KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for November, 2015

Nov 30 2015

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Small Space Living Design Tips

kitchen - USE copy

Beverly Hills award-winning designer Christopher Grubb shared his design tricks and tips on LX.TV’s “Open House” for making smaller spaces pop through the use of color and multi-functional furniture.

“Interior design for a small space can be surprisingly exciting on a grand scale,” said Grubb, president and founder of Arch-Interiors Design Group.

His top tips for designing small spaces include:

– Incorporate multi-functional furniture, such as buffets that do double duty for storage and serving food when entertaining.

– Paint the walls to match a drapery color to make a room feel more expansive and comfortable.

– When working with high ceilings, use color and don’t be afraid to go bold; the contrast draws the eyes upward and helps elongate the room.

– Use smaller-scale furniture in tighter spaces; lower-profile chairs with open sides will feel less encroaching than taller pieces.

– Incorporate stools in rich patterns or bold colors. They can serve as “art” for the room while also making great extra seating for guests.

Select a dining table with small leaves that pull out when needed.

Select a dining table with small leaves that pull out when needed.

– In a dining area, add a cantilevered buffet piece. It’s perfect for additional storage, plus it gives a lofty “floating” feeling since it leaves the floor visible to the wall. “It’s also perfect for serving during dinner parties,” added Grubb.

– Select a dining table with small leaves that pull out when needed. And don’t buy more folding chairs. Using chairs you have in the living area can result in a very exciting setup for dinner parties.

Nov 23 2015

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A Look at the Kitchen of the Future

Lavin Wheeler Risch Burcher

For most of us, kitchens are the epicenter of our households. From intimate gatherings to large family functions, the kitchen is where we often feel the most comfortable chatting, cleaning and of course, eating.

To celebrate the kitchen and its endless possibilities in the 21st century, the National Kitchen Business Association (NKBA) Manhattan Chapter sponsored the 2015 Kitchen of the Future Symposium entitled “Eating, Living & Building – Designing the Kitchen of the Tomorrow” on November 18. This well-attended, elegant event was hosted by Häfele America Co. in Manhattan.

The daylong symposium consisted of three highly credentialed speakers who discussed a diverse range of topics on the future of kitchens. Leeann Lavin, author of The Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook, spoke passionately on the subject of food (eating). Ray Kinoshita Mann, an associate professor at UMass Amherst’s Department of Architecture, discussed the sociology (living) theme. And Joe Wheeler, associate professor at Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture and Design, talked about design (building).

Leeann Lavin

                           Leeann Lavin

The Adaptation of Design and Technology
Rounding out the day’s event, Lavin, Mann and Wheeler participated in a Q&A panel discussion that was moderated by John Morgan, former NKBA president. Morgan kicked things off by asking how they see design and technology adapting and evolving to the rapid shifts in demographics such as multi-generational households to young singles.

Wheeler said he feels it’s important to find the perfect blend of functionality and technology, citing voice activation software and drawers versus doors (drawers winning out over doors for the elderly). One of his ideas bringing the two concepts together was a laundry soap function that is programmed to send the consumer an electronic reminder (email, text) to reorder when it ran low.

Joe Wheeler

                Joe Wheeler

“The market is going to determine if we want our soap monitored,” he said later in the evening when an audience member asked where we draw the line on all of this extra technology. “Where we are now is discovery mode.”

Mann said while she’s all for technology, she doesn’t want people to lose sight of the importance of physical space and how that simple component will never go away despite constant technological advances. Her “Dish Rack Syndrome” was featured during her presentation, citing the importance of functionality over costly and stunning designs.

“Start with utility and find out what its function is,” added Lavin, who spoke passionately throughout the evening about sustainability and whole food options. “I encourage you to embrace [technology], but don’t steer away from old technology.”

Ray Kinoshita Mann

     Ray Kinoshita Mann

Her presentation touched on both new and old concepts to enhance today and tomorrow’s kitchen, including drone food delivery and creating customized food with 3D printing, as well as organic cleaning products and more efficient food waste elimination/mitigation options.

Morgan concluded the evening with a simple question, arguably something that was on the minds of most audience members. “We all have something to sell,” he said. “What is it? What is that one thing to help our clients right now?”

Mann gave perhaps the most concise answer: “Dish rack.” Wheeler said taking the time to educate your client on what’s available could be the most important thing you do. And Lavin concluded the evening with a touch of altruistic sentimentality that seemed to resonate overall with the room.

“You want a kitchen that makes memories,” she said. “Of course you’re going to die, but it’s how you live that’s most important.”

– By Carrie Farley

Nov 18 2015

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Italian-based Appliances Make Way to the U.S.

Almo/Tecnogas event in Atlanta

              Almo/Tecnogas event in Atlanta

Italian manufacturer, Tecnogas SUPERIORE, made its appliance debut in the U.S. and will be added to Almo Premium Appliances’ distribution portfolio. Almo introduced these new product lines, which include NEXT and DECO, at several launch events, including one K+BB attended recently in Atlanta.

The 63 year-old company – from the historic village of Gualtieri in Northern Italy – has designed a product portfolio exclusively for the North American market, offering hoods and flagship ranges with giant gas ovens featuring a panorama window, versatile cooktops and intriguing finishes with iconic Italian style.

The NEXT ranges come with the option of the "widescreen" PANORAMA oven door window, which has triple layered glass for maximum thermal insulation so the door remains cool to touch even when the oven is heated to 500 degrees.

