2018 Home Project Wish List

For many people, January 1 signifies it’s time to create their annual home-project wish list. Two of the most desired projects are remodeling the kitchen and bathrooms.

20170927_152318    DSCN0984

Memories of the holidays are still fresh, and perhaps your home did not perform well with the additional traffic. Frequent collisions between people in the kitchen… the carpeting in the hall bath stayed wet the entire time family was visiting… the oven temperature was inaccurate and you scorched your signature dish… You get the idea.

Now is the perfect time to make a solid plan and ensure future holidays are a joy. To make the process less stressful, it is helpful to clarify a few things first:

  • How much do you intend to invest in the project? Determining a realistic budget is one of the most difficult tasks in a remodeling project. Unless you have unlimited funds, skipping this step can result in headaches and disappointments for you, your designer, and the entire project team.
  • What is your preferred timetable for completing the project? It is easy focus on the actual construction time and forget about the time required for planning. It can take an average of 3 to 6 months to finalize layout, products, and finishes.
  • Do you have a go-to contractor or will there be a bidding process to complete once the design is final?

Each of these points has many details to consider. Your designer is a great resource to help you work through these steps and understand how selections, materials, and finishes affect price.

There are also publications, such as Remodeling News and Fine Homebuilding, that cover budget, materials, and construction issues, to help educate you.

You CAN have the kitchen and bathroom of your dreams! All it takes is a little planning.

Happy New Year and Happy Planning!


Vegas, Baby… What I did on my KBIS 2014 trip

Early last year, the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced an agreement to co-locate the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) with the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in Las Vegas, Nevada beginning in February 2014 under the banner of Design & Construction Week. There is a lot of crossover between the two industries, and what a great way to showcase products from both industries while saving professionals a few bucks on travel expenses.

Never having been to Las Vegas, I was also excited to see the nearby sites. I’d heard horror stories about checking into hotels in Las Vegas, but I had no problems. I’d spent a long day traveling and was looking forward to plopping down on the bed and relaxing as I waited for my travel companion, roomy, and dear friend to arrive. When I walked in, the curtains were drawn to one side, the window was open (yes! a hotel room with operational windows) and this was the view greeting me!


You’ve probably been to a convention or two for whatever your profession is, so you might understand the excitement that is generated.

Having both shows at the same venue was a bit over-stimulating! I felt like a kid in a humongous candy store. Many exhibitors injected fun and history into their booths and their excitement was contagious.

Merillat Cabinets showcased a model mid-century kitchen that many of us could have had in our childhood homes. They kept a supply of red aprons on a coat rack nearby and invited booth visitors to pose for pictures to be featured on their Facebook page. A very smart use of social media to get designers to visit their page and learn what they’re up to. Of course, Debbie and I were game and reenacted scenes of cooking. I’m mashing potatoes and Debbie is washing out milk bottles.


Best of KBIS

The Best of KBIS is an annual competition that showcases the best of the kitchen and bath industry. Entries were judged by the members of the Modenus BlogTour Las Vegas. Winners were selected based on functionality quality/durability, flexibility, aesthetics/style and innovation and were announced on Wednesday, February 5th at NKBA’s Center Stage. Following is a list of some of my favorite products from the show. I was thrilled to see that they won places on Best of KBIS:

  • Merillat’s CoreGuard Sink Base Cabinet features engineered polymer sides, back and floor, which are easy to clean up. The floor is slightly tilted to the front so any puddles will be easy to see. Raised ribs on the cabinet floor help keep the items stored inside dry. If you have ever had an undetected leak slowly turn the floor of your cabinet to mush, you will really appreciate this! A few of the accessory companies offer a covering resembling a giant coaster for the sink base floor, but this seems like a smart choice when replacing the cabinet.


  • The Glideware cabinet accessory provides a convenient, sliding mechanism from which to hang items. At the booth purses, as well as pots and pans, were on display, demonstrating how you could easily use this accessory in a closet. It is always difficult to organize pots and pans with their matching lids. I love how easily you can slip the lids over the handles, provided you have the right kind of cookware. Using Calphalon pots and pans shows how strong the product is. Glideware won the silver award for the Best in Kitchen category.


