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Jul 06 2015

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Suggestions for Marking a Cabinet Layout on the Subfloor

Image by Maggie Smith, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Maggie Smith, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Adam Abrams, CKD, president at Designer Cabinets, Granite & Tile, asked our K+BB Designers Network on LinkedIn about marking up floor cabinets for new home construction.

Does anyone have a secret – other than on hands and knees with a king-size Sharpie – to mark out the cabinet layout on the subfloor of a new home construction project? Getting older and wondering if there is a better way?”

Here are some of the responses Abrams received:

David Wagner, Dewitt Designer Kitchens

I use blue painters tape and it’s removable. I’m trying to figure out why you’re marking up the cabinet layout? I’ve always used detailed plans showing cabinetry floor plan, elevations, electrical, plumbing, ventilation, etc. The only reason I can think of is you’re trying to save on flooring by placing less expensive material under where the cabinets are going.

Cathy Osborne, designer at Auer Kitchens

I always lay it off. Still use the Sharpie. Though my plans are clear, complete and thoroughly dimensioned, I often don’t know the builder and his subs and how careful they are.

1) From time-to-time a minor framing error has been made. If I’m there on the floor with my Sharpie, I know about it early on. Sometimes we can nudge things, and other times I have to call the framer back to make changes. Best to know early.

2) I would rather take the time to make execution virtually idiot proof regarding where plumbing and electric are being brought up rather than play the blame game later when electric to the ice maker was missed.

3) The homeowner loves it when he stops by after work to see how his new home is coming along, and he can begin to see aisle ways and sight lines.

4) I make the builder look good to all of those other players and make his job easier. He will call me again.

Joseph Yencho, president and CEO of RCKsinks Inc.

Hire someone younger with better knees? Just kidding…32 years in and still doing the 1 ½-in. blue tape here.

Jun 17 2015

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Tips for Making a Lasting Impression on Your Clients

Image from Idea, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from Idea, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In our K+BB Designers Network LinkedIn Group, designers Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD, and Cathy Osborne discussed this topic: How do you leave a lasting impression on your clients? Do you follow up after a project to see how things are going?

We want to share the discussion with you.

Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD

I make an effort to get to know my clients and understand their needs and preferences. Rather than trying to “sell” them something, I take more of a consultative approach in attempt to solve a problem.

I also try to keep a positive attitude – even when something goes wrong. These things, I believe, leave a lasting impression. I do follow up with past clients with holiday greetings and supporting any businesses or efforts they endorse whenever possible.

Cathy Osborne

You leave a lasting impression on a client by letting them know that they have left a lasting and positive impression on you. I love Anne-Marie’s comment about supporting their personal efforts. It is really important to make a mental note of things they may have shared casually, such as “That’s not a good day for an appointment. I volunteer on Wednesdays at the Food Bank.” Now you know something that is truly important to your client. You might comment: “That must be really rewarding. I’ll bet you have changed lives.” That brief dialogue can lead to a stronger connection between you and your client.

Remember their kids’ names, greet the cleaning lady. The lasting impression will be that you interacted with them as a whole person, not someone spending X thousands on “The Smith Project.”

Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD

One of my past clients makes jewelry, so I attended her first show and bought some of her pieces! This couple had spent two years in the Peace Corp in Belize before moving back to the U.S. The wife had mentioned that she fell in love with an exotic wood called Purple Heart, and she loved the color purple. When they decided they wanted a second material for the upper level of their island, I remembered the exotic wood and found a local source. I also found granite that had purple streaks and mineral deposits. It brings me great satisfaction when I can find elements my clients really love!

May 01 2015

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From Hotels to Homes

David_RockwellThe words, “There was this hotel I really liked…” have turned up more and more frequently when discussing design aesthetic with a client. People travel and explore for retreat and inspiration, and often when they return, homeowners realize that they can have a similar escape at home too.

This past week I had the honor of hearing architect David Rockwell speak on what inspires him to create the hotels, restaurants, theater sets and other spaces for which he is famous. The Rockwell Group, founded by Rockwell in 1984, has imagined and built some of the most creative structures seen in recent years. From a journey-like experience in an Asian restaurant to a moving train on a Broadway stage, the company’s creations drive the hospitality world and therefore are leaking into our residential designs.

