Monday, April 30, 2012

KBIS 2012

Sit back and relax, maybe go grab a coffee, this is going to be a long one!

I just got back from the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show a.k.a. KBIS! This years show was in one of my favorite cities - Chicago.  KBIS is always a fun show to attend, full of new trends, innovative products and tons of inspiration. The show was smaller this year , but provided me with all kinds of blog topic ammunition.  Everyone who attends the show will walk way with different impressions, favorites and highlights. But to me, this smaller scale show (as compared to years past)  allowed certain items and trends to shine bright. So, without further adieu let me introduce you to the things that sparked my interest at this years show...


This tile is by Ann Saks.  These tiles are 3-dimensional and gave the space a very cool look. I love how the tiles are varying shades of gray which gives the wall even further depth. 

Close up view of 3-Dimensional tiles. Doesn't it look like the tiles are jumping off the wall?

Look at these funky tiles, which are also from Ann Saks. I loved the bright colors and patterns. 

This pattern is called "Pollen in Orange Gray." No big shock, this was my favorite of all. Two of the hottest colors of the year. Couldn't you see this tile in Tory Burch's home?!

Ann Saks had a lot to offer in terms of cool tile. There is a lot of focus on texture, dimension and pattern. Today tile is no longer just a functional component to a space, it's a form of expression.


As you know from previous posts, I'm a big fan of Cambria. So, this was a must see booth for me at this years show. They have launched a few new colors this year, but it wasn't the new additions that thrilled me, it was the trial slabs that were brought to KBIS to get industry feedback and opinions. These slabs don't even have names, and were only labeled with roman numerals so we could vote on our favorites. They were all nice, but there were two that really spoke to me and they were both in the gold family. Yes, you heard me right... gold countertops!!! They were beautiful! Unfortunately my camera (iphone) did not pick up on their beauty, and the pictures just don't do them justice. But, imagine it, with all the talk of brass lately, it only makes sense that this concept would flutter into countertops, and it did so beautifully.  The gold tones mixed brilliantly with other colors ranging from coppers and browns to beige and grays with the depth that only Cambria can offer to a quartz countertop. Hopefully my favorite slabs earned enough votes to become two of the new slabs introduced this year, so you can see them firsthand or at least in a clear, professionally taken picture :).

Trial Slab II: beige and gold and little bit of copper all mixed together to form this breathtaking countertop. 

Trial Slab I: This slab reminded me of a gold sequined dress. So pretty and elegant with sparkle and depth.  

One of the most surprising "trends" I saw at the show was black appliances. Both Wolf Sub-Zero and Dacor were showing appliances in black. Both said the black appliances were introduced because people were tired of stainless steel and wanted something different. Hmhm.....while the black appliances were pretty, I'm not sure that this is a trend that will take among the masses. A lot of people have just traded in their black appliances for stainless. Plus, in my opinion stainless is like white trim, classic. We may re-visit this topic in later blog posts but this was definitely one of the more surprising finds at this years show.


 Rock Crystal, Green Onyx and Chinchilla Obsidian inserts for Kallista's Amedee Basin Sets. What a fun way to jazz up your faucets.  

This sink is by Toto and was pretty cool in that you operate the hot and cold by turning the dial on the far right of the sink. When you turn the dial to hot, it lights up red and when you turn it to cold it turns blue. I thought it was pretty snazzy :)

This is Kohler's Numi Toilet. A few posts ago I talked about the Toto Washlet, which was the splurge-a-rific toilet seat that could all but fly to space. Well, the Numi is similar in that it offers a lot of the same features, but this time instead of it being just a seat, it's the whole toilet that can show off its luxurious skills. To begin this toilet has a motion activated lid and seat, advanced bidet functionality, integrated air dryer, deodorizer (air is pulled through a powerful heated seat), feet warming, illuminated panels and music.  That's right... this toilet comes with a remote control that allows you to jam out to your favorite tunes while taking care of business.


This is a USB wall power outlet I came across. It is essentially a traditional outlet with two USB ports built in. In today's world when most of us rely heavily on our mobile devices it can create a traffic jam of sorts in our homes with everyone trying to charge their phones, ipods, ipads, the same time. This handy outlet configuration allows you to charge your devices while still maintaining your outlet space for other important plug-in related things. Pretty cool, right!?

And Finally, the CELEBS!! We had two celebrity moments while on this trip. On Tuesday night we went to Dupont's Color Splash party where we met David Bromstad. David has several shows on HGTV and actually won Design Star seven years ago.

