KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for May, 2014

May 22 2014

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Traditional Design: Does it Fit in Today’s Kitchen?

K+BB recently asked its Designers Network group on LinkedIn their opinion of where traditional design in the kitchen stands today. Here are a handful of their helpful responses.

Cheryl DraaPrincipal Designer at Cheryl Draa Interior Designs, LLC

I think it depends on the area of the country. City people tend to be more open to a modern kitchen if they have the chance to start fresh in a new condo or can redo what they currently have. Suburbanites may have to keep their traditional styles a while longer, but I’m seeing a good, equal mix in new development.”

Cathy OsborneDesigner at Auer Kitchens

“Traditional is in constant flux. A 1950s traditional kitchen looks very different from a 1980s traditional kitchen, and both look very different from the traditional kitchen the buyer is requesting today. The same goes for “timeless.”
We are all removing the timeless dark cherry arched-door-framed, traditional-overlay cabinets with green marble countertops and polished brass fixtures and installing new timeless white-painted square door inset cabinets with white cararra tops and polished nickel fixtures. 
There will always be traditional because there will always be people who want safe, establishment, mainstream – but not cheap, boring or out of touch. But the style that reflects all of those things never stops morphing.”

Bill ZielinskiOwner CUSTOM IMPROVEMENTS Building, Remodeling & Design

“I think it is regional. For me, when working directly with the homeowner, the most common style is “Trail Mix.” This is the style I end up with after trying to combine must-have features from two-dozen pictures clipped from Houzz or Pinterest.”

Maureen D. ConnollyOwner/Interior Designer at “little house of Kitchens,” East Setauket, New York

“Traditional styling is characterized by a certain level of architectural detail. [Traditional kitchens] are typically more ornate and can combine any or all of the elements of raised panel doors, layered molding build-ups and decorative ornaments, i.e., corbels, mantle hoods and decorative glass. They typically utilize framed, full overlay or inset cabinetry. Furniture toe details are often prevalent. Whereas, in contemporary styling, frameless European construction, minimally used detailing and stark contrasting materials are the norm; with a sleek and cleaner minimalist look. I would describe the style of most of the kitchens my clients are doing as a light traditional or transitional style.”

Cindy TervolaKitchen & Bath Dealer/Designer at Tervola Designs

“There is definitely a trend toward more contemporary kitchens with clean lines today. However, I have just finished designing four traditional kitchens, so there are still people out there who prefer a more traditional look. It really depends on individual design tastes. If someone prefers a traditional look that is what I will give them. Due to the casual living in Hawaii, my designs tend to be a little less ornate than other parts of the country. I use simpler pilasters and moldings and rarely use raised panel doors.”

John Yates, CKD, CBDItalian Tile Agent – USA

“Traditional is going strong in Avon, Conn. I think it has everything to do with where your clients live. Sure I do modern kitchens – about 3 to 5 percent of the time. Avon and the rest of the surrounding towns in Farmington Valley are quintessentially traditional with an occasional enclave of modern-styled homes scattered in. However, on the east side of Avon Mountain, it’s a different story. Here you have West Hartford, which is a melange of both traditional homes from the 20s – 50s to large neighborhoods of mid-century modern. This is a haven not only for traditional but transitional and clean lined, modern German-styled cabinetry with quartz countertops and industrial styled 20 x 20 “porcelain-tiled floors. 

So, I say it depends primarily on the neighborhood and motif of the home. Therefore, the style known as Traditional lives on.”

May 08 2014

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Key Issues for Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers When Working with Multi-Unit Projects

Image from Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With banks cautiously loosening their grip with proven investors and morale percolating with hopeful intent, the building market for condos and multi-unit housing is again showing signs of life. South Florida and outer Manhattan, for example, are two markets that are sprouting new construction for apartment sales and rentals.

