K+BB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Mar 26 2018

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Why It’s Important to Have a Great Plumbing Supplier

So you’re a kitchen and bathroom designer, you went to KBIS, and you saw all these amazing fixtures you want use. Or, you just signed your first kitchen/bathroom client, and you are wanting to find the best fixtures for them. Many designers head online to purchase fixtures or order them through a company that sells fixtures. Me? I head to my plumbing showroom, and here’s why.

For my first kitchen, my client indicated that they wanted a granite sink. I went online and found what I thought was a good one on a big-box site. I ordered it and took it over to my client’s home. Days later, he asked for the flange and the disposal switch, and I had completely forgotten to purchase those. Had I specified the sink through my plumbing supplier, my rep would have asked me the question about the flange, etc. Also, I later discovered that she had a professional-grade granite sink that came with a better warranty for my client.

Then there was the time I specified a wand and an overhead shower for a client’s bathroom, and she wanted to use each separately and then use them together. Guess what? Because of the recent drought in California, the code has changed, and that’s no longer allowed. Do you know who I learned that from? My plumber supplier, who had just taken a course on it.

Of course, there have been many times I’ve walked in with a specific budget, and my plumbing supplier has been able to steer me in the direction of a line that would fit the overall design but still allow my client to buy soap and towels for the bathroom or kitchen. I could continue to list reasons to find yourself a great plumbing supplier, but you get the gist!

By Sarah C. Wilson, Chansaerae Designs, LLC

Mar 23 2018

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Smart Home Transparency and Trust

If you have smart devices in your home like a speaker or an appliance, then you have given permission to a tech company to share your data. Consumers have given a level of trust to tech companies up until now, but that may all be changing. The loss of trust and lack of transparency by Facebook will likely have far-reaching effects – maybe none more than in the home automation and smart technology industry – which is just in its infancy.

Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri and Samsung Bixby smart assistants all share personal data with app developers; it’s part of their user agreements. Some user agreements like Houzz give ownership rights of your data to themselves – forever. Appliance companies like Samsung mine personal data from your smart devices like your refrigerator, washer/dryer and TV. In 2015, Samsung warned its SmartTV customers that every word they say in the same room as their SmartTV is being captured and sent over the Internet.

Facebook and Instagram and other social media companies pass your personal data on to other entities, such as app developers, and you agreed to this in the user agreement. In some cases, an honor system is in place between the software company and the app developer about sharing users’ data.

We now know that the self-monitoring system isn’t working out, and tech companies’ sharing of personal data needs to be regulated. Facebook and their “partner” Cambridge Analytica, a data mining company, have misused personal data of 50 million Facebook users. Facebook has known about this issue for a long time but didn’t share it until this past weekend. This lack of transparency has compounded the negativity of the misuse of personal data, and Facebook today is in crisis mode.

This Facebook debacle will hopefully shine a light on the need for a personal data bill of rights in the U.S. This is particularly important for home automation and smart kitchens, since this data is about our most personal and intimate details of home life.

Mark Zuckerberg is being asked to appear in the U.S. and the U.K. to answer for the misuse in sharing of the personal data of 50 million people. The European Union has a law on the books that will take effect on May 25, 2018. The U.S. has no one law – instead we have many laws, and some conflict others.

Without up-to-date laws in place to guarantee the rights of individuals regarding their own personal data, the home automation industry might find itself in a situation like the one Facebook finds itself in today. It’s time to open up dialogues about user rights and user agreements. It’s time to talk about and do something about trust and transparency in the home automation industry.

By Scott Koehler, Dream Kitchen Builders

Mar 19 2018

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Uniting Built and Natural Environments

By Julie Schuster

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the country’s leading governmental infrastructure initiative. It correctly asserts that: “Decisions about how and where we build our communities have significant impacts on the natural environment and on human health. Cities, regions, states and the private sector need information about the environmental effects of their land use and transportation decisions to mitigate growth-related environmental impacts and to improve community quality of life and human health.”

This philosophy doesn’t just apply to building developers and urban planners. As interior designers, we too have a professional responsibility to find ways to best unite built and natural environments – for our clients and for Mother Nature herself.

Some of my favorite practical interior design strategies for integrating built and natural environments include:

Following Nature’s Lead. Interiors should be designed with humans in mind. It is a Biophilic Design principle that people feel most comfortable in spaces that follow nature’s lead rather than monochromatic bubbles. Our common desire for hardwood floors is a subconscious human yearning for replication of the forest floor. Hence, the ground should be darkest, like a path; mid-range eye-level colors should be neutral and the ceiling should be light like the sky.

               Schuster suggests reflecting a forest in the colors of a room.

