K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Aug 14 2017

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Islands – Ideas for the Pulse of the Kitchen

Written by Paula Kennedy, KBB Editorial Board Member and founder of Seattle-based Timeless Kitchen Design

We all agree the kitchen is the heart of the home. Given that, I believe the kitchen ISLAND is the heartbeat, or the PULSE of that heart. It’s like a magnet! You can’t help but be drawn to it; it has an energy all its own.

Growing up at my Grammies’ house, I would sit on a stool at the kitchen table, which back then served as the island. That stool had years of paint layers, and every grandchild grew up with it. We would sit there decorating sugar cookies for hours or rolling out homemade cinnamon buns or pretending to help with canning.

My fondest memories visiting my parents as an adult are at their kitchen island. We would talk for hours sitting there, even though their stools were uncomfortable if you sat too long. But there was a sense that the magic would be broken if we moved to a more comfortable chair or room. They recently moved and downsized and no longer have an island, but the kitchen table serves just as well! My sister’s busy household has an island that is like a magnet, but it isn’t very big. It has a gas cooktop right in the middle of it, which severely limits countertop space and brings up safety concerns, yet we still gather − we can’t help it.

The is a critical element in our design; it can go really right or really wrong. What’s fascinating is that no matter how well or poorly designed, the island still draws us to it in a way no other element in the kitchen can. The sense of community and connection is palpable.

Island Ideas
I was recently inspired to craft this Pinterest board − https://www.pinterest.com/paulakennedyckd/kitchen-islands/ − to get you inspired and keep you thinking out of the box. No more pedestrian kitchens here please! Think about it, we have the honor of designing homes, kitchens and kitchen islands that will bring families and friends together for generations.

Below are a few areas I want to really emphasize before you get lost in Pinterest, again:

Island sinks are almost always necessary, I’d say nine out of 10 times. This one below is my new favorite way to accomplish this goal. Make sure they also have a soap dispenser and garbage disposal. The island sink is no longer just the bar sink or a cute item they have to have to keep up with the Jones.’

Bar stools, get out of your rut if you are in one! Please help the MAGIC by having comfortable seating. Heights are important to get right, and please do give us a place to rest our feet.

Convertible, modular and flexibility − these concepts and function are in high demand and will only increase as trends continue to change.

Do you treat the ends of the island with as much care as the rest of the design?

We could go on and on, but they won’t let me.

  • Accent material or color, only if it makes sense in the design
  • Attached “table” – see great Pinterest examples
  • Attached banquettes
  • Appliances in the island, microwaves, undercounter refrigeration, secondary dishwashers
  • Think outside the box with re-purposing furniture
  • Countertops – mix it up!
  • Visually stimulating, steal the show or be a supporting actor?
  • Avoid the block of cabinets, open it up to add interest and to aid visual illusion of a larger space

Please follow the NKBA Guidelines while designing the Pulse of the Kitchen. How many steps would you want to take to complete cooking for your family? How far would you want to walk with a hot dish out of the island? How many kids, dogs or adults do you want underfoot when preparing a meal? Enjoy the Pinterest board, it has a narrative all its own. Happy island designing!

Paula Kennedy, CMKBD CLIPP, Timeless Kitchen Design, COPYRIGHT 2017

 

Aug 07 2017

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The Hands that Make Our Products

  © U. Roberto Romano, Courtesy of GoodWeave International 

Last year a friend and I toured the Museum of Civil Rights in downtown Atlanta, where upstairs they had an entire exhibit dedicated to ongoing civil rights cases. Many of these had to do with fair trade obstructions, which included many products we all use on a daily basis: cocoa, tea, oils, clothing – the list was overwhelming.

One organization we ran across is working to change the trade around one of these products: GoodWeave, a non-profit that certifies rugs free of child labor. We spoke with Cara Hagan, business development associate, to find out how the interior design industry can help.

KBB: How did this organization get started?

C.H.: Our story starts with an Indian activist named Kailash Satyarthi, who rescued children working in carpet factories. The raids were dangerous, and for every child he rescued, another one soon took his or her place at the loom. Kailash realized that to make a lasting difference, he needed to change the whole system and get rug companies and consumers on board.

When Kailash founded GoodWeave (then known as RugMark) in 1994, there were one million children working in South Asia’s carpet industry. Now thanks in part to our efforts, this number has dropped by an estimated 75 percent. GoodWeave has directly rescued more than 3,800 children and provided life-changing education for many thousands more. We work to continue Kailash’s vision of a world without child labor in any global supply chain – starting with carpets and now expanding to new sectors.

KBB: How has Goodweave helped end illegal labor?

C.H.: GoodWeave works through a holistic approach to ending forced, bonded and child labor. When a company is licensed with GoodWeave, our team conducts random, unannounced inspections in that company’s supply chain to ensure that labor conditions are fair and that no children are laboring at the factories and loom-sheds. Companies that comply with our Standards receive GoodWeave certification labels that show consumers that no children worked to make that rug. If children are found, they are immediately removed from work. GoodWeave then supports these rescued children as long as is necessary; they are reunited with their families if conditions allow or brought into rehabilitation and education programs.

GoodWeave also works beyond rescues with community-wide education programs and facilities to help adult weavers find fair wages and working conditions. With this approach, GoodWeave unravels the system that forces children into work in the first place.

KBB: How does a rug company receive Goodweave certification?

C.H.: While the impact of becoming GoodWeave licensed is profound and far-reaching, the process is straightforward. The importer would first need to sign a few agreements governing the relationship between GoodWeave International and an importer that sells GoodWeave certified carpets. These agreements outline a variety of issues regarding the relationship, balancing clear guidelines with a mutual commitment to ending the use of child labor in carpet production and to improving the lives of children and families in the weaving communities.