When working on these kinds of projects, communication occurs among four main contacts: the buyer, architect, manufacturer and client. The buyer is either the general contractor, the developer or the owner of the project. The buyer generally communicates directly with the architect on building products and furnishings for the building. It is the architect’s responsibility to give clear adherence to the manufacturer in regard to drawings, specifications and approved designs. The client in this case is considered the buyer of the unit and should always have a clear understanding of what cabinet choices they have.

Pointers for Successful Communication

The manufacturer is usually in the passenger seat, trying to get the project awarded. For a working relationship to be successful in the long run, it is important that the manufacturer doesn’t oversell. The company needs to face any limitations realistically in terms of volume, production times and manpower. A mutually beneficial relationship depends on respect and professional understanding.

Product Selection: What to Consider

The decision about a product, especially from the kitchen and bathroom category, is most influenced by past experience, budget, the architect’s recommendations and the marketing/sales division. All of these factors are valid, however, in most cases marketing wins and is most influential in the buyer’s decision-making process

Important factors for the selection include the manufacturer’s capacity, performance and reliability of the product. Many buildings today are looking to meet LEED or USGBC requirements. Market value and the reputation of customer service during and after the installation of the building product should be considered even before meeting with the company.It is up to the architect and buyer to fully research the company in reference to financial strength, longevity and overall performance. Often it is up to the architect to make the initial selection, which s/he will then present to the buyer.

A good barometer for production capacity for a small project should not be less than 200 cabinets per day. When a buyer or architect is in the decision-making process, they need to consider what type of track record a company has and how long the company has been in operation. Later down the road, a developer does not want to be faced with problems obtaining replacement parts. This impacts the decision of the fronts for the kitchen; for example, it may not be wise for a developer to choose an exotic wood front in the event that at a later date it is no longer available. Another issue when selecting a cabinet is with book-matched fronts. Should a buyer select book-matched and one cabinet front in a unit gets damaged and a replacement is needed, all fronts need to be replaced. In this case, the buyer must weigh attractive design with long-term practicality.

Questions for the Buyer to Consider:

– What is the delivery time from the release of the design to the jobsite and through final installation?

– Who is taking care of the installation?

– What type of packaging is being used?

– How many cabinets do the developer and architect expect to be delivered per day? Per week?

– Are parts readily available at the factory? If not, how are they supplied if replacement parts are needed?

– What is the warranty in the event that a product is damaged upon receipt at the jobsite, and what are the terms and conditions when a cabinet becomes damaged?

The buyer also has the right to ask the manufacturer for a performance bond, which is a document issued by a bank or insurance company to guarantee that the value of the work will not be lost in the case of an unfortunate event (such as insolvency). A performance bond is also known as a “surety bond,” which is a promise to pay the obligee a certain amount if a second party (principal) fails to meet some obligation, such as fulfilling the terms of a contract. A suitable manufacturer for a multi-unit building should be able to present this bond. A company with good credit or good standing will be able to get one.

Reaching the Final Agreement

A signed shop drawing by the architect or buyer’s representative, including a written production release by the buyer, is the only way to create a final manufacturing agreement. A shop drawing is the best receipt for the buyer and manufacturer as long as it is completely clear, detailed and mutually agreed upon.

Final plans should be attained by the manufacturer to specify and draw the project correctly. The plans provide detailed information, including ceiling heights, electrical plans with outlets, plumbing diagrams, final floor-by-floor detail, requirements for appliances and countertops and finally, provisions for cabinet backing or inside wall material, which is always important when mounting cabinets.

Outside-the-box requests sometimes arise from the architect or buyer in regard to upgrades, for example. Sometimes a penthouse unit will have features the others don’t. In this case, clear documentation to upgrades and credits needs to be established up front. Red flags for kitchen manufacturers start when the company starts to design products outside of their business model. A manufacturer performs better on multi-unit projects when producing products from its own product line rather than creating “special” products.