  • Elmwood Cabinetry obviously works hard at innovation, because they always have something new to show at KBIS. This year, the Elmwood booth featured wall-height cascade cabinet doors that you can use to hide entertainment equipment, a desk area, pantry, messy kitchen, whatever you like. The doors are customizable to the height you want. With the high ceilings at KBIS, Elmwood chose very tall cabinets to show as many features as possible. For discerning customers who don’t want what everyone else has, Elmwood has something unique and functional to offer.


  • When I first wrote about the Dacor Discovery Wine Station in the January issue of K+BB, I thought it sounded like a fabulous product. When I found out Dacor was returning to KBIS, I was very excited. The booth was crowded with people when I stopped by and I could barely get near the Wine Station; I was hoping to get a glass of wine.


Since my friend Debbie is in the building business, we split our time between KBIS and IBS. One of my favorite booths at IBS was SeaGull Lighting. The fixtures are well made and very reasonably priced. The two largest lights you see in the display case are from the Sfera Collection, an Energy Star series that would work extremely well in today’s transitional homes.


We really liked the products displayed by Authentic Pine Floors, which featured the new Mondavi Home Collection. This unique flooring is made from wine barrels, so the staining is all natural, from the grapes that made the wine! The booth also featured flooring from their Grandpa Mac and Old Dirty Goat lines. If you stopped by the booth and had your badge scanned, you received an email informing you that a Builders’ Show sample box was available for those who requested it. I can’t wait to get my sample box and see what’s inside!

Authentic Flooring Mondavi     Authentic Mondavi Floor

We visited the IBS Outdoor exhibits on our last day at the show. We were hoping to spot Ty Pennington, but we found this guy instead.


KBIS Sessions are Educational and Fun

KBIS is more than just a sensory overload. It is also an opportunity to attend educational sessions offered by peers and vendors as well as take NKBA certification exams and continuing education classes.

On Tuesday afternoon I attended the session: “SoLoMo – The New Acronym That Leads to New Customers,” presented by the president of my local NKBA chapter, Phil Zaleon. Phil runs a marketing and promotion company, Z promotion & design and is also a partner in The Kitchen and Bath Channel, a mobile and social media community linking homeowners with kitchen & bath and remodeling professionals.

Phil discussed how social and mobile media, as well as local exposure in TV and radio commercials all work together to bring in different types of customers. He provided statistics about which social media sites are currently the most popular: Facebook has been the top social media site for a year. Pinterest, however, drives traffic to websites and 85% of its viewers are women over 40, who happen to be the main buyers of kitchen and bath design/remodeling services. These statistics are a moving target because the popularity of social media sites changes often. It’s great to know a marketing professional like Phil is minding the marketing store so designers can focus on the business of design!

On Wednesday afternoon I attended the seminar: “Designing and Selling Using 3D Software,” presented by Scott Harris, CKD, CBD, Vice President, Chief Architect. Chief Architect is 3D design software that is used by building and design professionals. You can use it to design a house from foundation to electrical and plumbing to curtains and landscaping. Or you can design one room, my favorites being kitchens and bathrooms, specifying everything from the flooring, cabinets, fixtures and lighting to the windows and doors, as well as all the technical guts required to make all the products function.

Every designer who uses 3D software knows how valuable it can be in helping clients see what their space will look like when your design is implemented. When you show a prospect a flat, 2D floor plan you do not get the same reaction as when you walk them through a 3D, full-color presentation. Scott explained how to leverage the software’s power and appeal to the client’s emotions by incorporating their very own backyard into the design. With Chief Architect you can select the scenery that is visible when one looks out the windows of a 3D view. How cool is it that clients can “stand” in their virtual new kitchen or home and look out the window into their own backyard? I know I’m showing my geeky-nerdy side here, but this software is very cool.

Design and Construction Week was a success any way you look at it. I hope to attend next year, and maybe by then I will figure out how to balance attending seminars and sessions with seeing all of the exhibits. I know there were many wonderful products I didn’t see, but the trade magazines, NKBA website, and The Kitchen and Bath Channel all have a wealth of information and videos about the show.

