered from the top; let’s loan small amounts to those with a vision, and watch their economies grow!

Log on to www.kiva.org , learn more about their mission and loan as little as $25.00 to help a framer buy a cow and launch his dream.  Then reward yourself by going to www.cabinetsbyTrivonna.com and dream about your next kitchen!

Erickson Kitchen


The Finish is Important!

Posted October 5, 2009 by Trivonna
Categories: Cabinet Finishes, Kitchen Design, Remodeling Decisions

Tags: , , , , ,

If my memory serves me well, it happened the 1992 Summer Olympic in Barcelona, Spain. A runner in one of the mid-length races fell, injured his leg, got up, and continued to run as best he could.  Long after everyone else had crossed the finish line, this runner rounded the last bend, looking like he could go no further.  His father left the stands, ran to his side and all but carried him across the finish line. Asked why he kept running, he said, “My country didn’t send me here to run the race, but to finish it.” I know it’s a stretch, but what he said in that the finish is important.  The same is true in cabinetry!

Last week we looked at, “What Makes a Custom Cabinet Custom,” noting that the distinction between custom and factory built cabinets has diminished over the years.  But there is one facet of manufacturing process that should be considered in deciding who will build your cabinets: The Finish.

For years, lacquer was considered the best finish for natural or stained cabinets.  For painted cabinets: paint.  (You wouldn’t want to put lacquer over the paint because, over time, lacquer yellows – changing the paint color.)   During the 1970’s, a product was developed called a “Catalyzed Conversion Varnish.” Without getting to technical, this varnish is a two part system (varnish and catalyst)  When the catalyst is introduced to the varnish, a chemical reaction begins.  This reaction is what makes the varnish harden to a tough, durable, clear finish.  The temperature must remain above 70 degrees ferinheight for 24 hours to cure.  Coatings cured at lower temperatures are prone to cracking, checking and brittleness.  Higher temperatures will shorten curing time and increase the durability of the finish.  But, don’t just turn up the thermostat.  The temperature must be consistent, and different wood species respond best at different temperatures.  Also, the thickness of multiple coats should not total more than 4.0 mils – that’s 4/1000 of an inch!

To guarantee meeting these demanding specs, many of the better manufacturers use a system made by “Cefla.”  In this system, the finish is applied to horizontal surfaces (no run, no drips…)on conveyer belts by computer driven robotics.  The computer knows where to spray and where not to spray  (between pieces), saving 30% of the varnish – that’s before recycling the overspray.  This Cefla equipment cost well over $500,000.  This makes two points obvious: 1] Manufacturers who use it view it as an efficient tool that makes their product significantly better.  2] Small, old world craftsman can’t afford to own a Cefla because their volume would not warrant it.  (Catalyzed Conversion Varnish can be applied without the expensive equipment, but not with the same consistent results.)

Catalyzed Conversion Varnish has many advantages over lacquer:  Sherwin Williams, the primary supplier of cat. Conv. Varnish to cabinet manufacturers has done extensive testing of their product:

“Household Chemicals Test”

“Panels were aged 30 days at 77°F, 5 drops of each item were placed under a watch glass for one hour. Film was rinsed with water, washed with warm water and soap, dried, and wiped with VM&P Naphtha to remove items not removed with water.

Mustard……………………….…no visual effect

Oil Base Paint………………..…no visual effect

Latex Emulsion Paint……….no visual effect

VM&P Naphtha……….………no visual effect

Turpentine………………………no visual effect

Orange Crayon…………………no visual effect

Carbon Tetrachloride……….no visual effect

Mayonnaise……………………..no visual effect

10% Sodium Carbonate ……no visual effect

Sour Milk…………………………no visual effect

Margarine……………………….no visual effect

Butter……………………………..no visual effect

Water……………………………..no visual effect

Cooking Fat…………………….no visual effect”

We also tried Acetone, a form of paint thinner.  No visual effect.  This is significant because acetone occurs naturally in our sweat glands.  This is why lacquer finishes get gummy after several years.  The point is:  Catalyzed Conversion Varnish is far superior to lacquer or conventional varnishes in clarity and durability.  Cat. Conv. Varnish is so clear; it can be (and is) used as a sealer over painted cabinets.

