K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

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Jun 19 2015

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Feng Shui in the Kitchen and Bath

One modern home in Hong Kong took all the buzz about eco-friendly materials and health-conscious kitchens and baths and took it to a new/old level: Feng Shui.

“It’s a modern and classical Scandinavian design – clean and minimal,” said designer Nelson Chow of NC Design & Architecture.

This flowing look starts with balance and harmony: like doubles in every room, seating conducive to conversation and fixtures that point all the light in one spot. For this 2,700-square-foot space, a sense of peace starts at the entrance and leads through to a living and dining area, an open kitchen and an open bathroom. A neutral palette of consistent materials in the three areas diminishes the notion of boundaries and maximizes volume.

Keeping with Feng Shui theory, every wall pane is curved, from the glass windows to the walls and fixtures. A wooden feature wall (secretly a storage space for appliances) moves from the living room to the kitchen.

“The feature wall graduates from gun metal gray in the living room to light ash in the kitchen, corresponding to the differing lighting levels in each area while creating a playful drama that draws in natural light to illuminate the apartment,” said Chow.

Branching off from the main area is a seamless corridor that frames a sculptural freestanding bathtub. After this partial view, occupants enter a small bathroom covered in blue hexagonal wall tiles. Three large, artificial skylights cast light into the living, dining and bathroom areas.

“The graphical patterns of the wall tiles and warm tonal graduations together form a contemporary yet unique design that maximizes volume,” said Chow.

Jun 04 2015

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The Five Online Personas of Kitchen and Bath Buyers

You’ve all heard that when it comes to finding homeowners who want to remodel their kitchen or bathroom, the Internet is where it’s at.

Estimates indicate that 80-90 percent of homeowners conduct research on the Internet before they move forward with a major purchase. So people are doing more online research than ever before – and spending more time online thinking about their kitchen and bath options – before ever talking to a remodeler.

So what exactly are they doing when they are online? And how does that affect their attitude before they pick up the phone or walk into your showroom? We’ve identified five different types of personalities and the online behaviors they exhibit before they call you. Each one displays different behaviors that directly influence how they purchase.

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

#1: The Straight Arrow – Make it Easy for Them
Everyone loves Straight Arrows – and not because they’re good people with a strong sense of morality. We love them because they make fast decisions and have a very quick trigger.

Typical Straight Arrows are often homeowners where both members of the home work full-time jobs. They have children or other family members who keep them very busy with extracurricular activities. These factors force quicker decisions by homeowners who want a friction-free process – they need someone good – NOW!

This is certainly not (unfortunately) the majority of your prospects. However, it represents an important subset of homeowners who realize they have a problem but who don’t have much time to research and compare solutions. They go online because they can find a designer or remodeler fast.

The good news is that Straight Arrows often don’t fight for every last dollar. Timing, schedules and an easy sales experience are much more important to them than counting the extra pennies at the end of a job. The easier you make it, the more likely Straight Arrows are to buy.

#2: The Reputation Detective – Who Are You…Online?

Reputation Detectives have a very different behavior once they’ve identified you as a potential with which company they may want to work. Rather than contacting you immediately, Reputation Detectives continue their process by investigating you online.

They go to sites like Yelp, Angie’s List and Google looking for reviews others have written about your company and to understand what your customers think of you. These homeowners are focused on avoiding being scammed. Moreover, they don’t want high-pressure sales tactics.

Rather, they are cautious and want a reputable kitchen or bath company that will provide top-quality design and construction. As with Straight Arrows, their objective is not to minimize every last dollar they pay you. They will spend extra money so long as they’re convinced they’re getting experts and not a fly-by-night operator.

#3: The Product Geek – Let Them Eat Data

The blessing and the curse of the Internet is that it delivers more information to homeowners than they could ever possibly process. These days, most homeowners can easily drown in the volumes of content they can find on new kitchen or bath designs.

But Product Geeks really like to dig up and read as much material as they can get their hands on. They’ll spend hours online researching exactly the type of steam shower or backsplash designs they want before contacting you. In short, Product Geeks consider themselves as informed as any of your sales reps.

In support of the Product Geeks, I encourage residential designers and remodelers to offer as much information as they can on their websites, which will certainly help improve your search engine rankings. And it will show Product Geeks how your offerings compare with what they’ve learned elsewhere on the Internet.