Planning a new kitchen in 2014?

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are ready to face the new year! If you are like many people, one of the things you did recently was make a list of things you would like to accomplish in 2014. Some people make mental notes in their heads, while others get elaborate with detailed flow charts, lists, and spreadsheets. Regardless of your method, having a plan can be the difference between a project getting done and just having a wish list.

If you are planning to remodel or update your kitchen in 2014, be sure to think about every aspect of the job and write it down. It can be helpful to keep a file with pictures of kitchens you like. If you work with a designer that’s a member of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, they will ask you to complete an extensive survey. It will be easier to complete the questionnaire if you have thought about what you want to do. Some of the things you want to consider include:

  • When would we like to start and complete the project?
  • What budget range is planned for the project?
  • Does the existing layout function well or do we need to make a new plan for the space?
  • What activities take place in the kitchen?
  • Is there adequate storage space?
  • What do we like most about the kitchen?
  • What do we dislike and want to change about the kitchen?

With all of the beautiful finishes available these days, it’s easy to fall in love with a certain look and lose sight of what is really important: how the space will be used. If you are colliding with family members as you work together to get dinner on the table, maybe you need to relocate some appliances or establish a serving area.

In an earlier post, Is your kitchen fit for cooking?, I talked about some of the changes you can make to improve the fitness (aka function) of your kitchen. In addition to the flow issues discussed in that post, another way to improve the function of a kitchen involves lighting. The activities taking place in your kitchen will dictate the types of lighting you need.

The most effective lighting plans utilize three types of lighting:

  1. General or ambient lighting
  2. Task lighting
  3. Accent lighting

General or ambient lighting refers to the fixtures that provide the overall illumination to the room. Many kitchens built in the 1990s employ one or two big ceiling fixtures to light the room. Homes built most recently utilize recessed lighting dispersed through the room to provide ambient light. Task lighting is used to provide light to areas where you are doing specific tasks. For example, a strip of LED lights installed on the underside of the wall cabinets or pendant lights suspended over an island sink brighten the areas where you might be preparing food or cleaning up after a meal. If children are doing homework at the kitchen table, you will want to make sure the lighting is suited to reading and writing. Accent lighting is used to highlight areas you want emphasized, such as artwork or the inside of glass-front cabinets.

Lighting can be costly, however, so it is a good idea to plan how you want to implement it before you’ve designated every dollar in your budget. If you’re going to cook in your kitchen, good lighting is important, especially if you intend to stay in the home for a long time. The need for adequate lighting increases as we age and begin to have difficulty seeing as well as we once did. A good lighting plan will take all of these factors into consideration and your designer can recommend the most appropriate finishes and products.

What about storage? If your kitchen remodeling project will include replacing cabinets, evaluate whether you have enough accessible storage. The majority of storage should be easy to reach and accommodate all your supplies. The NKBA kitchen survey has several questions devoted to determining storage needs. You can start by taking an inventory of what you have and determining if the current storage works.

Also think about the path you take into the kitchen when you are entering the house with groceries. How far do you have to walk before you can put the bags down on a counter? Is there a walk-in pantry where you can store large and bulky items? Where and how you shop affects how much storage space you need. In the USA, we are fond of warehouse stores where we buy food and paper goods in bulk. Do you have room to store it all? In other countries where resources are not as abundant, it is not unusual to shop every day and not rely on paper products.

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” I use it frequently when I am bemoaning the deficiencies in my kitchen. We have a large space, but it’s not designated as efficiently as it could be. Nor is there a place for everything. One of the benefits of having a place for everything is the elimination of clutter! As you are evaluating whether your wants and needs fit into your budget, don’t forget to factor in the peace of mind you get from a clutter-free kitchen.

If this sounds like a lot to think about, you’re right! If you are not working with a kitchen designer, be sure to discuss the project details with the people who share your kitchen. Don’t be discouraged if you find it necessary to tweak your plans multiple times before getting it right. Sometimes it is necessary to discuss it, draw it, and sleep on it before knowing which way to go. It can be a little intimidating, but if you take the time to think these things through, you will end up with a kitchen that works for your lifestyle.