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TruGranite Sink Line Expands with New, Low-Divide Model

T812 Low-Divide Sink in Mocha

T812 Low-Divide Sink in Mocha

It is divided in half, but unlike most sinks in this form, the T812 has the rare low divide between its bowls

Recently, MR Direct debuted several new TruGranite sinks – topmount versions of the existing undermounts. Today, a completely new TruGranite sink is being introduced. The T812 is a topmount style with a number of intriguing features.    

This sink has a dual basin design. It is divided in half, but unlike most sinks in this form, the T812 has the rare low divide between its bowls. This separating barrier rises only to approximately half the height of the other sides. For those who frequently use large cookware like cookie sheets, casserole pans, and long handled pots, the low separation of the bowls allows room for these utensils to be stacked, soaked, and washed with greater ease than in a fully divided sink.

The back wall of each basin is slightly bowed, providing just a bit of extra sink space, along with a touch of contemporary flair. With offset drains, food scraps are directed out of the way inside the sink; while the position of the plumbing permits more storage space below the sink.

A significant 1½″ edge supports the sink on three sides and an even wider rim defines the back. Pre-scored holes are marked on the underside of the rear ledge, making it easy to properly install the faucet and accessories.

Until the recent trend toward undermount sinks, the conventional means of installing a kitchen sink had been from above the counter. Today, this drop-in or topmount method is seeing a bit of a resurgence. It is most popular with laminate countertops, which would otherwise expose their core along the cutout edge. Some use a topmount sink with granite counters to protect the cut stone edges from the possibility of chipping. Still others simply like the appearance and functionality of a topmount.

The T812 is created from the same blend of quartzite and acrylic, in an 80/20 ratio, used in all the MR Direct TruGranites. This combination results in a durable material, extremely well-suited to being formed into a kitchen sink. Able to withstand water temperatures up to 550°, TruGranite is also resistant to staining and scratching, and is naturally quiet. Infused with silver ions, 99% of all bacteria, mold, and mildew are killed on contact.

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How To Spend The Perfect Day In Venice

(credit: Belyay/shutterstock)

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Turns out my grandma was a trend setter

I never knew Grandma Sell was so chic.

She didn’t seem it when I was a kid visiting my grandparents’ farm by Clara City.

Dora was a small woman, but with the strong, steady constitution of farm women who scratched through the Depression and knew what was expected in life.

The old farm house was white clapboard, with a spring-loaded screen door that cracked like a rifle when it closed. The old gray-green linoleum was indestructible, a flooring that contained some chemical mixture that rendered it impervious to wear and tear, dropped cast iron skillets, tears, punctures or buckling.

The kitchen was the center of activity and filled with sturdy and usable things close at hand. Nearby, in a little hall that went out to the back, a wooden door on the floor — although it was usually propped up and open — led down 2×6 stairs to a cool, earthy smelling root cellar. Shelves were lined with mason jars filled with produce and fruit, some canned meat and some undefinable things. Onions, carrots, rutabagas and potatoes — some sprouting eyes — filled wooden boxes.

As it turns out, everything in, on and around grandma’s old house are now the hottest home design trends.

All the home improvement shows, “This Old House,” “Flip or Flop,” “Fixer Uppers,” and the rest are consumed by “country” or “shabby chic” design.

Joanna Gaines, the current Martha Stewart of TV, and husband Chip, have built not just a top cable show with “Fixer Uppers” but a home decor and publishing empire, spun around their Magnolia brand. When she takes over a remodeled home toward the end of one of their shows it’s like grandma’s house — with more expense and artistic staging — is recreated.

There is a rough-sawn, long, wood farm table with benches and maybe one of the red-topped Formica tables with the chrome trim.

She puts up a slate blackboard for an artistic touch, the kind grandma might have had in the kitchen to write down notes or recipes.

She uses exposed rough-hewn beams, big country cupboards, wooden produce crates, old bottles and antique coffee grinders, just like in grandma’s place.

Some of the interior walls in the renovated Fixer Upper houses always have a peeled-paint surface. The only difference is that in grandma’s house the paint was peeled from years of wear while Joanna spends hours and money creating a faux-cracked paint look.

