KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for 2018

Aug 08 2018

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Introducing Sweeten’s Design Trade Renovation Program

Sweeten, a service that matches renovators and the design trade with vetted general contractors, has recently launched a VIP program for designers. Sweeten is absolutely free to the renovator; its network of contractors pays a small fee when they are hired through Sweeten. The company has nearly $900 million in construction projects in the pipeline and has been called the “Renovation Game-Changer” by Domino and one of America’s Hottest Companies” by Inc. magazine. If you have a client looking to renovate their home or business and are in need of a general contractor, you can use Sweeten to find the best general contractor for the project, and you’ll be rewarded with a $500 Visa gift card if they use the service. KBB spoke with Sweeten’s Randi MacColl, chief marketing officer, and Tyler Miller, marketing manager, to find out more.

What are the benefits of joining Sweeten?
When a homeowner or designer posts a project on our site, they are matched with three to five vetted contractors based on scope, timeline, budget, location and style. They can then check reviews and photos of previous work, decide whom they’d like to meet and get estimates. A project advisor is available to evaluate the bids, if they’re interested, and then monitors the progress at key stages. When the project is finished, we photograph and tell the story of the transformation on our blog, crediting and linking to the designer, and post it on our Instagram to our 500k followers. We provide the photography to the designer free of charge and often get placements on design media, including DominoArchitectural Digest, The Nest and more.

Design by Andrea Brodfuehrer of New York City-based Von B Interiors

How does the referral program work?
Members of the design trade handling the general contractor bidding process on behalf of their clients receive a $500 Visa gift card for every client who signs a contract with a Sweeten general contractor. To get started with this new Design Trade VIP Program, simply register with Sweeten, select “Start a renovation project,” and post your client’s project. While filling out the project details, select “representing owner” so Sweeten can follow up and confirm your eligibility as a professional in the industry. Learn more about the program and how Sweeten helps the design trade at https://sweeten.com/architects-designers

How many people can a designer refer?
You can refer an unlimited number of people, and we encourage you to share with as many as you would like.

Design by Robin Rathmann- Noonan of New York City-based Robin R-N

Who is eligible to participate?
You must be a professional in the design space with a valid employer or business. Upon posting your project, you’ll be prompted to provide a few details to confirm your eligibility.

To earn a reward, your client referral must be a new customer to Sweeten and not previously a customer under another email address or alias in our system.

Where does Sweeten plan to go next?
We hope to someday open in every major city in the U.S. Right now, we are available in the New York City and Philadelphia areas, but the plan is to be in eight cities by 2020. We also are working to connect the Sweeten community with a regular series of local mixers, as well as offering educational resources. Designers and architects tell us they send our cost and process guides to their clients as proof of what things cost!

Aug 03 2018

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Design that Heals

As designers and architects, we have a responsibility to protect the health, safety and well-being of our clients and, by extension, the broader public. But can our designed environments go one step further and actually help us heal, too?

Wherever one is in the course of sickness or healing, our physical surroundings can change the way we feel and, as a result, help catalyze and speed up the healing process. We are constantly exchanging energy with the environment around us, from the land, water, plants, trees, sky and stars. Thus, where we live, work, sleep and receive treatment directly impacts our health, vitality and ability to heal.

Biophilic Design: The word “biophilia” stems from the Greek meaning “love life.” Research suggests that both natural and man-made biophilic environments exert a healing effect on the human body. For example, significant health benefits are observed and measured in neighborhoods with tree-lined streets (Karden et al., 2015).

Biophilic design reflects a person’s inherent need for nature and is a discipline that inspires the integration of natural materials and renewable natural resources. I believe biophilic design is healing for both the architect and the user, just as living, breathing structures are energetically nourishing and stimulating.

Homes: A holistically balanced home is essential for our body’s regenerative processes. If we design our homes – particularly our bedrooms and kitchens – to be as healthy and balanced as possible, our bodies are able to heal and detoxify at a faster rate. Some of my favorite interior design strategies for this include: using organic and renewable materials, prioritizing natural colors, layering in greenery and implementing thoughtful lighting design.

Healthcare Facilities: The design of healthcare facilities has been influenced by a number of trends, including elements of biophilic design, in recent years. A common theme has been a focus on patient experience. Whether it’s creating single-patient rooms with residential touches to make them feel more inviting or providing access to sunlight, views of nature or beautiful artwork, it’s clear that the healing process is supported by promoting patient comfort and satisfaction in the design of hospitals and outpatient medical centers.

Jul 27 2018

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Photography for Designers

By Linda Holt

As a past professional photographer, I know that a big part of what makes a good image is what happens after the photo is taken. No matter how well exposed or composed the original is, I have rarely seen a photo that can’t be improved in some way with editing.

Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of lightening it up or boosting the contrast, but other times it’s more complicated and involves balancing the color, removing unwanted objects or straightening architectural lines. I know many designers struggle with photo editing, because I see images posted on social media daily that clearly could use some help.

If you are a designer, you know how important posting a great photo is. In our highly visual world, posting a bad photo can actually hurt your chance of getting new clients or selling a home. I understand that not everyone can take a stellar photo or know how to take a mediocre photo and turn it into a great photo. Learning Lightroom, Photoshop or any editing app is an option, but not everyone has the time or interest to do that.

So that you can see the value and difference that editing can do, here are a few before-and-after images I have recently edited for other designers.


Canadian designer and business coach Claire Jefford was on the Design Hounds LA Dwell on Design trip with me. Here is a photo Claire took of one of the homes during our drive around Los Angeles. Upon first sight it looks pretty good, right?

What my professional photography eye noticed were a few things that could make this exterior shot even better.
1. Straightened out the angle
2. Color corrected the image
3. Boosted the saturation ever so slightly on the two pink bushes in front of the home
4. Removed the antenna from the roof
5. Removed the two security signs from the left and right side of the garden
6. Lightened up the right side of the photo
7. Cropped out the partial tree trunk, which wasn’t adding anything to the photo

All these changes were very slight but elevated the photo from good to great. Now let’s look at another one, also taken by Claire during our Dwell on Design tour.


1. Straightened out perspective so it doesn’t appear that the dresser is sliding down hill
2. Lightened up the dresser to show off the beauty of the wood
3. Boosted contrast a bit
4. Removed some distracting items that were reflected in the mirror

Designer Adrienne Gerein of Cranbook, British Columbia-based Interior Designs by Adrienne reached out to me do some work on photos from a recently photographed project. Adrienne lives in a very small town, and there are no architectural photographers in her area. She hired a local photographer to shoot a recently completed project. Sadly, the photos were not quite to the level Adrienne wanted for her website or to attract clients, so she asked me if I could improve them.

One problem is that not specializing in interiors, the photographer used a very wide-angle lens, and there was way too much going on in many of the photos. Plus, when a wide-angle lens is used it causes all the lines to be way off. Look at the ceiling line. It runs down and to the left. Plus, seeing the back of the sofa adds nothing to the photo, since the entrance was the subject of the photo.

Adrienne gave me complete freedom to edit as I saw fit. I decided this image was really about the stunning entrance, gorgeous door and statement chandelier. The back of the sofa and the partial stair railings added nothing to the shot. The dog brings life to the image, so he needed to stay.


1. Cropped out the sofa and stair railings
2. Straightened lines and fixed perspective
3. Removed sun “hot spots” streaking across wall above the door.

Now this looks like an image worthy of her portfolio and one that will surely attract new clients.

In addition to her interior design business, Linda Holt of Boston-based Linda Holt Interiors offers photography services, including iPhone camera coaching and photo editing.

Jul 22 2018

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A New Reality

Televisions with 3D capabilities and phones with professional-grade, built-in cameras are old news. What’s hot now is Augmented Reality (AR) – a type of technology that overlays the natural world with computer-generated images.

This might seem like stuff of the future or for video gamers alone, but it’s actually proving to be a useful tool in many industries, include our own. This week’s KBTribeChat discussed the fascinating possibilities that AR could bring to the table in interior design.

What It Is and What It Isn’t
Augmented means to add or enhance something. In the case of AR, graphics, sounds and touch feedback are added to create an enhanced user experience. Unlike virtual reality, which requires the user to inhabit an entirely virtual environment, augmented reality uses the existing environment and simply overlays virtual information on top of it, usually an image.

Enhancing the Interior Design Experience
Think of all the times you’ve tried to convince a client that a certain product or color would be best for their project, but they simply cannot visualize it in their current space. AR can take an image of the existing space and place a product – like a countertop or sink – virtually into the space so they can have a better idea of how it would look.

Clients and designers can also easily switch out products to compare and contrast, saving time in making decisions and ensuring that everything works in the space before it is installed.

Marketing with AR
Brands that implement AR into their system already have a step up; since the technology is considered young, the brands using it are considered innovative and forward. In addition, using AR demands repeat yet unique engagement with customers and can evoke an emotional and visceral consumer response.

“Augmented Reality is a great opportunity for manufacturers because it allows customers to explore products in new interactive and engaging ways in real time throughout the product sales cycles,” said Scott Koehler of Whispering Pines, N.C.-based Dream Kitchen Builders. Koehler is a design technology expert and a frequent contributor to KBB magazine.

Are you using AR in your business? Let us know on Facebook or on Twitter @KBBConnect.