KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Creativity

Aug 17 2018

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5 Ways to Make Any Kitchen a Stylish Sanctuary


You don’t always have to shoot the budget to have a kitchen with a unique design statement. You might, however, have to forgo the temptation to emulate the trend of the moment in exchange for investing in a look that is authentically your client’s. Instead, inject their own personality, make it versatile to allow for different moods, and you will have something timeless that will always give your client joy. Read on, and I’ll show you how.

Own Color

A favorite color is one way to create a personal statement in the kitchen. Perhaps your client embraces all color bright and bold. If this is your cup of tea, allow yourself open space and glass-front cabinets to show your client’s true color in all its glory. I recommend keeping the fixed elements such as flooring and countertops neutral, so you can play more with color in ways that are versatile. This would include paint, dishes, artwork and decorative items. A nice, crisp white is always a great backdrop to vibrant hues. If your client has an adventurous soul, create a focal point like a beautiful backsplash using their favorite color. Just keep it over one area, such as the stove. Less is more, and you don’t want to dilute the power of the statement.

Embrace Architecture

Believe me, I have tried to “correct” a room. Sometimes you can, but often it just doesn’t work. I have had much better results when I embrace the fixed conditions I am faced with when creating a new design. These issues can include angles, bump outs, ceiling height differences and the age and era in which a home was built. Your client’s space should look like it belongs. This happens when you match the style of your design to the home. In fact, I always try to look for clues such as arches and fixed architectural elements that I will repeat in the design. If the kitchen “goes with” the home, it will always be right.

Go Within

The way you customize the cabinet interiors is always based on the way your clients live. Think about it. Is there one particular item that just doesn’t have a home with enough space in the kitchen? It could be food storage containers, pots or even trash! It’s different for everybody. Even if they have a small kitchen you can maximize function.

Customize Work Centers

Every kitchen has a work center for food prep, clean-up and cooking. Sometimes in small kitchens they overlap, but those are the basics. Add touches to customize your client’s kitchen. Think media center or beverage center to house coffee or tea and accoutrements. How about a pet center? It could be as easy as designating a certain space or cabinet and tricking out the inside. It can be planned in a new kitchen or created in your existing space.

Artful Detail

Artful detail can literally be art such as paintings and sculpture, but it can also be beautiful handmade utilitarian items, family treasures or books. If you have the room, I encourage you to try and leave some open space to display such items. This is perhaps the easiest way to make a neutral space very personal and joyful to be in.

Aug 08 2018

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Introducing Sweeten’s Design Trade Renovation Program

Sweeten, a service that matches renovators and the design trade with vetted general contractors, has recently launched a VIP program for designers. Sweeten is absolutely free to the renovator; its network of contractors pays a small fee when they are hired through Sweeten. The company has nearly $900 million in construction projects in the pipeline and has been called the “Renovation Game-Changer” by Domino and one of America’s Hottest Companies” by Inc. magazine. If you have a client looking to renovate their home or business and are in need of a general contractor, you can use Sweeten to find the best general contractor for the project, and you’ll be rewarded with a $500 Visa gift card if they use the service. KBB spoke with Sweeten’s Randi MacColl, chief marketing officer, and Tyler Miller, marketing manager, to find out more.

What are the benefits of joining Sweeten?
When a homeowner or designer posts a project on our site, they are matched with three to five vetted contractors based on scope, timeline, budget, location and style. They can then check reviews and photos of previous work, decide whom they’d like to meet and get estimates. A project advisor is available to evaluate the bids, if they’re interested, and then monitors the progress at key stages. When the project is finished, we photograph and tell the story of the transformation on our blog, crediting and linking to the designer, and post it on our Instagram to our 500k followers. We provide the photography to the designer free of charge and often get placements on design media, including DominoArchitectural Digest, The Nest and more.

Design by Andrea Brodfuehrer of New York City-based Von B Interiors

How does the referral program work?
Members of the design trade handling the general contractor bidding process on behalf of their clients receive a $500 Visa gift card for every client who signs a contract with a Sweeten general contractor. To get started with this new Design Trade VIP Program, simply register with Sweeten, select “Start a renovation project,” and post your client’s project. While filling out the project details, select “representing owner” so Sweeten can follow up and confirm your eligibility as a professional in the industry. Learn more about the program and how Sweeten helps the design trade at https://sweeten.com/architects-designers

How many people can a designer refer?
You can refer an unlimited number of people, and we encourage you to share with as many as you would like.

Design by Robin Rathmann- Noonan of New York City-based Robin R-N

Who is eligible to participate?
You must be a professional in the design space with a valid employer or business. Upon posting your project, you’ll be prompted to provide a few details to confirm your eligibility.

To earn a reward, your client referral must be a new customer to Sweeten and not previously a customer under another email address or alias in our system.

Where does Sweeten plan to go next?
We hope to someday open in every major city in the U.S. Right now, we are available in the New York City and Philadelphia areas, but the plan is to be in eight cities by 2020. We also are working to connect the Sweeten community with a regular series of local mixers, as well as offering educational resources. Designers and architects tell us they send our cost and process guides to their clients as proof of what things cost!

Aug 03 2018

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Design that Heals


As designers and architects, we have a responsibility to protect the health, safety and well-being of our clients and, by extension, the broader public. But can our designed environments go one step further and actually help us heal, too?

Wherever one is in the course of sickness or healing, our physical surroundings can change the way we feel and, as a result, help catalyze and speed up the healing process. We are constantly exchanging energy with the environment around us, from the land, water, plants, trees, sky and stars. Thus, where we live, work, sleep and receive treatment directly impacts our health, vitality and ability to heal.

