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Archive for Kitchen Design

May 22 2014

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Traditional Design: Does it Fit in Today’s Kitchen?

K+BB recently asked its Designers Network group on LinkedIn their opinion of where traditional design in the kitchen stands today. Here are a handful of their helpful responses.

Cheryl DraaPrincipal Designer at Cheryl Draa Interior Designs, LLC

I think it depends on the area of the country. City people tend to be more open to a modern kitchen if they have the chance to start fresh in a new condo or can redo what they currently have. Suburbanites may have to keep their traditional styles a while longer, but I’m seeing a good, equal mix in new development.”

Cathy OsborneDesigner at Auer Kitchens

“Traditional is in constant flux. A 1950s traditional kitchen looks very different from a 1980s traditional kitchen, and both look very different from the traditional kitchen the buyer is requesting today. The same goes for “timeless.”
We are all removing the timeless dark cherry arched-door-framed, traditional-overlay cabinets with green marble countertops and polished brass fixtures and installing new timeless white-painted square door inset cabinets with white cararra tops and polished nickel fixtures. 
There will always be traditional because there will always be people who want safe, establishment, mainstream – but not cheap, boring or out of touch. But the style that reflects all of those things never stops morphing.”

Bill ZielinskiOwner CUSTOM IMPROVEMENTS Building, Remodeling & Design

“I think it is regional. For me, when working directly with the homeowner, the most common style is “Trail Mix.” This is the style I end up with after trying to combine must-have features from two-dozen pictures clipped from Houzz or Pinterest.”

Maureen D. ConnollyOwner/Interior Designer at “little house of Kitchens,” East Setauket, New York

“Traditional styling is characterized by a certain level of architectural detail. [Traditional kitchens] are typically more ornate and can combine any or all of the elements of raised panel doors, layered molding build-ups and decorative ornaments, i.e., corbels, mantle hoods and decorative glass. They typically utilize framed, full overlay or inset cabinetry. Furniture toe details are often prevalent. Whereas, in contemporary styling, frameless European construction, minimally used detailing and stark contrasting materials are the norm; with a sleek and cleaner minimalist look. I would describe the style of most of the kitchens my clients are doing as a light traditional or transitional style.”

Cindy TervolaKitchen & Bath Dealer/Designer at Tervola Designs

“There is definitely a trend toward more contemporary kitchens with clean lines today. However, I have just finished designing four traditional kitchens, so there are still people out there who prefer a more traditional look. It really depends on individual design tastes. If someone prefers a traditional look that is what I will give them. Due to the casual living in Hawaii, my designs tend to be a little less ornate than other parts of the country. I use simpler pilasters and moldings and rarely use raised panel doors.”

John Yates, CKD, CBDItalian Tile Agent – USA

“Traditional is going strong in Avon, Conn. I think it has everything to do with where your clients live. Sure I do modern kitchens – about 3 to 5 percent of the time. Avon and the rest of the surrounding towns in Farmington Valley are quintessentially traditional with an occasional enclave of modern-styled homes scattered in. However, on the east side of Avon Mountain, it’s a different story. Here you have West Hartford, which is a melange of both traditional homes from the 20s – 50s to large neighborhoods of mid-century modern. This is a haven not only for traditional but transitional and clean lined, modern German-styled cabinetry with quartz countertops and industrial styled 20 x 20 “porcelain-tiled floors. 

So, I say it depends primarily on the neighborhood and motif of the home. Therefore, the style known as Traditional lives on.”

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May 08 2014

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Key Issues for Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers When Working with Multi-Unit Projects

Image from Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With banks cautiously loosening their grip with proven investors and morale percolating with hopeful intent, the building market for condos and multi-unit housing is again showing signs of life. South Florida and outer Manhattan, for example, are two markets that are sprouting new construction for apartment sales and rentals.

When working on these kinds of projects, communication occurs among four main contacts: the buyer, architect, manufacturer and client. The buyer is either the general contractor, the developer or the owner of the project. The buyer generally communicates directly with the architect on building products and furnishings for the building. It is the architect’s responsibility to give clear adherence to the manufacturer in regard to drawings, specifications and approved designs. The client in this case is considered the buyer of the unit and should always have a clear understanding of what cabinet choices they have.

