Posted on February 8, 2017
SONOS and Amazon have teamed up and released their 2017 collaboration to bring voice control to every room in your home.
Amazon Echo is gaining steam as a driving force in mainstreaming home automation and smart living.
By now, you’re probably at least aware of Echo as you’ve no doubt seen the barrage of clever TV ads with Echo’s voice-activated personal assistant, Alexa providing information, entertaining and solving embellished home “emergencies”.
What you may or may not know is Echo’s partners with growing ecosphere of compatible smart home devices to provide high-quality home automation at a fraction of what similar systems used to cost. The wireless, build as you go capability is perfect for customers that want to piecemeal a system around their needs.
SONOS, the wireless home audio pioneer, has joined the list of Echo connected devices to provide voice activated control of your homewide music system. SONOS wireless home audio technology and products allow system owners to stream virtually any music source in any room without expensive wiring or complicated programming.
Now, the marriage with Echo means your favorite track is just a quick chat with Alexa away.
This was a no-brainer for both companies as both Amazon and SONOS both care deeply for their customers’ experience. See what SONOS creative Director UX, Dayn Wilberding, had to say about integrating with Echo.
“We think it's about the notion that there is a flow of feel good moments and SONOS exists to enhance each one of those moments, and we want listeners to feel good.
We want to bring a “soul” to home life through music. And we think that playing music ought to be super easy. It shouldn't be necessary to involve your phone or your laptop.
And that's what's so great about voice control. When you can use your voice to bring joy to those moments, to play music, then you can do it without breaking the flow of everyday life.”
Want to learn more about SONOS? Click here for more.
Posted on February 8, 2017
Congratulations Perlick on 100 years of manufacturing excellence!
Here’s a look at Perlick now and today.
From humble beginnings in 1917 as a small machine shop specializing in brass work for the automobile and brewery industry to its place today as a leader in refrigeration technology with more than 140 industry exclusive models, the 5th generation family owned organization is truly a great American story.
Perlick’s commitment to quality is at the heart of its success. Today that commitment is evidenced by premium, commercial grade features and stainless steel construction, but this commitment to quality dates all the way back founder Robert K. Perlick who once said:
“Build the best product you can. A poorly made product is expensive at any price. Do not listen to those who would have you build something cheaply. Be honest with yourself, your customers and your fellow man. Only a few black marks will soil a good reputation. Remember these things always.”
- Robert K. Perlick
Cheers to Perlick and best of luck on the next 100 years.
To view the full article, Click Here
Posted on October 21, 2016
Last week we took a tour of our Grand Chicago store and showed off its unique interior and architecture in tribute to the downtown lifestyles of the city. This week, let's follow up with going into the city itself and explore the upcoming trends of urban living spaces.
Generally speaking, when you’re shopping for professional grade appliances, the bigger the better. A 48” dual fuel screams commercial performance, but is sized out of most city apartments.
Good news for city dwellers. Although bigger is usually better in the appliance world, the opposite doesn’t have to be true. Compact kitchen appliances have evolved beyond the low-grade compact appliances you remember from your first apartment.
European manufacturer, Bosch, is one appliance maker that is taking the lead on small-kitchen space design. It launched a full line of small-footprint appliances with the goal of incorporating European design with Bosch quality.
Highlights include the quietest dishwasher in its class, a convection wall oven with extension racks, narrow gas cooktops with stainless steel knobs, hoods to match the cooktops and a full line of 24-inch Euro style EnergyStar refrigerators.
Other brands like GE have also begun developing compact models with space saving in mind.
For its latest prototype, GE settled on side-by-side fridge and freezer units, each 42 inches wide, and also opted to separate the cooking and cleaning module from the refrigeration block. The company had originally considered a drawer-based solution for the dishwasher, but it has evolved into a standard compact dishwasher in the latest model.
Also built in is GE’s Advantium Speed Oven and induction cooktops. A sink with Delta touch faucet, backsplash has a task light, USB hubs, and a track for adding future accessories complete the full prototype unit.
Beyond the kitchen, compact living is an emerging trend - particularly in cities of course. Single living, rent-favoring, downsizing, green-sizing - all are behind the shift in some way. Looking outside of the US. “mini-sizing” is common in Tokyo and many European capitals, as a smart-growth, lower-priced solution for city living.
On average, a 1-bedroom apt in Chicago rents for $2,740 a month, where micro-apts can range from $900-$1,800. But a lower rent is not the main deciding factor. City inhabitants have always sacrificed living space for location.
But with innovative products like Bosch’s compact kitchen and GE’s futuristic prototype kitchen, it’s clear city-dwellers won’t have to sacrifice a quality kitchen experience as well.