Effective websites layer the information they present to enable visitors to interact with it.  Rather than presenting it “en masse,” display information as snippets that allow your prospects to interact with your site by clicking on the material in which they’re interested. In this way, website navigation and interior hyperlinking will make you a hero with this crowd.

#4: The Price Monster – Selling Price-Obsessed Homeowners
We all dislike prospects who think price first. They’re difficult to set appointments with, difficult to sell and difficult to close. But even in a strong economy, Price Monsters are everywhere.

When this group goes online, they have to do everything they can to understand pricing and potential cost savings before they let you in their homes. They do searches for terms like “kitchen remodeling costs” “cheap kitchen remodeling” and “affordable bath remodels.”

Your hidden challenge with Price Monsters is not tied to your products or your sales techniques. Rather, it comes from Google, which now displays its Retail Listings high on its search results pages. Among its retail listings, Google shows search results for behemoths like Home Depot, Overstock.com and Amazon at deceptively low prices.

Within these retail listings, Price Monsters will see that they can get a walk-in tub for $1,600! But of course what they don’t see is the low quality that likely comes with that low price. They also don’t see any reference to shipping, installation, plumbing or craftsmanship.

Unfortunately, it’s that low price that invariably sticks in their heads.

Here are some tips for succeeding with Price Monsters:
- Don’t price over the phone. Homeowners who are really ready to buy will come to your showroom or have a design expert into their house.

– Don’t fall for their persistent requests for a ballpark price.

– DO make strong offers on your website. Price Monsters love saving money – whether via coupon, a posted discount or as a carryover from your offline advertising. These hooks grab Price Monsters and get them to raise their hands.

#5: Well Wired – Selling to Wired Homeowners

The final persona is currently the smallest, but its also the fastest growing. Wired Homeowners will do online research…but often after they head to their social networks where they ask their friends or followers for kitchen and bath referrals.

You see constant posts on Facebook and Twitter such as: “Has anyone ever hired XYZ Kitchen and Bath?” Wired Homeowners have moved well beyond simple reputation searches on Yelp and Angie’s List, to broad requests for information via their Facebook and Twitter connections.

Wired Homeowners will also check social media you’ve made on behalf of your company.  Because they are active Facebook and Twitter users, they will check if you’re posting regularly and if you regularly update your pages with new material. For this bunch, it’s not what you post so much as that you are active on social media.

While this group of prospects is still small – and relatively young – 10 years from now, a much bigger percentage of your target prospects will be using social media for these referrals. So keep those social media accounts fresh and active!

In Conclusion

It’s still hard to get good leads from the online channel, but it’s not hard to understand the behaviors of homeowners online. If you can give your sales team a thorough understanding of what prospects are doing online, they are going to be more successful at getting into that home and selling remodels.

– Todd Bairstow, co-founder and principal, Keyword Connects (keywordconnects.com).

May 13 2015

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Save Water with Ease: Water-Efficient Home Upgrades

Image by njaj, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by njaj, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In recent years, low rainfall and record-high temperatures have resulted in a historically devastating drought in California. Some studies suggest the current drought, which most believe started in 2011, is the worst the state has seen in more than 1,000 years. But California is not alone. The country as a whole is in the midst of one of the most sustained periods of increasing drought on record, according to the Palmer Index.

Consumers know their choices can make a difference and are seeking smarter water options to support heightened environmental standards as well as save money. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year – approximately 16 percent of water loss comes from leaks within the water system. But consumers also expect to be able to make these adjustments without sacrificing experience.

For starters, the industry needs to keep encouraging homeowners to upgrade to WaterSense-labeled models that use no more than 2.0 gallons of water per minute. Using these models does not mean sacrificing experience, as some offerings even provide spray heads that create the feeling of more water while using less. Through updated technology, showerheads, hand showers and tub showers can feature innovations that control the water’s shape, velocity and thermal dynamics – creating a warmer, more luxurious spray that blankets the body – all while using a fraction of the water.

Many consumers may not be aware that toilets are the main source of water usage in their homes, accounting for almost 30 percent of an average home’s indoor water consumption. Homeowners can save 13,000 gallons of water per year by replacing older, inefficient toilets. When getting rid of a leaky toilet, encourage consumers to look for a WaterSense-labeled option certified to use 1.28 gallons per flush – 20 percent less water than the current federal standard of 1.6 gallons per flush. Some toilets even offer leak detection and overflow protection to further assist consumers in their water-saving efforts.