And like Henry Ford who said you could get his Model-T in any color you wanted so long as it was black, every decorator on every TV show today paints every wall variations of white and gray. Come to think of it, grandma actually had more color in her house with a variety of flowery, busy wallpapers.

Sometimes Joanna rounds up a couple of old saw horses, paints them yellow and throws an old house door over them to make a table. Add some of grandma’s embroidered table clothes or doilies and the design is complete.

Joanna even puts in mini root cellars or sorts — potato and onion storage bins that are made to look old and cost $149.

The stainless pop-top canister that grandma used to store food waste before she brought it to the garden is again a requirement in any green-friendly, compostable, modern kitchen.

And mason jars are big. They use them at garden parties to serve drinks with fruit in them. Or they wrap some twine around them, stick a candle in and hang them for decorations.

One thing I’ve never seen Joanna do that grandma did: Grab a chicken by the leg with a long wire chicken catcher, chop its head off, dunk it in boiling water, pluck it, gut it and then bring it inside and lay it on the kitchen counter.

Now that would be good DIY TV.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at or 344-6383.

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To understand Viking culture, take a look at their plates

Daniel Serra likes to bust myths about Vikings. Like the image of Vikings gnawing on huge chunks of meat pulled from the fire.

“It’s a myth of course, and it’s the myth of the barbarian, the wild man,” said Serra, a Swedish culinary archaeologist. “To start with most of the Vikings would have been farmers or traders. You had the fighters and raiders of course, but that’s just a small part of it.”

Viking food varied depending on the region, but Serra said most food in the Viking age was boiled in clay, soapstone or iron pots.

“A stew would have been common. A porridge, a savory porridge almost like a risotto would have been common,” said Serra. “They did have some roasted meats but that would have been quite the upper class.”

Viking re-enactor Terrie Helleloid watches Serra cook. She uses his cookbook to make meals at festivals across the Midwest. Dan Gunderson | MPR News

Vikings had knives, spoons and fingers, but no forks. That meant food was usually cut up before it was cooked to make it easier to eat. And dried or salted meat needed a good boiling to be rehydrated so it could be eaten.

Serra has spent years immersed in Viking Age history and he looks the part. A long flowing beard is whipped by the wind as he stands in swirling smoke tending an iron pot boiling sausage over an open fire in Moorhead, where he’s appearing at the Midwest Viking Festival.

He grins as he pats his slightly rotund middle and explains his choice of research might have been influenced by his fondness for food.

The Vikings left little documentation of what they ate, but Serra studied archaeological finds, and pored over Norse sagas and medieval texts to develop a list of ingredients and cooking techniques that were likely used during the Viking Age that lasted about 300 years from the 8th to 11th centuries.

Food archaeology became his specialty. Through research and trial and error he developed recipes he says are as “historically accurate as possible with the information we have”.

He co-wrote a cookbook called “An Early Meal: A Viking Age Cookbook and Culinary Odyssey.”

Serra boils sausage in a kettle. He says Vikings likely used a cut off cow horn and animal intestines to make sausages. Dan Gunderson | MPR News

Of course, fish was a staple for many Vikings. Stockfish was a dried cod which Serra says is much drier than beef jerky; he describes it being “like a block of wood.” Preparing stockfish involved beating it with the back side of an ax.

“A medieval cookbook says you should beat your stockfish for a good hour. When I tried it, the good hour was two hours and I smelled like … well put it another way, cats really loved me that day,” said Serra with a chuckle.

The Vikings often survived on this leathery cod, but no; the Vikings did not create or eat lutefisk. Serra glances surreptitiously over his shoulder before sharing this bit of culinary heresy.

“The first recipe for that is not from Scandinavia. The first recipe for lutefisk I found was from France in the 14th century,” explained Serra. “I’m not sure if I’ll get out of here alive, but yes, that’s the origin.”

Serra has researched and replicated cuisine and cookware. Dan Gunderson | MPR News

Aside from dried fish, Vikings apparently didn’t hunt or gather much. Serra says most bones found in archeological sites are from domestic cattle, sheep and goats. And Vikings grew most of the grains and vegetables they ate.