Legendary performance for the smallest kitchen
Just today, SubZero debuted their 24” Integrated Column Refrigerator and Freezer Combination. It’s their slimmest refrigerator and freezer and designed to fit the most compact kitchen. Their NASA inspired air purification delivers the advanced food preservation features Sub-Zero is famous for. With its single door design, it gives designers the clean look they crave.
What you think about micro-kitchens? Are they for you? Will they become a staple for city living, or fade away as an implementation to ever-shrinking lifestyles?
Posted on October 4, 2016
Grand Intern Experience: Blurring the Line Between Appliances and the Downtown Lifestyle
Photo credit: Sydney Yockey + Sarah Row
This week’s task: Find out how Grand’s most urban showroom caters to its most urban demographic. As a brand new Chicagoan, I took this opportunity to go full tourist mode in downtown to find out exactly what “Chicago” meant this equation.
My exploring yielded some pretty interesting results.
The city has its own distinct style and is home to an incredibly diverse demographic: personally, financially and residentially. From the corporate penthouse crowd to the hip studio crowd, and everyone in between, “Chicago” means a lot of things. However, despite all the obvious diversity of the people in the city, a great deal of the interior design style in the city – including the popular appliances themselves – aren’t so different.
Regardless of the type of person living inside, most homes include elements of Chicago’s history of being a big industrial city. There is no shortage of sleek metal, exposed brick, and oversized windows. Grand Chicago expresses the style with exposed beams and brick, free hanging metal lighting, and the biggest storefront windows I’ve seen at any Grand yet.
It was clearly meant to, (and succeeds at), blurring the line between appliance showroom and downtown design.
As I walked around the store, it was clear the products are also carefully chosen for the diverse needs of the diverse demographic and the variety is extensive. One salesperson showed me several space saving options. A narrow-width Liebherr refrigerator, an 18 inch Frigidaire dishwasher, and a compact, stackable Bosch washer and dryer that do not require outside venting – perfect for adding laundry to compact quarters.
He also showed me cool space-saving products for premium kitchens that are becoming more popular. Sub-Zero and Wolf had a variety ranging from modular cooktops that could be mixed and matched to create a cooking surface in a variety of sizes to compact wine and beverage fridges for home entertainment.
Whether it’s a compact studio, loft penthouse, or anything in between, regardless of the size of your space, Chicago interiors clearly reflect urban lifestyles. In that way, Grand’s uniquely Chicago showroom is the perfect environment for selecting the right appliances for your home.
Check out my visual examples below for inspiration on how your urban lifestyle can be functionally translated into your home. Better yet, stop by our Chicago showroom (on North Avenue just east of I-94) to check out our unique designs and talk with our product experts.
Posted on September 15, 2016
We are at a point in time where we can have all the music we want, in our pockets, all at the touch of our fingers. Its great, but great music is meant to be heard by all not stuck on your phone.
The problem is, many people come up with elaborate home-phone entertainment system “hacks” to play out loud.
Admit it. You’ve done it. Most of us have. So many in fact, that Sonos came up with this clever set of videos to show the lengths people will go to liberate the sound from their phones.
Don’t even get us started on Bluetooth. Disruptive rings from phone calls and pings from texts. Being trapped in the room so the phone stays within range. That's assuming, of course, that you can get your phone paired in the first place.
That's just with phones! What about laptops, TVs and everything else in your entertainment world?
The SONOS experience is the opposite of what you see in the videos above. Of course it’s produced from solid components for high fidelity sound output.
But it’s the ease of use that really sets it apart. For starters, the app for tablets and smartphones makes it easy for anyone to turn on the system and find a track they like.
You can even tune your system for peak performance in your unique room using SONOS Trueplay system. Trueplay automatically customizes your SONOS speaker for peak performance in your unique room. Simply by walk around the room and wave your iPhone a few times and you’ll have professionally tuned sound for your space. Literally. Check it out.
Although the system is controlled by your phone or tablet, it works independently on your home network. No cords or Bluetooth pairing required. You can take calls and move freely without interrupting a song.
SONOS makes everything from compact speakers that are perfect for a kitchen, bedroom or smaller listening area on up to high performance home theater soundbar speakers to pair with your flat panel TV.
For more on SONOS, check out our interactive SONOS page for videos like the one shown below and much more.
Posted on August 30, 2016
Grand Intern Experience: Appliance Experts. But Seriously.
Where I’m from near Cincinnati, OH there are no stores like Grand. Typically, if anyone needs appliances they visit a home improvement store - I won’t name any names - where you have to be fairly educated yourself in what you need before you walk in the door. So I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect from Grand. I knew something had to be unique at Grand for it to be growing so rapidly, and over my time here I’ve been on a mission to immerse myself into the Grand experience and figure out why.
When they told me in training that our sales people were appliance “experts”, I took it lightly. Anyone can say they’re an expert, but what does that really mean?