 As a trusted advisor for consumers tackling improvement projects in the home, suggesting a faucet swap not only gives the bathroom a new, upgraded look but also saves water in the process. While most consumers are aware that turning off the tap when brushing teeth is a water-efficient practice, they may not know there are product and technology options that help reduce water usage when the tap is on. High-performance, water-efficient faucets and aerators bearing WaterSense labels can save a household 700 gallons of water per year, the equivalent of 40 showers worth of water, by using a maximum flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute – reducing water flow by 30 percent more than the standard flow of 2.2 gallons per minute.

With communities across America facing water supply challenges, it is more important than ever to encourage water savings and the installation of water-efficient products in the home. For more information about faucet, showerhead and toilet specifications and WaterSense-labeled products that save water and in turn protect the environment, visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/.

– By Paul Patton, Delta Faucet Company Senior Research & Development/Regulatory Manager

May 06 2015

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A Glimpse into the Many Rooms of the Atlanta Decorators’ Show House & Gardens

Master bedroom copy

I had the lovely experience of touring the 45th-Annual Symphony Associates’ Decorators’ Show House & Gardens last weekend in Atlanta. Titled “Chateau Soleil,” the 14,000-sq.-ft. house features 35 rooms or spaces on three floors designed by more than 25 designers (all based in the Atlanta area unless otherwise noted).

Unlike some similar houses I have visited, which have had an obvious connection from room to room, Chateau Soleil brought to life the sometimes very different styles of the various designers and let them show their true colors within the room(s) they designed.

The kitchen, designed by Robin LaMonte of Rooms Revamped, featured two expansive islands for food preparation and dining. A chevron backsplash above the range and topped by a large hood commanded attention in the space.

Kitchen 3 copy

The study, which was designed by Lance Jackson & David Ecton of Parker Kennedy Living, was one of my favorite spaces in the house because of its blend of whimsy and class. It was bright and airy, and a variety of seating options made the space functional for several different uses.


The master suite and bathroom – designed by Robert Brown of Robert Brown Interior Design – featured his bathroom. While the master bathroom spaces featured darker, more dramatic color and material choices, the master bedroom cut a path of serenity with its cream color scheme and elegant canopy bed (top photo).

Mens Master

“Her” master bathroom, designed by Danielle Rollins & Bill Ingram of Rollins Ingram, also included a dressing area adorned with textured wallpaper that matches the bathroom.

Ladies Dressing

The formal dining room, which was designed by Randy Korando & Dan Belman of Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts, was encased in ornate, statement pieces such as mirrors and millwork. Its cream and soft green-blue hues added a sense of serenity to the elegant space.

Dining Room

The foyer-level powder room, designed by Beth Kooby of Beth Kooby Design, was designed with an inviting atmosphere in anticipation of guests with soft colors and a flowing vanity.

Bathroom 4 - powder room in main level copy

The breakfast room and den – two spaces in an open-plan format – were designed by Vern Yip of Vern Yip Designs. The red, white and blue-colored breakfast room featured a chevron-patterned area rug, which carried through with the backsplash pattern of the nearby kitchen. The den was an inviting space with natural light flowing in from the ample terrace doors, high ceilings, grand fireplace and plush seating.

Den and B Room

One of the guest bedrooms on the top level – designed by Bryan Alan Kirkland & Iesia D. King of Kirkland & King Design Associates – plays upon a Parisian bedroom from the 1940s and features Marsala – Pantone’s 2015 color of the year.

Marsala Bedroom 2

The nursery and bath, designed by Kimberly Grigg of Knotting Hill Interiors in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is an elegant yet playful space centered by a luxurious bridal dress over the bed. The bathroom featured muted colors and a mix of materials.

Nursery and Bathroom

The powder room off of the kitchen featured a beautiful, textured wallpaper I just had to touch. Designed by one of two designers – Ann Wisniewski of AJW Designs or Staci Steen of Steen Designs (I am sorry, there were so many powder rooms, it was hard to keep track of who designed which) – the elegant space was adorned by a classic faucet, sink and vanity.

Bathroom 1

The laundry room, which I thought was a smaller kitchen at first glance, featured ample counter space and cabinetry for a variety of storage and functional needs. Designed by Jessica Bradley of Jessica Bradley Interiors, this space was designed to be classic and fresh – not just functional.

Laundry Room copy

The outdoor terrace, designed by Bill Hudgins of Lush Life Home & Garden, featured ample entertaining space with a delicious view of the gardens and pool below.


– By Chelsie Butler