K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Chelsie Butler

Chelsie Butler

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

Apr 26 2017

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Three Tips to Win Customer Trust


After a customer picks us as their bathroom remodeler, we send them a quick survey. At the end of it is an open-ended question, “Why did you select us?” I ask this because I want our whole company to know why and then emphasize our best traits to grow the business.

The most common answer is a simple one: our customers choose us because they trust us. We will be working on their home and in their home, doing projects that will keep their family comfortable and improve the value of their most valuable possession. Of course it’s about trust.

Somewhere along the way, our customers decide we are the experts they trust the most. That can be from meeting our sales team, talking to our office staff or reading something about us online. You can earn more customers by investing in the right resources to build your credibility, and here are the resources we recommend emphasizing:

Awards. Think of all the ways you can stand out from your competition. You’re established, you’ll be there if problems arise, and your installers are the best in the business. These qualities can all be embodied in the awards you have won. We showcase ours prominently when talking with potential customers. The message boils down to this: experts in our field think we run an excellent business, so you can trust us to treat your home like our own.

– Testimonials & Reviews. Customers want an easy way to tell they can trust you with their home. What better way to communicate that than to quote customers who trusted you previously and had that trust rewarded with excellent work? If you can, provide photos of the work you’ve done to go along with the reviews. After all, seeing is believing. New customers seek out reviews and choose you based on how you have treated your previous customers.

– Warranties. This is a procedure I would strongly recommend building into your business, and it ties into winning awards and earning great testimonials. Stand by your products, and do it in writing. If you present a written promise that you will stand by your work, that reinforces the trustworthy impression already given by your awards and reviews.

If your customer hears from multiple sources that you are trustworthy, and you stand behind your work in writing, you are setting yourself up for success. When you think about vital assets for your company, few are as important as your credibility. As a credible company, your customers will come to the table already trusting you to do right by them. Highlighting your awards, reviews and excellent warranties – you build that asset and in turn build your business.

Allen Erskine is the owner of Kansas City-based Alenco Inc. – in business and growing since 1986 and ranked in the top 100 largest remodelers nationwide.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apr 21 2017

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Delta Faucet Event Unveils New Products

KBB was recently invited to attend a press event at Delta Faucet Co.’s new Manoogian Center, a $15,000-million addition to the company’s headquarters in Indianapolis that celebrates its founder, Alex Manoogian.

We were given a look behind the scenes to see where the inspiration for the company’s designs originates, how they test packaging to ensure the products are getting to their customers safe and sound, how they incorporate new technology into their collections and how they test products for various certifications.

“We think faucets are of the utmost importance,” said Brian Noble, senior director, Brizo and marketing services. “After all, people interact with them multiple times a day.”

The Model Shop in the Innovation/Research Lab on the lower level

In terms of inspiration, Judd Lord, senior director of industrial design, and his team do a lot of traveling to national and international events to study various trends, including furniture and even automotive.

“We want to get out there and activate our senses,” he explained, adding that the creation of entire collections from start to finish takes anywhere from 18 months to two years.

My personal favorite was the RSVP Collection – a very literal, elegant take on the female figure.

Regarding new technology, it is helpful to keep looking forward to determine future needs.

“I started working on our H2O Kinetic technology in 2001 because I knew water regulations and the green movement were coming,” said Paul Patton, senior R&D/regulatory manager. “It’s important to pay attention to regulations coming down the road.”

What’s New for Delta and Brizo

Whereas research points to aesthetics being first on consumers’ lists of requirements, function/performance is following along closely. Brizo takes both seriously with its fashion-forward approach, as well as tech elements that include an electronic proportioning valve offered in some of its collections.

The Litze Bathroom Collection was introduced at KBIS 2016, and now the brand offers the Litze Kitchen Collection (above), which will be available later this year. It is available with three different spout options, two choices of handles and five finishes. When asked during KBIS 2017, attendees were most enamored with the black and gold split-finish option.

Brizo is also introducing the Vettis Bath Collection (above), which was inspired by the Vettisfossen waterfall in Norway, and both brands have created new display systems to elevate their products in the showroom setting (Delta below left, Brizo below right).

Mar 10 2017

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Times Are Changing in the Kitchen and Bath Industry

It’s striking to me how much has changed in the kitchen and bath industry over the past 10 years.

There have been many changes in communication, product sourcing, smart technology and consumer awareness, and they can all be traced back to the release of the first iPhone in 2007. Smartphones have changed the ways we communicate, shop and learn, and they have changed the way we live in our kitchens. Mal Corboy, a well-known Auckland, New Zealand, kitchen designer says all of this evolution has changed the design process. (http://i.stuff.co.nz/lifestyle/home-property/83715964/howmuch-has-the-modern-kitchen-changedin-the-past-10-years)

Most residential design/build project communications used to be done in person, by phone and by email. Dream Kitchen Builders still uses those tools, but now we also use messaging and social media apps, and we use these business tools to communicate via mobile devices.

The amount of kitchen and bath information that’s available to consumers is enormous and growing larger every day. This has made us all educated buyers and given consumers more control of each aspect of a design/build project.

We’re now experimenting with smart appliances and wireless devices in the kitchen and bathroom that use artificial intelligence to help us get things done. I cook, so I give voice commands to Siri to set a timer to adjust my music and more while I’m cooking. I’m hands free, so I don’t have to stop what I’m doing. Smart technology hasn’t gone mainstream yet, but appliance and device makers are designing and producing amazing new kitchen and bath products, and early adopters are trying them out and talking about them to their friends.

Last but not least, every kitchen and bath product seems to have almost limitless options and price points and many include free shipping. Clients are now buying kitchen and bath products online and sourcing them internationally. Kitchens and bathrooms have always evolved, but the changes we are now seeing are so revolutionary that they are disrupting the way kitchen and bath business is done – changing the relationship between professionals and consumers and changing the way we live.

 Scott Koehler is the owner of Dream Kitchen Builders, a design-build firm in North Carolina.