Kitchen: Best Before and After
by designer Ines Hanl of The Sky is the Limit Design
Homeowner’s goal: Improve the existing dark and dingy kitchen, which was badly lit, offered insufficient flow and had no storage.
Design process: Worked with homeowner’s personality – vibrant, classy, Southern, the 1920s Canadian-Victorian architecture of the house, and the location – three houses away from the ocean and on the west coast of Canada.
Project Challenges: Structural issues that came up when reworking two exterior walls and opening up a series of small rooms. Finding a woodturning company that could create a 12-inch diameter turned post for centerpiece on the island.
Advice from Winning Designer Ines Hanl
General: Get advice from an experienced kitchen designer before starting. Get information on the technical requirements of various appliances because those requirements will impact the placement of kitchen workstations. Buy appliances only after discussing the pros and cons with your designer. Be realistic about the budget and timeline. A kitchen remodel can take several months of living with dirt and dust and it could put a strain on your family. Go easy on yourself.
Budget Tips: You can’t save on the amount of necessary labor. But you can save on appliances, cabinetry, countertops and the complexity of the lighting. Don’t skimp on planning costs. Even on a small budget, consider getting a designer to do a space concept – which could save you money by helping you avoid incorrect choices.
Design Tips: A great layout is always timeless. Keep in mind that it’s easier to replace a trendy tile or light fixture than a trendy cabinet finish or countertop. Don’t be afraid to use shapes and colors. Also, don’t be afraid to approach a designer even if you think designers are just for the rich. Definitely consider thinking of the sensual quality of materials. A well-designed interior can be like a piece of functional art.
Best Sustainable Kitchen
by designer Brian M. Johnson of Collaborative Design Architects
Homeowner’s goal: An open, exposed kitchen.
Inspiration: The honesty of the architecture and the structure. We did not use any sheetrock or enclose any features.
Advice from Winning Designer Brian M. Johnson
General advice: Hire a designer. Everyone wants to cut costs but you need someone who understands what he or she is doing. Remodeling yourself is a poor decision. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Definitely consider life cycle costs.
Third Place–Small Kitchen
by designer Gerard Ciccarello of Covenant Kitchens
Homeowner’s Goal: That the new kitchen would integrate into their Federal style home as if it had always been there.
Design Process: Design considerations included the home’s age, Federal architecture, interior elements such as windows and doors, and location in an historic district overlooking a Connecticut River cove.
Project Challenges: The small kitchen has many doorways, large exterior period windows and an attached laundry room, all of which needed to remain in their original locations. To make it work, we lowered cabinet and counter height beside the large exterior window and designed the space around existing door openings. Painted white cabinets, marble counters, crystal knobs and medium stained wood floors now give the kitchen a fresh, clean classic look consistent with the rest of the home.
Advice from Winning Designer Gerard Ciccarello
General: Hire a design pro and come to that pro with a list of items you love and dislike about your present space.
Budget Tips: Evaluate the tasks that require limited skills, such as demolition and painting, and do those yourself. Be careful about purchasing items such as sinks, faucets or tile from online sources. Customers have found that product specifications can be inaccurate, leading to problems with installation or even long-term durability. Tile is difficult to match so make sure you order plenty to avoid running out.
Design Tips: Use materials that have been around for ages such as brick and marble. Don’t be afraid to trust your design professional and go in a slightly different direction than you might have originally imagined. Consider hiring a professional general contractor so the job moves more quickly and smoothly with fewer surprises.
Third Place–Medium Kitchen
by designer Gerard Ciccarello of Covenant Kitchens
Homeowner’s Goal: Homeowners had an AGA range they wanted placed in a prominent location. They also wanted to showcase antique stained glass doors, blue and white German tiles and crystal chandeliers. The finished kitchen also needed to be a place where clients could entertain a large group easily and comfortably.
Design Process: Examined traffic flow patterns to make sure floor plan served the family well and fit the structure of the home. Centered the AGA cooker on a wall that was the focal point when standing in the adjoining family room.