They made bread from the grain and, more importantly, beer. Serra says beer was a staple, an every meal drink. It had health benefits, helping prevent waterborne illnesses and providing some necessary nutrients.

Beer was mostly brewed in open vats without hops. Instead, Vikings used aromatic plants like bog myrtle for flavor.

Beer, Serra says, was a social expectation.

“If you don’t serve the beer when you have it, people will take offense,” said Serra, adding with a laugh, “And that is important today as well, I think.”

Serra uses a small stone mill to grind wheat. Dan Gunderson | MPR News

The pleasure of good food aside, Serra finds value in learning about historical food culture.

“It is an understanding of how people are living.This is giving an everyday understanding of life,” said Serra. “Everyone can relate to people eating. And that makes it a very good way of displaying history I think.”

Serra demonstrates Viking cuisine Friday and Saturday at the Midwest Viking Festival in Moorhead. Next Tuesday and Wednesday he’s at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

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Romanza Interior Design creates traditional, classic design in Palmero model at Mediterra

In Mediterra, Naples’ premier golf and beach club community, Romanza Interior Design’s Michael Scott has created a sophisticated interpretation of traditional, classic design in the Palmero single-family model.

Located at 16723 Lucarno Way, the Palmero will feature nearly 4,000 square feet of air-conditioned living space and is scheduled for completion this month.

Scott’s selection of plank wire-brushed oak floors and distressed wood box beams, both finished in medium brown, unifies the Palmero’s open floor plan that flows from formal dining room and great room, to the kitchen and nook.

A palette of cream, sand, blue and brown sets the stage for wood furniture pieces in a mix of warm brown finishes, including an oak plank-top dining table, and rustic walnut media and cocktail tables in the great room.

“Fabrics in a mix of creams and blue punctuate our design, along with additional blue accents in the artwork, accessories and lamps,” said Scott.

In the gourmet-inspired kitchen, perimeter cabinets in a painted, moderate white finish and a contrasting maple island with an espresso finish are complemented by white Statuario quartzite counter tops. The island features a white, single-bowl, apron-front sink with a stainless steel high arch pull down spray faucet.

“The range wall is really the ‘wow’ of this kitchen,” said Scott. A stainless-steel Wolf 48-inch range with six burners, an infrared griddle and dual convection ovens are set along a backsplash of Calacatta gold marble mosaic in a running bond pattern. Appliances also include a Sub-Zero French door refrigerator with freezer drawer below, a dishwasher paneled to match the cabinets and a stainless-steel Wolf drop-down microwave oven. There is also a separate pantry for storage and a walk-through butler’s bar with additional cabinet and counter space, as well as an under-counter Sub-Zero wine cooler.

The oak flooring continues into the Palmero’s master suite, where it is softened by an ivory hand-loomed wool area rug. A pair of blue and white chests flank a king-size bed upholstered in creamy fabric. Nearby, a large vintage oak cabinet includes storage drawers and glass doors with display shelves. The coffered-ceiling suite also offers an intimate sitting area and dual walk-in closets. The bath features an open glass-encased shower with dual showerheads with digital controls and an inset mosaic floor in Carrara marble. A free-standing soaking tub with a floor–mount filler in polished chrome is positioned before the shower.

Ample counter space includes double sinks and a sit down vanity. Maple bath cabinetry with a driftwood finish is topped with white quartzite that complements Statuary white polished marble floors and shower walls. A private courtyard, accessible through the bathroom, features an outdoor shower and fountain.

The study’s desk and bookcase feature a washed oak finish balanced by a navy leather lounge chair and blue accent fabrics. In the adjacent powder bath, walls are finished in a glossy blue Venetian plaster. The floor has a Baroque mosaic polished Carrara marble inset, bordered by wide plank oak. An aged coffee stained vanity is topped with Italian Carrara marble.

A gallery hall leads to the two guest suites with private baths and the laundry room.

