K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Chelsie Butler

Chelsie Butler

Chelsie Butler is the executive editor of Kitchen & Bath Business. She has had 25 years of experience in the publications field, specializing in residential and commercial design.

Feb 22 2018

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Kitchen & Bath Tech Trends You Can’t Afford to Miss

A recent National Kitchen & Bath Association webinar gave insight into this important industry topic. As consumer expectations are increasing where technology is concerned, it is important than ever to stay on top of the trends.

Moderated by Ed Wenck, CEDIA content marketing manager, the panel included Jamie Briesemeister, CEDIA’s integration controls, sales & marketing director; Adam Gibson, CMKBD, Adam Gibson Kitchen & Bath Designs; and Christopher Wright, owner of WrightWorks, a remodeling contractor firm.

The panel covered four learning outcomes during the webinar.

Explore Current and Emerging Tech Trends and Their Application to Current and Future Projects
Briesemeister and her team attended the recent Kitchen & Bath Industry Show and were introduced to a plethora of connected appliances, as well as systems that allow users to access their homes remotely. She said voice control was huge, with many products including Alexa, and water leak detection products help homeowners save on their investment.

“We saw many ‘smart’ products, with smart meaning connected in some way to the internet or a mobile device – there is intelligence built in,” said Briesemeister. “I even saw a mirror with smart glass, which can display weather or a calendar and can also act as a touchscreen to control home devices and even email.”

KOHLER’s Verdera voice-lighted mirror with Amazon Alexa

She also said smart refrigerators add value by letting the homeowner view contents remotely (at a grocery store), and a smart stove can send alerts if it has been on too long. Gibson said the number one connected home need his clients specify is audio visual technology, followed by lighting, which can be controlled with a one-button press or a keypad.

Improve the Experience, Save Production Time, Gain Referrals
“I try to bring up the technology conversation early and ask what existing systems are in place,” said Wright. “I want to deliver options, not upselling or forcing anything on my clients, but rather adding to their quality of life. I find they are willing to pay more for the experience and the peace of mind.”

According to Gibson, every kitchen has some technological integration, but he recommends using an integration specialist to correctly do the install.

“I have learned not to be afraid because I have an integrator involved early,” he explained. “Really good electricians know their limits; they do not try anything they are not trained to do.”

The Bosch Built-in Coffee Machine with Home Connect features voice control through Amazon Alexa. 

Establish a Comfort Level with Emerging Technologies
“In the past, integrations were costly, and it was hard to make multiple systems work,” said Wright. “The early step for me was building relationships with tech pros at events and working with them on my projects.”

CEDIA also offers a database of integrators based on zip code. A good integrator is someone who will not slow down a project, who knows exactly what is out there and who does a great job.

“There are different types – those who do faster installations and those who work with a designer,” said Briesemeister. “Find out what kind you are talking to; you may need to know both.”

Tricks of the Trade
There are several advancements that can hide the technology you install in your client’s home, such as faceplates that match the surrounding material. You can also port a subwoofer through a heating and cooling vent to disguise it.

In terms of maintaining the overall project budget, Wright said there is no need to replace all the current technology in a client’s home.

“This alleviates the fear of having to start over from scratch,” he explained. “We want to present options so our clients have the power to decide what they want. Some will want the latest and greatest, and some only need the bare minimum.

Nov 20 2017

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A Showhouse for a Cause

The proceeds from this year’s Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Home for the Holidays Designer Showhouse are going to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The 8,800-sq.-ft. home, which is open to the public Thursdays through Sundays until Dec. 10, showcases the work of 20 of Atlanta’s top designers. It was built by Sheehan Built Homes and was designed by architectural firm Harrison Design. The cabinets throughout the home were designed by Bell Cabinetry & Design. Photo above by David Christensen

The kitchen, which features shades of white, gray and black, was designed by Meredith McBrearty of Meredith McBrearty Interiors. The quartzite countertops are from Levantina. Photo by David Christensen

A mudroom off the laundry space provides a seating area to take off shoes when entering the house. Plenty of storage was incorporated into this project, which was designed by Lauren Davenport Imber of Davenport Designs Ltd.

A bar off the living space designed by Robert Brown of Robert Brown Interior Design features a countertop in Striato Onyx by Levantina. Gold fixtures and hardware complement the rich, brown cabinetry. Photo by David Christensen

This enclosed shower area designed by Alice Cramer of Alice Cramer Interiors features a cotton white bench and curb in LG Viatera quartz.

The second-floor master bath designed by Patricia McLean of Patricia McClean Interiors features his-and-hers vanities, a tub from MTI Baths and LV Viatera quartz countertops.

The children’s bathroom designed by Mallory Mathison Glenn and Elizabeth Graves features a bold blue paint with splashes of red detail and a quartz countertop.

A freestanding soaking tub from MTI Baths takes center stage in the master bath on the home’s main floor, which was designed by Cathy Rhodes of Cathy Rhodes Interiors.

The ground floor powder room – our favorite room in the house – features marble countertops, DXV plumbing fixtures and whimsical wallpaper. The space was designed by Clary Bosbyshell of Margaux Interiors Limited. Photo by David Christensen

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