Pointers for Successful Communication

The manufacturer is usually in the passenger seat, trying to get the project awarded. For a working relationship to be successful in the long run, it is important that the manufacturer doesn’t oversell. The company needs to face any limitations realistically in terms of volume, production times and manpower. A mutually beneficial relationship depends on respect and professional understanding.

Product Selection: What to Consider

The decision about a product, especially from the kitchen and bathroom category, is most influenced by past experience, budget, the architect’s recommendations and the marketing/sales division. All of these factors are valid, however, in most cases marketing wins and is most influential in the buyer’s decision-making process

Important factors for the selection include the manufacturer’s capacity, performance and reliability of the product. Many buildings today are looking to meet LEED or USGBC requirements. Market value and the reputation of customer service during and after the installation of the building product should be considered even before meeting with the company.It is up to the architect and buyer to fully research the company in reference to financial strength, longevity and overall performance. Often it is up to the architect to make the initial selection, which s/he will then present to the buyer.

A good barometer for production capacity for a small project should not be less than 200 cabinets per day. When a buyer or architect is in the decision-making process, they need to consider what type of track record a company has and how long the company has been in operation. Later down the road, a developer does not want to be faced with problems obtaining replacement parts. This impacts the decision of the fronts for the kitchen; for example, it may not be wise for a developer to choose an exotic wood front in the event that at a later date it is no longer available. Another issue when selecting a cabinet is with book-matched fronts. Should a buyer select book-matched and one cabinet front in a unit gets damaged and a replacement is needed, all fronts need to be replaced. In this case, the buyer must weigh attractive design with long-term practicality.

Questions for the Buyer to Consider:

- What is the delivery time from the release of the design to the jobsite and through final installation?

- Who is taking care of the installation?

- What type of packaging is being used?

- How many cabinets do the developer and architect expect to be delivered per day? Per week?

- Are parts readily available at the factory? If not, how are they supplied if replacement parts are needed?

- What is the warranty in the event that a product is damaged upon receipt at the jobsite, and what are the terms and conditions when a cabinet becomes damaged?

The buyer also has the right to ask the manufacturer for a performance bond, which is a document issued by a bank or insurance company to guarantee that the value of the work will not be lost in the case of an unfortunate event (such as insolvency). A performance bond is also known as a “surety bond,” which is a promise to pay the obligee a certain amount if a second party (principal) fails to meet some obligation, such as fulfilling the terms of a contract. A suitable manufacturer for a multi-unit building should be able to present this bond. A company with good credit or good standing will be able to get one.

Reaching the Final Agreement

A signed shop drawing by the architect or buyer’s representative, including a written production release by the buyer, is the only way to create a final manufacturing agreement. A shop drawing is the best receipt for the buyer and manufacturer as long as it is completely clear, detailed and mutually agreed upon.

Final plans should be attained by the manufacturer to specify and draw the project correctly. The plans provide detailed information, including ceiling heights, electrical plans with outlets, plumbing diagrams, final floor-by-floor detail, requirements for appliances and countertops and finally, provisions for cabinet backing or inside wall material, which is always important when mounting cabinets.

Outside-the-box requests sometimes arise from the architect or buyer in regard to upgrades, for example. Sometimes a penthouse unit will have features the others don’t. In this case, clear documentation to upgrades and credits needs to be established up front. Red flags for kitchen manufacturers start when the company starts to design products outside of their business model. A manufacturer performs better on multi-unit projects when producing products from its own product line rather than creating “special” products.

Consistency in quality, color and style for cabinet door fronts is the responsibility of the manufacturer to maintain during the production process. Most large cabinetry companies equipped to furnish high-rise developments have a specialized Quality Control Department to undergo rigorous checking and testing. Additionally, depending on the size and duration of the building’s progress, aging and storage need to be considered especially for raw (wood) materials. For real wood fronts, in the case that the cabinets arrive on time and the project is delayed, storage must have be kept dry in a dark cool place and out of view of any direct sunlight.