So, in answer to the heart of last week’s question:  Having found a good designer that will help you think through every aspect of their kitchen focusing on your taste, lifestyle and budget, the finish used becomes significant.  With very few exceptions, the better manufacturers produce a far superior product to the “custom cabinets” built in a small shop.   Once again, in the 21st century, it’s the designer that makes the cabinets “custom”.

See you next time,


What makes a Custom Cabinet custom?

Posted September 28, 2009 by Trivonna
Categories: Kitchen Design, Remodeling Decisions

Tags: , , , , ,

I remember lots of things from my childhood:  Going to see President Eisenhower deplane at Portland International Airport.  Party lines (that’s one phone line serving multiple homes – you had to take turns). Black and White TV…

I also remember having our kitchen remodeled.  In the mind of a ten year old, we were without a kitchen forever!  I don’t know if the turn “custom cabinets” was used back then, but these were built on sight, so they were custom.

As with so many advancements in construction technology, at some point, someone came up with an idea! “If I can build the cabinet boxes in the shop, transporting these boxes, or modules to the job site, and connecting them together; I can save time and money.”  The man who remodeled our kitchen wasn’t the one with the idea. 

The earliest reference that I can find for modular cabinets is in the Chicago Tribune, May 11, 1947. Apparently, three hundred homes were built in Park Ridge Manor, using modular cabinets.    


Custom or Modular?       Why?

Custom or Modular? Why?


Early modular cabinets were not the highest quality, but they were economical.  Over time, the quality of construction improved dramatically, box sizes became standardized to three inch increments (i.e.: 12”, 15”, 18” etc.), resulting in mass production in an assembly line fashion.  One can still find these mass produced cabinets today.  One can go into box stores today and choose your cabinets, take them home, install and finish them.

Naturally, custom made cabinets, whether built on site, or built in a shop to fit in a specific kitchen were more expensive and considered to be higher quality.  It became a status symbol to have “custom cabinets.”   Even today, half a century later, many customers come in asking for “custom cabinets.”  We ask them, “What makes a custom cabinet custom?”

Ever seen a Microwave and a freezer drawer in the same modular cabinet? Notice how the lines above and below the microwave line up with adjacent cabinets.  Custom or Modular?  The answer is "Yes."

Ever seen a Microwave and a freezer drawer in the same modular cabinet? Notice how the lines above and below the microwave line up with adjacent cabinets. Custom or Modular? The answer is "Yes."

You see, times have changed… just a little!  Today, most cabinet manufactures would like to borrow Burger King’s tag line:  “Have it Your Way.”  You see, someone(s) came up with the idea of making computers. Now, a computer driven cabinet plant can modify their cabinets in ¼ inch increments in any direction.  In most cabinet plants, nothing is made until after it has been ordered. 

There are still some very good craftsmen making cabinets in the market place: Shops where fewer than ten people are involved in building and finishing their product.  Their craftsmanship is very high, as are their prices!  There are also some custom shops whose products are closer to the early modular cabinets than the custom quality the consumer is looking for. Some would call these cabinets homemade.  

So, with the custom shops building modular cabinets, and larger manufacturers custom building the cabinets to meet the spec provided by the Kitchen designer, What makes a custom cabinet truly custom?  The answer lies in the skill of the designer.   A good designer doesn’t just fill space with cabinets while expecting the home owner to figure out how to use them.  A good designer will help the home owner think through every aspect of their kitchen focusing on the home owner’s taste, lifestyle and budget.   In other words, whether your cabinets are built in a large modern factory, or in a comparatively small shop by an old world craftsman, they are only custom to the extent that the designer takes the time to get to know you – your life-style, tastes, etc.—in order to design specifically for you.

At Cabinets by Trivonna, our designers, Trivonna and Suzanna will take great joy in getting to know your desires and needs.   Check us out!

There is another issue to be considered in choosing a cabinet maker/manufacturer.  That is the type of finish used on the cabinets.  We’ll cover that next time.  See you then.


Where Can I Find Ideas for My Home Makeover?