Project Challenges: Unifying the living area of the kitchen with the family room. A more ornate and decorative style can feel uncomfortable and cold. To unify the kitchen and family area, beams now define the space and offer a harmonious color scheme. Warm glazed yellows and brown on cabinets and trim soften the cool marble counters. Antiques, hand planed wood counter and flooring provide a distressed look that make the kitchen feel timeless, comfortable and warm.
Advice from Winning Designer Gerard Ciccarello
General: Go through print and online magazines to begin formulating your ideas so you can translate the look and feel you are after to your designer. Start with selection of your appliances, since appliances make a strong design statement in any kitchen.
Budget Tips: Ask the design professional to do some value engineering – breaking out the cost on options that might be more expensive than you realize. Then, you can decide if the option is worth the expense.
Design Tips: Create a look based on items with special significance that you plan to keep such as antiques or family heirlooms. Choose colors that you have loved for decades – look in your closet for ideas. Use items and colors that might be trendy for areas such as backsplashes that can be easily and inexpensively updated later. Don’t be afraid to combine finishes and styles if you are working with an experienced design pro who can walk you through the dos and don’ts of these combinations. Get feedback on materials selections, such as engineered wood versus solid wood, from trade professionals your designer is working with. Trust the knowledge of your experienced team.
“Pinnacle of Design” Winner
Advice from Winning Designer James Howard of Glen Alspaugh Co.
General: Hire a professional designer. Don’t hire someone who isn’t a certified kitchen and bath designer.
Design Tips: Don’t be afraid to look at a new idea. It’s okay to take risks when it involves design ideas and concepts. Definitely consider buying the highest quality material and equipment you can afford.
Second Place–Medium Kitchen
by designer Tricia Bayer of Belle Kitchen
Homeowner’s Goal: A clear interpretation of their style. Homeowners also own a restaurant, love high-tech and wanted a contemporary design.
The Design Process: First, shifted a doorway to eliminate the standard L-shaped kitchen. Second, integrated the door to the walk-in pantry into the cabinetry on the sink wall. These changes created two clean and distinct elevations.
Project Challenges: Integrating steel plates and rods into the wall to hold the solid walnut shelves. Designed island around the KWC sink/water station.
Advice from Winning Designer Tricia Bayer
General Advice: Work with a design pro you’re comfortable with. Consider the highest quality products you can afford.
Budget Tips: Hire a professional to prevent costly mistakes, wasted time and stress. Don’t skimp on cabinets. Often clients are willing to spend on the luxury appliance package but forget the importance of high-quality cabinets.
Design Tips: Dream big. During the design process, make your space exactly what you desire and allow yourself to explore even if your ideas seem out of reach. Later, you may have to prioritize, but the result will be better than if you had limited yourself from the beginning. Work with a pro.
Second Place–Large Kitchen
Advice from Winning Designer Elina Katsioula-Beall of DeWitt Designer Kitchens
Design Tips: Follow your path and follow your heart. Never think about resale. If you create something you love, it will connect with the energy of the house and the next person will connect with it as well. Don’t be afraid to take chances when you remodel. When I remodel, I capture the soul and translate it into the kitchen. That’s what design is about. No one should be afraid to express themselves. Definitely consider the exact lifestyle you would like to have in your new space and then make sure your design and remodel allow that lifestyle. You’re going to live in your home for many years. Consider the joyous lifestyle to begin with. Design is about lifestyle.
Best Open Plan Kitchen
Advice from Winning Designer Tim Scott of XTC Design
General advice: The most important advice is plan, plan, plan. Don’t be afraid to explore all of the possibilities before you begin a project.
Second Place–Small Bathroom
by designer John Sylvestre of Sylvestre Construction Inc.
Project Challenge: Trying to make a small space seem larger. Clear glass doors and neutral colors made a huge improvement in the look and feel of the room.
Advice From Winning Designer John Sylvestre
General Advice: Listen to the designer. The designer does not have any emotional ties to the space and is willing to step out of the box to create a beautiful design.
Design Tips; Don’t be afraid to try something different. Definitely consider neutral colors at the base of the bathroom. That way you can use different, more vibrant colors as accents.
