KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for June, 2016

Jun 24 2016

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NKBA’s Manhattan Chapter Explores Pet-Friendly Designs

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These days, pets are part of the family, and more and more kitchen and bath designs are incorporating areas for pet storage, sleeping areas and feeding stations to accommodate this growing trend.

The NKBA Manhattan Chapter recently hosted a 0.1 CEU presentation titled “Design Unleashed: Adapting Interiors for People and their Pets” to address pet-friendly spaces. The program was led by Chris Prince, Manhattan Chapter vice president of programs; and host and speaker Dave Burcher, CKD, with In House Kitchen Bath Home. The presentation, which was underwritten by Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry, also explored materials, surfaces and furnishings suitable for pets.


The event hosted nearly 70 guests and discussed the business of designing for clients and pets alike. Prince partnered with local animal shelter Bideawee, which brought in several “adoption-ready” dogs for the cocktail and networking hour.


Burcher and his team presented gourmet “doggie-bags” with dog bone cookies, beverages from Chateau La Paws and donations to a pet rescue organization. Raffle prizes included a free vet visit, in-home grooming session, a designer dog bed and a handheld shower from Grohe that is perfect for a pet wash station.

Grohe handheld

Pictured above are Melissa Treuman, director of communications at Bideawee animal shelter; Chris Prince, Manhattan Chapter vice president of programs; and Renee Riddick, Manhattan Chapter president.

Jun 16 2016

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Becoming a Household Name

We all are guilty of taking a manufacturer’s name and applying it to everything remotely similar. I’m thinking of Kleenex, Lysol, Chapstick or Sharpie – all items we use daily and don’t really think about how they started.

Last week, one of those household names turned 60 years old. I met with the company at the newly opened Ferguson Kitchen and Bath showroom in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood to find out how they got to be known as Jacuzzi.

It started as many American companies do: with immigrants. The Jacuzzi family came to the U.S. from Italy in the early 1900s. The Jacuzzi brothers started a life here in the fields of aviation and agriculture, inventing things like a water pump to help irrigate crops.

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In the 1950s, one of the brother’s children came down with premature rheumatoid arthritis. His mother would drive him all the way to hydrotherapy a few times week, and noticed that the child’s pain lessened significantly after each treatment. So the family designed a pump, the J-300, that could be submerged in a bathtub for personal use. The family started manufacturing it, and it later became popularized as the prize in a game show.


Of course, we all know that evolved into jet whirlpool baths and hot tubs, and now into the freestanding baths we know today. The company is working on promoting more than just whirlpool tubs, but they are proud to be known as the original whirlpool tub.

And by the way – did you know we turned 60 too just last year? I ran across an old archived page from a 1950s version of Kitchen Business (our original name) on my recent trip to the Wilsonart factory – it’s crazy how much design can go in and out of style, but I don’t foresee aqua cabinetry coming back in anytime soon!

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Jun 08 2016

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Welcome to My Friend’s House

I visited a couple’s house last week that is always truly a work in progress, and they are always making progress. They moved into the large home a few years back with a plan to renovate various rooms and spaces along the way.

Barn Doors

When I first visited them, a group of us had dinner on the second basement level – yes the basement is two levels – and it was a blank slate with a few paint colors splashed on one wall so they could decide the perfect hue. The room is still in flux, but my friend’s husband and his dad installed cedar barn doors to separate that space from a small bedroom. The barn track used to hold the doors is from a family farm in Indiana during the 1800s.


One the basement bathrooms, which are both finished, features an Italian marble vessel sink with a live-edge walnut base from a woodworker in North Carolina. A teak wood insert (below) in the shower hides a concealed oversize drain, which prevents clogging.


I love all of the small, well-thought-out details as well, which include various light fixtures, decorative grates and a metal wallcovering – just for something different (below).


The laundry room even features personal touches with a floor mat and a light and dark clothing separator.

Laundry Room

While her husband was out of town one weekend, my friend did the tile applique in the powder room on the main floor – and it looks perfect! I can’t wait to see what’s in store the next time I visit my friends’ awesome abode.