Because the buyer and architect have so many decisions to make for one project is the reason a project can be held up. The fewer kitchen choices a buyer offers to their end client, the least amount of difficulties are expected in reference to ordering, specifying and installation. Giving a customer too many choices, especially those who live out of town, will create delays, confusion and disappointments because of more complicated decision-making. It’s generally recommended not to give customers moving into a new building more than two packaged design options for their future kitchen.

Special Conditions

Kitchen designers may run into special conditions from the buyer or architect, for example, they may want to see the kitchen in full before the release of the main production. A real-life, mock-up kitchen has many great benefits for all of the trades. First off, a mock-up display is a great way to test the design and clear up any uncertainties. If the buyer or architect has questions or concerns, seeing the design in real life solidifies their decision and approval. A mock-up also reconfirms that the electrical, plumbing and appliance fittings are correct. Lastly and most important is that when the building is on the market to ensure the look and feel of the design underscores the unit’s marketing goals.


Scheduling of appliances and cabinetry should be a priority. It is important to keep the flow of communication constant throughout the entire phase of the project for notifications on delays and milestone dates to better align delivery and performance. Before installation, the manufacturer should appoint a chief installer who serves as the go-to for technical issues. Union and OSHA requirements can be requested to be presented by the manufacturer to ensure that proper safety is executed on the jobsite. Also ADA requirements should be discussed before approaching the installation.

Training and knowledge of the facts and demands of the job are acquired through factory training and experience. Professionalism is attained when the right person acquired the proper experience and skills. Last but not least, servicing multi-unit projects requires the highest level of integrity from the manufacturer’s representative combined with attention to detail and an innate interest and passion for the trade.

- Lothar C. Birkenfeld is a National Kitchen and Bath Hall of Fame award winner and a 30+-year veteran of the European custom cabinet industry. Birkenfeld discusses what it takes to make it in the cabinet business as a manufacturer for multi-unit projects.

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May 06 2014

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Outdoor Residential Kitchens Crave Professional-grade, Specialized Equipment

Kalamazoo 01 (2000x1487)

In the wake of the housing recovery, professional-grade equipment is becoming more prevalent in outdoor kitchens. “What we’re seeing with outdoor kitchens parallels the trend we saw with professional indoor cooking equipment,” said Brian Eskew, marketing director for Twin Eagles.

Fueled by an increased interest in artisan cooking and entertaining at home, a growing number of outdoor kitchen products are now becoming more specialized with the capabilities of restaurant kitchens. As outdoor kitchens are forecast to be one of the most popular residential outdoor design elements in the coming years – according to a recent survey of residential landscape architects by the American Society of Landscape Architects – there are no signs of this trend cooling down.

Power Heating Up 

Performance is truly the name of the game. Commercial cooking equipment is designed to cook quickly, effectively and consistently at high temperatures. Homeowners want the same thing when they cook their favorite meals in their outdoor kitchens. This is driving product innovation, and more manufacturers are finding ways to repurpose commercial products for residential use.

For example, outdoor kitchen companies have brought the salamander grill – common in many restaurant kitchens – into the backyard. These can deliver intense heat overhead to help the food avoid exposure to flare-ups or charring. Similarly, restaurant-caliber burners have hit the residential market in a big way. They create external heat, giving homeowners the firepower to do everything from searing steaks at more than 700 degrees to handling lobster pots and turkey fryers.

‘Foodie’ Revolution 

Those who want to step up their outdoor cooking game know they need the right equipment to get them there. “People are becoming more adventuresome in their cooking,” said Russ Faulk, grill master and vice president of design, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. “The better your equipment is, the more easily you can try out some advanced techniques, and the more you’ll enjoy the experience.”

While enthusiasm for artisan cooking has always been at a simmer in our culture, it’s now more widespread than ever, thanks in part to the rise of food bloggers and celebrity chefs. It’s not just avid cooks who seek professional-grade equipment – it’s everyone.

