KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for January, 2017

Jan 26 2017

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The Schizophrenia of Design

Barn Doors

One of my jobs as an interior designer is selecting paint colors and related design materials (plumbing fixtures, tile, lighting, etc.) for a homebuilder in Florida. This particular company builds around a dozen spec homes a year, all of which are traditional in style. Not a heavy ‘traditional’ look; one geared more toward young family buyers – with open floor plans and simple, clean lines – which is the current ‘trend.”

There’s that word again…

I have a little difficulty with the word trend, only because I remember trends from years past I’d rather not ever see again. But they come back, in different forms, as basically just a re-worked old ‘trend.’ For example, what was once called a Tuscan look has returned in a cleaned-up version called Napa style. Less ornamentation, lighter in feel, but with all the same elements.

I’m asked countless times to write articles and speak about current design trends. This is the reason I go to trade shows – so I can see all the beautiful new products that are the style of the moment. And that’s the problem – our ‘moment’ has become just that. Because of social media and related outlets, trends are reported instantly and unfortunately change just as rapidly.

The builder I work for was showing the latest home they built to a realtor, who mentioned that the barn door slider we used on the first- floor room that is used for an office and doubles as a guest room was so “2016.” And as I write this, it’s January of 2017. So one month into a new year, and I’m already out of style?

3 Za_MantleDetail__MG_3203.5jb

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year being Simply White and how a ‘non-color’ can work beautifully by building texture and contrast around it. This year’s B. Moore’s color is the polar opposite, a dark, beautiful shade of dusky purple called Shadow.

So there’s the split. Every time I open a magazine or go on my computer, there’s a newer trend. This could be a real problem for the average person who’s re-decorating or remodeling their home and attempts to make a decision they can stick with. What’s the solution for us designers and specifiers who see it all and have to make a living doing it?

First, whatever you do, do it well. Nothing goes out of style more quickly than a cheap, hastily done design. Follow trends, but make them your own. Add your own style. Tread lightly, don’t kill it. My personal style is clean traditional, but I’ve done contemporary, urban farmhouse, industrial, craftsman, etc. The key to a long-lasting design is simplicity and quality, which never go out of style.

So whatever the trending style is, or the color of the year or even the minute may be, just do it well. It’s our business to promote styles and trends, after all.

Jan 22 2017

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The New Bathroom

It was obvious at KBIS last week – the bathroom is no longer just a utilitarian space. Designers are turning it around and making this room into a spa, an escape and a place for fun. We spoke with one designer, Fenton, Mich.-based Mark Mangapora, who had this in mind when he completed the winning Duravit Design Bath in his own home.

KBB: What was your goal in this project?
MM: I wanted to reimagine the bathroom and transform it into something unrecognizable from its previous state. The new design was to be more open and functional without sacrificing any amenities while also improving storage capabilities.

KBB: What were your challenges and how did you solve them?
MM: The existing bathroom felt like a bunch of items clumsily crammed into one area with an awkwardly shaped master closet as leftover space.  The first solution was to include the closet in the design scope and thus have more floor area to work with. However, the total footprint was still relatively small and presented a big challenge. Combining the shower and tub into one “wet area” greatly helped to free up the layout and also allowed for a significantly larger tub and an additional shower bench.


KBB: How did you prioritize openness, clarity and warmth?
MM: The basic concept is a quadrant of four distinct areas without the compartmentalization of the original bathroom. The concept is quite evident upon entry: the “wet” area and the “prep” area are to each side but in a completely open and transparent space. The eye is drawn straight ahead by the oak-finished storage units at the end of a short hall containing entries of the more private spaces: the toilet room and the master closet. A mix of natural light and a variety of concealed and exposed artificial lighting brighten the bathroom day and night.

KBB: Talk about the different materials that you used.
MM: I started off with by choosing Duravit’s Mediterranean Oak finish for the vanity and storage units for its visual texture and warmth.  The color palette is intentionally minimalist to let the oak objects really stand out as focal points.  The walls are a simple bright white with a minimal base and trim detail. 

