K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Chelsie Butler

Chelsie Butler

Oct 11 2017

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Design for Everyone

The National Kitchen & Bath Association recently hosted a webinar titled “Top Tips for Implementing Universal Design Strategies” with Dani Polidor, CKD, CBD, owner of Suite Artistry, in Rochester, N.Y. She is NCIDQ and CAPS certified and has been a Design for a Difference ambassador since 2014.

According to cohousing.org, universal design/build presents a shift in the approach to residential design and construction. Comfort and convenience, regardless of age, stature or ability, is the hallmark of inclusive design.

Why Was CAPS Created? 

  • – Americans prefer to remain in their homes as they age rather than to seek assisted living or other arrangements.
  • – Older consumers want a reliable means to identify the professionals they can trust to remodel their homes. Help facilitate the evolution of the home as needs arise.

Polidor identified the seven principles of universal design:

  • – Flexibility in Use
  • – Simple & Intuitive Use
  • – Equitable Use
  • – Tolerance for Error
  • – Perceptible Information
  • – Low Physical Effort
  • – Size and Space for Approach and Use

And she identified the different groups of people who could benefit from universal design:

  • – People with height restrictions
  • – Those who speak different languages
  • – The elderly
  • – Individuals who are disabled
  • – Even those without disabilities

She also shared real-life examples to identify solutions for designing for clients with various needs.

  • Hearing Impaired. Visual, motion and auditory assistive technology
  • Mobility & Accessibility Issues. Ramps, elevators, chair lifts; lever handles and electronic controls; occupancy sensors and rocker switches; drawers and open shelves; lowered cooking surfaces and drawer-style appliances; wall-mounted lavatories and comfort-height toilets; thermostatic or pressure-balanced shower controls; tubs that fir the size, shape and ability of the user; grab bars and benches in showers
  • Sight Impaired/Sensitive. Window films, remote-controlled shades; contrasting floor patterns and colors; large display screens

Sep 19 2017

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Use Your Bio to Promote the Star You Are

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It has never been easier to get the kitchen and bath services and products you sell elsewhere. Competition is intense. Search for “kitchen and bath professionals Denver” on Google, for example, and you come up with more than 2.8 million listings in a nanosecond.

But there’s one thing that prospective clients can’t get elsewhere: YOU. That’s why it’s absolutely, positively critical these days for you to sell yourself, as well as your services.

There’s no better vehicle for you to make that personal sale than through your bio on your website, your Houzz site and in social media. That bio is your most important online and print personal marketing tool; the vehicle you can use to explain all that you do, all that you’ve done and all that you can do – and how well.

Problem is, most K&B industry bios undersell the professionals they’re supposed to promote. They’re often vague and wordy and, in many cases, are more of a hindrance than a help. A poorly written bio can block you rather than boost you – and disqualify rather than qualify you for the kind of projects and clients you want and need.

You can’t advance to the next level in your kitchen and bath career with a personal profile that fails to distinguish and differentiate you: you can’t get good clients with a bad bio.

What does it take to create a profile that spells out your special-ness, establishes your expertise and communicates your credibility? To craft a killer bio, include your:

+ “Only” phrase (____ is the area’s only kitchen designer who…)
+ Experience
+ Skills, specialties, capabilities
+ Awards and honors
+ Client profile (who you serve and how)
+ Accomplishments
+ Unique services and products
+ Publication history (where/how you’ve been published)
+ Resources (vendors, contractors, etc.)
+ Affiliations
+ Educational background
+ Other qualifications

Use your bio to explain who you work with, and how. Include the benefits you offer and how you help clients overcome their most formidable design challenges. Point out how you help them save time, money and stress and make it possible for them to enhance the value and the resale value of their living space.

And don’t forget to talk about your team in your promotional profile. Point out how you work with some of the area’s foremost contractors and that you have access to a national (and international?) network of vendors and suppliers.

When you create and promote an effective bio, you ensure that the people you need to know…know you. Your bio is your very best way in these highly competitive times to blow your horn and toot your flute.

