K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Feb 22 2018

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Kitchen & Bath Tech Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss

A recent National Kitchen & Bath Association webinar gave insight into this important industry topic. As consumer expectations are increasing where technology is concerned, it is important than ever to stay on top of the trends.

Moderated by Ed Wenck, CEDIA content marketing manager, the panel included Jamie Briesemeister, CEDIA’s integration controls, sales & marketing director; Adam Gibson, CMKBD, Adam Gibson Kitchen & Bath Designs; and Christopher Wright, owner of WrightWorks, a remodeling contractor firm.

The panel covered four learning outcomes during the webinar.

Explore Current and Emerging Tech Trends and Their Application to Current and Future Projects
Briesemeister and her team attended the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and were introduced to a plethora of connected appliances, as well as systems that allow users to access their homes remotely. She said voice control was huge, with many products including Alexa, and water leak detection products help homeowners save on their investment.

“We saw many ‘smart’ products, with smart meaning connected in some way to the internet or a mobile device – there is intelligence built in,” said Briesemeister. “I even saw a mirror with smart glass, which can display weather or a calendar and can also act as a touchscreen to control home devices and even email.”

KOHLER’s Verdera voice-lighted mirror with Amazon Alexa

She also said smart refrigerators add value by letting the homeowner view contents remotely (at a grocery store), and a smart stove can send alerts if it has been on too long. Gibson said the number one connected home need his clients specify is audio visual technology, followed by lighting, which can be controlled with a one-button press or a keypad.

Improve the Experience, Save Production Time, Gain Referrals
“I try to bring up the technology conversation early and ask what existing systems are in place,” said Wright. “I want to deliver options, not upselling or forcing anything on my clients, but rather adding to their quality of life. I find they are willing to pay more for the experience and the peace of mind.”

According to Gibson, every kitchen has some technological integration, but he recommends using an integration specialist to correctly do the install.

“I have learned not to be afraid because I have an integrator involved early,” he explained. “Really good electricians know their limits; they do not try anything they are not trained to do.”

The Bosch Built-in Coffee Machine with Home Connect features voice control through Amazon Alexa. 

Establish a Comfort Level with Emerging Technologies
“In the past, integrations were costly, and it was hard to make multiple systems work,” said Wright. “The early step for me was building relationships with tech pros at events and working with them on my projects.”

CEDIA also offers a database of integrators based on zip code. A good integrator is someone who will not slow down a project, who knows exactly what is out there and who does a great job.

“There are different types – those who do faster installations and those who work with a designer,” said Briesemeister. “Find out what kind you are talking to; you may need to know both.”

Tricks of the Trade
There are several advancements that can hide the technology you install in your client’s home, such as faceplates that match the surrounding material. You can also port a subwoofer through a heating and cooling vent to disguise it.

In terms of maintaining the overall project budget, Wright said there is no need to replace all the current technology in a client’s home.

“This alleviates the fear of having to start over from scratch,” he explained. “We want to present options so our clients have the power to decide what they want. Some will want the latest and greatest, and some only need the bare minimum.

Feb 19 2018

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Nancy Fire’s Top Trends

Meet Nancy Fire, design director for HGTV and creative director and founder of Design Works International, (http://designworksintl.com/) a lifestyle design studio in New York City. Her multi-discipline design studio specializes in original textile design, trend development, color and bespoke consulting services.

With more than three decades of expertise in the design industry, Fire works to provide brands, manufacturers and companies with trend research and development. KBB recently sought her out to hear the newest predictions and insights in interior design:

Open Floor Plans
Fire:
“Designing today is about duality, and that is exactly what an open floor plan provides. These open spaces that function as multiple rooms within a living space are still in demand, with the most common being the great room that combines the kitchen, dining room and living room in one shared space.”

“At Wilsonart, wood is warming up the home with accent shelves that bring a more contemporary and updated approach to bookcase-type style,” said Fire. “Using lighter wood in the home usually creates a brighter vibe and coordinates nicely with other textures and surfaces.”

What Makes a Luxury Home

Fire: “For me, it’s having things in my home that allow me to enjoy my interior space. I am a designer that has always mixed old with new, expensive with affordable and neutrals with pops of color to add personality and substance to a space. In our New York City apartment, the luxury comes from my furniture and accessories, but in the country the luxury comes from my appliances and open floor plan living because we have more space.”

“Moving away from the singular metal trend of seasons past, we’re now witnessing metal mixing through combinations of various finishes throughout the home,” said Fire. Shown here is True Residential’s black matte and copper kitchen at KBIS 2018.

Upcoming Trends

Fire: “People are looking for items with duality – products that do more than one thing. This includes ovens that are convention and steamers, refrigerators that allow you to see what is inside from your phone so you can shop straight from work and compost containers that have wood tops that twin as cutting boards.”

“There was definitely a floral theme at this year’s KBIS,” said Fire. “This Thermador Freedom Kitchen truly expresses our love of art by offering oversized panels of colorful artwork as an expression of custom creativity.”