“Everybody just wants to get into the kitchen, whether they’re cooking from scratch and need specialty cookware or if they’re just reheating a dish and giving it their own twist with a special garnish,” said Deborah Pankey, food editor for the Daily Herald in the Chicago suburbs. “As people travel more, read food magazines and watch cooking shows, they want to bring that into their own space.”


Today’s Special

Happening simultaneously with the heightened interest in cooking, outdoor kitchen equipment has become more specialized. As people begin to develop a more sophisticated palate through exposure to a variety of cuisines and regional dishes at restaurants, more focus is placed on recreating those recipes at home. To cook these dishes, equipment that extends beyond grilling is often necessary.

“Specialized outdoor cooking equipment is becoming more popular,” said Faulk. “For example, we’re seeing a rise in popularity of the pizza oven – a specialized piece of equipment designed for a certain type of cooking. It has capabilities that a grill does not.”

In fact, manufacturers have discovered ways to redesign commercial wood-fired brick ovens for residential use while maintaining the same performance found in a restaurant kitchen. Along with specialization, the cooking equipment has become more functional. Added capabilities allow for both endless recipe possibilities and versatility when it comes to cooking styles. By offering multiple functions for the user, grills with options such as dual-fuel capabilities, sear burners for high-temperature cooking and rotisseries have risen in popularity.

Elevating Lifestyle

Food is only half the story, and according to Eskew, “As much as it is about food, it’s even more about lifestyle – gathering and entertaining.”

Entertaining at home has taken on new life following the recession. Homeowners enjoy staying at home more often and value spending more time with family and friends. In turn, they seek the best available outdoor kitchen equipment that will help them cook restaurant-quality meals for their guests.

“The fact is that more people are eating at home now more than ever before. Therefore the ability to be able to cook for your family or for a group of people is important,” said Jim Ginocchi, president of Coyote Outdoor Living. “Homeowners are looking for quality – both in the time spent with loved ones and from the equipment they are cooking their food on.”

As the outdoor kitchen is another center for entertaining at home, consistency is one of the most important elements of the cooking equipment, according to Dawn Whyte, principal designer and owner of Designs by Dawn. “While the indoor kitchen is the heart of the home, the outdoor kitchen is the pulse of the neighborhood – it brings people together,” she said. “And when people get together, the host wants to feel confident that their dishes will be delicious every time – just like restaurant chefs.”

Beyond Cooking

While much emphasis in professional-grade performance has been placed on cooking, manufacturers also have been bolstering other parts of the outdoor kitchen. Refrigeration and cabinetry are two areas that have become more important as homeowners want their outdoor kitchens to be completely self-sufficient – and in some cases, the primary kitchen.

Storage has become more important as homeowners are using their outdoor kitchens more often.

“Not only do we have the BTUs, different styles of grilling and cooking, built-in halogens for nighttime grilling, side burners, storage, high searing options, rotisseries and all kinds of refrigeration – cabinetry also has improved. We have choices beyond stainless,” said Elaine Markoutsas, nationally syndicated design writer for Universal Uclick. She points out that Brown Jordan, a luxury furniture manufacturer, has a line of outdoor cabinetry with classic styling in a range of colors and models.

To improve functionality, some outdoor cabinetry now has the ability to protect the contents inside. For example, magnetic gaskets that create a seal to shield dry goods from the outside elements and weather-tight designs with rain gutters around door openings are becoming more commonplace. These allow homeowners to store items such as linens, pots and pans, dishes and spices outside without worrying about them getting wet.

Looking Ahead

To predict what lies ahead for outdoor kitchens, experts suggest looking inside.

“Consumers will probably see more translation from what is popular for indoor cooking,” said Ginocchi. “Trends for the outdoor usually follow what is popular for everyday use inside.”

Experts also agree that specialized equipment will continue to flourish as manufactures push the limits of innovation. We’ll likely see more specialized professional-grade products – such as fryers, dual-fuel appliances, smokers and electric grills – become popular outdoor kitchen staples over the next several years.

- By Bradley Carlson, Communications Manager, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

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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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