Fred Berns is a design industry coach and copy writer – http://interiordesignbusiness.net

Aug 23 2017

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Cabinets to Ceilings: Finding the Focal Point

Sometimes the ceiling can be a challenge in kitchen and bathroom design; beams, soffits, ductwork, angles and height can either be a hindrance or a catalyst. You either go around, through or follow the ceiling – respecting the limitations for a site-specific composition. Without balance, there is no composition, and without composition, there is no art.

One Upmanship
This pre-WWII apartment kitchen (above photo) has a structural beam down the center. With the hood duct, little ceiling remained so we blocked it in. The sequence of the detailed cabinets and negative space around the hood elongate the room, and the usable height on the refrigerator side is emphasized by the hanging lamps.

To unite the two halves, the granite counter’s low backsplash aligns with the stove back guard and turns the corner as it rises to full height at the sink up to the glass cabinet. Similar to the black stove anchoring the main wall, the dark slate sink aids in drawing the eye to the transition. The cabinet void in the back corner creates a dynamic focal point contrasting the two heights in a display of movement unexpected in a normally staid, traditional setting.

Dynamic Symmetry
More height than width is common in NYC kitchens. The crown on the tall cabinet (above) goes through the beam, providing vitality without overwhelming the room. The architecture of this space suggests that the tall cabinet is against the column and the shorter lighter cabinets are at the open end. The deeper, tall cabinet with handles instead of knobs signifies greater importance than the surrounding cabinets.

This variation precludes the use of (everyone’s favorite) mirror symmetry (but me). Instead, balance is created using the tenets of the Golden Proportion. whereby the width to length ratio is 62 percent. The tall cabinet proportion is a golden rectangle, similar to the far-right cabinet, as well as the combination of a right cabinet, middle cabinet and shelf. The whole wall to the ceiling is an 86½-in. by x 55-in. golden rectangle.

All the cabinets are different dimensions, yet they are the same proportion. The diagonal lines from the corners cross in the center of the middle cabinet – precisely where the eye is drawn. Any other dimensions, be they wider, shorter or narrower, would generate crossing in a different spot, rendering the dynamic arrangement less visually appealing. The discrepancy might not be noticeable, but understanding golden proportions illustrates the beauty of the composition.

Height is an Illusion
The magic of kitchen and bath designers is their ability to create the illusion of space, movement and height. Above, space is created by the openness of the glass and display portion of the cabinets. Movement occurs as the dynamic eave runs the length of the wall with a reprise at the soffit panel, and height is achieved by the stepping arrangement of the cabinets. The three steps have differing personalities from the same cherry family:

  1. One curved open shelf
  2. Two louvered, angled, sliding doors
  3. Three glass doors with vertical dividers in the open area that lead to the ceiling

The 1-2-3 progression is the pleasing Fibonacci Sequence where each cabinet increases by 62 percent.

When Mirror Symmetry Isn’t Possible
Because of the beam in the photo above, a more dynamic approach to balance is required. From the tall cabinet, the line of the shelf over the window skirts the beam to touch the glass cabinet that embraces the window. This arrangement maintains an open look as the movement expands and unifies the entire wall. It’s not merely cabinet-window-cabinet that focuses on the window; now the window is one piece of the overall composition. Another detail: the glass cabinet is shallower than the right cabinet to align with the beveled angle of the shelf – adding the variety of depth to the composition.

  • A cabinet up to the beam would succumb to being handcuffed by the limitation.
  • Solid doors would produce an unsuccessful attempt at symmetry.
  • Each object has its own personality; similar to islands differing from the perimeter cabinets.

Angled Roof
A bathroom addition of an angled ceiling skylight (above) provided the opportunity to have creative fun. The blue trapezoid follows the roof and floats in the space. Field tile surrounding the design is the golden proportion 62 percent of the width of the blue form. This ratio determines the pleasing size for the space that is neither too large nor small. Connecting the dots confirms the dimensions as diagonals from the corners of the walls align with the corners of the design.

