KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Archive for Trends

Jun 07 2018

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The New Laundry Room


Unlike its dreary predecessors hidden away in a basement or side closet, today’s laundry room is becoming a celebrated and cheery space in the modern home. It gives homeowners an opportunity to create a multifunctional place fit for their particular family, and options range from including a craft table or a pet grooming area to using it also as a mudroom. This week’s KBTribeChat covered this trending space and how manufacturers are better catering to homeowners’ needs.

Trending Features

-Laundry machines now have bling – including chrome touches and unique finishes.
-The laundry room is becoming a bright and uplifting space, meant to inspire organization and cleanliness.
-Homeowners are stylizing their laundry rooms by adding cabinetry, sinks and more.
-Pet spaces – such as a feeding or grooming area – are on the rise in the laundry room.

Different Operations, Different Clothes

-Clothes are more casual and easier to clean, so there is less demand for dry cleaning or delicate washing.
-Laundry machines are operating with less water and shorter cycles, which saves both time and money for the homeowner.
-Speed-wash cycles, available on many models, is underutilized as most loads do not have heavy soil and can be washed effectively on this cycle.

Innovations in Laundry

-Automatic dispensers sense the size of the load and distribute detergent and water accordingly to save money and time.
-Connected dryers can anticipate their settings by communicating to the washer about how damp items are.
-Nearly half of all voice- and Wi-Fi-connected appliances introduced recently have been in laundry.
-There are more meaningful reasons to connect to the laundry room, allowing homeowners to start laundry remotely or know their laundry status.

Front-Load or Top-Load

Twitter users debated the pros and cons of the top-loader versus the front-loader without reaching a verdict. Along with being easier to lift clothes out of, the front-loader was found to be space saving – since they are stackable and more energy efficient. However, some users argued that front-loaders do not drain well, which can lead to mold and fungi.

The top-loader, which still makes up a majority of laundry room purchases, is now available with new features and finishes that make up for its bulkier size. Shorter cycles, Wi-Fi connectivity and more controllable options for washing cycles – all features also included in front-loaders – still make it a popular choice for homeowners.

Join next week’s KBTribeChat by searching for #kbtribechat on Twitter at 2 p.m. EST Wednesday.

May 30 2018

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On the Road in New York


The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is known as the North American platform for luxury international design, showcasing the latest in exclusive interiors and high-end furniture. However, it’s much more than furniture. Naturally, I wanted to hone in on the latest and greatest for the kitchen and bath.


I found lots of beautiful plumbing fixture booths featuring all types of sculptural freestanding tubs and faucets in the widest variety of metal finishes ever! Admittedly, the innovative furniture was the star of the show with an emphasis on bentwood – furniture literally made of bended wood – designs and mid-century modern styling. I also loved the international aspect, and one of my favorite sections was the Hand Made in Germany booth. There was a lot of Bauhaus-inspired design, and I especially loved a minimalist work center.

Another show, Wanted Design, was happening right down the street in the Terminal Stores at the same time. The venue was old warehouse chic, and there was a global focus here as well.


Wanted Design was also the venue for Modenus Talks, sponsored by LIXIL and hosted by Modenus and Design Milk. This regular series of talks is held in different locations, usually in conjunction with trade events. They are always so informative and relevant. The one we attended was “Sustaining the Sustainable Home,” moderated by Modenus Media CEO Veronika Miller and featuring materials expert Grace Jeffers.

It’s always great to have more knowledge about the materials I am specifying and to educate the public about safety and sourcing. Do you know the number one thing you can do to reduce pollution in the home? I’ll tell you because you’ll never guess: it’s removing your shoes at the front door. Your shoes track in not only dirt but also carbon monoxide! Honestly, even though some really relevant information was shared, it was also very scary.

All in all it was a great trip, topped off by a birthday dinner courtesy of my dear sister and brother-in-law at Shuka in the Village. What an amazing feast! Executive chef Ayesha Nurdjaja has a knack for flavorful combinations that feel Middle Eastern to me and are described as Eastern Mediterranean. The service was top notch too, even though it was packed for a Tuesday evening. Maybe everyone knew it was my birthday… back to work now, but at least I have some great memories to savor.

May 23 2018

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Designing a New York City Kitchen

By Alice Tedesco

The world is getting bigger, but the interiors we live in are getting smaller. As interior designers, we have faced this fact often. With a small kitchen, the smokes and smells are free to go wherever they like. It is important to plan an efficient ventilation system where it’s possible to lead smoke and smells outside. It may not always be worth moving pipes to a more centered position, and the design may be compromised in a small space.

                                     Photo Courtesy of Cesar NYC

With a small kitchen and often open-plan kitchen, the mess in the space may be frequently visible. The mess factor should be a concern for any good designer, and we need to be able to work with clients and understand their daily flow of operations that can compromise the look of a kitchen. The kitchen’s functionalities need to be planned out to make day-to-day tasks as easy as possible. Ask plenty of questions, like where is the right place for the trash? Where is the right place for the fridge? You need to prioritize and give order to the kitchen.

My Example
I designed a new-build apartment in Midtown Manhattan, which was a tiny space of just 7-ft. by 7- ft. and was directly exposed to the living room. But there was no need to panic; you don’t need a lot of space, you just need a good design.

Small kitchens are always more complicated than big one – and making a small kitchen functional is a struggle – but I had a lot of fun with this project. We designed a space that allows my clients to both live in the kitchen and living room according to their tastes and attitudes. Whenever they want to have a romantic dinner or a party, their kitchen is the perfect solution.