Posted September 7, 2009 by Trivonna
Categories: Kitchen Design, Remodeling Decisions

Tags: , , , , , ,

Home ShowDo you need ideas for a future home improvement project?… Are you planning to build a new home?

Have you ever purchased product for your home and then saw a different product that would have worked better (or looked better, felt better, was….)?  Or, have you ever tried to see all the possibilities and become so confused you couldn’t make a decision?   There’s a plethora of possibilities!  You may find yourself asking, “How can I make all the decisions I need to make for a remodel project, and be confident I’ve made good ones?”

In an ideal world, hire the top interior designer in your area.  In the real world, that may not fit into your budget.  If you are hiring a contractor, ask him who he would recommend for each area of decisions you need to make (i.e.: Cabinets and Counters, Lighting, Floor Coverings, Paint Colors, etc.).   Then again, “How do I find the right contractor?”

One idea is to attend “The 2009 BIG Home and Garden Show”,  Sponsored by The Olympia Master Builders.   (Did you know that the OMB has the 34th largest membership of any builders’ association in the nation?)


If cabinets are a part of your project, Cabinets by Trivonna will have a booth at the show.  In order to compare what we offer with other venders, the following cabinet companies will also be there:Garden Show

Cabinet Distributors, Inc.

Home Depot

Kitchen Tune UP

Petersen Cabinets, Inc.


The Atrisans Group

Also, The OMB Referral Service will have a booth where you can meet some contractors, as will many of the contractors we use and recommend:Hom_ Show

Apple Homes

Dickey’s Inc.

Elite Builders Northwest, Inc.

Lanza Premier Homes

Panush Construction and Remodeling

Scott Homes, Inc

Below, you will find a coupon for a $3.00 discount to attend The BIG Home and Garden Show at St. Martin’s Pavillian on Saturday and Sunday, September 12th and 13th.  Please print one copy for each member of your group.

FRONT Coupon 2009 copy

See you at the Home Show! — or, next time in blogsville


What to do When Your Kitchen Doesn’t Match Your Lifestyle

Posted August 31, 2009 by Trivonna
Categories: Kitchen Design

Tags: , , ,

Have you noticed that the function of the kitchen has evolved over the past twenty Years?  What was once an enclosed area where one could hide the mess they made while creating a meal to die for has become the center of entertainment in the home.  One lady commented the other day that she had spent $2,000 on a new couch for the formal living room, and no one has ever set on it — they stand in the kitchen instead.

The pass throughBack in the “good old days,” the cook often felt left out of the conversation with family and guests — but at least the mess was hidden.  In the 80’s, builders began putting in a “pass-through” from the kitchen to the living area.  Then the cook could participate in the revelry — sort of….


Conversation with the cookIf the cook was a good conversationalist, people would gravitate to the pass-through, often bending over or sitting on stools to see beneath the upper cabinets.   If the pass-through was full, or there were no stools to ease the guest’s back pain, they began to gravitate into the kitchen — sometimes getting in the way!   The cooks were often embarrassed by the mess, but glad to be a part of the festivities.  The food would be served — eventually, but the quality may have suffered in the process.

Being alone in the kitchen wasn’t desirable.  Neither was Aunt Mildred’s hand in the Meringue.  But we love our house. What can we do?  Fred and Cherese called in Trivonna (of Cabinets by Trivonna) and Jon Mcaninch (an excellent remodeler).New plan

For Trivonna, it was not just a matter of knocking out a wall between the kitchen and family room:  Taking out the common wall meant removing the pantry as well.  Cherese didn’t want to loose that! Fred has a large collection of records – No, not tax records.  The prehistoric kind – 24 inches in diameter, spin them with a needle gently bouncing in the grooves – Vola: Music!  To meet these needs, Trivonna designed “the mother of all” entertainment centers: 16  ½ feet long with a 4 foot pantry on one end, balanced by a 2 ½ foot record storage unit on the left. 

Fred loves to cook, and wanted to keep the overhead rack for pans.  Also, a second sink was placed in the island so that Cherese could be doing prep work as well.DSC_0700

For Jon, there was the problem of pushing the back wall out about five feet, making the room 24 by 20 feet.   This was accomplished by placing a beam across the entire room; which of course, affected the placement of cabinets for Trivonna.  She solved this issue by putting a shorter spice rack under the bean, and balancing it with another on the other side of the range hood.  One can only reach the bottom shelf from in front of the cook top, but the other shelves are easily accessed from the other side.

