K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Oct 05 2015

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Why Hire a Pro?: The Benefits of Hiring a Certified Professional


October is National Kitchen & Bath Month, and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) is stressing the importance of hiring a certified professional for kitchen and bath remodeling projects. Because the magnitude and complexity of these projects are well beyond the typical weekend do-it-yourself job, a higher level of expertise on product, design and installation is needed. Certified NKBA professionals provide insight into design options and technical necessities that clients wouldn’t necessarily think of on their own.

Professionals certified through the NKBA must maintain specific requirements to ensure they are always at the forefront of industry knowledge. NKBA-certified members have the following qualifications:

  • In-depth kitchen and bath industry experience, including proven knowledge of kitchen and bath design, as well as construction, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems
  • Expertise in NKBA Kitchen & Bath Planning Guidelines and Access Standards
  • Continuing education hours that enable them to remain up-to-date on building codes, safety and environmental regulations and new products

NKBA certified professionals can hold one of four titles: Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer (AKBD®), Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD®), Certified Bathroom Designer (CBD®) and Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD®). Each title is classified by a different level of industry experience and knowledge. When choosing a professional for a remodeling project, homeowners must consider the level of difficulty of their projects and the type of professional they wish to collaborate with.

“Hiring a certified professional for remodeling projects is a must,” says NKBA President Maria Stapperfenne, CMKBD. “DIY sounds good on paper, but homeowners are rarely prepared for the amount of work behind a remodel project; professionals provide much-needed insight into technical regulations and design innovations that the client isn’t even aware of.”

Certified professionals have an “engineer-type” mentality, notes Stapperfenne, which couples aesthetic judgment with practicality and safety. “They understand the components ‘behind the wall’ that enable the space to function properly and efficiently, while still maintaining sleek design.”

While cost is a major concern for most homeowners, the services of certified professionals are not out of reach; typically, professional fees represent about four percent of the total project budget. Also, hiring a professional helps avoid higher costs down the road. “If the project is done incorrectly the first time,” adds Stapperfenne, “a client will spend even more money hiring a professional to fix it.”

To find NKBA members near you for kitchen and bathroom projects, please visit nkba.org/prosearch.

Oct 01 2015

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Washed in Marble

The ancient structures of Europe and the luxurious hotels in Las Vegas and Rome all boast a stunning material – marble. Clients keep seeing the white stone and want it in their own homes. Designer Albert Anthony of Waldwick, NJ-based Albert Anthony Studios crafted one master bath almost entirely out of marble and offered some insight into his design.

“The client wanted something invigorating, clean and fresh,” said Anthony. This new build bath needed to flow with the architecture of the rest of the home, which had also had a clean and simple look.

Anthony chose Carrara marble over Calacatta because of its availability and price. Carrara tends to be grayer with softer veining, while Calacatta is whiter with bolder, more dramatic veining. Carrara veining also tends to be linear, which works better with this symmetrical design.

The vanity plays on the space’s symmetry with a furniture-like piece that mirrors itself on each side. The centerpiece is a beveled mirror, with two holes in it for the light sconces, outside of the bevels. Each corner is mitered, with silver leaf detailing.

The bump out in the room provides the space for the tub, which is clad in a mosaic marble.

“We disguised the access panel inside the mosaic tile by cutting out a little panel, tiling it and re-routing it – just in case,” said Anthony.

The marble pattern changes across the floor, where square tiles meld with an elaborate marble “rug.”

“We bordered that in a mosaic and we did the inside in a different pattern for a contemporary flair,” he explained. “We just kept the round motif flowing for a little bit of glam.”

As shown by the different ways marble was used here, the stone is very easy to work with. While it has its cons, marble is a softer stone that can be machined, tumbled and milled, which means it can have multiple uses.

“The marble is really all you see walking through the space,” said Anthony.


Sep 25 2015

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Three Steps for Slab Selection


Selecting a slab – be it for a countertop or a backsplash – can be daunting and frustrating. Kate Sterling, creative director of AKDO, provided useful insight into how designers can make this process easier.

1. Do Your Research
Before you begin, decide the maintenance level that best works for your client.  Different materials have different needs, and it’s important to decide what the client would like out of the new countertop.

However, don’t always believe the rumors; if a client loves the look of marble but is scared away by stories of staining, remember that some of the world’s great buildings, like the Taj Mahal, are made of marble. Talk to the experts and do your research before discounting a look a client loves.


2. Plan It Out
Now that you’ve educated yourself, it’s time to make a plan.  Natural stone slabs can dazzle you with their beauty, so before getting too carried away, take a few things into account:

•    Focal Point of the Room:  Do you want a stunning countertop, or an eye-catching, patterned backsplash? Pick your focal point first and design the rest of the room around it.

•    Slab Size:  Some stones can only be quarried in small blocks and are not suited to long countertops or kitchen islands. Get the plans for your room from the contractor and talk to your fabricator about adding seams to the countertop so you know what size slabs you need and how many.