Last week I got the perfect example of what it means when I made the journey from Chicago to our Davenport, IA location. Since the area and demographic were completely unfamiliar to me, I was inclined to ask what made their store unique. More specifically, what the coolest thing in their store was. Their answer was the Miele coffee maker they have hooked up and ready to use on site.
The Miele coffee maker is admittedly pretty cool. It’s built into the wall. It can be hooked up to plumbing so you never have to put water in. It grinds its own beans, and, per my review, will make you feel like an expert barista.
Very few people know that this specific product exists, and yet, it sells fairly well out of a rural Iowa location. Why? The team members understand and - more importantly - believe in the benefits so strongly they make a point to brew a fresh cup and provide a demo for anyone interested in learning about the product.
As I learned more about them, I learned there were several other products on the floor they had a similar passion for. They really love this stuff and want to provide a type of unique customer service you don’t see everywhere.
The entire company is immersed in what we sell. Even I’ve been trained in several products and features in the past couple months - mostly through overhearing conversations on the sales floor and learning what customers really care about.
So, in my “expert” opinion, our in-store representatives are more than a sales team, they’re appliance experts. Seriously.
Posted on July 18, 2016
Grand Intern Experience: Trend Research, DIY Enthusiasm, and Black Stainless Steel.
A few weeks ago, I received an email from my supervisor about creating content for a blog on Black Stainless Steel. Before long, we had a blog post with helpful information about black stainless steel - which you can read here. The work on the blog sparked me to build out a guide for those interested in the style, but not sure how to integrate it into their own homes.
Let me back up for a moment to explain, I’m a third year graphic design major co-oping with Grand. I’ve done professional work with user research, company branding, legal/civil design, etc., but I’m also just a 21-year-old student who had to spend ten full minutes looking for an “on” button on the KitchenAid oven, (it’s the “bake” button by the way). Prior to working with Grand, I was completely unfamiliar with appliances but excited about the task we’ve been given so I didn’t hesitate to dive in.
Black stainless steel is a product I hadn’t heard of or seen before this project, so I didn’t know exactly how it would fit into people’s homes. Interestingly enough, after reading several articles about it, I realized that most people don’t know exactly how to integrate black stainless with their homes.
As a graphic design major, journalism minor, and lifelong DIY/Better Homes and Gardens enthusiast, I could not help but explore black stainless steel products from a designer standpoint. My solution to those who don’t know how exactly to integrate black stainless steel into their homes is a guide that breaks down showroom style photos from leading brands into simple elements and color palettes that anyone can bring to their own home for the desired look.
Posted on July 6, 2016
Would you like speakers with that?
You may find that an odd question to be asked if you’re in our store selecting appliances as part of a kitchen remodel project, but we think it makes perfect sense.
Maybe you’re remodeling because you enjoy cooking and want more precise, capable appliances to achieve better results. Maybe the kitchen is an important gathering place for family and friends in your home and a remodel will make it more inviting. Maybe it’s a combination of both or something else entirely.
Regardless of the reason, most people are remodeling their kitchen - at least in part - because they’re planning to spend more time in that room as a result of the project. As a result, we feel it makes a lot of sense to consider adding a music solution to top off your project.
With that in mind, meet SONOS PLAY:1.
An impressively low-profile speaker you can tuck just about anywhere in your kitchen, PLAY:1 delivers hi-fi sound quality, is compatible with all the major streaming music services, can be easily controlled from your smartphone, tablet or computer and can be linked with any of SONOS complete line of multi-room speakers and components so you can build a cohesive, homewide system over time.
Oh yeah, and it’s just $199.
Check out the video below for a quick intro:
PLAY:1 is the entry level of SONOS line of PLAY products, but it’s no slouch. It’s built with premium drivers and components to deliver deep yet clear sound from a compact footprint. Pick one up the next time you’re in our store and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not the cheap Bluetooth speakers and other counter top solutions you may have seen on the market. PLAY:1 is a heavy-duty, real-deal speaker.
SONOS PLAY:1 also features Trueplay, the automatic calibration system available on select SONOS speakers.
With Trueplay you can place your PLAY:1 speaker just about anywhere and get great sound quality. For example, if your cabinets don’t extend all the way to the ceiling, you can hide the speaker behind the crown molding on top of them with minimal impact on sound quality.
That said, PLAY:1 looks just fine on the counter. It’s subtly designed with an elegant wrap-around front grille and available black or white.
Start With One...
Building a multi-room music system is easy with SONOS. SONOS speakers and components talk to each other to deliver a cohesive listening experience capable of playing the same thing in all rooms, different things in each room or even multiple streams to groups of rooms or zones in the home.
This build-as-you-go model is a great solution if you’ve been considering a multi-room music solution. Unlike other systems, SONOS can be wirelessly expanded over time to as many rooms or zones as you choose allowing you to test drive the system before diving right it.
Adding a PLAY:1 in your kitchen remodel project is the perfect reason to start your test drive!
