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Archive for Bath Design

Jul 16 2014

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Helping Clients Identify Their Style

Metropolitan Cabinets & Countertops copy

Many homeowners’ busy lives prevent them from being style-conscious, causing them to use the wrong terminology when referring to their personal taste or claim they are not particular. How can a designer best help these homeowners who may never have given a thought to what they ideally would want in their homes through this overwhelming process?

Here are some tips from some experts:

1. Get visual. Assemble a binder, PowerPoint or PDF you can keep on your desktop or tablet. In it, have images of five different style kitchens, living rooms, bathrooms, accessories and maybe pieces of furniture as a conversation-starter exercise.

“If someone seems to have little opinion, I will show them two choices and ask, ‘Which do you like better?’” said Kate Brady, manager of showroom operations for General Plumbing Supply in Walnut Creek, Calif., and president of the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association. “People have trouble making choices when offered more than two options at a time, so keeping it simple works. Doing that four to five times gives me a good idea of what direction they are going. It is a simple method that always works.”

2. Give them homework. Alternatively, you could ask your client to bring along blueprints, sketches and their “Idea Book.” “The idea book is usually made up of pages torn from a magazine or a print-out from one of the online social media design sites like Houzz,” said John Murphy of Redlon & Johnson, a leading New England wholesale distributor of plumbing products, and president of the National Association of Plumbing Showroom Professionals. “Their taste can be made clear by pointing out what they like in the picture and, of equal importance, what they don’t like.

3. Look for clues. Observe details such as whether the individual is right-handed or left-handed and what colors they are wearing. “Clients wear colors that they like and are partial to,” said Murphy. “Do not be surprised as the client leaves if they have chosen paint, tile, fabrics and fixtures that will match the clothing they are wearing when they visit your showroom. And physical observance of motor skills can impact everything from the location of faucet handles in the kitchen to flush handles on toilets or hand-held showers in the bathroom.”

Transitional Style Gaining Speed

”Transitional is a style that appeals to both younger and older consumers,” said Brady. “We’ve moved away from a highly decorative style and gold finishes that were popular before 2008 toward a design style that is plain, simple and easy to maintain. Consumers want to create spaces that are more flexible and will have a longer life. That’s what’s fashionable now. Generally speaking, younger consumers favor a more modern design, and older consumers favor more traditional design, but transitional design tends to appeal to both.”

Brady has noticed geographic differences in design preferences as well. “I worked in Florida from 2004-2008, and the East Coast tends to skew more modern or contemporary,” she said. “The community I work in now tends to be more traditional, but not far away in Napa you’ll find more fans of contemporary design, so I guess the best advice I could give someone in terms of identifying their client’s style is to treat them like an individual, not a stereotype.”

Murphy agrees. “It’s a challenge to identify someone’s personal design style,” he said. “The same client who owns more than one home may even have several different styles depending on where those homes are located,” he added, noting the same regional differences on which Brady commented. “Someone living in Santa Fe is going to have a different approach to personal design than someone living in Boston.

“Along the coastline from Maine to the mid-Atlantic, you’ll find the cottage style is more popular. It’s less formal, less ornate. It favors brushed finishes vs. polished. It’s more conservative and less stylized,” said Murphy. “In more metropolitan areas like Manhattan, Chicago, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, the contemporary style is more popular. It’s very current and sophisticated.”

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Jun 03 2014

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How to Keep a Budget – and Your Client – on Track

DollarDollarDollar

K+BB recently asked the question in our Designers Network LinkedIn group: Has anyone had experience designing a kitchen or bath on a tight or otherwise challenging budget? The helpful responses provide insight into tips to keep the budget on track, as well as the clients.

Anne-Marie Harvey, Kitchen and Bath Design Consultant

New paint, door hardware and faucets can go a long way in freshening up a room. If your house was built in the 80s or early 90s, removing the dated borders, wallpaper and the often-matching window treatments can also help. Many people with limited budgets do not want to make any fixes that cannot be reused in a future update, so I tend to keep it simple.

Tom Clarke, CKD, Certified Designer at Baton Rouge Design Studio, LLC

To keep cost down, if we’re talking about replacing an existing kitchen, start by finding out what the client likes about what they have and what they would prefer. Re-purpose anything that can be reused that the client is okay with. Replace cabinets with a door style that fits the budget in an affordable wood species. Sure the client would love to have cherry cabinets, but maple wood with a cranberry finish may fit the budget better and still give the same appearance (almost). Laminate is still the most cost-efficient surfacing material for kitchens. If laminate doesn’t fit the bill, imported pre-cut granite slabs will be the next cost-effective material (in my region). Strip convenience features from the cabinets such as rollout tray storage and lazy Susans. Many of these items can be purchased after market and installed by the homeowner later when budget allows. I won’t ever “kill a corner;” the additional cost for that blind corner or easy-reach cabinet far outweighs loss of the additional storage.