“The barrier between work, home life and socializing is more permeable than ever,” said Rockwell. “So it’s making sense to mash up several ideas into one.”

By this he’s referring to the idea of taking what people want – like a beach house – and finding a way to insert it into the mundane place they need it to go, like a plain old office space. He reaches for inspiration around the world to find ways to incorporate these ideas practically, and we can use similar methods in residences. Here are some of my takeaways from his inspiring talk.

Fear up front is a good thing. Having been asked to do the stage set for the 82-tc-1009Academy Awards, Rockwell was intimidated by the scathing criticism the ceremony often gets. He took on the challenge by looking at choreography and movement.

“People move in arc movements,” he said, explaining how the importance of a journey to a space is just as important as the space itself.

Only 20 percent of a project creates the memory. In TAO Downtown in New Tao_NYC_Downtown__David_rockwell_groupYork City, the restaurant is laid out in such a way that the entrance feels like a transformation into a different world. The main seating area, set up in a unique theater format, faces a giant statue illuminated by projected animation. Even though the majority of the budget went to the statue’s animation, most of the diners say they remember the statue more than anything else in the building.

yotel-01Environments tell a story. Looking to the past for inspiration is old news, but by melding different parts of the past – like 60s air travel and Japanese hospitality in Yotel hotel – an entirely new space can form.

There is a power in things changing. Designers are no strangers to this. Rockwell felt this experience the most after 9/11, when he was asked by a New York mother to build a playground to replace the one destroyed by the attacks. His creation resulted in a series of building-block playgrounds called Imagination Playgrounds, which have changed communities around the world.

“Be curious,” Rockwell said. “You’ll see how the eccentric things you love in design can pay off in the future.”

Apr 22 2015

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What Time of Year Are K&B Renovations Most Popular?

We at K+BB polled our Editorial Advisory Board to see what time of year most of their K&B projects take place. The responses pretty much run the gamut, with many of them claiming that renovations are popular all year long. Spring and summer are popular seasons, but then others renovate more in the fall.

Read their responses and see where you fit in!

Chuck Wheelock h-r
Our clients renovate Kitchens and Baths in spring and fall. Bonuses are paid in late February, and after being cooped up all winter, people welcome a change in springtime. In our area, the summer months are when everyone is outdoors and leaves town for their beach homes. Then in the fall, the race is on to complete before the holidays!

– Chuck Wheelock, Wheelock Maidique/Kitchen Design & Cabinetry


Our client(s) typically renovate during the spring and fall months while their children are still in school. We see a slowdown mid-May and a pick up within a few weeks of school starting. Clients tend to want to be around and involved during the renovation, so summer break is slow – unless they have sacrificed their vacation budget for the project.

– Glenn Ray, Kitchen Master Corp.


Amy Ahearn
Spring is the biggest time here in the Northeast. Factors include bonuses that go out – especially in the financial sector. The weather also plays an important role, as people want to at least be able to grill outside when their kitchen is torn out. Early fall is next biggest – presumably to get the home ready for the holidays.
– Amy Ahearn, CKD, CAPS, Ahearn Cabinetry Designs


Spring then fall. I’d just add that there is always a segment of homeowners who are ok with remodeling around holidays and events, particularly when they do not typically host them. I’d split that segment into two parts: a) they want it when they want it, regardless of timing; and b) they are just Zen-type personalities and are not driven by events or bothered too much with inconveniences. The latter are the best clients!
– Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS,Susan Serra Associates and Bornholm Kitchen


Christopher Grubb
We find a lot of clients want the design to start in the spring and be completed by winter. Most remodels take 12 weeks max, so it doesn’t take into the end of winter – they can usually be completed to enjoy for summer entertaining.

– Christopher Grubb, Arch-Interiors Design Group


Brandy Souza copy
Our renovations in New England are during spring (ordering in March and installing in April/May) due to tax refunds and having graduation parties. The next is fall to have their kitchens ready for the holidays (ordering in Aug/Sept and installing Sept/Oct). This is based on numbers I pulled from our 2012-2015 records.