Consistency in quality, color and style for cabinet door fronts is the responsibility of the manufacturer to maintain during the production process. Most large cabinetry companies equipped to furnish high-rise developments have a specialized Quality Control Department to undergo rigorous checking and testing. Additionally, depending on the size and duration of the building’s progress, aging and storage need to be considered especially for raw (wood) materials. For real wood fronts, in the case that the cabinets arrive on time and the project is delayed, storage must have be kept dry in a dark cool place and out of view of any direct sunlight.

Because the buyer and architect have so many decisions to make for one project is the reason a project can be held up. The fewer kitchen choices a buyer offers to their end client, the least amount of difficulties are expected in reference to ordering, specifying and installation. Giving a customer too many choices, especially those who live out of town, will create delays, confusion and disappointments because of more complicated decision-making. It’s generally recommended not to give customers moving into a new building more than two packaged design options for their future kitchen.

Special Conditions

Kitchen designers may run into special conditions from the buyer or architect, for example, they may want to see the kitchen in full before the release of the main production. A real-life, mock-up kitchen has many great benefits for all of the trades. First off, a mock-up display is a great way to test the design and clear up any uncertainties. If the buyer or architect has questions or concerns, seeing the design in real life solidifies their decision and approval. A mock-up also reconfirms that the electrical, plumbing and appliance fittings are correct. Lastly and most important is that when the building is on the market to ensure the look and feel of the design underscores the unit’s marketing goals.


Scheduling of appliances and cabinetry should be a priority. It is important to keep the flow of communication constant throughout the entire phase of the project for notifications on delays and milestone dates to better align delivery and performance. Before installation, the manufacturer should appoint a chief installer who serves as the go-to for technical issues. Union and OSHA requirements can be requested to be presented by the manufacturer to ensure that proper safety is executed on the jobsite. Also ADA requirements should be discussed before approaching the installation.

Training and knowledge of the facts and demands of the job are acquired through factory training and experience. Professionalism is attained when the right person acquired the proper experience and skills. Last but not least, servicing multi-unit projects requires the highest level of integrity from the manufacturer’s representative combined with attention to detail and an innate interest and passion for the trade.

– Lothar C. Birkenfeld is a National Kitchen and Bath Hall of Fame award winner and a 30+-year veteran of the European custom cabinet industry. Birkenfeld discusses what it takes to make it in the cabinet business as a manufacturer for multi-unit projects.

May 06 2014

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Outdoor Residential Kitchens Crave Professional-grade, Specialized Equipment

Kalamazoo 01 (2000x1487)

In the wake of the housing recovery, professional-grade equipment is becoming more prevalent in outdoor kitchens. “What we’re seeing with outdoor kitchens parallels the trend we saw with professional indoor cooking equipment,” said Brian Eskew, marketing director for Twin Eagles.

Fueled by an increased interest in artisan cooking and entertaining at home, a growing number of outdoor kitchen products are now becoming more specialized with the capabilities of restaurant kitchens. As outdoor kitchens are forecast to be one of the most popular residential outdoor design elements in the coming years – according to a recent survey of residential landscape architects by the American Society of Landscape Architects – there are no signs of this trend cooling down.

Power Heating Up 

Performance is truly the name of the game. Commercial cooking equipment is designed to cook quickly, effectively and consistently at high temperatures. Homeowners want the same thing when they cook their favorite meals in their outdoor kitchens. This is driving product innovation, and more manufacturers are finding ways to repurpose commercial products for residential use.

For example, outdoor kitchen companies have brought the salamander grill – common in many restaurant kitchens – into the backyard. These can deliver intense heat overhead to help the food avoid exposure to flare-ups or charring. Similarly, restaurant-caliber burners have hit the residential market in a big way. They create external heat, giving homeowners the firepower to do everything from searing steaks at more than 700 degrees to handling lobster pots and turkey fryers.