Other trends Fire noted include:

1. A green thumb is a trend showing up in kitchens; this involves live plant/herb walls integrated in the space itself. This allows a true farm-to-table experience within your kitchen.
2. Colorful hoods in the kitchen are trending this season because they are affordable ways to introduce color. Shape and size as well as substrates are updated and inventive.
3. Accommodating small spaces in the kitchen this is happening on so many levels this season because we are seeing smaller appliance options.
4. Overexposed environmentally-friendly wood shelving is still important. Open shelving is continuing in many ways, as well as recycled beams returning to frame vaulted kitchens.
5. Touches of terrazzo in the kitchen range from flooring, backsplashes, cutting boards and even lighting. This highly versatile, solid surface material is comprised of marble chips embedded into a cement base, then ground flat and coated with a sealer.

Feb 12 2018

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11 Ways to Add Value to the Bathroom

By Leneiva Head

As the principal broker/owner of a real estate firm, part of my job is to give homeowners and designers tips on preparing a home to sell.  So here I am with data and statistics to support my input on proposed modifications.

The National Association of Realtors’ “2017 Remodeling Impact Report” shows that a renovated bathroom was second-most appealing to buyers and second-most likely to add resale value to the home. Unlike other rooms in a house, the bathroom is pretty much what it’s going to be. You have a sink, toilet, bathtub and possibly a separate shower. What adds value is the presentation, the perception and the experience.

Change how you view the bathroom. This is where you go to start and end the day.  Think for a moment: what comes to mind when you say bathroom? Now, say spa. Admit it, thoughts of serenity and an entirely different set of images came to mind, right? Now, let’s add value!

1. Create a Theme. What images help you relax? Is it the beach, Paris or New York? Bring on the pictures and accent pieces like towels, shelving, candles, a small book or a magazine rack with books.

2. Add Color: Gray is the new white. The hue is trending toward charcoal this year, but be sure to choose a calming shade that doesn’t make the room feel tiny.

3. Make Lighting Fun! Overhead pendant lights at the vanity would be a true showstopper. Because full lighting is not always needed and ambiance matters, add dimmers.

4. Update the Fixtures. People absolutely love pretty faucets. How about a square vanity sink vs. round? Better yet, make it a work of art and install an above-counter unit.

5. Install a Rain Shower. Be sure it comes with a handheld head as well.

6. Update the Vanity. This can be as simple as re-staining or painting the existing cabinetry and updating the knobs/drawer pulls.

7. Feel the Flooring: Luxury vinyl tile is amazing. You can create the illusion of hardwood floors while enjoying the freedom of choosing different colors and textures.

8. Tout the Toilet. Install a tall, elongated toilet with the push-button flushing mechanism. Top it off with a quiet-close seat.

9. Include Seating. One mini chaise or a small chair with a throw changes everything. The toilet need not be the only seat in the room.

10. Add Sound. Bluetooth technology abounds, and music changes the atmosphere of any space. Your transformation will be incomplete without it.

I mentioned that bathroom renovations are second-most appealing to buyers. The kicker is, you only recoup half of your remodeling investment; it adds more value for the existing owner. So, create an amazing spa for personal enjoyment and enjoy it!

Leneiva Head owns Nashville’s top-performing real estate management company, Welcome Home Realty. After her nightmare first-home buying experience, she  was inspired to create her own real estate solution to help first-time homeowners into the home of their dreams and guide them every step of the way.

Feb 01 2018

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A Heart for Universal Design

The concept for universal design started in the 1950s, when wounded veterans returning from World War II found their homes uncomfortable and unsafe to live in. This issue continues today, for both aging Vietnam veterans and soldiers returning from conflicts in the Middle East.

John Gallina and Dale Beatty know this problem first hand. After having served on the North Carolina National Guard, the two 25-year-olds went on to join the 1st Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On Nov. 15, 2004, their unit was on a mission to provide security for an engineer unit that was sweeping for mines. Their vehicle struck two anti-tank mines, leaving Beatty a double amputee below the knees and Gallina with severe back injuries, a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress.


As both men reintegrated into their communities, they found that their own homes needed to change. Their communities came together to help provide for them and show their support. They decided to pay this kindness forward – recognizing that there are so many other veterans with the same needs they had – and together co-founded Purple Heart Homes.

This nonprofit seeks out veterans in desperate need of home solutions, which range in everything from installing a wheelchair ramp or an ADA-accessible bath to beautifying a kitchen. These projects use a combination of volunteer and paid designers, contractors and builders and take place in most states.

“We provide a bit of comfort and security in the home and a greater connectivity with those in the community,” said Gallina, who explained in an interview with KBB that many volunteers are neighbors or community members. “You feel different after being in a war zone. Having a suitable home makes these veterans feel more comfortable in their community and not so different.”

Beatty also explained that this is particularly impactful for Vietnam veterans, who at the time were often not honored for their service because of the controversial war.


“When we can go into a neighborhood and rally the community around a veteran who never had a parade coming home or got thanked for their services, that has an impact,” he said. “The healing and impact comes from our engagement with them and showing them that there are people that care and understand, and they are probably their neighbors.”

For more information about Purple Heart Homes and to hear more about how to volunteer or donate, visit http://purplehearthomesusa.org.