Third Place–Small Bathroom
by designer Leslie Lamarre
Homeowner’s Goal: A bathroom that suited the homeowner’s 20-something son during his visits home as well as out-of-town guests. The homeowner wanted a bathroom that offered a more updated feel while still fitting in with the aesthetic of the family’s Shingle style home.
Design Process: The client loves Carrera marble and everything traditional so that was a starting point. We selected a marble similar to Carrera but with fewer veins in a honed finish to give a soft, classic look. Matte-black glass liner used in the wainscoting on the floor and framing the shower fits in with the traditional feel but adds an updated and sophisticated look.
Project Challenges: Tight space and budget. A great relationship with the tile provider helped keep tile costs low.
Advice from Winning Designer Leslie Lamarre
Budget Tips: First, decide what you like without worrying about the budget. Nail down the big picture, basic materials and look that you like. Then you can price things and look for alternatives to the budget-smashing items. Don’t assume you have to opt for the highest-end appliances. You can often get what you need in a less expensive model from the same manufacturer. A little bit of research can save you thousands of dollars. Avoid cutting costs in the design phase. If you put top-of-the-line appliances in a kitchen or bathroom that isn’t well designed, you’ve wasted your money and aren’t going to enjoy the end result.
Design Tips: Use classic materials in atypical dimensions, Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with the design. Take some chances. Definitely consider hiring a certified kitchen or bath designer.
Third Place–Large Bathroom
by designer Barbara Murphy of Neil Kelly Co.
Homeowner’s Goal: Evolve the bathroom to match the contemporary, minimalist style of the rest of the home. Add creature comforts as lifestyle enhancements.
Project Highlight: Nothing says comfort like a heated floor – including inside the shower – and a towel warmer within easy reach when you’re dripping wet.
Design process: Collaborated with client to make best use of existing space. Used clean lines, monochromatic color scheme and repetition of angles. Seed of design concept was creating an angled wall between the closet and shower to provide maximum space to each area. That design element was repeated in the counters. Lighting was either hidden behind extended cabinet doors or boldly placed for visual impact.
Inspiration: Materials inspired many of the details. Dark gray tile was perfect material to feature as the portal to the threshold, creating a dramatic shower entry. Recycled glass and concrete counter, a strong visual element, was used to emphasize the angle.
Project Challenges: Structural posts that could not be moved were captured in the walls and closet. Also, home has a very low-pitched roof, vaulted ceiling and no attic. To allow for recessed lights in the shower, the ceiling had to be lowered a few inches.
Advice from Winning Designer Barbara Murphy
General: Find a designer that is compatible with your personality, who respects your personal taste and style, and who does more asking than telling in the first few meetings. Have clear goals and be willing to collaborate with your designer to achieve them. Be open to new ideas while maintaining your priorities.
Budget Tips: Rely on the creativity of a good designer. In this project, we loved the marble mosaic tile but it was over budget. We included a small amount, dramatically placed for maximum impact for 90 percent of the ‘wow’ factor at 50 percent of the cost. These clients chose to do the demolition and painting themselves to save money, which works well if the client has the skill, willingness and patience. All the critical elements should be done by trained professionals – framing, electrical, tiling and plumbing are not areas to compromise materials or workmanship.
Design Tips: Good design is timeless. A renovation that honors the period and style of the home will always be in vogue. Avoid trendy materials and colors. A neutral palette is good for the primary elements, such as plumbing and light fixtures, that are meant to last for decades. Use hot colors in paint and other materials that are easily replaced when the next trend emerges.
Best Master Bathroom
by designer Ada Pagano
Homeowner’s Goal: A low maintenance, modern and minimalistic interior that feels warm and inviting.
The Design Process: First, conceptualized the space to confirm that necessary functions and needs of the client could be used to create zones that related properly to the overall floor plan. Second, layered finishes, textures and colors. Third, selected products to meet client’s needs.
Project Challenges: Maximizing limited floor area, create visual interest with minimal detail and still be exciting.
Advice from Winning Designer Ada Pagano
General Advice: Hire a professional. Even with a professional, many hours of research are needed to get a project done right.
Budget Tips: Hire a professional to prevent costly mistakes and to make sure you’re pleased with a workable design. Prioritize your want list. If every line item can’t be met due to budget restraints, start at the bottom of the list and cut as many as necessary.
