Imagine this scenario: Friends are coming to dinner and you want to impress them with your culinary skills. You glide open your beautifully organized spice drawer and pull out a bag of herbs and your finest Italian olive oil (extra-extra virgin, of course). You also have drawers custom-designed for the specialty cookware you'll need – say a fish poacher, a crepe pan, a vegetable slicer.
Later, when you're ready to set the table, you'll reach into the drawer that contains your silverware (each type of utensil in its own stainless-steel, dishwasher-safe tray) and the one that holds your good china (all neatly stacked and secured in innovative plate holders). Then you'll swing open your elegant cabinet doors – the ones that open really, really wide – and gently take down your sparkling crystal champagne flutes.
Surely, you're thinking, it all sounds too good to be true. I could never be so organized, so professional, so worthy of a write-up in the local society pages! According to Karl Rudisser of Julius Blum, Inc., (pronounced "bloom") you can – you just have to begin with the right kitchen.
A Blum Kitchen
"A great kitchen can make a world of difference in your life," Rudisser says. "It can transform the way you think about cooking! But to accomplish this goal, you must begin at the beginning. The foundation of your kitchen has to be right – and that means the best drawer runners, the deepest drawers, the most efficient hinges, the most well-planned organization systems. It all begins with quality and function."
Rudisser should know. He is general manager/executive vice president of the Stanley, N.C., U.S. headquarters of an Austrian company that makes what seems at first glance to be a rather prosaic line of products: cabinet hinges, metal drawers, drawer runners and space-maximizing storage systems. But Rudisser, like his homeowner customers, prefers to focus on the end results. What Blum actually sells is research-based European-style efficiency to homeowners who want a superbly organized, top-of-the-line kitchen.
Uppermost on the "consumer appeal" list is the ORGA-LINE drawer-organization system, designed to work with wood and metal drawers. Components include stainless steel trays and spring-loaded dividers (for cutlery, utensils and miscellaneous items), dividing rails (for organizing bottles, dry goods, food storage containers, etc.) and even adjustable plate holders that offer a convenient alternative to shelf-storage. ORGA-LINE – winner of Europe's prestigious "Red Dot" award for High Quality Design, given by North-Rhine Westphalia Design Centre – was based on a study of new households in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
"Europeans have mastered the art of food preparation, so it stands to reason that the kitchen is a terribly important room in their homes," Rudisser says. "Plus, they have limited space, so they have to be organized. The European kitchen is the very definition of the phrase 'form follows function.' Practicality rules – and aesthetics follows close on its heels. The end result is a kitchen that's streamlined, upscale, very, very elegant, and that's what Blum strives to create for its customers."
So why should your next kitchen bear the Blum logo? Rudisser offers the following 5 benefits of a Blum equipped kitchen:
1. The Look You Prefer
Americans and Europeans have different tastes in kitchen decor. Americans prefer traditional, wooden, frame-constructed cabinets that look like fine furniture on the outside with wood drawers. Most Europeans, on the other hand, prefer the sleek style of frameless cabinets in wood, plastic or metal in combination with metal drawers. Certainly there are exceptions to both rules, and Blum offers hardware for all construction preferences.
The company's TANDEM concealed runner system is designed to work with beautiful wood drawers complete with dovetailed joinery; its TANDEMBOX line of metal drawers are perfect for European frameless construction. The components of the ORGA-LINE system are designed to work with both TANDEMBOX drawers and wood drawers with TANDEM runners. It's all about consumer preference!
2. Storage Space Galore, Perfectly Organized
Pots and pans, herbs and spices, boxes of pasta and bags of legumes, an array of china and silver (both "everyday" and "guest" varieties) – the implements of cooking and entertaining are many and myriad. Unfortunately, the average kitchen fails to accommodate them efficiently – just consider the confusing jumble of cookware you find beneath many kitchen counters!
"Total access to storage space is the single most important concept in a Blum kitchen," Rudisser says. "Our TANDEM and TANDEMBOX full extension drawer systems, for instance, provide 25 percent more access than standard extension drawers. And our ORGA-LINE program helps you maximize every bit of space available. Imagine having a pantry with full-extension rollout trays designed to hold your small appliances or a special drawer designed to hold oils, vinegars and sauces or an entire cabinetry system built on the premise that your kids should have easy access to groceries, too. It's all possible with Blum."
3. An End to the Dreaded "Lost Lid Syndrome"
You find the perfect plastic storage container for your leftovers, but the lid is nowhere to be seen. Or you have to dig through a mountain of cookware just to find the top to your broiler. Or despite having taken everything out of its dark and disorderly home beneath the sink, you still can't locate the missing piece of your fondue set. Ahh, the frustration of losing lids and other accessories to the culinary "black hole" that lurks in the organization-challenged kitchen!
"The Blum equipped kitchen eliminates the lost lid syndrome," Rudisser says. "That's because the ORGA-LINE system combined with a full-extension drawer lets you store components that go together in the same place. Just use a cross divider to keep containers and lids neatly separated. This is how professional chefs keep their kitchens organized, and you can do it, too!"
4. An Ergonomic Kitchen
Most people think of ergonomics in relation to office chairs and keyboards, not kitchens. But Blum's carefully engineered hardware allows for drawers and cabinet doors that are not just smoothly functioning, but also amazingly comfortable to use. Full extension runners provide a 25 percent better view of drawer contents and allow direct access to back corners – no more awkward kneeling, stooping and reaching or having to remove and later replace everything in front of the object you want. And hinges with a greater opening angle make it easy to reach into cabinets.
5. Smooth, Flawless Function
Blum runner systems glide smoothly and easily, even when a drawer is filled to capacity. Not only will the drawer open effortlessly, it will close at your slightest touch! As for cabinet hinges, Blum's concealed systems come in opening angles up to 170 degrees, allowing you much more "elbow room" when clearing out and filling cupboards. Plus, they're made with a proprietary CLIP mechanism that allows doors to be easily removed and reinstalled, without tools – a feature that's extremely useful when you're moving into your new home, doing spring cleaning or servicing the plumbing under the sink.
"Hinges and drawer runners may seem like small details, but they are very, very important," Rudisser says. "Think how many times you will open drawers and cabinets while you live in your house! These parts determine how functional your drawers and cabinets will be, which in turn determines how smooth and effective your cooking and entertaining will be. They really are the foundation of your kitchen, so they must be of the utmost quality."
So how can you enjoy all of these benefits? Simple, Rudisser says. Just say the magic word, "Blum," to your contractor or architect when you're having your kitchen built or remodeled. And make sure everything is customized to meet your unique needs, instead of figuring out how you're going to use your kitchen once it's been built.
"I know people aren't used to thinking this way," Rudisser says. "When they build a house they consider how the kitchen's going to look first, then they try to work around the results. They figure out later where they'll put their groceries and cooking implements. But that's backward. Your kitchen needs to work for you. It's the most functional room in your home. After all, it is your workshop. That means that what you don't see is actually more important than what you do. So don't leave your hardware up to the builders. It's those critical hidden details that make all the difference in a kitchen – and Blum does them better than anyone else."