Paul Kenning Stewart, Owner, PROJEKT HOME/Originals by Design (Member NKBA)

Doesn’t matter ‘who’ the client, everyone has their budget limitations including myself. A budget is a challenge, and a good designer should be up to it. In some cases it also means sourcing and turning that sow’s ear into a silk purse while listening/working with the client.

Debbi Washburn, Kitchen/Bath Designer

Everyone has a budget – some are easy and some are tight. I like to educate my customers on what the differences are between my entry-level lines up through premium semi-custom lines so they know what they can purchase with different budget sizes. I discuss the amount of time they will be remaining in the home. I also discuss what the scope of the project is. Once we determine that, then the discussion goes to the things that must be done “right” the first time – cabinets, flooring, plumbing, electrical – and items that can be put off until later – high-end counters, rollout trays, fancy backsplashes and even appliances. This allows the customer to get the bones of the space done and return to the more easily changed items when their pocketbook will allow.

Deneane Bradtke, Owner, Brookstone Design, Inc.

It doesn’t make sense to place expensive counter tops over lesser-quality cabinets. And layout is king. A good, well-functioning layout is the most important thing that we, as professionals, can give our clients.

Sharon L. Olsen, AKBD, Designer’s Edge Kitchen, Bath & Interior Design

As an independent designer, I find that when clients contact me, they are not looking to reface items – they want to remodel their spaces often due to poor layout or materials that are worn out. I agree with the comments that we must manage expectations and help them understand the costs associated with even a budget remodel. However, we do this all the time – for most people, they remodel maybe once in their lifetime. It is about us educating them and helping them achieve their goals within a realistic budget. Value engineering! There are so many wonderful products now that are quality and mimic the high-end look – the laminate countertops at KBIS this year are one example. Understanding how much DIY skill they have can help control costs with demo, painting and in some cases tiling back splashes as long as it does not impact the construction schedule. I have helped clients with staging a project over several years, which can allow them to afford the items they want. It has to begin with good bones – function, layout, updating electrical and plumbing to code, ventilation, cabinetry and flooring. The rest can be added over time.

Patrick Forse, Design Professional

A “tight budget” for someone with $100,000 to spend is vastly different from someone with only, say, $10,000 to spend. Surely a budget for work is just that – an amount of money put aside to do the work. The client is the one spending the money; it’s not ours. I think because of some inflated prices by certain manufacturers this creates a false idea of how much a client should spend, but I think the question should not be about a “tight budget” but an “unrealistic budget.” The client wanting the very best on the market but with an amount of money that won’t meet [those needs] – now that is one to solve carefully.

George Gobes, Park Avenue Designs, Inc.

Every job has a budget. The question is, how do you arrive at it? A budget is only tight or challenging when an unrealistic customer expects you to provide them with a product that costs more than they can afford or are willing to pay for. Since accurate costing is difficult for some in our community, many designers don’t know when to walk away from a poor prospect. Here is my tip: Tell the client to infuse more cash into their budget or lower the project’s specs. If you don’t, they will become your headache – and more importantly, your wallet-ache!

Erica Kalkofen, Remodeling Designer – My Remodeling Designer

We frequently run into this scenario and have several easy solutions. First, we find out how much the client is willing to participate and show them that the more they participate, the more they can keep the costs down. Second, we find out their buying preferences (Ikea, stock, semi-custom, full-custom) and make recommendations for them based on that. Third, (depending on the situation), we may opt to take a lower margin but higher project management fee on the products they opt to purchase from us. Fourth, we offer a design-only service that gives clients a way to get all the details they can purchase on their own instead of purchasing and installing everything through our firm. We have done kitchens for very little and kitchens for quite a bit, and it all boils down to good design and showing clients how they can achieve bliss in their space.

Charles Cameron, Owner/Principal Designer at Design Details

I would not usually recommend repainting cabinets, but walls and countertops are an easy way to give a space a boost. The thing I find that most ugly kitchens have in common is bad lighting. It’s not always an easy thing to fix, but it buys more bang for the buck than any other change. K+BB recently asked the question in our Designers Network LinkedIn group: Has anyone had experience designing a kitchen or bath on a tight or otherwise challenging budget? The helpful responses provide insight into tips to keep the budget on track, as well as the clients.

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Apr 25 2014

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BlogTour’s Report on Salone in Milan

Modenus’ BlogTour, part of a brand-sponsored series of tours within the U.S. and internationally that brings a select group of design and lifestyle bloggers to trade shows and design events, also visited Milan for Salone Internazionale del Mobile, and the following is what a select members of the group had to say. For a more in-depth look at these and other trends from EuroCucina and the International Bathroom Exhibition, check out K+BB’s May/June issue coming out soon!

Color Everywhere
Color and mixed metals were abundant at this year’s Salone del Mobile! Interesting splashes of vibrant hues rocked light fixtures and cabinetry in kitchen and bath alike, including whimsical touches like the inside of this vibrant green sink paired with a patina brass faucet. The lesson here is for us all to take a colorful cue from our friends across the pond and embrace color where we’ve traditionally gone safe and neutral.