Biophilic Design: The word “biophilia” stems from the Greek meaning “love life.” Research suggests that both natural and man-made biophilic environments exert a healing effect on the human body. For example, significant health benefits are observed and measured in neighborhoods with tree-lined streets (Karden et al., 2015).

Biophilic design reflects a person’s inherent need for nature and is a discipline that inspires the integration of natural materials and renewable natural resources. I believe biophilic design is healing for both the architect and the user, just as living, breathing structures are energetically nourishing and stimulating.

Homes: A holistically balanced home is essential for our body’s regenerative processes. If we design our homes – particularly our bedrooms and kitchens – to be as healthy and balanced as possible, our bodies are able to heal and detoxify at a faster rate. Some of my favorite interior design strategies for this include: using organic and renewable materials, prioritizing natural colors, layering in greenery and implementing thoughtful lighting design.

Healthcare Facilities: The design of healthcare facilities has been influenced by a number of trends, including elements of biophilic design, in recent years. A common theme has been a focus on patient experience. Whether it’s creating single-patient rooms with residential touches to make them feel more inviting or providing access to sunlight, views of nature or beautiful artwork, it’s clear that the healing process is supported by promoting patient comfort and satisfaction in the design of hospitals and outpatient medical centers.

Jul 12 2018

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Member Advantages

By Loren Kessell, NKBA

Sometimes the need for a career change and passion for the kitchen and bath industry meld together to ignite someone’s spark. Paula Kennedy, CMKBD, and a member of KBB’s Editorial Advisory Board, is one of those people. She is celebrating her 20th year in the kitchen and bath industry and as a member of the National Kitchen & Bath Assn. (NKBA).

“I fell in love with kitchen and bath design, as it offered my left brain the joy of digging into the technical details and my right brain the ability to play with space and color,” said Kennedy.

                              Photo by Willett Professional Pictures

After reinventing herself – she previously held a corporate job – Kennedy dove headfirst into the industry and continues to excel. For the NKBA, she has served as the vice president of membership, treasurer, vice president of programs, chapter representative and president of its Puget Sound Chapter. She has also served on local and national committees and has been a Voices from the Industry (VFTI) speaker.

Kennedy spoke to the NKBA about her experiences with the association and her member profiles.

NKBA: What do you consider the best benefits of your membership?
Kennedy: Professional growth was huge for me! I feel like I grew up in this industry. Being a volunteer allowed this shy, quiet girl to become a confident, well-spoken leader, business entrepreneur, mentor, teacher and industry expert. I never would’ve dreamed of being that 20 years ago. Continuing education gives me credibility. Partnering and collaborating on inventing new products, curriculum development, speaking and consulting in creating specifier loyalty outreaches and programs also expand and diversify my career.

NKBA: How has your chapter benefited you?
Kennedy: Ongoing local participation allowed me to have local industry and consumer presence and visibility. Being involved in the local chapter, however, has given me incredible professional growth that I may not have gotten otherwise. And, in 20 years I grew personally from a wallflower to a teacher and speaker. Being involved allowed me the opportunity to learn and grow. I remember my first chapter meeting. Up front talking was a woman who was the chapter president, and I remember thinking, “I could never do that.” But 20 years later, I was the chapter president and on the national board and teaching!

NKBA: Did attending meetings help you make professional connections?
Kennedy: The resources I gained spanned from manufacturers and suppliers that aided my design business early on in my career and even still today. I also connected with magazines for writing articles. Winning design competitions allowed my work to be published. Later in my career, it offered me new and current opportunities of product inventions, CEU development and curriculum development for manufacturers.

NKBA: What have you learned at chapter presentations?
Kennedy: Ongoing education to retain my certification, product knowledge and business development. Johnny Grey truly inspired me to think outside the box, think about kitchens of tomorrow and to completely think differently about my approach to design. Also, Canyon Creek Cabinet Co. — local in Washington — hosted us at the plant and let us use distressing tools on raw cabinet doors. Then, they stained and finished them for us and sent the door sample to us to keep! I may be a creative right-brain designer, but I’m also a hands-on, left-brain geek. I need hands-on and soak it up talking to the engineers.

NKBA: What do you love about the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show?
Kennedy: I’ve attended 19 of the last 20 years, and now I have friends in the business. I also love seeing everything that’s new.

NKBA: How do you share your knowledge?
Kennedy: Through VFTI, blog posts, magazine articles, NKBA special committees, being a Chapter CEU provider, mentoring new members, mentoring local students and teaching at a local college. Also, I’m part of the KBB Editorial Advisory Board.

NKBA: Have you ever been a VFTI speaker or considered becoming one?
Kennedy: Yes, from nearly the beginning of the VFTI program! I have three [presentations] and it’s hard to choose. I think I’d love to highlight “Ignite Creativity,” as it has the biggest following, and it’s where my heart and soul is — inspiring others to go beyond their self-induced limitations to live a creative life that will reignite their careers, satisfaction and lead to living a more meaningful life.

NKBA: How do you mentor the next design generation?
Kennedy: This is what it’s all about! I mentor by connecting new members, mentoring local students as a guest speaker, and I serve on two advisory councils and teach at a local college part time.

NKBA: Have you created opportunities on the chapter level?
Kennedy: I’ve helped other new board members become speakers, I’ve helped develop new programs and processes, and as a region director I put on regional chapter officer training, I did local chapter officer training for years — even after not being a chapter representative anymore.