Kitchen Design Plugin for Sketchup, Sketchup training.

A year with the Nest

If you've followed this blog, my writings in KBDN, or taken one of my classes, you'll know that the smart home is something that I've been working towards building for quite some time. I've been trying out different systems and technologies. Some good, some bad.

I'm here today to tell you about the good: The Nest thermostat.

The thermostat is an ugly, unloved piece of technology that have been in homes for years. Back in the day, they had a mercury switch in them that turned the heat on when it was cold, and off when it got warm. You may remember that big dial you had to turn. Those were only as convenient and energy efficient as the person using them. Then came programmable thermostats. These were ugly, plastic hunks of circuitry that required a NASA engineer or a teenager to setup and install. No one every programmed one of those.

So years later, a former iPod designer quits Apple and decides to reinvent the thermostat. His design? The Nest

First and foremost this is a smart thermostat, but not one that's hard to use. I pulled mine out of the box and had it installed in minutes. They even include the one tool you need to install it. Once installed, it sprung to life and walked my through setup. It was easy. It figured out what kind of furnace I had, asked my for my zip code and my wifi password, and then it was all done.

I know what you're probably thinking, I had to program the thing. Not so with the Nest. All you do is use it for the first week or so. When you're cold, you turn it up, and when you're hot, turn it down. When you go to bed, turn it down, and that's it. After a week the Nest learned my habits. It knows when I get up and the house is warm by the time my alarm clock goes off. When I leave, it automatically turns it down.

They even have a mobile app that lets you check on and change the temperature of your house when you're away.

I've only had it for 12 months, so I can't say that it's saved me money over last year (I lived in a different place) but my instinct is that it has. This thing is very frugal about when it runs your heat, but not in a way ti freeze you out.

Now what the next does from a technical standpoint is really no different than thermostats from years ago. The big difference here is that this is stylish, and brilliantly simple to use. While I do love future tech that shoots lasers and does teleportation, true innovation is when someone can take something and make it so beautiful and functional that you actually love using it. Nest has definitely achieved that here.

Check this out at

Texture trick to look into a small space

The other day I was drawing a kitchen that had a roof detail that was important to the design of the kitchen.  I found it frustrating to be constantly hiding and showing the roof.  To make things easier,  I came up with this technique to use textures in Sketchup to allow me to "see through" the roof, without spoiling the view once you were inside the kitchen.  Take a look at the video to see how it all works.

KBTribe Chat "Leveraging Technology"

Twitter is always alive with brilliant conversation if you know where to look.  If you're in the Kitchen & Bath Industry, it sometimes can be hard to find those great conversations on Twitter.  Thankfully, instead of sorting through billions of tweets, Twitter users in the K&B space come together each week for lively, like minded conversations in the form of a Twitter chat. You can see all the details on KBTribe chat here.

I was fortunate enough to be asked to host this week.  My topic was "Leveraging Technology"

I feel that the kitchen & bath industry is really lagging behind in technology.  In fact, I did an hour and a half talk about this to a buying group in Atlanta just last week.  While this industry is lagging behind, designers are really interested in technology and want to use it!  Here are the five questions that we discussed during the chat:

  1. What's your favorite "app" that you use for work on your smartphone or tablet?
  2. If you could have any type of app invented for your smartphone or tablet, what would it be?
  3. Do think your manufacturers are doing well in providing you with the tech you need? (Apps, good websites, spec books, etc)
  4. Do you store anything on the "cloud"?  If so, what and how?
  5. What software are you using to create drawings?  Do you like it?

There were some really interesting responses to these questions, and I learned some things that I didn't know before.

One of the biggest opportunities for vendors and manufacturers is digitizing their data.  People don't want paper spec books anymore, they want instant access to data on all devices.  There was certainly a lively discussion about that.

For the full transcript, click here.

Again I would like thank the folks over at KBTribe chat for generously offering me the hosting gig for a day!

Brizo Blogger 19 Contest Winner

Brizo has always been very outgoing and friendly to the design blogger community.

Over the past few years they've invited bloggers to come out to Fashion Week in NYC to participate in wonderful design challenges with them.  I was lucky enough to be one of those.

Back in November they reached out to all of us and gave us a challenge:  Design a bathroom with the new stylish line of Jason Wu products they are releasing.  I did, and while I didn't win, Kerrie Kelly did.

You can see her winning design here.  Great work, and it was a nice touch with the Jason Wu quote!  Congratulations!

2011 Year End Review

It's been a spectacular year for this blog.  What started out as a humble blog for Sketchup related tips has expanded into a globally read resource read by thousands every month.

Not only is this post a review of some of the high points this year, for all of the new readers it will be a great way to get up to speed on what goes on here.  Consider it a "Cliff notes" or a "Best of album" for 2011. Let's jump right in!

First and foremost, there is a lot of Sketchup content from this year.

There was a lot of coverage on mobile apps this year too:

And lastly, everything else!
And most importantly, I want to thank everyone for reading this year!