Sliding glass doors in the great room and kitchen cafe lead to a covered outdoor living area that includes an outdoor kitchen, dining area and living room, along with a large pool deck featuring Philadelphia travertine tumbled pavers in a basket weave pattern. The outdoor kitchen includes a built-in stainless-steel grill, under counter refrigerator and stainless-steel sink with walnut-finished louver cabinets.

Featuring a sun shelf and raised spa, the pool’s surround and spillway is tiled in a cobalt blue mosaic. Cobalt is continued in the waterline tile, while a copper fire bowl in an oil-rubbed bronze finish, positioned on a raised pedestal, is a focal point behind the spa. The pool deck’s fire table feature is surrounded by three love seats for additional destination seating.

The Palmero encompasses 5,601 total square feet, including the outdoor living space, a covered front porch, a two-car garage and a detached one-car garage. The model is priced at $2.69 million, furnished.

London Bay Homes is the exclusive builder in Lucarno, a village neighborhood inspired by Europe’s Mediterranean region with views of fountained lakes and the formal Parterre Garden featuring colorful blooms, sculpted gardens and statues.

Mediterra offers custom luxury estates and single-family maintenance-free villas by London Bay Homes, priced from $1 million to more than $7 million. The homebuilder’s brand promise of Private Label Living ensures quality, attention to detail, an enjoyable building process as well as homes that are a unique expression of their residents’ distinctive tastes.

An award-winning homebuilder and developer in the Southwest Florida luxury home market for nearly three decades, London Bay Homes manages all new home construction sales and marketing for Mediterra.

With more than 1,000 acres dedicated to open space, parks and nature preserves, Mediterra’s amenities include the 32,000-square-foot Club at Mediterra, the Sports Club with fitness center and spa treatment rooms, and the private Beach Club along the Gulf of Mexico. 

Renowned for its golf experience featuring 36 holes of Tom Fazio-designed golf, Mediterra residents enjoy two championship courses woven into nature preserves, lakes and wetlands. Membership opportunities are limited to just 450 members, allowing for abundant tee times and readily available access to the club’s Golf Learning Center, short game practice complex with three greens, and a staff of certified PGA professionals.

London Bay Homes is offering an exclusive opportunity for new homebuyers to purchase a golf membership without the delay of a one-year waiting list.

Mediterra’s sales center, open daily, is at 15836 Savona Way, on Livingston Road, two miles north of Immokalee Road.

Online at

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History and high style

Louisa Bargeron loved the 10-foot ceilings, the fireplace with the original tile and the claw-foot tub in her one-bedroom co-op at the venerable Ontario in Washington. The hodgepodge kitchen, the cracked ancient bathroom tile and her collection of mismatched furniture — not so much.

Louisa Bargeron kept the claw-foot tub but updated the rest of the bathroom with classic fixtures and more storage.

Seating in Louisa Bargeron’s living room is arranged around the original fireplace and mantel.

Continuing with the girly-glam theme, the designers added a sparkly chandelier, faux fur throw and pale lavender bedding in Louisa Bargeron’s bedroom….

Wide black-and-white painted stripes add personality to the hallway at Louisa Bargeron’s apartment in Washington.

Bargeron felt unsure of how to get her taste and personality, and a bit of girly glam, into her 835-square-foot home while keeping its historical character. So she contacted designers Kiera Kushlan and Jessica Centella of Residents Understood. Today, she’s got a stylish new kitchen with an oak library ladder to reach high cabinets, a sparkly chandelier over her bed, a warm green dining room with an art-deco-inspired bar cart and a bohemian bathroom with black walls, brass sconces and white marble subway tiles.

“Louisa wanted to live in a pretty space,” says Centella, who started Residents Understood with Kushlan in 2010.

The designers got why Bargeron was in love with the Ontario, which opened in 1904 and retains its original details and charm. It’s one of Washington’s most recognizable apartment buildings. “These places still have the soul of the building,” Kushlan says. “That’s what brought Louisa here, and we wanted to keep that feeling.”

Bargeron, originally from New York, moved to Washington in 2009 and bought her co-op in December 2014. The Ontario reminded her of Brooklyn brownstones and Harlem prewar buildings. “I instantly fell in love with it and wanted to live here,” says Bargeron, 43, who works at the U.S. Defense Department. The apartment has separate living and dining rooms, a compact kitchen and a long hallway leading to a bedroom and bath.

