KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for 2014

Dec 31 2014

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Zen Bath Reflects User-Friendly Elements for Both Homeowners


A homeowner with some medical issues wanted a bathroom with a Zen atmosphere – a space to refresh one’s mind, body and soul. Donna Schachne of Schachne Architects and Builders in Davie, Fla., created a space with clean, crisp lines and earthy elements incorporated into the design – two requests she fulfilled with wood materials, natural light, muted and natural colors and movement within the space.

Other requirements included:

–       A deep soaking bathtub adjacent to an open shower for treatment purposes.

–       A smooth transition from the shower to the tub. The designer included a staircase as a guide to the tub, as well as an elongated, trough-type sink counter to make it feel like one complete element.


–       An easy-access walk-in shower to accommodate the owners as they age. The design team cut out the existing concrete slab and incorporated a new sunken slab to accommodate appropriate slopes.

–       A hand-held showerhead for bathing and also for washing down the soaker tub.


–       A full-length mirror and make-up table – an element missing in the couple’s original bathroom.

The use of natural light was important to the homeowners. The design team used a few different tactics to accomplish this goal:

–       A Shoji-type door with translucent glass allows light to travel from one space to the next.

–       The glass transom around the toilet vestibule allows the feeling of continuation of the existing lower ceiling and the continuity of light between the main bathroom area and the toilet vestibule.


–       “Since this was a builder-type home, there was an overly high ceiling in the bathroom,” said Schachne. “We incorporated a suspended wood frame structure with patterned infill panels to allow light from above to filter down, thus keeping a human scale to the space.”


Being true to the environment was also an important goal with the bathroom remodel. According to Schachne, LED lighting was used to keep down the heat loads, as well as American-made plywood (no off gassing), a manmade concrete trough sink, low-flow plumbing fixtures and a duel-flush toilet.


C:UsersKennyDocumentsMorris Bathroom_062313 - PROMO(Recovery


Design Team: Donna Schachne and Ken Dyman, Schachne Architects and Builders

Photographer: Stan Schachne

Bathtub: Kohler

Cabinetry: Custom

Ceiling Panels: 3form

Doors: Woodgrain Doors

Hardware: Emtek

Mirrors: Electric Mirror Company

Plumbing Fixtures: Hansgrohe

Sink: Sonoma

Tile: Daltile

Toilet: Duravit


Dec 12 2014

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The Most Valuable Things about Designing Baths

Toni Sabatino Style

Toni Sabatino Style

In our K+BB Designers Network LinkedIn Group, Mason Elliott, AKBD, of Unique Kitchen and Bath in Asheville, N.C., asked this question: What is the most valuable piece of information you have learned about designing baths in the last five years? We wanted to share the responses with you.

Molly McCabe, AKBD, CGP, CAPS, Owner/Principal Designer at A Kitchen That Works

To not specify a dual flush toilet inside a water closet that is 36 inches wide (or less); having to reach over the toilet bowl to push the actuator buttons is not a safe configuration for the long term.

David Stimmel, Owner, Senior Designer at Stimmel Consulting Group

I think the most valuable piece of bath information I’ve learned in the past five years is easy. ANYTHING GOES! In the past, we were locked into mundane products and uninspired trends. Now? Trends are global as are products.

There is a perfect faucet for every design and every application. Tubs are in every shape and size, and, if necessary, you can custom fabricate one easily. Would you even have considered custom fabrication of a tub five years ago?

Remember when we thought just having a fireplace was crazy in a bath? Now we do them often and can custom fabricate them with a click of a mouse. The ease at which we can create anything we imagine is truly incredible.

Cathy Osborne, Designer at Auer Kitchens

This is not trend-related, but over many years I have learned to not be afraid have intimate conversations. Not just “Do you want a 2-person shower?” There’s more. Do you both get in and out at the same times? Or is it more like two consecutive showers that overlap? The answer will impact the shape of the space, the valves and the shower doors, since with the latter the water is running continually as bathers hop in and out.

Know the benefits of a bidet and various washlet toilets, and find comfortable words to suggest how they might benefit from one. Be aware – and not afraid to note – that aging can cause “regularity” difficulties and can place high demands on flushing mechanisms. The same problem can also make people smelly. Two fans, maybe?

Regarding separate rooms for toilets: As mentioned, they need storage for toilet paper and feminine products and a small wash-up sink – before they touch that door knob. Tell your customer “Here’s the storage and the sink, and here’s why”.

Not especially intimate, but ask about vision. A person who does not feel “disabled” might still have trouble finding the soap without his contacts and may appreciate smart use of contrasting colors, as well as a hard-wired, lighted magnifying mirror.

Anne-Marie Harvey, AKBD, Kitchen and Bath Design Consultant

A separate water closet provides options, especially in homes with only one or two bathrooms. Many plans show a tub/shower in the room with a toilet, but that defeats the purpose of enabling two people to use facilities (like when they’re getting ready for work in the am) without grossing out or embarrassing one another.

Most homes with this feature have at least two and a half baths, so most likely you can find some privacy. But if you have kids or houseguests, it is possible that all other commodes would be occupied. As much as I love my husband, when I’m drying my hair and putting on my makeup, I have no desire to watch him on the potty. Once you’ve had an enclosed water closet, you will never want to be without one!