‘Foodie’ Revolution 

Those who want to step up their outdoor cooking game know they need the right equipment to get them there. “People are becoming more adventuresome in their cooking,” said Russ Faulk, grill master and vice president of design, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet. “The better your equipment is, the more easily you can try out some advanced techniques, and the more you’ll enjoy the experience.”

While enthusiasm for artisan cooking has always been at a simmer in our culture, it’s now more widespread than ever, thanks in part to the rise of food bloggers and celebrity chefs. It’s not just avid cooks who seek professional-grade equipment – it’s everyone.

“Everybody just wants to get into the kitchen, whether they’re cooking from scratch and need specialty cookware or if they’re just reheating a dish and giving it their own twist with a special garnish,” said Deborah Pankey, food editor for the Daily Herald in the Chicago suburbs. “As people travel more, read food magazines and watch cooking shows, they want to bring that into their own space.”


Today’s Special

Happening simultaneously with the heightened interest in cooking, outdoor kitchen equipment has become more specialized. As people begin to develop a more sophisticated palate through exposure to a variety of cuisines and regional dishes at restaurants, more focus is placed on recreating those recipes at home. To cook these dishes, equipment that extends beyond grilling is often necessary.

“Specialized outdoor cooking equipment is becoming more popular,” said Faulk. “For example, we’re seeing a rise in popularity of the pizza oven – a specialized piece of equipment designed for a certain type of cooking. It has capabilities that a grill does not.”

In fact, manufacturers have discovered ways to redesign commercial wood-fired brick ovens for residential use while maintaining the same performance found in a restaurant kitchen. Along with specialization, the cooking equipment has become more functional. Added capabilities allow for both endless recipe possibilities and versatility when it comes to cooking styles. By offering multiple functions for the user, grills with options such as dual-fuel capabilities, sear burners for high-temperature cooking and rotisseries have risen in popularity.

Elevating Lifestyle

Food is only half the story, and according to Eskew, “As much as it is about food, it’s even more about lifestyle – gathering and entertaining.”

Entertaining at home has taken on new life following the recession. Homeowners enjoy staying at home more often and value spending more time with family and friends. In turn, they seek the best available outdoor kitchen equipment that will help them cook restaurant-quality meals for their guests.

“The fact is that more people are eating at home now more than ever before. Therefore the ability to be able to cook for your family or for a group of people is important,” said Jim Ginocchi, president of Coyote Outdoor Living. “Homeowners are looking for quality – both in the time spent with loved ones and from the equipment they are cooking their food on.”

As the outdoor kitchen is another center for entertaining at home, consistency is one of the most important elements of the cooking equipment, according to Dawn Whyte, principal designer and owner of Designs by Dawn. “While the indoor kitchen is the heart of the home, the outdoor kitchen is the pulse of the neighborhood – it brings people together,” she said. “And when people get together, the host wants to feel confident that their dishes will be delicious every time – just like restaurant chefs.”

Beyond Cooking

While much emphasis in professional-grade performance has been placed on cooking, manufacturers also have been bolstering other parts of the outdoor kitchen. Refrigeration and cabinetry are two areas that have become more important as homeowners want their outdoor kitchens to be completely self-sufficient – and in some cases, the primary kitchen.

Storage has become more important as homeowners are using their outdoor kitchens more often.

“Not only do we have the BTUs, different styles of grilling and cooking, built-in halogens for nighttime grilling, side burners, storage, high searing options, rotisseries and all kinds of refrigeration – cabinetry also has improved. We have choices beyond stainless,” said Elaine Markoutsas, nationally syndicated design writer for Universal Uclick. She points out that Brown Jordan, a luxury furniture manufacturer, has a line of outdoor cabinetry with classic styling in a range of colors and models.

To improve functionality, some outdoor cabinetry now has the ability to protect the contents inside. For example, magnetic gaskets that create a seal to shield dry goods from the outside elements and weather-tight designs with rain gutters around door openings are becoming more commonplace. These allow homeowners to store items such as linens, pots and pans, dishes and spices outside without worrying about them getting wet.