– Brandy Souza, Kitchen Views


Michelle Henderson
This past year has been an anomaly, but we typically see spikes in foot traffic/sales ramping up from September to November (because of holidays and kids are back to school) and then pick up again in late February early March so their projects are complete before summer, or weddings or parties.

– Michelle Henderson, Banner Plumbing Supply


My experience has always been that summer is the busiest season for remodels as well as new construction. The next push is fall after kids go back to school and holidays approach. Why do they choose that time? I think outdoor grilling, no school schedules and no weather to really contend with.

– Diane Lawson, Markraft Cabinets


Pam Goldstein
My clients usually remodel after school starts so projects can end by Thanksgiving; and then it starts up again around New Years. If they have young children and can take vacation, they like to renovate in the summer during school vacation.

– Pam Goldstein, CMKBD, CAPS, ALLIED, ASID, 
Master Bath Kitchen Designers


Doug Walter - Daylighting
I haven’t noticed a particular trend in when kitchens and baths get renovated, other than there’s a big push in spring and summer to get work wrapped up for the holidays. Then there’s a several-week lull as everyone celebrates the holidays, including New Year’s. Then on January 2nd, the phone starts ringing off the hook for the next season’s remodels!

– Doug Walter, Doug Walter Architects


Troy Pavelka
We have been fortunate in that we are fairly consistently busy year round, except for during the last half of December. With that being said the end of winter and start of spring here in Chicago is the time when we experience peak volume for a number of new appointments and meet with people to discuss the planning for their remodel. People naturally gravitate toward starting the process at this time – it’s the state of mind of coming out of winter and a time of renewal for improving the home.

– Troy Pavelka, Normandy Design Build Remodeling


Our market does not seem to have a “perfect” time to remodel their kitchen – we do it all year! But I do have a fair amount of younger clients who have kids and we work around school schedules A LOT. We also try and time it for summer months so they can utilize outdoor grilling, etc. We are Coastal, so outdoors is a big deal, and we do try and stay away from holiday deadlines. It’s too stressful for all involved!

– Cheryl Kees Clendenon, In Detail Interiors


Rachel Roberts
For us, January-May tends to be the busiest time for kitchen/bath projects to be in production. Lots of folks get everything selected and ordered in the fall/winter, so at the turn of the year, we begin a lot of the projects. Sounds like a lot of folks have said spring, which I would agree!

– Rachel Roberts, Kitchen & Bath Galleries of North Hills


Ebony Stephenson
In Virginia, we do not typically have a certain time of year that our clients renovate. In the summer, the weather can be extremely hot, and sometimes we deal with scheduling issues with hurricanes. Clients with children do like to renovate in the summer so we can work on their house while they are gone on a family vacation. In the winter, the weather can be extreme here, so we must warn clients of schedule changes since safety of our employees is a priority.

– Ebony Stephenson, Criner Remodeling


Projects in Southern California go year round, as we are not as impacted by weather as in the Northeast or other parts of the country.

– Sales Associate with Pirch


Cathy Osborne
Our customers often make their first inquiry about a new kitchen in the winter on the heels of the holidays. That time of year brings out all the shortcomings of their existing space. Colder weather has them cooped up and feeling claustrophobic (open floor plan), it gets dark early (better lighting), they have just finished holiday entertaining and cookie baking (more countertop space), they dragged out seldom-used serve ware, punch bowls, etc. (accessible storage), and as relatives came and went, they were acutely aware that its looking a little tired (general updating).

– Cathy Osborne, Auer Kitchens


Kristina Crestin
I will say in my world there isn’t a time of the year really at all, but some clients choose for work to be done during the summer since they have summer homes they can relocate to during the renovation.

– Kristina Crestin, Kristina Crestin Design


Patti Baumann
We are busy all year with sales from builders, designers, homeowners etc., and they usually work a month or two in advance at least, so I wouldn’t say there is a specific time that’s busier. If I had to choose a season, I would say summer because of the weather, but it’s not dramatic.

