K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Inspiration

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 19 2014

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A Passion for Design

Nate Berkus

What makes a kitchen really great? According to Nate Berkus, it’s all about YOU.

Last night I attended a press event in New York City for LG Electronics, a world leader in electronics and home appliances, to view their new ‘Studio’ signature line. According to Nate, who stood before a gorgeous kitchen he designed with LG’s sleek new appliances, it’s all about the things that matter to you. He talked about how daunting a task it is to design a kitchen, given the high cost and the idea that it’s such a long-term commitment.

How do you design a space you love that will withstand the test of time?

“I’m excited to help consumers create a signature kitchen incorporating the best foundational elements from the LG Studio suite that will help make this space both intensely personal and functional for years to come,” said Berkus, artistic advisor for the LG Studio high-end kitchen suite.

Aside from the fact that Nate is personable and friendly, his passion for design is what makes him the great designer that he is. He talked about how important personal style is in any design project. It’s not enough to design a space that functions well. Adding your own personal elements is what truly makes it yours. Starting off with a well-designed suite of appliances and infusing your individual style is what will create a timeless, fluid space.

So that vintage set of glasses or the funky canister you bought at a flea market, are all integral parts of your personal space. Marrying old and new, smooth and textured, dark and light – and mixing metal finishes is what makes a kitchen YOURS, or as Nate says, “intensely personal.”

Designers take note: It’s not enough to design a well laid-out, functional kitchen. Taking it further and creating a very personal space for your client is what will make you a GREAT designer. Listen to your client intently, ask questions about their lifestyle, their collections and their passions. Take risks, and think outside the box. Be passionate.

Thanks, Nate.

You can view the new line of Signature Studio appliances from LG at: http://www.lg.com/us/appliances/discoverlgstudio


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Jun 04 2014

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Atlanta Food and Wine Festival – A Little Something for Everyone


Being a member of the press definitely has its benefits. I was able to enjoy for the first time the Annual Atlanta Food & Wine Festival this past weekend – it’s in its fourth year, and although it called for rain, we managed to escape it. My boyfriend accompanied me, and we both highly enjoyed ourselves. If you haven’t gone, definitely make it a priority next year.

Food samples

Restaurants and drink labels from Georgia, as well as several surrounding states, were on hand to give out plenty of Southern food and drink samples, including barbeque, fresh seafood, red and white wines, craft beers, bourbon milkshakes (my boyfriend’s favorite – he went back for thirds), sweets, cheeses – you name it, it was there. While we wanted to stay for the whole three-hour program, after 90 minutes, our tummies were just too full. We took a break at the 45-minute mark but then made our way back into the crowd – after all, there were still items to be savored!

Me getting wine sample

Big Green Egg – probably a favorite appliance a lot of designers and homeowners specify in their outdoor kitchens – was a sponsor, as well as Sub-Zero/Wolf, Kingdom Woodworks Cabinetry, Brumark Total Flooring Solutions, Calphalon Cookware and Le Creuset. After eating some sausage, BBQ, Indian cuisine, fried seafood, cheese, various salads and even half of a Patron popsicle, we left with our tummies full and a lot more knowledgeable about available local food and drink – as well as some of the appliances used to provide it.


I plan to attend some of the available classes during next year’s programs so I can see how some of the exceptional talent prepares world-class dishes.

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May 05 2014

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Identify What Is Blocking You, and Uncork Your Creativity!

Image from tigger11th / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from tigger11th/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are many books out there about WHAT creativity is and how to BE more creative, and when I talk about igniting creativity with others, we explore those aspects in great detail. But for today let’s keep it simple.

Spoiler alert: We ALL have a natural ability to be creative, period. It may be dormant, buried, stifled, stagnant, exhausted and stuffed in a box, but you are a naturally creative being. Left brain, right brain, artist or accountant, you were all born with the innate ability to create. For those of you who don’t think of yourselves as creative, the word creative can also be defined as problem solving and organizing things in a particular way.

Creativity is the ability to imagine what has never existed, to see the big picture, to find the subtle connections between seemingly unrelated things.

Assuming that this is true, that we all have this ability, why aren’t we all out there creatively fulfilled every day being a bunch of creative geniuses? The answer is so painfully simple – we are blocked, someone put a cork in us. If you want to experience more creativity in your life and in your work, you need only to remove the blocks that exist in your life until it starts to flow naturally again. Creativity is a force of nature; it will occur if it is allowed.

Let’s look at common things that block all of us:

  • •Fear of what others will think or say
  • •Perfectionism; fear of making a mistake
  • •Low self confidence
  • •Comparing yourself to others
  • •Getting stuck in our over-developed left brains
  • •Information overload and over commitment
  • •Multi-tasking – it’s a myth that it’s even possible
  • •Work environment; a gray cubicle or being over stimulated by your surroundings
  • •Lack of trusting our own intuition
  • •Over thinking
  • •H.A.L.T.  (hungry, angry, lonely, tired); a breeding ground for everything that blocks creativity
  • •Clutter and distractions
  • •All the shoulds and should-nots in our lives
  • •A lack of curiosity – an open mind is magic for the creative process
  • •You think you know the solution – throw out everything you think you know
Image from KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just because I used the word “uncorked” in the title doesn’t mean I’m advocating for having a glass of wine while at your drafting table, or a venti Starbucks, and I love my Starbucks. Just like a fad diet to lose 10 pounds only works temporarily, we need to develop a way of life that supports creativity long term so it can positively impact our entire lives.

Think of this ability as something that will naturally happen if you just get out of its way. We need to be conscious about how to rejuvenate it, inspire it, protect it, exercise it, practice it and share it. I like thinking of it in terms of exercise – your creativity muscle needs to be exercised just like any other muscle.

I had someone ask me recently how do I cultivate creativity in my life and what inspires me. Over the last few years that list has gotten really long. It’s just a part of my life now, from singing, walking in nature, playing with my nieces, my hot pink tennis shoes, writing a gratitude list, taking an improv class and my yoga practice. In my improv class, our mantra is “Embrace the Fail!” and we get standing ovations for “Failing Magnificently!”

This process will not happen overnight; embrace the concept of progress not perfection. Your list of blocks and activities to cultivate your creativity will look different. Join me at www.facebook.com/ignitecreativity to see what my entire list is, and share yours with a growing community of creatives.

Image courtesy of chrisroll/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of chrisroll/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unwrap that box you are hiding your creativity in – it’s a gift that needs to be let out and explored!

- Blog post by Paula Kennedy, CMKBD, Timeless Kitchen Design, Ignite Creativity

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