Dec 04 2014

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How to Fix the “Blind” Spot

Windows of unique shapes and sizes can be the highlight of a home. Dressing them, however, can be a daunting task. Whether you’re dealing with bay, tall, large or arched windows, there is a solution. Find inspiration for a renovation to brighten up a dull room or create a simple and chic look with these window treatment ideas below.

Bay Window Treatment Ideas

Bay Windows. For a clean and natural look, shutters or wood blinds are a good window treatment choice. Fabric roman blinds add softness to the hard angles of a bay window and can bring in some liveliness with color and pattern. If a view is too lovely and bright to cover up, sometimes all that is needed is a decorative valance or an upholstered cornice.

Tall Window Treatment Ideas

Tall Window Treatments. Motorization is a great choice if a shade is out of reach when raised. A motorized shade can be easily operated with the click of a button, and you won’t have to move that ladder around. Another way to make it easier on to use is with a continuous cord loop to lower and raise it. The length of the cord stays the same regardless of the shade’s position. If you want to enhance the height and space in a tall window room, you might want to select some stationary drapery panels for even more drama.

Large Window Treatment Ideas

Large Window Treatments. Vertical blinds and panel track blinds are the best at covering large windows. Panel tracks operate similarly to vertical blinds, but they have larger panels in place of the smaller vanes used on vertical blinds. If you find a roman shade you love but the fabric isn’t wide enough, most shades have the option of a 2-in-1 head rail, which consists of two shades on one head rail. So, you can style a window with your client’s favorite fabric and double the fun. Traditional drapery is also lovely on large windows. Alternatively, there is even drapery made out of natural woven woods available.

Arched Window Treatment Ideas

Arched Window Treatments. Cellular shades are available in a perfect arch shape or can be custom made into an irregular arch. You can even complement and cover additional windows in the room with coordinating cellular shades. If the arched window lives above another window, they can both be covered with drapery panels mounted above the arch.

– by Katie Christopher, author of The Ultimate Guide to Window Treatment Ideas. 


Nov 20 2014

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Tile 101: Study Up Before Specifying

Color body porcelain tile

When it comes to specifying tile for the first time, you quickly come to realize there is a lot more to tile than just squares, rectangles and neutral whites. Tiles these days come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and materials from small glass mosaics, to large-format, wood-look planks. Beyond just finding a collection that matches your design inspiration visually, there are a few terms you are likely to come across when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of specification. Here is a quick guide to help you read between the (grout) lines:

Through Body Porcelain vs. Color Body Porcelain

Through body porcelain (sometimes referred to as unglazed porcelain) tiles are produced using colored raw materials that permeate the entire tile, incorporating uninterrupted color and pattern features seen on the surface all the way through the tile body. The surface design is evident in a cross-section of the tile body, providing outstanding abrasion resistance and durability.

Color body porcelain tiles (above) are created with continuous colored stains from the glaze surface throughout the body of the tile. Synchronizing the color of both the glaze and body lessens the visibility of any impact chips that may occur. The color remains consistent throughout the tile, but any surface design does not continue through the tile body.

Through body porcelain tile

Through body porcelain tile

Wall Tile vs. Floor Tile

Generally speaking, any tile designated by the manufacturer as floor tile can be installed on vertical surfaces and countertops. The reverse is not true, however. Wall tile is not suitable for use on floors. It is usually non-vitreous, i.e., not manufactured to withstand excessive impact, abrasion or freeze/thaw cycling.

One caveat when considering floor tile for wall or countertop installation is the abrasiveness of the tile. A highly abrasive product would be more difficult to clean on a wall or countertop since commercial floor scrubbers could not realistically be used for maintenance. Otherwise, continuing the chosen floor tile on walls adds great cohesion to an installation and continuity of design flow.

Rectified Tile

A tile that has been “rectified” has had all its edges mechanically finished to achieve a more precise facial dimension. This allows for installation of tile with very narrow grout joints, creating a more seamless look across walls and floors. Thanks to rectified edges permitting minimal grout lines, the latest large-format, wood-look porcelain planks are even more difficult to decipher from natural wood. If your tiles are larger than 15 inches, however, there are certain precautions to take when installing, and it is recommended that you consult a contractor experienced in large tile installations for a sure fit.

Rectified tile

Rectified tile

Shade & Caliber

A tile’s shade (dye lot) refers to the coloration and reflectivity of a tile. A tile’s caliber refers to its facial dimension (size) and is measured with a tool called a caliper (often the terms are confused). Since natural materials are used in both the body and glazes of the tile, slight variations in shade and caliber are normally inherent from one production run to the next. Typically, tile shades (dye lots) are indicated by either an alpha/numeric combination or a three- or four-digit numeral (A16, 3408, 250, etc.), while caliber sizes are normally shown as 07, 08, 09, 00, 01, 02, etc.

It is important to purchase tile that has the same shade (dye lot) and caliber, if at all possible, to ensure a pleasing aesthetic appearance as well as consistent grout joints. This is especially important for larger tiles. Normally, two adjacent calibers (i.e. 07 with 08 or 08 with 09 – not 07 with 09) can be used in an installation if the installer is aware of the variation before the installation is begun because the slight difference can be adjusted within the grout joint.

Even with these terms under your belt, don’t hesitate to ask questions when working with a tile dealer or distributor – they may have ideas for unique applications you never imagined possible.

– By Marianne Cox, Marketing Manager for Marazzi USA