 The “wet area” has a matte ceramic tile in a stacked pattern to complement the geometric forms of the vanity and storage units. The stone shower bench and niches are a white and gray marble with a naturally uniform character, and their edge profiles were cut to match the radius of the Duravit tub and shower tray. The floor is oversized, staggered porcelain tile with subtle differences in tone and a textured finish, which provides some character and a slightly rough natural feel but does not overpower the space.  

I would also say light has a very material-like quality in the space.  The bright walls maximize reflections and allow diffused sunlight from the small frosted window to penetrate and naturally light the whole bathroom.

KBB: What was your favorite part of this project?
MM: Seeing the project become a reality was really quite satisfying. I enjoyed the opportunity to work out the details on paper and later with the builder during construction. As of now, it is still somewhat surreal when I step into the bathroom, as it feels like I’m stepping out of my house and into a high-end spa.

Jan 16 2017

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KBB Does KBIS 2017

Our hard-working staff at KBB was truly dedicated to all things KBIS last week. We traversed the two massive halls looking for the latest product trends, and we were heavily involved in the show programming this year. We attended several parties, visited a showroom and toured a design home – all in just three days. The following is a photo diary of our staff at work – enjoy!


Erinn Loucks, Chelsie Butler and Natasha Selhi at the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s “Magic of Design” party at Epcot.

2Aladdin photo

Getting our picture taken with Aladdin at Magic of Design. Left to right: Chelsie Butler, Travis Hunt, Rebecca Corbett, Selhi & Diana Gallagher

3Orlando Jones

Natasha and Chelsie were lucky enough to meet the evening’s MC – Orlando Jones.

4KBB Booth

Some of our Editorial Advisory Board members coming to see us on the first day in the KBB booth. Left to right: Toni Sabatino, Ebony Stephenson, Diane Kennedy, Chelsie Butler

5Me with Brad

Chelsie Butler pictured with Brad Hunter of HomeAdvisor during one of four information-filled discussions during KBIS

6EAB with Toni

Toni Sabatino, Natasha Selhi and Chelsie Butler at the annual KBB Editorial Advisory Board meeting


Celebrating the KBB Editorial Advisory Board with a quick pic after our annual meeting


Travis Hunt keeping track of his steps while visiting multiple exhibitor booths

9Travis at booth

Here he is learning about all of Lenova’s new products.

10Erinn at socialmedialounge

Erinn Loucks learning social media strategies from other brands at the Social Media Lounge in the South Hall.

11The Bash

Chelsie Butler, Brian Pagel and Natasha Selhi celebrating another successful KBIS at The Bash


Post-show, Erinn relaxed at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!


Jan 08 2017

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It’s Showtime!

2016 PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers

2016 PWP Studio Corporate Event Photographers

It’s finally here. We have just three days to see new products, learn from great leaders and network with other industry experts – and that’s just the beginning. As editors of KBIS’ official publication, we’ve done a lot of preparation and are anticipating a fabulous show. Here’s just a glance of what we’re most looking forward to:

1.    All the New Products. We’ve gotten a sneak peek from many of the companies at the show, and take it from us – you’ll see more innovation, style and pizazz than at any other show.

2.    Networking. There never is enough time to talk with as many designers and manufacturers as we would like during the year. KBIS gives us the chance to finally talk face-to-face with people we hear about and work with every day.

3.    The Opening Ceremonies. Did anyone else hear the keynote speaker is Peyton Manning? That’s going to be very cool.

4.    All the Parties. You could party every night if you’re not too tired from walking the show floor – start with the Magic of Design Opening Party on Monday evening at Epcot’s World Showplace, and make sure to attend The Bash on Wednesday starting at 8:30 at Mango’s Tropical Café.

5.    Learning Opportunities. Every year we have the opportunity to learn from our colleagues at the Voices from the Industry Conference, and this year will cover everything from online sales strategies to sustainable design.

6.    The Location. Las Vegas has been great, but we’re all looking forward to sunny Orlando for KBIS 2017!

Follow us on Twitter @KBBconnect, on Facebook and on Instagram at kbb_magazine to find out where in the show we are, and have a great KBIS!