K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Miscellaneous

May 01 2016

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Expert Design Tips for Outdoor Kitchens


Nathan J. Reynolds, CAPS for Insperiors, LLC, by Chelsea Shaw Photography 

Brian Patrick Flynn is an interior designer, National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) K+B Insider and national TV personality who lends his insights and expertise on the latest kitchen and bath trends on behalf of the NKBA. Here are some of his design tips for outdoor kitchens.

1. When it comes to outdoor kitchen design, function is #1. The best outdoor kitchen is just as functional as what you have inside, and the secret to making sure your clients enjoy the space as much as possible is to reduce the trips they will take between the kitchen inside and the outdoor space. Make sure the outdoor kitchen can accommodate a few integrated appliances: A refrigerator is a must-have to store fresh food before it goes on the grill, as well as extra wine and beer. I also recommend a full-size stainless-steel sink with a detachable faucet and an outdoor dishwasher if the budget allows.

2. Opt for an open layout for easy entertaining. Design the outdoor kitchen and living space with a guest-friendly open layout that encourages family and friends to serve themselves and relax. I always advise seating be 10 to 12 feet away from the grill and food prep zone so guests can comfortably mingle while the host finishes meal prep. It gives the cook the ample space while still allowing for conversation to flow from one area to the other.

Flynnside Out Productions

Flynnside Out Productions

3. Think beyond the grill. Today’s outdoor kitchens are so much more than the stand-alone charcoal grills we grew up with. A lot of outdoor kitchen appliance brands take a modular approach to their offering, so you can have a grill and a griddle side by side. Who doesn’t love the idea of making morning eggs and bacon at their outdoor kitchen?

4. Let there be light. Good lighting in and around the outdoor kitchen is essential when it comes to both functionality and ambiance. A benefit to having a ceiling extend over the outdoor kitchen makes it easy to integrate task lighting where your clients need it most. I also love integrating industrial festival lights along a pergola to help keep the space lit after hours. This can instantly give any outdoor gathering space more of a room-like feeling.

Feb 22 2016

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Open House Reveals Ideal Model Home

My boyfriend Scott and I recently went to see a model home in a new neighborhood close to where we live. He had actually been a handful of times already, but whenever we wanted to go together – it was not an open-house weekend. We are not exactly ready to start actively looking, but this home has all the things we are both looking for and then some.


The kitchen is part of an open floor plan on the main level, flanked by a dining area and across from the living space. Ample cabinets and a nice, big island with seating run circles around the kitchen we have now. And the island, countertop and backsplash break up the never-ending white that seems to be so popular these days.


To the back left of the kitchen is a mud room space that leads to the outdoors, and on the other side is a large pantry. The more casual dining space is lit up with an expanse of windows, while a smaller, more elegant dining room is closer to the front door for more intimate gatherings. I didn’t take a photo of that space because there were potential buyers in there meeting with real estate agents, but I loved that the table was round with arm chair-style seating.


The master bath on the second floor features his-and-hers vanities on either side of the space, as well as a huge soaking tub and a shower big enough for multiple people to sit in. I am not usually a “tub” person, but this one looked very inviting, and I loved that it was near the windows for natural light.



The basement level was decked out with an entertainment space with a wraparound couch, a bar and a bistro table for two. All in all, the space was perfect. There was even a home office/library as soon as you walked in the door. I might change a color here and there – I do like my color – but I wouldn’t have to make many changes too soon. I wonder who the designer was?


Oct 13 2015

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Quirks of the Quarry: A Tour of Polycor’s North GA Facility

Last week I had the pleasure of touring the depths of Polycor’s unexpectedly beautiful stone quarry in Tate, Ga. If you’re a stone novice like I was, then you may not realize what a coveted experience this can be for the public and industry professionals alike.

At more than 160 feet deep (though the stone vein actually continues at subterranean levels for thousands of feet), the quarry’s majestic “pit” is a dust-laden basin punctuated by monolithic blocks and tech-forward machinery. Encompassed by soaring stone walls, the pit even features a quaint, naturally occurring waterfall that feeds into a winding creek below – continuously pumped to prevent flooding. The area is generally restricted, and intrepid personnel require special training to traverse the pit and its surrounding areas.

Discovered by Henry T. Fitzsimmons in 1835, the quarry was later established as the Georgia Marble Company in 1884 by the locally prestigious Tate family (for which the town is named). Polycor did not acquire the site until 2003, and it has since gone on to supply the majority of marble used in iconic memorials, capitol buildings and other significant structures throughout the U.S.

The quarry is primarily used to source four color varieties of marble: White Georgia, White Cherokee, Pearl Grey and Solar Grey. A newly discovered area dubbed the Etowah Quarry, however, now also provides a plethora of salmon-colored marble.


As stone is sourced, stair-like formations referred to as “walls” (the vertical portion) and “benches” (the horizontal portion) are left behind. Workers slice the quarry’s walls before using innovative technology to sever the stone from the wall. The technique is similar to a water balloon. As the device fills with water, it expands and forces the cut stone from the wall onto the bench. Workers have little control over the size, but the bigger the piece, the higher its value.

Unusable pieces are put through a crusher that pulverizes the marble into variously sized granules. This dust is used in different industries, such as toothpaste production.

The stone that is kept for sale will then be categorized by color and grade, added to the inventory and relocated for further processing.

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.