                                       Photo Courtesy of Cesar NYC

We compromised on the size of the appliances to give them more storage, and we integrated all the functional appliances of the kitchen, including the preparation and food storage facilities. We made sure the kitchen has a great dialogue with the rest of the living space, thanks to the double height of the counter and a careful selection of colors and finishes.

                                     Photo Courtesy of Cesar NYC

The colors were selected accordingly with the main interior pallets to unify the space visually. The main material is a white elm melamine for the bottom units, and this runs from the bottom to the shelves dividing the space for functionality and merges the peninsula with the wall. In contrast, the upper cabinets are in acid-etched glass; this finish matches the back splashes and lifts up the space since the ceiling is just 7 feet. The material combinations and the paneled appliances are the strength of the project, with the layout hiding all the visible appliances inside the kitchen.

This kitchen looks way bigger than the 7-ft. by 7-ft. space in which it is located. It’s open, fresh, and the clients just love it!

                                 Photo Courtesy of Cesar NYC

May 03 2018

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10 Ways Smart Lighting Can Enhance the Kitchen & Bath

System design and installation by Gramophone, Timonium, Md.

So much happens in the kitchen and bath that it’s often difficult to have the lights at the right intensity levels at all times. When you’re clients are cooking, they need the lights brighter; lower when they sit down to eat. As they apply makeup or shave, they’ll want the lights bright, but when unwinding in a hot bath at the end of the day, an intensity level that mimics candlelight is apropos.

In the past, we’ve relied on dimmer switches to adjust the intensity levels of the lights. While this approach still works well, smart lighting products have introduced a whole new level of convenience and control to the management of home lighting. Plus, these solutions are so much more cosmetically pleasing than the switches of yesteryear.

Here are 10 ways smart lighting can add value to the kitchen and bath:

1. Clears “Wall Acne.” It’s not unusual to see kitchen and bath walls blanketed with huge banks of light switches. There are two problems with this setup: It’s difficult to remember which switch controls which group of lights, and the numerous faceplates eat up a big chunk of wall space. Lighting keypads, by contrast, provide six to eight pushbuttons that can control all of the lights and take up only the space of a single-gang junction box.

2. Creates Activity-Based Preset Lighting Levels. Each pushbutton on a keypad can be programmed to set the intensity level of a predetermined group of lights, called a lighting “scene.” For example, a morning button on a kitchen keypad can brighten the undercabinet lights to 50 percent and the fixture over the island to 30. A cleaning button can raise every light to full intensity, and a romantic button can lower the lights to an intimate 25 percent. Likewise, in the bathroom, specific lights can adjust on the fly based on whichever button is engaged: morning, night, relaxation and so on.

Home systems design and installation by Global Custom Integrations, Hawthorne, N.Y., in this and below photo

3. Showcases Decorative Details. The wood grain of fine cabinetry, the mix of colors of a granite countertop and other visually stunning architectural details look even better with the right lighting. You designer who specializes in lighting can choose the best light source, fixture and placement, while a home systems installer can suggest the best levels of brightness.

4. Improves Comfort. With standard, non-smart lighting, the lights can feel blinding during midnight trips to the bathroom or the kitchen. A smart lighting system ensures that the lights are easy on the eyes during certain hours of the night.

5. Adds an Element of Automation. Imagine having your clients’ kitchen lights set at the perfect level when they arrive home from work. It’s possible with a smart lighting system. Driven by sophisticated microprocessors, it can adjust the lights automatically based on conditions like the time of day, occupancy and even the location of their smartphone (a feature called geofencing).

6. Personalizes the Space. Some people like a room brightly lit; others prefer an atmosphere that’s soft and subdued. A smart lighting system has the intelligence to set the lights based on who’s at home.

7. Sets the Mood. The biggest trends in home lighting are color and tunable white light. Smart LED bulbs are available that can glow in a rainbow of hues. This is all controllable through a mobile app, keypad or even voice commands. The bathroom can bask in a sea of blue to promote relaxation; a red hue can evoke a festive atmosphere when entertaining guests in the kitchen. If infusing the kitchen and bath with colored lighting seems too drastic of an approach, a subtler mood-setting alternative is “tunable white lighting.” These LED bulbs adjust their color temperature – as well as their brightness levels – to mimic daylight patterns. This can have a huge impact on the look and feel of the kitchen and bath.

8. Boosts Energy Efficiency. Dimming a light by 25 percent can cut electricity costs by 20 percent, according to Lutron Electronics. You can save even more if that light source is an LED, which uses significantly less electricity than an incandescent bulb. LED bulbs also last years longer – a huge perk if the kitchen or bath has hard-to-reach light fixtures.

9. Synchs with Music and Other Systems. Lights can go a long way toward setting the mood of a room; when a smart lighting system has been programmed to synchronize with a music system, the kitchen and bath can take on a whole new attitude. Classic music can play when the lights are dim; hip-hop when they are bright, for example. This can be easily accomplished by pressing a single button on a keypad or launching a command from a mobile app. A security system, thermostats and motorized shading can be integrated, as well, to completely alter the atmosphere of the room.

10. Provides Peace of Mind. Nobody intends to leave the lights on when they leave the house or go to bed. Lighting systems can be accessed and controlled remotely from a mobile app so that the kitchen and bath are always illuminated (or not illuminated) perfectly

Lisa Montgomery is the editor of Electronic House