KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Kelly Morisseau

Kelly Morisseau

Kelly Morisseau is a second-generation Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD) and a Certified Interior Designer (CID) in California. During her 25-year career, she has designed from Vancouver Island to Silicon Valley, served as a judge for both the U.S. and Canadian NKBA design competitions and won awards for her kitchen and bath designs. Her work has been featured in a variety of design magazines, including Bay Area Spaces and Better Homes and Gardens. When Morisseau is not working on her current day job at Main Street Kitchens, an award-winning design/build firm, she studies design, trends and generational behavior for her widely read blog, Kitchen Sync. Morisseau understands and empathizes with homeowners and the challenges they face as they remodel their homes. As the subtitle of her blog states, "Some people jog to get their heart rates up; I design kitchens."

Apr 24 2012

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Photo imagery tile at Coverings

For the past few years, the European tile industry has been buzzing about how digital inkjet technology has transformed the tile industry. If you were at Cersaie in Italy last year, you would have already seen the new introductions of tile that looks like marble, limestone and wood, but are actually digital printing on porcelain tile.

This year at Coverings in Florida, the photo imagery tile was on display in full force.

While we in North America may prefer to specify natural products, Europeans are facing a short supply and are very conscious of cradle-to-grave sustainability.

For those of us in the kitchen and bath industry, this will provide some really strong applications for us. How many of us have directed a busy young family away from wood in the kitchen or marble in a child’s bathroom because of the maintenance and wearing issues? With digital imagery on porcelain, we’ll now have the option of the look with the durability and easy care of porcelain.

Here are some of the examples I saw at Coverings:

Images in marble from Grespania

Images in Marble: Cinema HDP, Ivory Lace from Florida Tile

Images in marble: Re-Use recycled tile from Provenza Tile

Images in marble #2: Roberto Cavalli

Images in wood: American Heritage, Spice from Marazzi USA

More images in wood: Madeira Cortex, Firenze from Lamosa Tile

More wood: Provenza tile

Until next time,

Dec 06 2011

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3 tips we can learn from the dental industry

“The best and cheapest dentistry is when the right thing is done extremely well the first time and it lasts.” —unknown

I went to the dentist last month and, like most people, wasn’t looking forward to it. However, this time I was struck by how well the dental industry is set up to soothe fears and what we could take away from its business model.

In many ways, both construction and dentistry are very similar. Whether people are patients or clients, all feel some level of anxiety before they even walk through our doors. Here’s where dentist offices excel and what we can take away from their business model:

1. Calm, friendly support staff. I was a typical client: I hadn’t been in awhile, didn’t know what anything cost and was afraid I’d be paying heavily in both discomfort and dollars. That first phone call to the office helped. The receptionist responded in a friendly, modulated voice, sounded happy to hear from me, was quick to answer questions and reassured me that it would be as painless as possible.

What are clients hearing in that first phone call to you? How are you soothing their anxiousness? Are you rushed or impatient? What message are you conveying with your tone, your answers, or even the speed of your sentences? If you don’t have time to answer the phone because you’re an independent
and on the road, can you consider a phone answering service?

2. Clear explanations. From the time I entered the reception room to my time with the dentist, everything was laid out. I was provided options on whether I wanted to get all my work done at once or broken down to be easier on the wallet. A key point: Once I made my decision as to how I wanted to proceed, the decision itself was greeted with enthusiasm, like I’d made the best choice.

When I was in the chair, the dentist explained what I might experience—everything from the sounds to the degree of discomfort I might experience. Once I knew what to expect, my level of anxiety dropped to (almost) nothing. Are you informing your clients what they might expect? More importantly, are you telling them how it’ll make their life easier once the project is done?

3. Take care of what you have. How many of us spend time discussing with our clients how to best care for all the new products we have selected? In this, we’re slightly different than the dental industry. While failure to upkeep basic standards in a home can be very dangerous or even life-threatening, we rarely see that in the homes we’re working on.

However, today’s newer finishes and products require a completely different style of cleaning and maintenance from our parents’ homes. Can you consider printing out a hand-out (dentists are extremely good at that) or providing a small sample of the correct cleaning products? Are you addressing their lifestyle and what future details they might need in their home to maintain the quality over the years?

I could get into how they make it as easy as possible to pay, but that’s a story for another day.

Until next time,


Nov 02 2011

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Changing wood colors? No problem

If you’ve ever designed with cherry or lyptus or any of the woods that undergo a rapid color change after they’re installed in the home, you know we have a couple of challenges.

One is educating the customer that we’re designing their color choices for the woods after they change and cautioning them that until the doors and trim age, all the colors won’t look exactly right.

The second is dealing with exactly what color of wood putty we need to fill holes—do we match the color now with the understanding that it won’t match down the road? Or do we guess what the color will be down the road and warn the client now that the putty won’t match at the beginning?

I prefer the latter, but it does take some skill to know what the color will be. If the installer is experienced, there are no worries. If not, then consider this tip:

Always keep two samples of a door, one new and one a couple of years old, especially if it is in a wood that changes color. Send the older door out to the job site for the installer to color-match the putty during installation.

Of course, there will always be slight variations, but I thank our own cabinet installer, who has extensive experience in wood installations, who suggested this tip to me a while back.

Until next time, Kelly

Oct 14 2011

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Understated: The New Trend?

I’ve been noticing a pattern in client requests lately—a softening of colors to monochromatic or soft blends, and a retreat from showpieces. The “flash” is on its way out; understated is in.

This doesn’t mean scaling back; if anything, quality is up. What I’ve been seeing is pro and luxury appliances in bigger demand by my clients than previously, a request for higher-end custom cabinets, and willingness to spending more on lighting fixtures. However, each item no longer fights for supreme “look at me” presence in the kitchen. The varying multiple heights of cabinets are disappearing. Counter edges are square or very simplified. Streamlined is the new byword.

Understated whites and warm tones, streamlined hoods. Design by Joan DesCombes, Joan DesCombes Kitchen Design. For more images, click here.

Is it due to the economy—the sense that conspicuous spending shouldn’t be, well, conspicuous? Sure. I think that that’s partly to do with it. It’s also due to the clientele I serve and my part of the world.

Yet, as a whole, I think our basic human wiring is looking for a cocoon or place from which to hide from the stresses and high pace of everyday. Whether the rooms are monochromatic white on white, or the soft grays, or the browns and warm tones, clients are looking for a safe haven before bragging rights.

Let me know what you’re seeing.

Until next time, Kelly