Using Renewable Materials. It goes without saying that using renewable materials in your interior design is beneficial for the environment. But did you know that building materials that have been harvested from the earth are also extremely durable and cost effective? Cork and granite are two of my favorite renewable materials to work with. Cork, which is made from the bark of cork trees, is very springy and resistant to damage. Granite is the hardest and most dense natural stone which helps maintain luster and resist staining.

Furnishing Thoughtfully. Furniture made from natural materials like rattan, wicker and hemp channel the outdoor world and are easy on the environment. Another eco-friendly idea is to purchase vintage furniture which lends itself to a beautiful, eclectic feel.

                                 Donna Dotan Photography Inc.

Layering in Greenery. Indoor plants are a fantastic representation of Feng Shui wood energy – instantly bringing interiors to life while simultaneously purifying the air we breathe. Consider clustering small plants in groups at staggered levels to give a sense of natural depth and balance.

                                Plants naturally clean the air in a home.

Prioritizing Natural Colors. Once your home is filled with renewable materials, natural fabrics and greenery, it’s important to ensure a natural color palette is used for the remainder of the space. Neutral colors with subtle variations work a charm and allow greater flexibility for accent colors later down the track. Remember, Mother Nature never goes out of style!

Implementing Considered Lighting Design. Sunlight is a crucial and all too often forgotten component of natural design. It’s also my favorite energetic disinfectant. In addition to letting the light shine in whenever possible, consider natural fiber window treatments, soft/warm light bulbs, unobtrusive fixtures and recessed lighting.

By viewing the outdoors as an extension of the home, you too can find design inspiration in the natural world and bring that powerful, organic inspiration indoors.

Julie Schuster is an active member of the New York City Design Community. In 2014 she helped establish the Interior Design Society’s (IDS) New York City Chapter, spearheading the group’s formation as the chapter’s president. Julie also works closely, and engages enthusiastically as a member of International Furnishings & Design Association (IFDA) and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). Schuster is also a proud member of the Kitchen and Bath Business Advisory Board and the Robern (Bathroom) Brand Ambassadors.

Mar 12 2018

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Space-Age Design

In interior design, anything and everything can be inspiration. For designer Chuck Wheelock of Old Greenwich, Conn.-based Wheelock Design, space travel always sparks the imagination, and he drew from this in a partnership with Perlick.

“Perlick recently celebrated their 100-year anniversary, so we wondered what might be in store for the company in the next century,” said Wheelock. “In the near future, our great events may be a return to the moon and a mission to Mars. Nothing fires our imagination like space travel.”

Inspired by science fiction, new geometry and advanced technology, the firm developed its design for ‘Deep Space Wine,’ a wine room vignette that appeared in Perlick’s booth at KBIS 2018. At the show, Perlick launched its first-ever collection of full-size residential appliances, including 24-in. column refrigerators, freezers and wine reserves, as well as cooking units. Wheelock’s design featured the brand new wine columns, along with the undercounter units.

“Exacting precision is a key element to both the science of space travel and the optimum performance required to store wine,” added the designer, who explained that they related the wine reserves to common elements of a space craft.

Control Console
Space vehicles and bases have control consoles, which place the operator in the center of the control room and centralize all functions in a single space. For the center console, the firm included Perlick’s 24-in. Signature Series because of its temperature consistency, high performance and the control the user has over storing the wine.

Oculus
Wheelock refers to the importance of the Oculus with a large framed circle at the entrance of the booth. The Oculus is an observatory module of the International Space Station (ISS). Its multiple windows are used to conduct experiments, dockings and observations of the Earth. Windows are necessary to endure confined spaces, but of course they have to be extremely durable to hold oxygen in.

Oxygen is similarly the common enemy of wine. When air gets into a bottle of wine, the wine begins to oxidize. Advanced technology monitors humidity levels in the reserve, and if necessary, pushes additional moisture into the compartment to maintain 60-70 percent humidity.


Columns and Corridors
Beginning with 2001: A Space Odyssey, corridors in space ships make science-fiction believable because they’re so utilitarian by nature. The image of a sealed passageway that clearly connects two other chambers floating in space have become an iconic, cinematic staple of science-fiction films.

This sealed corridor is referenced in the wine columns, which feature 2-in.-thick foamed-in-place walls to create a vibration-free environment. Exposure to light will also damage the wine, so dual-pane glass with UV-resistant coating protects it from harmful light. Illuminating the columns, vibrant blue or white LED roll-on theatre lighting adjusts for display or storage.

“Our display design was inspired by the concept of futuristic advancement and exploration of the unknown,” said Wheelock. “What better way to depict this idea than to pay tribute to space travel and all the imagination and attention it captures.”