K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

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Jul 09 2017

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Micro-Design


New York City apartments are notoriously small, but living in small quarters is a growing phenomenon globally. Particularly in larger metropolitan areas, people are looking for less-expensive, more efficient ways of living. One solution is the micro-apartment – a studio space with the optimum minimalist layout.


Designer Ajay Chopra of New York City-based Echo Design + Architecture designed one of these spaces for a client living in Manhattan. The space is only 220 square feet, so the design team needed to make every inch count.

“Architecturally speaking, the square footage was not a lot of space to work with, especially when you’re trying to include a full apartment’s worth of functional features,” said Chopra. “The goal was to create a micro-apartment that appeared far more spacious than it actually is without sacrificing practicalities of everyday living.”


Hidden Kitchen
The team found that the best way to conceal clutter in the kitchen was by hiding it completely behind a fold-out wall, creating that illusion that the space is larger than it really is. Behind the wall, the custom kitchen cabinetry is arranged to maximize space. For example, the door and cupboard panels can be maneuvered to double up as a table.

“This clean, simplified way of living encourages you to only have what you need,” said Chopra. “Beyond that, each element in the kitchen is multifunctional, designed to keep things contained and less distracting while also providing flexible usage for each feature.”

Behind the fold-out walls are small appliances like a microwave, mini-fridge and mini-oven. Outside, the walls in the kitchen are covered in chalkboard paint to create an interactive element and add a personal touch to the space.

Natural Light
Instead of using a regular door that would open out and take up limited space, frosted sliding barn doors were used to divide the bathroom from the bedroom. The sliding features also make the studio space feel more continuous.


“We utilized a white color palette, from features like mosaic tiles to the floating sink and shelving, to make the 5-ft. by 5-ft. bathroom feel clean and open,” said the designer. “The sealed bamboo flooring creates a visual contrast from the white scheme to create further depth in the space and ensure that the white walls really pop.”

These white-paneled walls were also Chopra’s favorite part of the space.  This aspect of the design took the longest to construct because many different modular pieces were incorporated. Even the TV has the same paneling, complete with a 180-degree rotating feature that allows the viewer to see the screen from anywhere in the apartment.


“I love that the dynamic paneling minimizes excess and declutters the space, encouraging the resident to focus on experiences outside the home,” said Chopra. “Working on a project like this has made me rethink the importance of necessity versus excess, while developing an innovative solution to maximize the space that was available.”

Jun 16 2017

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Choosing to Give

Recently the second-annual St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway again raised funds for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Each raffle ticket purchased was donated to the hospital, which provides care and support for children with cancer and other life-threatening diseases cost free.


The home, built by Nies Homes, features four bedrooms, four-and-a-half  baths, a master suite, a man cave in the garage with a bonus room above, specialty wine and craft rooms in the basement and an oversized covered deck. Local cabinet manufacturer, R.D. Henry, was named local sponsor of the cause and donated cabinets for the home. Located at The Oaks in Derby, Kan., the St. Jude Dream Home has an estimated value of $420,000.

Country Kitchen
“We chose to take on this project because we think it is an amazing cause,” said Kate Caplan of Wichita, Kan.-based Kitchen & Bath Expressions, who completed the design for the kitchen and one bath in the home.

To make the kitchen feel grand and luxurious, Caplan double stacked cabinets throughout the space and used rustic, white finishes to bring in a country feel. For the island, a sleek cabinet finish called Tattered Fence from R.D. Henry was used to accentuate the piece from the perimeter cabinetry.


A new touch faucet, donated by Brizo, was selected for the main kitchen sink, along with Whirlpool appliances donated from Metro Appliances & More. Caplan chose quartz countertops, donated by Quality Granite & Marble, because of the material’s growing popularity. Light fixtures from Accent Lighting with a glass interior and black lining add a final modern touch to the contemporary country design.


Bold Powder Room
“The powder bath is always an area where we can really get creative and use different and bold finishes you wouldn’t normally see in a bathroom,” said Caplan.

In the powder room, the design team wanted to create a fun and creative space that would make a statement. A gold faucet and gold hardware stand out against a gray vanity with an above-counter sink. Gold pendant light fixtures and bath accessories also highlight the mosaic tile backsplash, which includes white, gray and gold tiles.


“It was a rewarding experience to see a community of building contractors and vendors come together selflessly to donate their time, services and products to make this a reality,” said the designer.

Jun 12 2017

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Back to the Original


Gurdon Wattles, a banker credited with funding the first movie studios in Hollywood, owned a mansion in the early part of the 20th century in Hollywood. Last year was the first time the mansion was open for public viewing, to host the Los Angeles Wattles Mansion Showcase.

Happening for the second year in a row, the showcase this time presented a challenge to the designers: celebrate Hollywood with a certain time period in mind. We talked with the bathroom designers in a previous story, but we of course wanted to know more about the kitchen. Designer Kathleen Beall of Dana Point, Calif.-based Beall Design Group, chose the 1920s as her inspiration in designing the home’s kitchen suite.

“I chose the 1920s and the movie ‘The Artist’ to represent the era when the original family, the Wattles, chose to live fulltime in the home,” said Beall, adding that it had been a vacation home for the them up until then.

She had been told that the city, which owned the property, was having difficulties renting out the mansion because the kitchen was in such disrepair. Working with her plumbing showroom, Beall started to restore the kitchen to its original glory.


Restoration Challenges
“The largest hurdle was that I wanted to retain the historic and original Carrera marble herringbone countertop, which meant we would need to restore the original cast-iron sink,” she said.

Since the backsplash tile was shattered and needed replacement anyways, she was able to remove the sink for offsite restoration and replace the unoriginal faucet with a period-style model. By using the original sink, the designer did not have to take out any of the original Carrera herringbone countertop tile.

“My tile installer reattached the herringbone tile counters and cut out and replaced the original grout with new grout,” said Beall. “The counters are a major source of conversation for those visiting the space, as they represent an era of craftsmanship.”


Vintage Look
After replacing the backsplash with subway tile similar to the original, she updated the kitchen appliances with those that feature a period look, like the 1908 La Cornue range. The 1970s-era wall faucet was replaced with a period-style Rohl wall faucet, and a new touch drain was installed. When the house was built in 1908, gas light fixtures were used. The fixtures Beall chose were inspired by the originals and maintain a light and airy look in the kitchen.

“Now a year later, the city has told me that because of the kitchen restoration, the mansion experienced non-stop rentals this past year and often had a waiting list,” said the designer. “They attribute this to the painstaking attention to detail in our restoration of the sink areas and the overall space.”



Photography by Mary E. Nichols

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