K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Creativity

Oct 09 2017

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Living Big in Small Spaces

The Decatur Tiny House Festival – a celebration of living small – took place last week in Decatur, Ga. Organized by Tiny House Atlanta and City of Decatur, the festival offers three days of thought-provoking speakers and more than 20 innovative tiny houses to tour.

KBB spoke with downsizing experts Claudia Morris Barclay and Catherine Lee, who presented “How to Downsize and Organize Your Way to Happiness” during the festival, to find out more about this trend.


KBB: Why do you think the tiny house movement is growing?
Lee: I think people are realizing that keeping up with the Joneses isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. A bigger house not only means a bigger house payment, it means more upkeep, astronomical utility bills and rooms that go completely unused. With a tiny house you can’t have any of that extra stuff that isn’t bringing you happiness.

There’s also the environmentally friendly aspect of the tiny house movement. People are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment. Tiny houses require less than a medium-to-large single-family home, and that’s incredibly appealing.

Morris-Barclay: Many people also now work remotely, and tiny houses on wheels in particular give them the option to live a more nomadic lifestyle if it suits them. They can continue the work they love, from home, in any location in the world. For retirees or people with different ability levels, who may not want to live a nomadic lifestyle, a tiny house on a foundation can be a great option. The tiny house movement, ultimately, creates options. Everyone, no matter your lifestyle, has a place within the movement and are not restricted by income, location, lifestyle, age or ability level.”


KBB: What can the average homeowner do to minimize their belongings?
Lee: Homeowners who live on their own can probably be more ruthless and quick about minimizing, whereas households with kids might have to take a step-by-step approach. One technique that is less intimidating than a giant purge is the one-in-one-out policy. If you purchase a pair of shoes, you have to get rid of a pair you currently own. Another way to ease into minimalizing is keeping a laundry basket in a closet that you fill with items to give away. When the basket gets full, it’s time to make a trip to a donation center.


Morris-Barclay: Pull everything out where you can see it. You will soon realize that you have duplicates of items because the original was buried so deep in a storage area that you forgot it existed. Ditch the duplicates. Take note of the things that you actually use every day. If you haven’t seen it or touched it in six months or more, get rid of it. Move into a smaller space. It’s easier to find the motivation to let go of unnecessary things if you are tripping over them constantly because you have no assigned place to keep them. Clutter is much more distressing in a smaller space.”


KBB: Why do you believe less can make you happier?
Lee: Having less is incredibly freeing. A lot of times you don’t realize how stressed out you are by all of your stuff until you start getting rid of things. I think so many people are overwhelmed by their possessions and know they’re unhappy about them but are also equally scared to get rid of them. Once you get over the hump of letting go, minimalizing becomes much easier.



Morris-Barclay: A lot of stress is created by the presence of ‘stuff,’ especially the pretense of things that lack a specific purpose. When you do have the urge to de-clutter, there is often a feeling of guilt associated with getting rid of things that have monetary or sentimental value. The less you have, the fewer restrictions there are on where you can go and what you can do – translating to fewer decisions an individual has to make on a daily basis.

Catherine Lee started her blog, AsianCajuns, with her twin sister in 2007. After writing about fashion and style for eight years, they realized their interests had moved away from trendy clothes and fast fashion to simplifying their style and minimizing their lives. They revamped AsianCajuns to focus on their journey of living with less – posting weekly regarding minimalizing your wardrobe, organizing your closet and applying the KonMari method – a de-cluttering technique – to your entire home. She is the downtown development manager for the City of Decatur.

Claudia Morris-Barclay is the entertainment and lifestyle consultant for ClaudiaMB Consulting and is known as a dynamic problem solver who offers her clients resourceful, inventive and attainable solutions for modifying their spaces. Claudia has been working in conjunction with the Container Store for more than seven years, is a tiny house enthusiast and is an original member of Tiny House Atlanta.