The NEXT ranges come with the option of the “widescreen” PANORAMA oven door window, which has triple layered glass for maximum thermal insulation so the door remains cool to touch even when the oven is heated to 500 degrees.

“Adding the U.S. market creates a new platform and expansion into the Americas,” said Steve Terry, Almo’s senior vice president. “Today, they export to 50 countries with new European product.”

The products will be available in the Central U.S. and on the West Coast by early 2016. They have been designed and sized specially for the U.S. market.

The DECO line allows a choice of brass, gold or chrome trim accents.

The DECO line allows a choice of brass, gold or chrome trim accents.

“The products have the fit, finish and performance of ultra-premium products at an incredible value,” said Terry. “The units are all in 30-48-in. sizes with large ovens and the finish characteristics designers expect.”

Nov 11 2015

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Five Online Metrics You Need for Lead Generation (and Five You Don’t)

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

For years I’ve listened to a host of consultants, speakers and experts talk to kitchen and bath companies about their online strategies and all of the different steps they must take to be successful. But when it comes to the online metrics that help companies to grow, the so-called experts are carefully vague, generalizing the online experience as “lead generation.”

Understanding the online world – and its role in helping you grow sales – is more important than ever. So understanding online metrics – the right metrics – is critical to making better marketing decisions and evaluations.

Here are five pairs of common online metrics and explanation regarding why one matters and why the other is likely to be misleading to you.

1. Visitors vs. Visitors from within Your Marketing Territory. Do most of your customers live in a specific geographic area? I’m willing to bet the answer is yes. After all, kitchen and bath designs or remodels by their very nature involve showing up, in person, at the homes of your prospects.

The broader point is that you can’t sell a kitchen or bathroom to homeowners on the other side of the country. If you operate in a territory 100 miles around St. Louis, why would visitors from Seattle matter to you?

If you hire a firm to boost your website rankings (commonly known as an SEO firm), we recommend that you incent your provider not just to drive traffic, but to drive traffic from visitors in your particular sales or service area. You can track the location of visitors through a free Google Analytics account.

2. Leads vs. Issued Leads. What’s “a lead” anyway? The truth is, it could be almost any name, address, phone number or combination thereof. And for many lead-generation companies, that broad definition is exactly what they use when promising to “deliver leads.”

But that’s not what you need – particularly when it comes to online lead sellers. Instead, you want to measure “issued leads,” defined as leads given to a salesperson to follow up on after your team has spoken to an interested homeowner. Those are the leads that result in sales.

Lead quality matters, and there are important differences between what one provider considers a lead and what you consider a good sales opportunity. Here’s an example: According to lead sellers, a “bathroom remodeling lead” could be a $60,000 master bath project or a $400 tub re-glaze.

There are huge differences among these opportunities – even though lead sellers typically refer to them the same way. It’s a game so many lead-generation companies play to goose their numbers – and their profits.

3. Clicks vs. Conversions. Clicks have been around as an online metric since the dawn of the Web, but clicks for their own sake don’t matter. Clicks from India, for example, are not only not in your marketing territory, they probably aren’t even real people (e.g. “click-bots”). Traffic that stays on your website for a second (literally) also isn’t coming from a real person, let alone a bath or kitchen prospect, and doesn’t provide any value to you. Yet, these register as clicks.

Online marketing companies will also do things to deliberately increase their volume. It’s incredibly easy to send unqualified traffic from social media promotions or to place links to your site all over the Web – where they know it will get phantom visitors. Or, they can resort to dozens of other methods that appear to generate visitors.

You want flesh-and-blood homeowners visiting your site, so you need to move from “clicks in general” to “clicks that matter.” Which clicks matter? Those that lead to conversions. Google Analytics can help you see where the clicks come from, who spends time on your website and whether they’re interested in your kitchen or bath options.

4. Phone Calls vs. Qualified Phone Calls. Pay-per-call services are growing in popularity; they generate leads in the form of phone calls to you, and you pay based on the number of phone calls you get. When you sign up with a service to generate phone calls, it’s in their best interest to generate as many calls as possible. Shady tactics include putting your name and number out to cold call lists and auto-dialers, as well as having technology to call you at night – after business hours. Then they trumpet their results back to you: “Look at all the calls our program is generating for you!” The solution is to monitor your telephone traffic by checking for length of call, listening to sample recordings and understanding which calls are billable vs. those calls that are no good.

5. Social Followers vs. Reviews. “Followers,” “Likes” and “Fans” on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and elsewhere are all the rage these days. Not only are these social metrics hip, they’re easy to measure.

The problem is that few have found a significant correlation between this type of activity and leads for kitchen and bath businesses. Social media has a supporting relationship for your brand, but it doesn’t drive any volume of leads.

Social reviews by customers, on the other hand, are extremely valuable because reviews are a new type of “online currency.” The more you have, the more likely Google, Yahoo and others will rank your website near the top of your local kitchen and bath listings.

The important thing is to make sure you actively ask customers to go onto Yelp, Google and Angie’s List and review your company. It will take the homeowner five minutes, but it can pay big dividends for you in the search engine rankings.

Activity – even precisely measured activity – can be easily confused with results. Nowhere is this more common than when gauging success online. If you keep your focus on the metrics that matter, you’ll drive more sales via the Web. All the best in online success!

– Todd Bairstow is co-founder and principal of Keyword Connects (keywordconnects.com).