K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for April, 2018

Apr 23 2018

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Did Someone Say “Pizza?”

It’s not uncommon these days for interior designers to suggest their clients add luxury appliances like wine refrigerators or built-in coffee centers to their kitchens, but how many times have you suggested that a client add a pizza oven to their home?

Frankly, I never have. But that’s all going to change following my time at the 2018 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in Orlando and the Design Bloggers’ Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif. My experiences there with a few incredible pizza ovens have put the appliance in the forefront of my mind.

Not only do pizza ovens add a fun specialty element to home kitchens, but they’re also much more versatile than you may expect. Besides producing literally the best pizza you’ve ever had, a home pizza oven can be used to make delicious calzones, crusty homemade breads and even fire-roasted appetizers and side dishes using ingredients ranging from seafood to potatoes to fresh veggies. Once your client has the hang of cooking with their pizza oven, they’ll use it all the time!

When it comes to specifying a specific model for your clients, there are a bevy of options from which to choose. You’ll need to educate yourself on the merits of electric vs. wood burning, built-in vs. stand alone and even outdoor vs. indoor so you know exactly what to recommend for each client’s needs.

Say a client’s kitchen layout simply won’t accommodate a built-in model. Suggest a freestanding outdoor unit instead. But if you’re designing a client’s kitchen from scratch in a full renovation or a new build, show them how you can easily fit a streamlined, built-in model into their layout.

My first exposure to the Monogram 30-in. Pizza Oven was at KBIS (top photo), and I encountered it again at the closing party of the Design Bloggers Conference. Let me tell you, the pizza that came out of this oven was AMAZING. Granted, it was in part so delicious due to the fact that lauded chef Nick Liberato was handcrafting the gourmet pizza pies. After having the opportunity to actually taste pizzas made in this oven, I am thoroughly convinced that a pizza oven is an absolutely necessary addition to any dream kitchen.

The Monogram pizza oven’s looks are beautiful, as well. This model’s design has a brushed stainless exterior with discreet touch controls. The oven is flush  and blends well with all of the other appliances in the kitchen. This particular pizza oven blends the crisping performance of a more traditional coal or wood-burning oven but with better accuracy and ease. Its LCD controls allow the user to easily customize the settings to their exact taste. No more family arguments over thin and crispy vs. soft and chewy crust! Now everyone can have what they want – without loading down the delivery guy with four different pizzas!”

But perhaps the best part about this built-in oven is the installation process. It easily fits in a standard 30-in. width cabinet cutout, and it comes already equipped with an integrated vent system. That makes fitting a pizza oven into the design plan no more difficult than if you’d specified a cabinet. And since no additional ductwork is needed, your client saves big on construction costs.

The second pizza oven I’m a new fan of is a fantastic option for those clients whose kitchen space won’t allow for a built-in model (or those who’d simply prefer their pizza oven outdoors). The Kalamazoo Gourmet Pizza Oven is a stainless steel appliance that creates pizzeria-style pizzas without having to leave your home! The adjustable top and bottom gas burners can reach higher temperatures than a standard home oven – without the dreaded task of tending to a wood fire.

At around $7,000 each, you can choose from the freestanding outdoor model or the indoor built-in version, depending on your clients’ preferences and available space.

Just think how much your clients will enjoy eating at home after you steer them toward adding this simple luxury to their kitchen or outdoor living space. From now on, I am going to suggest pizza ovens to all my kitchen design clients. And if I’m lucky, they’ll even invite me over for a pizza party or two!

Apr 12 2018

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Tile Trends to Watch Out for in 2018

It’s no secret that tile makes a statement! And it can be a great conversation piece too.

We finally recently just wrapped up our very own kitchen remodel (https://bit.ly/2v9b9r7). Our own personal projects always get put on the back burner when it comes to our clients work, am I right? But we are so pumped to share what we did to the space. The number one thing my husband and I knew we wanted to do was to incorporate some cool tile design. We are a family that loves to entertain, and we wanted to have a wall of art, if you will. We’re also seeing a huge shift in tile and wanted to share with you what we’re seeing and what we did in our own home design and within our clients’ projects.

Handmade

Handcrafted, hand-painted and homemade tiles are the new rage. The quality is amazing, and in this kitchen, they turned out perfectly. Even though the tile and the cabinets are both white, the handmade look makes the tile stand out. Handmade tile looks so much richer than generic tile and brings in a character that isn’t found anywhere else.

