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Archive for Kitchen 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.”

“When it comes to the kitchen, consumers want choices that complement their main faucet,” said Jack Backstrom, director of global water products planning for InSinkErator. “Their preferences regarding the size of their water dispenser, for instance, depend on the size of their traditional tap. Generally speaking, consumers want their water dispenser to be understated…they don’t want it competing or contrasting with their main faucet.”

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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

AFWF

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.

Ribs

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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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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