Once the importer has signed these agreements, GoodWeave country teams can begin licensing the exporter. Each exporter goes through an application process and initial inspection. Given that they successfully become licensed, GoodWeave then provides the exporter with labels to begin issuing certified rugs. GoodWeave makes regular, unannounced inspections of all production facilities to verify compliance with the GoodWeave Standard. The Standard is based on three Certification Principles covering child labor, forced labor, and bonded labor, and the transparency needed to verify compliance. The Standard also includes four Progress Principles which are designed to address a broader set of labor rights and environmental issues. The exporter license is valid as long as the company continues to work toward a higher standard and addresses any issues that arise.

KBB: How can interior designers help to join this effort?

C.H.: GoodWeave’s approach to ending child labor is twofold: it works in the factories of India, Nepal and Afghanistan and in the retail stores and design studios in the U.S. and Europe. Each is essential in ending forced, bonded and child labor around the world. Interior designers can help by guiding consumers toward ethically produced rugs and becoming socially responsible consumers themselves. Through public outreach, media coverage and the active participation of socially responsible importers, designers and retailers, GoodWeave raises awareness of the child labor epidemic in the handmade rug industry and inspires consumers to take action.

When consumers become aware of their ability to purchase products that are not made by children and thereby create a market demand for such products, they can be a part of the solution.

For more information about Goodweave and to find a list of certified companies, visit https://goodweave.org/.

 

Jul 31 2017

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Cracking the Technology Myth


One of the most difficult tasks a designer faces is convincing their client to invest in something with which they may not be familiar. Often that challenge comes when it comes to technology, and unless the client is a tech-savvy millennial, they are often skeptical of why a smart home would be worthwhile.

This past week the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) presented a webinar entitled, “Smart Technology in the Kitchen and Bath,” which was moderated by John Morgan, a past president for the NKBA. The webinar focused on developing comfort in discussing smart technology, understanding the smart-home concept and identifying ways to incorporate smart-tech solutions.

One of the key points the panel discussed were the beliefs clients tend to have when it comes to smart home technology. These “myths” include:

•    It is not necessary.
•    It will break the budget.
•    Current technology will become obsolete as new technology evolves.
•    Technology breaks easily and requires more maintenance.
•    Technology is only a luxury.

The panel also agreed that many designers shy away from offering technology because it sounds complicated. However, bringing that discussion to the table early with a client can truly pay out. Before the walls are put up, find out how your client might save time and energy with smart-home solutions.

Today’s solutions are often linked to apps, which all ages can easily use and relate to, without a user manual or learning curve. These apps and other communicative technology can control everything from lighting to heating and cooling and security systems in a home. A client can have a more secure peace of mind knowing who has entered and left their house remotely and whether any appliances were accidentally left on. They can more easily focus on entertaining their guests by checking on meals from their phone. It is more than convenience; it is also ideal for today’s multitasking society.

Resale value is another selling point. While consumers will probably always consider the way a house looks first, the advantage of smart technology can make the difference in how fast a home sells. In addition, new home builds often are being specced with the wiring for smart technology, so it makes sense to be ahead of the curve and include it in a redesign.

Despite the fears both designers and clients might have about smart-home technology, it is coming into our homes no matter what. During this tech boom, however, designers can get ahead by educating themselves. Be sure to attend CEDIA, the smart home industry show, which is taking place September 5-9 in San Diego. We will continue to cover CEDIA and the connected home, so stay tuned – our homes are about to be a part of the future.

Jul 25 2017

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Bringing Light In


Since I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve seen a number of beautiful designs in my region. Two of our friends have recently purchased homes – one is a new build with an open-concept plan, and another is a renovated 100-year-old farmhouse. Here it can be rainy and cold seven months out of the year, so it’s even more important that our interiors are visually appealing.

The local NKBA Puget Sound recently highlighted some of the most standout designs in their 2017 Design Awards. Designer Shannon Boyle, AKBD, of Seattle-based Elements Kitchen + Bath, worked alongside Vawn Greany, CMKBD, of Mercer Island, Wash.-based Collaborative Interior Design on a coastal kitchen redesign, which won the 2017 NKBA Puget Sound Design Competition President’s Award.

Set on the Pacific Ocean, this view is stunning in the summer and moody in the winter. The kitchen had been renovated in recent years, but the dark cabinetry and low ceilings made the room dim – which is a fatal flaw in an area that experiences a lot of dark days. Boyle and Greany instead transformed this kitchen into a modern space that will be filled with light year round.


Goal:
The ultimate objective for this kitchen design was to create a cohesive, efficient and open floor plan that works well for entertaining and everyday living.

Challenges: The existing floor plan was very chopped up because of the structure of the home. There were beams and structural posts that created inefficient flow throughout the kitchen and eat-in dining area. The design team added an addition to the corner of the home to square off the space, which allowed them to create a more open and cohesive floor plan. A new beam was also added over the wet bar area and concealed with two new structural posts inside the walls.

Materials: Pulling together a crisp, neutral color scheme of finish materials and layering new LED lighting in a series of pendants and suspended track lighting provides a bright and contemporary backdrop against the Pacific Northwest’s natural elements. Dura Supreme white-painted cabinetry with dark-stained maple cabinetry in the kitchen and a textured laminate cabinet finish were added to the wet bar area. Cambria Britannica quartz countertops create a cohesive bond between all the spaces. Adding Pental Sculpture Nero tile in the wet bar makes a major statement that helps balance the Puget Sound views.

Favorites: “The wet bar and statement tile wall are my favorite part of this design; we took an awkward area and gave it major drama and purpose in the space,” said Boyle. “It balances well with the view of the Puget Sound, so you have 360 degrees of cool views!”