She spent nine months trying to furnish it herself. “I was collecting and buying pieces, but I didn’t know how to pull it together. There was no sort of flow or good feng shui here,” Bargeron says. “Although I was always buying things to try to overcome that, I was actually just adding to the clutter.”

She also realized the kitchen, with its jumble of different cabinets, skimpy counter space and old appliances, wasn’t working. So in November 2015 she contacted Kushlan and Centella. They agreed on a plan to redo not only her kitchen but also her bathroom, and to decorate the place. “I wanted them to blend the rooms so they had a flow and a theme,” Bargeron says.

She made a Pinterest board showing what she liked and filled out their client questionnaire. “My personal style is trendy and classy. I love the color pink,” she wrote. “In terms of design, I’m anywhere from modern to traditional to French country. I can’t decide on any one.”

Kushlan and Centella mulled over Bargeron’s profile. She mentioned loving a variety of styles, so their plan was to play up the vintage Old World charm of the place while balancing it with modern, clean-lined furniture. “I gravitate toward things from Restoration Hardware, but I like that look with more romantic colors like pink and green,” Bargeron says. The kitchen

and bathroom renovations would maximize the grand ceiling height and details. The designers could incorporate some of what Bargeron already owned, pulling everything together with paint, wallpaper, lighting and accessories.

“Louisa has a wonderful feminine style, so it was such a fun project to work on from a style perspective,” Kushlan says. “We got to pick out hot pink rugs, fur throws, and use artwork from old fashion magazines — a girl’s dream.”

The kitchen was redesigned to be classic yet modern, accommodating five major appliances, including a washer-dryer set, while saving two original glass-front cabinets. More storage came in the form of new gray cabinets. The opening to the dining room was enlarged to make the space airier. On the kitchen walls, Centella and Kushlan used basic white subway tile in a matte finish so the counter-to-ceiling expanse didn’t come across as too shiny. For the floor, they chose a black tile in a herringbone pattern. A wood countertop was installed to warm up the look.

The dining room, which has its original corner cabinets with leaded-glass detailing, was painted a warm green. “The dining room gets such beautiful natural light and has great white built-ins and molding, so the dark color helped to highlight those features,” Kushlan says. Bargeron had bought a dining table at West Elm, so they added a rug, artwork and chandelier.

The long hallway was given 10-inch horizontal black-and-white stripes. “It added personality,” Kushlan says, and because the wall stretches almost the full length of the unit into the living room, it also helps visually distract from the television.

The bathroom was full of century-old details, but the tile was cracking and there was no storage. Although the designers urged her to go with an all-glass walk-in shower, Bargeron said she wanted to keep the claw-foot tub. So they added updated but classic materials such as marble subway tiles and 8-inch, hexagonal floor tiles in dark gray. A thick crown molding dressed it up, as did the jet-black paint and the washstand in antiqued wood, metal and marble.

Bargeron had an upholstered bed. The designers framed the wall behind it with metallic silver lace wallpaper. It sets off the lilac linen sheets, the faux fur throw and 12 framed fashion prints.

The living room has a lot of windows and natural light. Bargeron wanted a space for overnight guests, so Kushlan and Centella chose a sleeper sofa and set it across from two leather chairs. The ugly ceiling fan was replaced by a sleeker industrial brass model.

The original fireplace recalls a chic turn-of-the-century Parisian flat. It’s one of the apartment features Bargeron loves the most. “My favorite piece in the living room is the mirror, which is from Anthropologie,” says Bargeron of the romantic iron Gleaming Primrose mirror. “That piece just nailed it for me. It reminded me of the sort of brownstones in New York City that have beautiful mantels and mirrors built in. It’s really something after my own heart.”

HomeStyle on 06/24/2017

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Room For Improvement: Colin and Justin banish this kitchen’s blues . . . with a liberal dose of blue

What a difference a week makes, huh?  Aye, in just seven short days, this semi open concept space has come full circle.