•    Natural Stone Slabs are Unique:  Natural stone slabs are quarried from the earth, making each piece of stone one-of-a-kind. Be aware that some stones have naturally occurring specks or irregularities, and the veining and color can vary so it’s important to choose the exact slab that suits your client’s taste.

•    Be Specific: Your fabricator will make a template to determine the exact size pieces to cut out of your slab. This can only be done once your cabinetry is in place, since walls are not all straight. A good idea is to use blue painter’s tape to indicate the places the slab will be cut, to make sure it includes your favorite parts of the slab. Remember, you can only cut a slab once.

olive-maroneOlive Marone

3. Get Creative
This is the fun part!  Your slab can be a statement piece in the kitchen – the most oft-used area of the home.

•    The Slab as Art: Since many slabs have breathtaking, dramatic movement, they are perfect for making a statement. Slab backsplashes create a seamless, rich look and can act as very elegant and enduring “wallpaper.”

•    Remember the Trim:  You have to buy slabs whole, so make the most of them! Ask your fabricator to use the leftover pieces of slab not needed for your counters to create complementary trim details in the room. Long, thin pieces can be used to create saddles for door trims or shelves in a shower nook. You might even have enough to elegantly top an occasional table. Everything must be templated prior to cutting the slabs.

•    Don’t Lose Your Edge: Your countertop edging is an important detail.  More modern spaces will typically go with a simple straight edge, while more ornate profile details suit a traditionally designed space.  Fabricators can make the slab edge appear thicker by stacking extra layers of slab along the edge of your countertop.

•    Have Fun!  Put aside the renovation stress and soak it all in. Some slab yards are more like galleries, with hundreds of works of art created by Mother Nature. Allow yourself to get lost in the natural beauty created by ancient layers of seashells, lava and crystal formations.

crema_antarcticaCrema Antarctica

Sep 23 2015

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Snaidero Designer’s Award-Winning Kitchen


Shawna Dillon, principal at Studio Snaidero DC, recently won a 1st Place North American and International Regional Winner award at the Sub-Zero/Wolf Kitchen Design Contest (KDC). Her “Bachelor Pad Perfection” design features Snaidero’s Code style in ice white, high-glass lacquer and dark ash and was transformed from drab and outdated to spacious, functional, and beautiful.

K+BB got a chance to ask Dillon some more in-depth questions about her winning project.

What were the renovation goals and how were those carried out? 

My main design goal is always to create an end product that looks stunning while improving the way the kitchen functions for the client.  The client, a bachelor, approached his design/build firm, Centaur Interiors, with two major goals: to turn a rather drab penthouse he recently acquired into a landmark property and to create a space that would function well as both his primary residence and a large-scale entertaining venue for professional functions that he frequently hosts.

Since this particular project boasted such a large, open plan, it was also my goal to maintain a cohesive expression that would complement the other half of the room. The kitchen had to be the perfect balance of sophistication and quiet elegance to complement the minimal interior and allow the view beyond the windows to be the star. The contrast between the high-gloss white and coffee brown wood cabinetry promotes drama without overwhelming.


What were the issues with the previous design? 

The existing space possessed a lot of challenges. There was a very large wall separating the living space from the kitchen, which made the penthouse feel dark and cramped but also impeded the lake-to-city view that was the highlight of the property.

Once we removed the wall to create one large, open plan, the space immediately transformed. The view was stunning and the main living space felt extraordinary, but the impressive size created a new set of challenges. I had to scale the kitchen to be intimate enough to feel comfortable for one person to use but balance the space so that nothing felt cramped once it was filled with people and caterers.



Lastly, a very large support column for the building fell exactly in the apex of the main workspace, promoting an awkward layout. I used this challenge to my advantage and created four different work/prep/storage zones within the kitchen, using the column as a divider between two zones. This approach gave the client a multi-purpose kitchen – one that could perform well for a large team of caterers, yet function just as well for a single person preparing a simple meal.

Were there any challenges overcome during the project? 

The client acquired the 48-in. Sub-Zero refrigerator, 30-in. wine storage and 30-in. Wolf double ovens when he purchased the property. Knowing the longevity of these appliances and the type of cooking and food storage that would be required, we proposed that the client maintain these appliances and supplement them to complete the package. Thus, these specific appliances influenced the design almost as much as the view. I knew right away I wanted the ovens and the refrigerator to act as bookends for the main work zone.


The type of entertaining that was required warranted the large-scale professional-type cooking and food/wine storage, but since the space was open to the formal dining and living room, I did not want the appliances to overwhelm the room. I designed the height and width of the cabinetry to balance the size and placement of the appliances so the scale between all the materials would be harmonious.

The induction cooktop gave the client the efficiency of a gas cooktop, while maintaining a sleek aesthetic. The flush inset installation allowed for a continuous plane on the island, so if the cooktop wasn’t needed, it could be locked and function as part of the counter surface. The drawer microwave gives the client all the cooking he needs and functions easily under the counter so we did not have to interrupt the horizon level.

Appliances: Sub Zero Refrigerator and Wine Storage, Wolf Cooking, BEST Ventilation
Cabinetry: Snaidero CODE and WAY styles
Countertops: Caesarstone