Here I am with fellow designers Melissa Nagle and Holly Floyd with David Bromstad.
On Wedneday while visiting the Kohler booth at the show, we ran into Monica Pedersen. Monica is from HGTV's Designed to Sell.

Again with fellow designers Holly Floyd and Melissa Nagle with Monica.

Well, there you have it, my week at the KBIS show in a nutshell, OK a big nutshell :). These shows are fun and informative and always bring you back to reality feeling inspired. I hope you enjoyed!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Naked Mirror No More

One of my favorite parts of my job is that with every project I work on I seem to discover a tid bit here and there that will make someone's life (my own included) easier in the future. Trial and error, you know...Anyways, I'm in the process of finishing up another face lift project and through this renovation I discovered a jewel of a company I just had to share. The company is called MirrorMate.

Let's start from the beginning...

This particular project involved two bathrooms that were in need of an update; the master bath and a guest bathroom. The plan of attack for both spaces was to keep the existing cabinetry but install new countertops, sinks, faucets, lighting, mirrors and shower door. So, we went to work selecting all of the components that would bring the space to life. Decision after decision was made, but one main selection still lingered - the mirrors.

The current mirrors were plate glass and spanned from wall to wall.How many of you are familiar with, or actually live in a space with plate glass mirrors over the vanity? Plain, vast, boring mirrors like this:

Or this...

This look is pretty common, but really offers nothing in terms of style to the space.  It was decided that the plate glass mirrors would be removed and we would find framed decorative mirrors to replace them. Problem was, the space was big, and framed decorative mirrors can be expensive.

I wish I could take credit for what happened next, but I can't. It was the homeowners who discovered MirrorMate while perusing the web looking for mirror options for their space. They were excited to tell me they had found a company online that made mirror frames based on the dimensions of one's current plate glass mirror. All you have to do is pick out which mirror frame style and finish you want and give them the information about your existing mirror and they would send you the mirror frame pieces that can be easily installed. Easy as that... Plus, you can order samples of frames you are interested in for free! (All you have to pay is shipping.) They were excited....I was skeptical.... It sounded WAY to good to be true, but the prices were good, so we decided to go ahead and order the samples and go from there.

 The samples came in and the styles and finishes were nice, in fact there were so many good ones it was actually a little challenging to pick just two. It looked like we were going to give MirrorMate a whirl and hope for the best. I was nervous to begin the process of ordering the frames on-line; I was affraid this would be challenging and technical, but I was wrong. It was SOOO easy!  The website literally spelled out exactly what information was needed and how to obtain it. Plus, the week we planned to place our order we received a coupon via e-mail for 20% off the purchase. Sweeet! I ordered the frames on a Monday and they were delivered the following Saturday - lighting fast! AND the installation was a breeze too, just like they advertised. But, the big question still remained: HOW DID THEY LOOK? Well, let's just say I was literally blown away!

Master Bath. Doesn't the chunky, detailed frame add so much to the space?

Close up view of the frame. Look at the detail! Isn't it beautiful?

Here is the Guest Bath. We went with a sleeker, slimmer frame in this space, but the added dimension around the mirror really makes a difference.

Here's a close up of the Guest Bath Frame.

From the beginning of this mirror buying process I admittedly felt like I was always waiting for the other shoe to fall, but it NEVER did. In fact quite the opposite happened, they impressed us more and more with each step of the process. I visit a lot of homes with the plate glass mirrors and I know what kind of difference a frame can make. So, I'm happy to have found a company that can not only deliver a great product but one at a reasonable price. MirrorMate was definitely a great find and a company I will utilize and recommend from now on.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I remember years ago my mom would look through decorating magazines and tear out pages. She would take the photos she had torn out, place them in plastic sleeves and insert them into a photo album that she referred to as her "idea book." She had book after book filled with pages just like those shown below.

Example of one of her Idea Books.
I never really understood the point, but years later, I get it. Those photos were inspiration to her. They gave her ideas for the home she had, rooms yet to be decorated, the home she hoped for, etc... She could refer to this collection of photos when the time came to bring one of her own rooms to life. Today our lives are all about technology and sites like Pinterest and Houzz are virtually the updated version of  this concept. If you are already signed up with these sites you know they are quite addictive. It's easy to get lost in the sea of ideas that these sites provide.