– Patti Baumann, Ferguson


Corey Klassen 02
There are three cycles to renovate:

1. January – April – post Christmas (interiors only)

2. May – August  – post tax season and best weather

3. September – December – pre-Christmas and before the poor weather, somewhat post tax, HUGE realtor season.

– Corey Klassen, Corey Klassen Interior Design


Paula Kennedy
In the Northwest we can remodel year round now, thanks to the moderate weather. When people choose to renovate depends on vacations, holidays and school schedules. Clients like doing a kitchen remodel when they can barbeque outside – which here can be from spring through fall. Some like doing it when the kids are in school so they aren’t around during the day with the contractors around; others with older kids like doing it during the summer so the kids will be at camps or outside or doing whatever their schedules require. As our winters have gotten more moderate, we see less of a drop in business during that time.

– Paula Kennedy, CMKBD, CAPS, Timeless Kitchen Design


Bill Feinberg President  CEO
We hope that remodeling is something that our clients always think about doing all year round. I can tell you, however, that many people who plan ahead often try to plan during the summer months – especially those who have families and/or may be off of work or school. Other homeowners, such as many of the snowbirds that we get here, also try to plan for work after the busy winter season when the crowds are less – especially in the condo market.

– Bill Feinberg, Allied Kitchen & Bath


Sandra Espinet
Our busy time is January to May. This is when my clients give us their new ideas and get us to start quoting and designing. From May to November is our “get it done” time since the homes are mostly unoccupied and we can do demolition and renovation work.

– Sandra Espinet, Designer


Toni Sabatino 1
I find most clients like to remodel in the summer here in the Northeast. The ability to barbeque outside seems to be very helpful for people staying in a suburban home during the remodel. There are also those who come in after the summer and realize they want to make some changes before the holidays. I discourage that in favor of good planning and starting the project at the beginning of the year. Starting at a time that is going to be the most stress free for the client in terms of events and commitments for the holidays, birthdays, etc., is the way I best like to approach the process.

– Toni Sabatino,  Toni Sabatino Style


Ray Wiese
I think the timing today is more based on priority of need to remodel, space (capacity) and ability to remodel (budget and desire) and simplifying the process of remodeling (will it be easy to navigate and understand the buy?). I still believe there is a cycle of commonality (spikes, ebbs, etc.), but it is as fluid as the changes in our lifestyles and technology.

– Ray Wiese, CMKBD, The Wiese Company


David Hagney

Most of our construction in the North is dictated by climate, especially with new homes and additions. The goal is to get started in a climate-controlled environment before winter sets in so that the work can continue uninterrupted. In these cases, we try to schedule the shell construction to be completed by late fall.

– David Hagney, AIA, ACHA, NCARB, LEED AP, Hagney Architects

David Stimmel

We have found that in the last few years the work is steady no matter what the time of year. Some clients want it done while their kids are in school; others want to have the work performed while they are away during the summer. I really see it as steady across the board. It is not unusual for last-minute shoppers to show up on November 1st thinking they can have it done before Thanksgiving, however, those customers are few and typically don’t understand the time it takes to create something special. We also find diversifying our advertising budget to cover different seasonal venues helps to create that even flow of work.

– David Stimmel, Stimmel Consulting Group

Nar Bustamante

As a showroom operator who does not want seasonal ups and downs, I’ve decided that the power to change comes from within. I try to let people know when the best time is to remodel their kitchen based on their life structure. I have created categories that people are quite happy to comply with.

  • Single people with no kids: Remodel anytime or as soon as possible.
  • Couple without kids: Remodel anytime or before spring so you can enjoy summer (this locks in winter projects).
  • Couple with kids: Remodel while kids are in school; this minimizes headaches at home or kids running around during the remodel.
  • Retired people: Best to plan remodel during a vacation…this gives space to work.
  • The hurry up I need it tomorrow people: Have them write a check as they speak (put your money where your demands are).
  • The I don’t have a big budget people: Fit them in where there are gaps in your schedule.

Once you fill out your year with this method, then you have work year round and then anything else that comes in over the top of that is where that magic happens!

– Nar Bustamante, Nar Fine Cabinetry