KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for July, 2011

Jul 29 2011

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Freedom of choice?

Do you want to see a grown man cry? Have him choose a color from more than three selections and he will drop to his knees in tears. I’m beginning to think that choice is highly overrated.

The scariest words in the English language must be: “Would you like fries with that?” Shoestring or country, crosscut or curly, salted or unsalted—and god forbid if you should ask for their selection of dipping sauce. And what about coffee? What happened to a plain old cup of joe? I mean, what is a “half-caff, non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte” and while I’m at it, what happened to just a medium cup? Choice is everywhere and there seems to be no escape. We have too many buttons, options, selections and apps.

The kitchen industry has not been spared from this curse. In fact, it seems we have embraced choice with gusto. On the cabinet side, we have more variety in wood species to choose from than ever before. It’s not just oak, pine, maple and walnut. Now we can offer wenge, rosewood, zebra and pear, as well as exotic veneers and technical veneers—all in different cuts and finishes. And colors. There was a time you had four or five standard color selections—some companies may have even offered as many as 20—but today with computer color-matching, there are more than 2,000 variations from which to choose. And what about features and accessories? There are drawer options, waste options, cutlery dividers, pan storage, tall storage options and lighting options, both interior and exterior. When we look at the appliances, the mountain of choice is even higher: convection oven, micro-convection oven, steam-convection and just plain radiant heat. And the choices of refrigerators would make your head explode: 24 in., 30 in., 36 in. and 48 in., available in single-door, double-door side-by-side or French-door with- or without-ice options that would dazzle any Barman worth his salt. Not to mention choices in cooktops: gas, electric and induction, as well as combinations of all three. And the selection of dishwashers available with sensors, onboard computers and WiFi connected and with enough technology on board for a manned mission to the moon.

What brought all of this to mind was a presentation I recently gave for a new kitchen. A client and I were going over each detail—what wood, finish, handle, accessories and features, as well as lighting—when at one point, the client threw up his hands and shouted, “Enough! Kevin, why are you asking me all of these question? You’re the expert. What am I paying you for?” It was a clear-cut case of “sensory-overload”: too many selections, too many options and too many choices.

Henry David Thoreau once said “Simplify, simplify!” I say just “Simplify!” I truly believe that we have so overcomplicated the process that our clients can become paralyzed with fear. We need to take greater control of the process. During another presentation, where a client and I were again going over every detail in the kitchen—how many drawers, hinged left or right, which side of the sink would they like the dishwasher on, what knob or pull—I looked up at the client and saw that her eyes were half-rolled up. When she noticed me watching her, she sat upright, gathered herself together and asked me, “Kevin, it’s going to look like this, right?” while pointing to the display. She then said, “Fine. How much do you need to get started?”

Keep your sales approach simple, uncomplicated. Your showroom and displays should educate your clients to the benefits and value of your product or service, as well as create an atmosphere of trust and dependability. Keep your options to a minimum: How many cabinet and appliance lines to you really need to show? What are the three or four finishes that make up most of your business? What countertop material do you always specify? If you go back over your projects from the last year or two, you will see a pattern of design elements, appliances and finishes.

So take control, lead your client, and don’t drown them in details. Simplify their lives and you will see your jobs close faster and your clients will be happier. I think that DEVO, the iconic ’80s band, said it best: “What we want is Freedom from choice.”

Kevin M Henry

Jul 14 2011

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Karran Edge series

I have heard of sinks that can be undermounted in laminate tops but a stainless steel sink that can be seamlessly installed in stone catches my attention.

Karran USA introduces the new Edge Stainless Steel Sink Series that can be undermounted in laminate, solid surface material and stone according to their website.

The key to the sinks’ ability to be seamlessly installed is the unique resin matrix rim affixed to the 18 gauge, 304 stainless bowls.

karran sink
nylon roller actylic edge
While the laminate and acrylic tops can be sanded for a seamless installation, the stone and quartz tops actually have a 1/16-in. reveal. As a kitchen designer, I can’t call it seamless, but that is one small reveal and I like it.

karran quartz edge detail
This sink is a great option for fabricators because no matter what material customers select, the bowl is compatible.

If you have experience with this sink and a stone top, please leave a comment.

Ann Porter

Jul 13 2011

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The return of the tab pull

Tab pulls, like the ones below, have been around for a couple of decades. They don’t mount on the door face—they mount on the door edge so that their pen-thin style is minimized.

With the return of sleeker door styles, I’ve been seeing a rise in their popularity. Check out the following offerings from manufacturers:

Tab pulls_1

DP3 Series (Mockett) – Widths are 1-1/4 in., 3 in., 4 in. and 6 in.

Tab pulls_2

15-in. Tab Pull (Atlas Homewares)


AG Series, satin nickel, 1.8 in. and 3.5 in. without the rounded edge (Sugatsune)

A final note: Tab pulls fit best on cabinets with a flat door edge, although they will work fine on door edges that are slightly rounded. They may also protrude past the counter, and when they’re installed on a double-door wall cabinet, your clients may have to pull both together first to open either door.


Example of a recent project with tab pulls

(Designer: Emily McClure, Main Street Kitchens)

Until next time,


Jul 12 2011

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Outstanding in the field

michelle kaufmann outstanding in the field 1photos by Jeremy Fenske / Outstanding in the Field

I recently had the great pleasure to enjoy an epic evening filled with delicious food and company, all the while learning about each of the ingredients from the farmer himself (who was sitting with us) and about the wine while we sat in the middle of the vineyard. All five senses were intoxicated simultaneously. You have probably heard of Outstanding in the Field, and honestly, it totally delivers on its name. When looking at photos of some of their dinner “installations” throughout the U.S., they appear to be Land Art.

Check out the Outstanding in the Field schedule to see if their bus and yumminess are headed to your hood.

And then prepare to be amazed.

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Many, many thanks to Taylor Robinson, Penelope Robinson, Jerry James Stone and the OITF crew for an absolutely outstanding evening.

Michelle Kaufmann