Through Pinterest people share things they love. These things range from quotes, recipes, DIY (Do It Yourself projects), fashion ideas, decorating ideas, travel photos, wedding ideas, pets and much more. You can search within the category you're interested in, or you can peruse the home page and see all of these topics (and more) mixed in together. If you see things you like you can "pin" them to your own boards and then refer to them later.

Houzz, is similar to Pinterest in that you can save photos you like, but this site is totally dedicated to the home. You can search for ideas by room (kitchen, bath, bedroom, closet, dining room, etc.) or by style (traditional, contemporary, asian, tropical, modern, eclectic, etc).  Houzz also has a link for discussions where people post about design dilemmas, or ask specific questions, and homeowners and design professionals can pitch in with advice or answers.

Over the past few months I've noticed that a lot of my clients utilize these sites more than ever to gather ideas for the projects they are gearing up for.  They reference their Pinterest and Houzz accounts for everything from paint colors, cabinet door styles and ceiling beam ideas to mirrors, inside cabinetry components and hardware. Many clients come to meetings with all of their "idea books" organized and ready to share. These idea books are helpful to me as a designer, in that most of the time I begin to get a sense of the clients stylistic preferences as I go through these photos. However, as I learned from my Mom a long time ago, these ideas do not need to be copied verbatim, but rather modified so they fit your specific project. So, there comes a point in each meeting where we put the idea books away and talk about the client's project. Sure, we may reference the idea books from time to time but it is important to make a space unique and personalized for each person.

As you add pins and ideas, think about what it is about each and every photo that you love, and chances are you will begin to see a pattern. The truth is, there are an infinite number of ideas and styles available. That being said, if you are considering building a home, remodeling a room or just giving a space a face lift you have to start somewhere, and these sites are a good tool. Utilizing these modern idea books is a good way to get the wheels spinning and hone in on what speaks to you.

So go ahead, Pin away! Collect your photos and ideas, and one day you will create a space that you can add to these sites. What fun it is to sit back and watch as strangers from all over the world re-pin your space. You will have the pleasure of knowing that others are inspired by the looks you have created for you and your life.

If you are interested in seeing my personal Pinterest account, follow me HERE!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pop Pop Pop

 It's Spring and Color is everywhere. Everything is in bloom and not just outside. Interiors and fashion are brightening up too! Flip through a magazine or walk through your local shopping mall and you will see color is a big spring fashion trend, specifically through denim.

As the trend goes, most are pairing their bright pants or shorts with a more neutral top and shoe, letting the colorful bottoms make the statement. As always, fashion and interiors are very much intertwined. So, interestingly, but not surprisingly, I'm seeing the same trends with interiors. People are pairing neutrals with fun colors, patterns and textures. While the addition of bright colors is fun, it can quickly become color overload if done incorrectly.

I love pink, but this is color overload! The space makes me happy and I love the color combination, but for a kitchen? NO NO NO! This is WAY too big of a commitment, not to mention you may need sunglasses when entering. 

Because colors can be somewhat trendy, a good option is to have a more neutral backdrop and then you can change out accessories as you feel like it throughout the years. A great way to pop in color is through accessories. Introducing bold color through fabrics and wall color can work too; just make sure you choose the color because you have loved it for a long time, not just because it's the "hot color" right now.

The bright pink chairs and green curtains marry so nicely with the neutrals that surround them. While curtains and chairs are  pretty big commitment purchases, they can really set a space apart with a classic look with a bit of funk.  

As I mentioned in January, Pantone dubbed Tangerine Tango as 2012's color of the year. This color is bright and fun and literally EVERYWHERE. In some of the homes I have visited recently, I have found that the orange hue is the color of choice for many, and I can't blame them as I have been looking for the perfect tangerine tango-ish colored item myself. I have seen this color incorporated in a number of ways including rugs, pillows, picture frames, wall color, lamps and decorative plates.

I like this room. The idea of painting the back wall of the built-in bookcases is genius. It's a fun way to incorporate color, but is easily (well, maybe not if you are as good at painting as I am) changeable should your taste in color change.

The photo above is another good example of popping in color in the right way. The accessories used in this room take the room from drab and sterile to cool and crisp.

The Addition of color is a great way to brighten up a space or an outfit throughout the year. Trends come and go and it's only natural for our tastes to change and evolve. Knowing this, play with colors throughout your space, but remember too much of anything is never good. By using pops of color here and there, you can really add some flair to your space without overwhelming it.

All photos are from google search.