Not all ears? Visit a Grand location near you to hear SONOS truly state-of-the-art sound systems for yourself.
Posted on June 29, 2016
Custom Panel Overview: A Stylish Way to Add Freedom to Your Kitchen.
Many freestanding and built-in appliances offer an option to allow the installation of custom panels to integrate the appliance seamlessly into your kitchen’s style. Often referred to as integrated or overlay, these appliances have no aesthetic finish (i.e. stainless steel), but rather a mounting system or channels around the edge of the door to accommodate custom made panels to match your kitchen cabinetry.
Custom panels offer an alternative to the typical method of kitchen decoration that revolves around increasingly industrial stainless steel appliance designs integrated within cabinets and furniture. With custom paneling, appliances can be fully integrated into your cabinets or used for some other unique design aesthetic. For example, we’ve had more than one client installed a chalk board onto a built-in refrigerator door to serve as a message board for the family.
Custom panels are made to fit a range of appliances including dishwashers, built in refrigeration, warming drawers, full sized wine reserves, under the counter refrigerators, hoods and more. Custom panel options start with mid-tier appliances, but are most common among the premium appliances brands. Although we can install the panels on site for you, they should be ordered from your cabinet supplier, contractor, etc.
Often overlooked, custom panel options allow you to choose the appliances you like the best regardless of brand. Too often, customers are stuck within a brand to match design from one to the next. With a custom overlay kitchen, the brand of everything but your cooking could theoretically be hidden allowing you to choose on features, benefits and price alone.
For example, your kitchen could consist of a BlueStar professional range, ultra-efficient Vent-A-Hood ventilation system, flush installed Sub-Zero refrigerator and ultra-quiet Bosch dishwasher with a seamless look throughout. Best of all, no one would know the difference in brands just from looking.
Be Careful With Panels
As great as custom panels are for achieving a certain design aesthetic, they create some headaches as well. Our best advice is to work with experienced professionals when installing appliances with custom panels. There are a variety of seemingly insignificant details that are exposed when you start putting panels on appliances.
Take the door swing for example. First, you need to make sure to allow for any added thickness of the panels when calculating the door swing. There must be enough room for the door, with the attached panel to swing open to the specified number of degrees. Second, you need to make sure the panel you’re choosing is within the specs set forth by the manufacturer to function properly with the hinges on the appliance. Finally, you need to make sure the doors are set to the type of panel installed.
These all seem like small things, but fail to take it all into account and you could have - for example - a dishwasher door slams down banging the handle on the floor each time you open it.
The other issue is future-proofing your design. The integrated design concept is all about maintaining that consistency. If the appliance needs to be replaced you either need to find something available at that time that matches the panel specs or abandon the integrated design. While you’d have to abandon the original design to a degree if you replaced a non-integrated appliance in a kitchen of matching appliances, the likelihood you could find a near match is greater with the non-integrated option.
Custom paneling might not be the right option for everyone, but clearly there are compelling reasons to consider it. If you’re interested in integrating custom paneled appliances into your next kitchen project, come check out a showroom near you and let Grand professionals help you customize the options that will work best for you.
Posted on June 20, 2016
LG’s new TWINWash System is a perfect example of truly functional innovation: The ability to wash two loads at once in the same space as an existing front-load washer on pedestal.
How do they do it? By pairing a traditional LG front load washer with its brand new SideKick pedestal washer.
You heard that right. A pedestal washer. Check out the video below for a quick introduction.
The SideKick pedestal washer replaces cramped storage drawers of traditional pedestals with a compact washer perfect for delicates and any other smaller size loads.
SideKick is a completely separate washer. It can be run independently or at the same time as the upper-washer. In addition, SideKick is discreetly styled with a concealed control panel to match the pedestal beneath your LG Dryer when both are closed.
Not in the market for a whole new washer? No worries! SideKick is compatible many existing LG washer models.
More on LG Washers
SideKick is a welcome addition to LG’s already innovative line of premium laundry products. The newest systems include on-door touch controls and a new ergonomically inspired design with increased height and improved tilt-angle of the drum.
Other popular features include steam cleaning and TurboWash, which delivers the same cleaning performance in significantly less time.
Both the washer and SideKick each offer useful cycles such as: sportswear, permanent press, delicates, towels, speed wash, rinse+spin, and “Downloaded”, which allows you to transfer additional cleaning modes from LG's Smart Laundry app onto the washer. More on that below.
The TWINWash is another example of the moving trend of smart appliances. For starters, the Smart Laundry app mentioned above allows your machine to grow and evolve over the life of the machine as your cleaning needs and technology changes.
Coupled with the Smart Laundry app is a feature called Smart Access. Load your laundry before you leave for work and start the cycle right before you leave the office so the load is ready for the dryer the minute you return home. In addition, you can start and/or pause loads remotely from the app.