KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Jul 22 2018

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A Fresh Redesign

Often the best redesigns start with the worst original spaces. For one master bath in Ramsey, N.J., the existing space had a large and unused tub under the window, a small lower vanity and shower and an exposed toilet with no privacy. Designer Julia Kleyman of Ridgewood, N.J.-based Ulrich, Inc. stepped in to transform this space into a refreshing, modern bath.

Customized Shower

She used AutoCAD to lay out the new space and took out the tub to make room for a larger shower with a seat.

The new shower boasts a glass enclosure and white and gray tile, along with a mural of blue tile to create a focal point. Sharing a wall with a bench, a niche with three differently sized shelves offers additional storage to the homeowners.

“The client wanted a large shower with a place to house many products,” said Kleyman. “We provided a custom-shaped niche for his-and-hers products to solve this issue.”

Creating Privacy

It was important to the homeowners that the toilet had more privacy without it being in a completely separate room. To do this, the design team created a peninsula that is higher than the standard counter heigh, which divides the room but still gives it the appearance of openness.

“The white color on the peninsula keeps the space flowing and light,” said Kleyman. “It also offers additional towel and product storage.”

Fresh and Contemporary

Another request the homeowner had was for a vanity built for two and an updated but traditional look. To give the mainly white and gray space warmth and a touch of the traditional, Kleyman chose a maple vanity with a dark brown finish.

“This finish gives a modern furniture touch to the large amount of cabinetry,” she said, adding that the vanity has a drawer with an outlet inside so the hairdryer can be conveniently stored.

The new vanity also contributes to the openness of the bath with a gray and white porcelain tile backsplash that extends to the ceiling, drawing the eye up.

“With a wall of large dramatic tile, the vanity is its own focal point,” said Kleyman.

Designer: Julia Kleyman, Ulrich Inc.
Photographer:Peter Rymwid

Cabinetry: Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry
Faucets: Moen
Flooring: Piepur Grigio
Mirror: Baci
Mosaic Tile: Tommy Bahama
Sinks: Kohler
Vanity Lighting: Maxim Lighting

Jul 16 2018

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Stop Hiring People Who Disappoint You

A bad hire is more than just frustrating, it’s costly. Bringing in an employee who turns out to be a poor fit will cost your company in unnecessary payroll, wasted time and possibly even unhappy customers.

Success in hiring starts long before you interview a candidate, with a process that I call “Getting Clear.” Clarity is the effort you put in before you even post a job ad or start interviewing. By determining ahead of time why you need this role, what its responsibilities will be, what results you expect from the new hire in this role and what activity levels they will need to maintain to get those results, you can create a stronger job description that sets expectations and objectives clearly up front. This will guide not only those applying for the position but the way in which you recruit, interview and, ultimately, make your final decision.

Creating this clarity requires some deep thinking into both the position and the candidate. Before hiring anyone, you need to be able to answer “Yes” to each of these questions:

1. Is it worth it? Is it worth the time, cost and energy required to hire someone? Will the end result make it worth the effort? It’s exciting to think about hiring, but it’s so important to remember all the actual work that goes into turning a hire into a successful employee.

2. Can you clearly set expectations for the activities and results? Do you have clear activity and result expectations for the first 90 days, 180 days and first year? Are you prepared to communicate it with potential hires and make sure it’s reasonable?

3. Are you ready, willing and able to train and support them for at least the next three months? Even if they have years of industry experience, it will still take time for them to get to know your products, processes and philosophy.

4. How long can you “carry” this person before they need to start paying for themselves? The reality is, it takes most salespeople four to six months to start covering their payroll costs, and non-sales positions have a similar payback time. Can you afford to wait that long?

This process isn’t simple, and there are a lot of variables to consider. But it’s much easier to get clear before you hire someone than regret it when you have an underperforming employee you’re paying to disappoint you.

Rikka Brandon is the founder and chief executive recruiter of Building Gurus, a boutique executive search and consulting firm that works exclusively with kitchen and bath and building product companies across the U.S. Rikka is a member of NKBA’s Leadership Recruitment Committee. She is also the author of the Amazon bestseller Hire Power. This article was originally published on the NKBA website here.

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.

Jul 09 2018

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City Life

The 2018 Metro Designer Showhouse, which recently took place in Edgewater, N.J., tasked a team of designers to redesign six residences within a newly built condominium, the Glass House. With 12,000 square feet of waterfront space, the Glass House showcases skyline views of Manhattan and the Hudson River in each residence.

The showhouse aims to draw attention to Edgewater Harbor and offers visitors and potential buyers a glimpse of what might be the lifestyle for someone buying a luxury condo at the Glass House – where the second of its two buildings is now being completed.

Designer Anna Maria Mannarino of Mannarino Designs, Inc. in Holmdel, N.J., put her talents to work on a three-bedroom condo. With a modern Italian style, the condo features custom wallcoverings created by the designer, as well as pieces from her new pillow line. KBB spoke with Mannarino to find out more in particular about how she introduced a botanical twist to the condo’s luxurious kitchen.

KBB: What was your inspiration behind the kitchen design?

Mannarino: I hoped to create a chef’s dream space and entertaining haven with a bit of an industrial vibe.

KBB: By what were you challenged?
Mannarino: Since this showhouse was in a brand new condo, giving an existing kitchen its own personality was the challenge. A few elements we changed were replacing chrome hardware with brass, adding a textured wallcovering to the walls of the island and adding an industrial workstation in the nook.

KBB: What materials did you use to create a botanical look?
Mannarino: The light fixture created by Flowerbox Wallgarden is made of all-natural greens, which are preserved and maintenance free.

KBB: What was your favorite part of this design?
Mannarino: The light fixture, for sure! The combination of the natural botanicals, metal frame and hanging Edison lights captivate any visitor and draw them in.”