Bold Patterns
Bold patterns are a great way to make a statement in the kitchen or bathroom and become the focal point of the space. For this bathroom, our clients were looking for a black-and-white modern look. They wanted to create a wet room space, and the black-and-white tile combined with a bolder pattern makes this bathroom feel clean, modern and chic. By choosing a bolder pattern on the floor, it draws your eye around the room and gives it a luxurious vibe.

Adding Texture
Texture adds depth and contrast. In this bathroom, our clients were looking for a modern farmhouse vibe and rather than incorporating all subway tile, we added a hexagon niche and floor. It creates a pretty focal point and brings in a beautiful texture that makes it feel like you’re showering at a spa.

Imperfection
Imperfect tiles look handmade and old world. Their character brings in the feel of a 100-year old home that was built by craftsmen. You can easily tell that the tiles are higher quality and handmade, rather than all perfectly the same and created by a machine.

Brighter Color
Bringing in color can transform your space from neutral and plain to fun and bright. The tiles in this shower are made by U.S. company Mercury Mosaics, and this fish-scale pattern is inspired by the movement of the ocean. The bright blue color reminds us of the Caribbean and adds excitement to the space.

New Shapes & Patterns
When we remodeled our kitchen, we wanted to incorporate some new patterns and shapes to create a unique wall that would become the statement piece. On this wall, we installed a custom hood and floating shelves, so the backsplash is definitely the main feature. Creating a custom backsplash allows you to choose the shapes and patterns you want and becomes like a piece of art in your kitchen. I can’t complain about cooking while looking at that!

Apr 08 2018

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Talking About and Getting Started with Smart Tech


Get Up to Speed

  1. Install a smart lock on your door. If you’re not handy with tools, bring in someone who is and experiment. I installed an August Smart Lock Pro, and I’m controlling it by voice from Siri on my iPhone. The cool thing about this device is that it only replaces the deadbolt and not the door knob, so you have two independent options for locking and unlocking your home.
  2. Contract with professionals who are already installing smart things in homes like the experts from the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA). You might include their proposal in your contract or suggest that your homeowner pay them directly. Either way, you will learn something and get involved in smart technology.
  3. Take a class online or in person to learn the basics about smart technology. If you already have a smartphone, you’re halfway there. If you have some mechanical aptitude and like figuring out how things work, then this a new opportunity for new expertise and income that’s worth considering.

 

Talking About Smart Technology
Technology gets new vocabulary and definitions often, so here are some of the frequently used words and definitions for discussing smart homes and smart kitchens with your clients.

  • Smart. Currently smart means online in the kitchen industry. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with artificial intelligence.
  • Local Network. Typically this is a single office or a home, where a smart device does not have to be online to operate. For example, a temperature or moisture sensor can let your clients know when conditions change in their home. The downside is they won’t know about those until they return home.
  • Hub. A hub is a machine that collects and distributes data to and from and between smart devices in the home.
  • Smart Speaker. This is a voice device that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to learn and communicate online via the cloud or built into a computer chip (local) like in a smartphone or even in an appliance.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI). The ability of a machine to do tasks that previously required human skill or human intelligence, including learning and problem solving. Examples: voice and image recognition.
  • IOT (Internet of Things). Smart things talking to smart things with no human involved. Example, a moisture sensor on the kitchen floor telling your client’s smartphone that there’s a leak in the house.
  • Machine Learning. Algorithms (computer code) that cause a machine, like a smartphone, to learn. Example, your smartphone voice assistant (Siri/Alexa) learns from input without being explicitly programmed by a human.

 

Voice Control in Smart Homes and Kitchens
Voice technology for home automation is evolving rapidly but not without some bumps in the road. Here are some things to consider.

1. Voice control of smart devices is top of mind for everyone, but home automation systems with manual switches can be voice enabled as an option that I would recommend to my clients.

2. Some smart devices are close to being voice controllable but are not quite ready yet. For example, an appliance manufacturer hasn’t been approved for use with Apple HomeKit but is working on it.

3. Some systems like Apple HomeKit are better at controlling many devices in multiple rooms and can automate actions among devices. For example, a system can automatically turn on a kitchen light when a smartlock is unlocked. Some systems like Amazon Alexa, for example, are better at ordering and buying food and scheduling deliveries to your client’s home. Voice systems have niches, and the concept of a unified ecosystem for all home automation may not be the best solution for every home.