KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for July, 2018

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.

Jul 22 2018

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A Fresh Redesign

Often the best redesigns start with the worst original spaces. For one master bath in Ramsey, N.J., the existing space had a large and unused tub under the window, a small lower vanity and shower and an exposed toilet with no privacy. Designer Julia Kleyman of Ridgewood, N.J.-based Ulrich, Inc. stepped in to transform this space into a refreshing, modern bath.

Customized Shower

She used AutoCAD to lay out the new space and took out the tub to make room for a larger shower with a seat.

The new shower boasts a glass enclosure and white and gray tile, along with a mural of blue tile to create a focal point. Sharing a wall with a bench, a niche with three differently sized shelves offers additional storage to the homeowners.

“The client wanted a large shower with a place to house many products,” said Kleyman. “We provided a custom-shaped niche for his-and-hers products to solve this issue.”

Creating Privacy

It was important to the homeowners that the toilet had more privacy without it being in a completely separate room. To do this, the design team created a peninsula that is higher than the standard counter heigh, which divides the room but still gives it the appearance of openness.

“The white color on the peninsula keeps the space flowing and light,” said Kleyman. “It also offers additional towel and product storage.”

Fresh and Contemporary

Another request the homeowner had was for a vanity built for two and an updated but traditional look. To give the mainly white and gray space warmth and a touch of the traditional, Kleyman chose a maple vanity with a dark brown finish.

“This finish gives a modern furniture touch to the large amount of cabinetry,” she said, adding that the vanity has a drawer with an outlet inside so the hairdryer can be conveniently stored.

The new vanity also contributes to the openness of the bath with a gray and white porcelain tile backsplash that extends to the ceiling, drawing the eye up.

“With a wall of large dramatic tile, the vanity is its own focal point,” said Kleyman.

Designer: Julia Kleyman, Ulrich Inc.
Photographer:Peter Rymwid

Cabinetry: Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry
Faucets: Moen
Flooring: Piepur Grigio
Mirror: Baci
Mosaic Tile: Tommy Bahama
Sinks: Kohler
Vanity Lighting: Maxim Lighting

Jul 16 2018

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Stop Hiring People Who Disappoint You

A bad hire is more than just frustrating, it’s costly. Bringing in an employee who turns out to be a poor fit will cost your company in unnecessary payroll, wasted time and possibly even unhappy customers.

Success in hiring starts long before you interview a candidate, with a process that I call “Getting Clear.” Clarity is the effort you put in before you even post a job ad or start interviewing. By determining ahead of time why you need this role, what its responsibilities will be, what results you expect from the new hire in this role and what activity levels they will need to maintain to get those results, you can create a stronger job description that sets expectations and objectives clearly up front. This will guide not only those applying for the position but the way in which you recruit, interview and, ultimately, make your final decision.

Creating this clarity requires some deep thinking into both the position and the candidate. Before hiring anyone, you need to be able to answer “Yes” to each of these questions:

1. Is it worth it? Is it worth the time, cost and energy required to hire someone? Will the end result make it worth the effort? It’s exciting to think about hiring, but it’s so important to remember all the actual work that goes into turning a hire into a successful employee.

2. Can you clearly set expectations for the activities and results? Do you have clear activity and result expectations for the first 90 days, 180 days and first year? Are you prepared to communicate it with potential hires and make sure it’s reasonable?

3. Are you ready, willing and able to train and support them for at least the next three months? Even if they have years of industry experience, it will still take time for them to get to know your products, processes and philosophy.

4. How long can you “carry” this person before they need to start paying for themselves? The reality is, it takes most salespeople four to six months to start covering their payroll costs, and non-sales positions have a similar payback time. Can you afford to wait that long?

This process isn’t simple, and there are a lot of variables to consider. But it’s much easier to get clear before you hire someone than regret it when you have an underperforming employee you’re paying to disappoint you.

Rikka Brandon is the founder and chief executive recruiter of Building Gurus, a boutique executive search and consulting firm that works exclusively with kitchen and bath and building product companies across the U.S. Rikka is a member of NKBA’s Leadership Recruitment Committee. She is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Hire Power. This article was originally published on the NKBA website here.