How do Fred and Cherese like their new kitchen/family room. No longer is the cook left out of the fun.  Fred loves having more room to create that meal to die for.  Cherese said that every time she walks into the room, she “imagines Good Housekeeping calling to take pictures.”CBT-Poster

Maybe next week, I’ll get back to “Design Mistakes…”  I’m saving the “best” (?) for last.

Until then, come see us at www.cabinetsbytrivonna.com.


Olympia Master Builder’s Tour of Homes 2009

Posted August 26, 2009 by Trivonna
Categories: Uncategorized

In my last blog, I mentioned the Tour of Homes, sponsored by the Olympia Master Builders here in and around Olympia, Washington.  Several asked for additional information about the tour.  Sense it continues this weekend, I thought a quick Blog would be in order.

Roy & Kathy Emery -- Remodeled by Apple Construction

Roy & Kathy Emery -- Remodeled by Apple Construction

Each year in August, the OMB builders schedule a tour of  new and remodeled homes completed in the last year — or, as in the case of Apple Homes offering (Where Trivonna designed the kitchen), in the last DAY!    

 These homes ranged in price from an entry-level Adair Home to $800,000 new homes and $450,000 remodels.  The craftmanship on may of these homes is amazing!  — Well worth the drive to see them. 

There is no charge for veiwing these homes. For more information and a Map showing the home locations, go to www.OMB.org.

Five Design Errors to Avoid in Your Next Kitchen Remodel, Part 3: Communicate

Posted August 24, 2009 by Trivonna
Categories: Kitchen Design

Tags: , , , , , ,

The most critical, yet often neglected skill in all facets of the building industry is communication.

Two women were sitting on a park bench, facing away from each other. One, while examining her finger says, “I’ve got-ta scratch!” Her friend replies, “Well, go ahead.” The first lady looks up and says, “Language is a terrible was to communicate.”
In kitchen design, no truer words were ever spoken – so we use pictures:

Perspective of Grous Kitchen

Perspective of Grous Kitchen

But even pictures can fail as shown by this swing order:SWING 1





It’s important to talk through every detail with everyone involved in the project.SWING 2





You may know what you want, but the designer you are working with can’t read your mind.SWING 3                                   





One customer came into Cabinets by Trivonna looking to design an entertainment center on both sides of their fireplace. They were confident of their measurements and tasteSWING 4s, and did not want us to come out to look at their space. We ordered exactly what they requested, but we could not have read     their minds to know that there were arched headers on each side of the fireplace, resulting in doors that would not fully open.



 They called an installer, but he refused to install the cabinets because it “wouldn’t look right.” (The customer was OK with the doors not opening fully.)SWING 5





Sometimes when one person fails to communicate, it snowballs from there: The end result may not be what the customer wanted in the first place.SWING 6



I was helping to host a home on the Olympia Master Builders “Tour of Homes” yesterday (The tour runs again next weekend). Trivonna worked with Kathy Emory, the home owner and  Tessa Smith, the project designer to design a very efficient small kitchen in a house remodeled by Apple Homes. Early in the day, Paul, the builder and several of the subs were admiring their work. As they talked I could sense how much they had gone out of their way to communicate about each and every detail as the project progressed.
When we design a kitchen, we go over every detail with our customer (the end user). In addition we spend a lot of time communicating with the builder/remodeler, the plumber, electrician, etc., as well as the manufacturer, shipper, installer, etc.

But all this communication will be of little value if we have not had good two way communication with the customer. Trivonna can design the “perfect kitchen,” but if the customer doesn’t like some detail, it’s not perfect. When shopping for your next kitchen, if the designer you are talking with is not asking you a lot of questions, they’re not designing for you… You may have the wrong designer – keep searching, there are great designers out there.

Grous' finished product

Grous' finished product

At Cabinets by Trivonna, we listen and ask questions so that we can “Create Nurturing Environments by designing cabinet packages that fit your lifestyle, needs and budget.” Check us out!

See you next time,