- From design bloggers Krista Nye Schwartz & Tami Ramsay from CLOTH & KIND, a boutique interior design firm with locations in Michigan and Georgia

Sink by Kreoo, Photo by Chasen West 

Sink by Kreoo, Photo by Chasen West

Bathroom Spas

Bathrooms are becoming more like “spa living rooms” and personal wellness retreats in which to spend more “me” time relaxing, luxuriating, pampering oneself both physically and mentally.  Designers and brands are integrating more nature in these sanctuaries: natural materials like wood and plants, lounge furniture that could live outdoors, offset by mood lighting and music.

- From lifestyle blogger:  Robin Horton, Founder/Creative Director urbangardensweb.com

Gessi Spa Bath, Photo by Chasen West

Gessi Spa Bath, Photo by Chasen West

Ergonomic and Sophisticated Storage Solutions

Clever Storage’s LeMans’ swing-out corner storage unit was one of my favorite finds at EuroCucina. Its innovative and elegant design makes organizing and working in the kitchen a joy. No more spinning the in-cabinet lazy Susan with items flying off into the cabinet’s unreachable dark recesses, the ergonomic LeMans lets you quickly and easily see what you need – no spinning, and even better, the organized shelves make retrieving items a breeze. Definitely a kitchen product that is bringing back the joy of cooking.

- From design blogger Carmen Natschke, Editor, The Decorating Diva

Photo Credit: Chasen West

Photo Credit: Chasen West

Tech in the Kitchen

Cutting-edge appliances with a sense of humor make cooking fun, stylish and add personality to the kitchen. We loved Smeg decorative gas burner grids and their collection of vintage inspired ovens and cooktops.

- From Veronika Miller, Modenus CEO

Gas Cooktop by Smeg, Photo by Chasen West

Gas Cooktop by Smeg, Photo by Chasen West

Kitchen Islands

These have gotten friendlier. Islands now have a table component attached at one end to allow people to dine around a surface and promise easy conversation, rather than lined up at a bar.

- From design blogger Lisa Smith, Interior Designer, DecorGirl.net

Steninger Booth

Steninger Booth

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Mar 26 2014

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Engaging the Senses through the Five Elements of Feng Shui

Image courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of dan/freedigitalphotos.net

Good feng shui engages all five senses. And while it is great to engage the senses, it is also important to not overwhelm them; your home should feel like your very own safe and peaceful sanctuary. Here are a few tips for your kitchen and bathroom to create the ideal feng shui environment within your home. Kitchen The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home. Whether it is the functionality it provides or its nurturing center, it is usually the room in which everyone – whether family members on an everyday basis or guests during social gatherings – congregates.

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn/freedigitalphotos.net

The kitchen also happens to be the room with a natural balance of the five elements of feng shui, which include wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The stove is the home’s strongest fire element and should be the one appliance on which to splurge. Built-in water elements are provided with the sinks, and the metal element has particularly become popular in kitchens through stainless steel appliances. Cabinetry is usually made of wood, which brings in the wood element, and the Earth element can show up in a natural flooring type or countertop surface. So you can see how the kitchen has a natural balance of the five elements, which adds to why it is oftentimes the most favorite room in the home. It is important to pay attention to your clients’ kitchen flooring as well. Surfaces such as tile, granite, concrete and slick surfaces are considered to be yang in nature. Yang energy is more active and modern, whereas yin is quieter and cozier. Hardwood flooring has and will always be one of the most common types of flooring because it gives the warmth of yin energy but also provides a modern feel.

Image courtesy of anankkml/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of anankkml/freedigitalphotos.net

Bathroom The bathroom is a space over which we don’t have much control. It is aligned with drains and plumbing, so it can be difficult to move the shower, sink or toilet. To make the bathroom more peaceful, I would suggest tying a red ribbon around the plumbing pipes coming in and out of the sink. The ribbon should be preferably nine inches long and doesn’t necessarily need to be seen. This is a feng shui methodology technique that uses the color red to neutralize the negative draining energy.

Image courtesy of surachai/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of surachai/freedigitalphotos.net

As part of your bathroom project, you could also hang an octagon-shaped, beveled mirror on the outside of the bathroom door threshold to reflect the negative energy out of the space. Unfortunately there is no good “place” for a bathroom with regard to feng shui, however, some places are better than others. If you are renovating, it is best to not place the bathroom door opening near the kitchen. The energy of the kitchen is the complete opposite to that of a bathroom. The kitchen takes in and nourishes, while the bathroom excretes waste. I suggest placing the bathroom near family-oriented spaces, such as the living room, den or between bedrooms.

Our clients naturally feel better being surrounded by a balance of the five elements of feng shui, so including those in your kitchen and bath projects is a must. I believe in using feng shui methods to connect every aspect of the home – from the foundation to the roof, to the physical and mental state of the mind and body.

- Tisha Morris is a feng shui consultant and the author of Mind Body Home, a book that focuses on the energetic connection made between homeowners and their homes.

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