Oct 02 2017

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Understanding the Creative Mind

       “Creativity is more than a career, it’s a way of life!” – Paula Kennedy

Creative personalities are as varied as there are individuals; like the book from my generation, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus,” which is way too simplified compared to reality. But just like in that book, there are enough commonalities that we can attempt to help those of us driven to understand what makes us tick.

Years ago I discovered this great book on the topic, “A Whole New Mind-Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future,” by Daniel Pink.

First, to understand creativity we have to start with the fundamentals of how our brain works.

The right brain is all about this present moment; it thinks in pictures and learns kinesthetically through movement of our bodies. It processes information in forms of energy streaming simultaneously through all our sensory systems and explodes into an enormous collage of what this present moment feels like, looks like, smells like, tastes like and sounds like.

The left brain equally important! It thinks linearly and methodically and is designed to take that collage of the present moment; the it goes to work to pick out the minute details. It then associates all that with past knowledge and finally projects into the future the possibilities. It’s also the brain chatter in our head, reminding us of the grocery and to-do lists. It’s a calculating intelligence.

Go online to find a right brain/left brain test to see where you fall on the scale. Left brain people can be just as creative; it’s a muscle that can be practiced, and it may come more naturally to some of us.

The second bit of Brain 101 that we must understand is that the two sides are linked and NEED each other to function correctly. They were intended to communicate with each other. The synapses between the two can get disconnected.

o    There’s a reason we can’t find our keys when we are stressed and looking for them, but as soon as we stop looking, miraculously we remember and find them.


o    There’s a reason the 4 a.m. AHA moments happen or we have these brainstorms at the most inopportune time, like when I’m flat on my back at the end of yoga in Savasana!

Stress causes anxiety and a fight or flight reaction, disconnecting and severely limiting the communicating synapses from working. At 4 a.m. you were asleep in a relaxed state!

There are many things that block creativity, and in future posts we’ll explore some more specifics. Likewise, there are MANY things that help us cultivate a creative lifestyle.
Here’s one of my favorite tips. How often do you let your inner child out?


Why is this important?

All these traits support someone who is engaged with the world around them, allowing them to see the subtle connections between seemingly unrelated things.

I’ll leave you with a cute acronym I came up with.

Stay tuned for an ongoing discussion through this blog for more inspiration on how to get your creative mojo ignited!

Paula Kennedy
Ignite Creativity Guru
www.ignitecreativity.guru

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

Sep 04 2017

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When in Amsterdam


As you have seen from our most recent news feature, I spent this past week in Berlin learning about the new Miele appliance. Instead of flying straight home afterward, I took advantage of the long weekend and the location, and I visited an old friend who lives in Amsterdam.


She and her Dutch roommate live just across the street from the Dappermarkt, an open-air market, and in biking distance (because everyone bicycles there) from the city center. As great as the location was though, the greatest part of that flat was the kitchen.

If you’ve ever stayed in a European flat, the typical kitchens are mainly small and lack character or efficiency. Often even the cabinet fronts are missing – people take them when they move – and there is rarely anything other than an oven, a little countertop space, a stove and refrigerator (at least in my experience).

Her roommate Hanna explained to me that a Dutch chef, who now has a restaurant in the city center, previously owned this kitchen. He told her when she bought the place that he actually loved the galley-sized kitchen in this flat and thought he could make it work for gourmet cooking.


The countertops are stainless steel and pair with sturdy white cabinetry and modern, streamlined hardware. There is an integrated dishwasher and refrigerator, as well as a pantry pullout. The five-burner gas oven and hood are both made by Bosch. Finally, the layout is simple and makes sense, with the refrigerator closest to the dining room and the sink near the stove. To top it all off, the kitchen is mostly lit by a large window that looks out into a small garden lined with lemon trees.

After an exhausting (and rather adrenaline-filled) day of bicycling through Amsterdam traffic, I humbly asked if I could cook us dinner in the kitchen. Thankfully they were more than happy to oblige, and the combination of the nearby market and the lovely kitchen made for a great dinner with friends.