Last week saw us waving our wands across the desperately tired living room and this week, as promised, we’re showcasing the connecting kitchen and transforming it with vigour. 

First up, consider the evidence. Can we say chaotic student squat, circa 1979?  Can we say ‘let’s leave it there’ for fear of upsetting anyone who finds honest critique a bitter pill to swallow?

But seriously, what was Elvis doing in this ‘Hound Dog’ of a room? Dated units, mountains of dishes and poor use of space made it a kitchen even the ‘King’, via association, couldn’t save!

Be inspired

Every scheme needs a starting point: perhaps a heartfelt memento or the recollection of a beautiful sunset enjoyed during a favourite holiday.

The inspiration for this scheme came from our client’s Fiestaware crockery, some of which you can see in our before shot, but the majority of which was gathering dust in his cellar.

All that beauty, but hidden away. Scandalous. Excitedly, we hauled it out, dusted it down and set it aside….

Blue for you

Although our client’s previous attempts at ‘bold’ (reference the lime green paint) had fallen flat, we knew we could master a workable (yet similarly strident) new look in the same space.

But beware: a kitchen like this isn’t for shrinking violets.  Only opt for a strong tone if utterly confident of the outcome.

If in any way unsure, add drama via accessories, blinds and artwork.  That way you’ll get all the colour you want… without the commitment. 

All things considered, a plan was set. Having worked with Altima ( across many projects, we know their ability to colour match any Pantone shade we specify is second to now.

Inspired by Fiestaware, we tailored our vision, settled on this wonderful tone and left production to the talented team.

Bettering layout

Our client grumbled he hadn’t enough space to prepare beans on toast, let alone the gastronomic compendium he so longed to conspire for family and friends.

Transpires he’s a proficient chef (whodathunkit looking at the kitchen as we found it?) but his messy habits had served only to wilt his epicurean ardor.

To us, the most sensible solution was a new elevation of cabinetry, albeit that meant shrinking the window towards which the proposed elevation would run.

Realised, the L-shaped configuration adds bags of extra storage and much needed counterspace. Furthermore, traditional triangle of sink, cooker and fridge addressed, the room’s functionality skyrockets. 

Mixing past with present

How sweet does the Fiestaware look in its new home? We always try marrying aspects our clients already have with new specifications — doing this breeds familiarity when they see their old rooms, rejigged, for the first time.

If your designer suggests banishing every bit of personality from your scheme, it’s time to find a new designer. Confident visionaries incorporate aspects you already have (where possible) thereby creating ‘personal’ results each time.      

Steel appeal

The oven, micro’, cooker hood and fridge/freezer are all brushed aluminum: to suffuse your project with professional appeal, isolate one finish, then repeat wherever there’s a metal element.

We’ll happily mix metals elsewhere (accessories, light fittings etc) but, where larger items are concerned, a little unification goes a long way.  For a great range of handles and kitchen appliances, check out Ikea (

‘Concrete’ counters

Good news. To achieve this look, you won’t need to pour wet concrete anywhere. Our specification Caesarstone embodies the contemporary lines our project so richly

deserves, but with far less upheaval than framing out counters and dosing up with cement.

Note that we employed the same product as backsplash — this simple step negates the need for tile (or indeed a tiler) therefore saving cash.

Your counter supplier/fabricator can template both flat and upright surfaces, so fret not, leave it to the experts.


What better way to finish than with smart, successful accessories to pull your project to the next level. We combined modern appliances — toaster, coffee maker etc — with colourful pots, canisters filled with cereal and cookies, colanders and a chunky knife block.

Find a stellar collection of counter top accessories in Chapters Indigo – visit

All things considered, it’s fair to suggest our formerly dowdy kitchen has come alive. With sufficient blue to satisfy Elvis’s famous suede shoes, maybe his picture will eventually be promoted to centre stage, rather than tossed to the floor, In The Ghetto stylee! More from us next week…

Watch for Colin and Justin on ‘Cabin Pressure’ (Cottage Life TV) and on ‘Cityline’ (Citytv). Find the ‘Colin and Justin Home Collection’ in stores

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