Looking Ahead

To predict what lies ahead for outdoor kitchens, experts suggest looking inside.

“Consumers will probably see more translation from what is popular for indoor cooking,” said Ginocchi. “Trends for the outdoor usually follow what is popular for everyday use inside.”

Experts also agree that specialized equipment will continue to flourish as manufactures push the limits of innovation. We’ll likely see more specialized professional-grade products – such as fryers, dual-fuel appliances, smokers and electric grills – become popular outdoor kitchen staples over the next several years.

– By Bradley Carlson, Communications Manager, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet

May 05 2014

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Identify What Is Blocking You, and Uncork Your Creativity!

Image from tigger11th / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from tigger11th/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There are many books out there about WHAT creativity is and how to BE more creative, and when I talk about igniting creativity with others, we explore those aspects in great detail. But for today let’s keep it simple.

Spoiler alert: We ALL have a natural ability to be creative, period. It may be dormant, buried, stifled, stagnant, exhausted and stuffed in a box, but you are a naturally creative being. Left brain, right brain, artist or accountant, you were all born with the innate ability to create. For those of you who don’t think of yourselves as creative, the word creative can also be defined as problem solving and organizing things in a particular way.

Creativity is the ability to imagine what has never existed, to see the big picture, to find the subtle connections between seemingly unrelated things.

Assuming that this is true, that we all have this ability, why aren’t we all out there creatively fulfilled every day being a bunch of creative geniuses? The answer is so painfully simple – we are blocked, someone put a cork in us. If you want to experience more creativity in your life and in your work, you need only to remove the blocks that exist in your life until it starts to flow naturally again. Creativity is a force of nature; it will occur if it is allowed.

Let’s look at common things that block all of us:

  • •Fear of what others will think or say
  • •Perfectionism; fear of making a mistake
  • •Low self confidence
  • •Comparing yourself to others
  • •Getting stuck in our over-developed left brains
  • •Information overload and over commitment
  • •Multi-tasking – it’s a myth that it’s even possible
  • •Work environment; a gray cubicle or being over stimulated by your surroundings
  • •Lack of trusting our own intuition
  • •Over thinking
  • •H.A.L.T.  (hungry, angry, lonely, tired); a breeding ground for everything that blocks creativity
  • •Clutter and distractions
  • •All the shoulds and should-nots in our lives
  • •A lack of curiosity – an open mind is magic for the creative process
  • •You think you know the solution – throw out everything you think you know
Image from KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image from KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just because I used the word “uncorked” in the title doesn’t mean I’m advocating for having a glass of wine while at your drafting table, or a venti Starbucks, and I love my Starbucks. Just like a fad diet to lose 10 pounds only works temporarily, we need to develop a way of life that supports creativity long term so it can positively impact our entire lives.

Think of this ability as something that will naturally happen if you just get out of its way. We need to be conscious about how to rejuvenate it, inspire it, protect it, exercise it, practice it and share it. I like thinking of it in terms of exercise – your creativity muscle needs to be exercised just like any other muscle.

I had someone ask me recently how do I cultivate creativity in my life and what inspires me. Over the last few years that list has gotten really long. It’s just a part of my life now, from singing, walking in nature, playing with my nieces, my hot pink tennis shoes, writing a gratitude list, taking an improv class and my yoga practice. In my improv class, our mantra is “Embrace the Fail!” and we get standing ovations for “Failing Magnificently!”

This process will not happen overnight; embrace the concept of progress not perfection. Your list of blocks and activities to cultivate your creativity will look different. Join me at www.facebook.com/ignitecreativity to see what my entire list is, and share yours with a growing community of creatives.

Image courtesy of chrisroll/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of chrisroll/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Unwrap that box you are hiding your creativity in – it’s a gift that needs to be let out and explored!

– Blog post by Paula Kennedy, CMKBD, Timeless Kitchen Design, Ignite Creativity