What is Going on Here?
Admittedly, the design in the photo above is not everyone’s taste. The point of discussion is using the space to the hilt. I surmise, in most cases, that cabinets would only be set along the 8-ft. height line with the remainder of the most exciting portion of the roof line left blank – what a shame. I submit this design to illustrate how by connecting the dots similar to constellations, we make familiar patterns as seen in the masterpieces: Taj Mahal and Cathedral of Notre Dame. The angle of the hood points to the apex of the refrigerator cabinet, and the extended right side of the hood and the angle of the refrigerator cabinet touch the ceiling at the same spot. Aloft in that negative space – higher than the cabinets themselves – is the focal point.

– By Mark Rosenhaus, CKD

May 17 2017

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12 Practical Ideas to Improve a Galley Kitchen

“I have a small kitchen remodel to do, but nothing can be done with it,” is heard too often – especially in New York City where galley kitchens are often the standard design layout. I use the term, ‘layout,’ loosely, as minimum thought has gone into maximizing the use of the space.

Galley kitchens are named for a ship’s parallel, usually narrow work areas, yet they are not necessarily featureless. Some have height or length to exploit to take full advantage of the function and form that can be attained by new kitchen cabinets.

Every family and cook has their own routine in the kitchen. We all get used to working in our space – not realizing that even minor changes might improve the food preparation experience and enliven the kitchen.

Understanding the cook’s work habits in the renovation of a small galley kitchen is essential as there is very little margin for error. Here are 12 practical and appealing ideas to aid your renovation.

1. Use Stove Smarts. If you rarely cook with more than two burners, placing the stove against the side wall (shown below) provides more work space on the remaining countertop area. A 24-in.-wide stove has the same number of burners – only with less space between them and on each side.In a small kitchen, a two-burner 12- or 24-in. cooktop can be set into a built-up, 3-in.-thick counter above the dishwasher.

2. Consider the Microwave. For tall clients, a microwave/convection oven placed on top of a short refrigerator will suffice. The bottom of the microwave is most convenient at the level of the person’s armpit; too high, and the chance of spilling the contents increases.

3. Increase Storage. For shorter people, 15-in.-deep wall cabinets increase storage, and the cabinets still don’t feel uncomfortably close to your client’s face.

4. Invest in Smaller Appliances. Space-saving dishwashers 18 inches wide or a single dish drawer will allow for larger base cabinets. Refrigerators that are narrower and shallower are also taller and offer more aisle space and room for storage.

5. Hang up the Hood. If your clients don’t fry on the stove, they probably don’t need a hood. The bottom of the cabinet over the stove can now be level with the adjacent cabinets, providing additional storage and offering a more unified kitchen remodel. Sheet metal can be easily attached to the underside of the cabinet for protection.

6. Provide Cabinet Access. Horizontal kitchen cabinet doors that lift up or flip up (shown below), as well as sliding doors, elongate the space and provide access without doors swinging in one’s face.

7. Cabinet Drawers. Deep pot drawers in a galley kitchen may be a better choice than cabinets with rollout shelves behind doors. Removing the pot at the front of the drawer may only require opening it 12 inches, whereas rollouts need wider doors fully opened to access the shelves.

8. Organize the Look. When the amount of appliances equals the cabinetry or when the row of base cabinets is a different color than the appliances, place a matching cabinet panel on the dishwasher or match the cabinet doors to the appliances. This will eliminate what I call ‘the missing tooth look.’

9. Unify the Look. Having the kitchen sink and the countertop the same color achieves a more unified look (shown below). Materials that blend with a sink include stainless steel, slate and Corian. A black quartz sink can also successfully blend into a dark countertop.

10. Create Height & Contrast. Achieve height by coordinating the cabinet above the refrigerator with the refrigerator color to add a strong vertical, cohesive form. Having the refrigerator cabinet touch the ceiling with all others a little lower creates a contrast.

11. Use Horizontal Cabinets. The perception of a longer kitchen space can be achieved with an arrangement of horizontal cabinets (shown below). Horizontal doors create linear movement but act as a headband in reducing the perception of height when placed above regular swinging doors.

12. Add Detail. To relieve the monotony of all solid cabinets: a) insert a small open shelf, b) design an interesting cut-out in a flat-panel door, or c) insert clear or textured glass. Don’t overdo it, however, as an abundance of objects can be too visually busy in a limited space.


– By Mark Rosenhaus, Rosenhaus Design Group