Jun 08 2016

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Designing for the “Ohh!” in 90210


Doing business in one of the most famous zip codes in the world, Beverly Hills, is very exciting. However, it can also be a challenge. The residents of 90210 always want the “next big thing.” When it comes to interiors, they want something new and entirely different…something with a real “wow” factor…something their neighbors haven’t seen in person or in glossy magazines.

Most of our projects at Arch-Interiors Design Group are remodels, and the biggest request we’re getting is for size. Homeowners want it bigger physically, visually and conceptually. They want to make an impact and create an illusion of space even in tight quarters. Other design movements in “The Hills” include:

The Great Room Is Here to Stay

Everyone wants a great room, and the kitchen has now blended into this requested space. We typically create an enlarged space by opening up several rooms or even by sacrificing other small spaces such as pantries, breakfast nooks, working desks or, in more contemporary designs, removing the butler’s pantry. Surprisingly for many, the dining room is actually more used for full family meals because of this.

Stainless Fatigue Is a Real Thing

We’ve finally reached the point with appliances where our high-end clientele have “stainless fatigue.” We’re covering all of the appliances with panels, which also help make the room feel larger. Even with double ovens, manufacturers such as Miele are doing the fronts in tinted glass that blends in with the cabinetry. One project we’re currently working on will incorporate this, and the sink will be the only item in the kitchen with a stainless finish.


Miele’s Obsidian Black finish

Use Your Hands for More Than Cooking

In more contemporary kitchens, we’re using finger pulls versus hardware because your eye is not interrupted by the dimensional contrast from hardware allowing for a sleek and smooth surface. We’re also using zero glass front doors in contemporary styles. Hardware, glass fronts and open shelving are still very much an important part of the design in our more traditional kitchen projects.

And the freedom to customize faucets with vendors like California Faucets (there are more than 30 artisan finishes available), one can further create an individual look instead of what people consider to be a “pedestrian faucet” they see everywhere (even if it’s actually only the maid or chef that uses the touch the majority of the time!) For homeowners who do enjoy cooking and desire a more professionally styled faucet, their culinary faucets feature a uniquely flexible stainless steel spring and an industry-first ability to customize the spring in any of the company’s 15 PVD finishes.


California Faucets’ Corsano faucet

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Simple sliding doors to the outside simply will not do. Oversized stacking or accordion doors have become “it.” They give the impression that the usable space of the room has doubled. We’re seeing this not only in Southern California, but also all over the country thanks to vast improvements in glazing technology and, unfortunately, climate changes.

Stretching Storage

When closets and pantries are sacrificed for one larger space, organization becomes much more of a priority. To combat these storage issues, we’re using more tall cabinetry to take the place of full pantries. This all makes the interior fittings much more of a functional focus. When storage is reduced, clients need the interior storage fittings to be as “tricked out” as possible. We have a Pinterest page specifically dedicated to fittings and accessories that can be incorporated into one’s design.

Natural Stone – Not Necessarily the Natural Choice

For countertops, natural stone is still very popular and it’s usually part of most initial design discussions. However, homeowners have started to recognize quartz as a viable alternative thanks to its functional durability. We also try and do special detailing to counter edges – be it larger in scale, with a small reveal or a different unexpected detail.  It does not cost much more, and the client feels you are conscious of doing something unique for their project. Granite has pretty much fallen by the wayside unless it has a very unique motion to it for an island that is meant to be a focal point.

Island Life

The kitchen island is no longer an item to be incorporated “only” if space allows; it’s now a requirement. Today’s kitchen island works harder than those of the past, serving as much more than an area for meal prep. It’s truly a multi-purpose area that adapts to a family’s intense variety of schedules and activities. An element we’re incorporating more and more is charging areas in the form of USB ports and HDMI outlets. Everyone wants access for the myriad electronics so they’re always plugged-in.

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Another interesting note about islands…for a time, multi-level islands were very common. They incorporated lower food prep areas and higher areas for bar stool seating. Now, clients are happy with the island all on one level since it’s now used frequently when entertaining and serving buffet style meals.

In today’s larger, more open spaces, it takes a lot of thought to create a kitchen that is functional both physically and visually. But when the result is an airy and welcoming family space suitable for virtually any activity, the extra effort is well worth it.

By Christopher Grubb, NKBA, IIDA, President/Founder, Arch-Interiors Design Group