Design Tips: Avoid creating a dated look: Quality is always timeless. Neutrals work best for items that will never be changed and offer an inherent value that won’t look dated. Don’t be afraid to talk frankly with your designer. Definitely consider using a designer along with your kitchen/bath designer. A designer will be able to think about the entire interior of your home.
Third Place–Master Bathroom
by designer Adrienne Dorig of Dorig Designs
Homeowner’s Goal: Modernize the bathroom but maintain the historical charm and salvage as much as possible of the original 1901 Dutch Colonial house.
Design Process: Inspiration came from the character of the home with its turn of the century fittings and finishes. The clients had a clawfoot tub that they planned to refurbish and reuse. The tub, angled in a corner, became the focal point and the first thing you notice when walking into the room. Since we were reusing original house parts, we brought in the kitchen nook cabinets into the new master bath. The cabinets add balance to the sides of the vanity and are convenient for storing toiletries and towels. The glass fronts add to the bath’s light and airy feel. I designed the arch above the vanity and doorway to mimic the arch of the cabinets.
Project Challenges: One wall would not be perfectly vertical, but would instead follow the angle of the gambrel roof. The final design embraced this by having the wall tile finish to the point of transition and making the shower walls align to the same height. Adding glass above the enclosure creates a sense of spaciousness and allows daylight to fill the entire room.
Advice from Winning Designer Adrienne Dorig
General: add an NKBA certified kitchen and bath designer to your team. A specialist can advise on the latest plumbing, appliances and finishes on the market. Look at samples at different times of day and in different light. A bright white in the morning may look warm white in the afternoon. Consider the future and how you want your bath the function as you age. Add blocking in walls should you need grab bars in the future. A bench and handheld shower are convenient at any age.
Budget Tips: Find interesting ways of combining basic tile for a custom look. Measure your countertop and see if it makes more sense to look for a remnant instead of a whole slab. Find pieces from architectural salvage shops or, as in the case of this project, your own home. Add charm and save money by considering vintage pieces instead of buying all new. Habitat restore is a wonderful resource for building items. Plus you can feel good knowing proceeds help fund Habitat for Humanity. Don’t automatically sign up with the cheapest contractor. Get at least three bids and make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured. Take a look at their work and check their references. Don’t skimp on the toilet. Look for a 1.28 gallons per flush model. Choose one that complements the style of you bath, is easy to clean and make sure the height and shape work for you. Actually sit on the toilet at the showroom.
Design Tips: Select neutral colors for surfaces that cannot be changed easily. Finishing a wall with white subway tile is a classic look. Incorporate simple borders and trims in contrasting neutrals such as black, gray and brown. Don’t be afraid to place lighting in a different spot other than above the mirror. Sconces and pendants can add drama to your walls and ceiling. Use dimmer switches to create different moods. Consider the signature pieces in the room and work around them.
Second Place–Master Bathroom
by designer Ken Kelly of Kitchen Designs by Ken Kelly Inc.
Homeowner’s Goal: Create a romantic master bath with spa-style amenities for a French Normandy style home.
Design Process: First, looked beyond the boundaries of the existing bath to gain more square footage. Captured some of the adjoining hallway and closet space and moved a doorway to gain more room for the bathroom. Incorporated existing French design elements from around the house and took inspiration from balcony railings, fireplace mantles and other architectural details. Replicated three-door style of 18th century French cabinetry. For spacing, started with largest pieces and worked down to smallest pieces.
Inspiration: A trip to Paris that included a stay at the Four Seasons George V hotel – to bring luxury and serenity of that fabulous spa to this project.
Project Challenges: Space was too small for the wish list. Wish list included whirlpool tub for two, large steam shower with a seat, linen closet, hamper, his and her vanities, makeup area, ample wardrobe storage as well as a large television, chromotherapy lighting and speakers.
Advice from Winning Designer Ken Kelly
General Advice: Don’t cut corners. If done properly, the master bath can become one of the most enjoyable rooms in your home offering a mini vacation every day to allow you to rejuvenate the body and mind.
Budget Tips: Find out if your remodeling company takes credit cards. If they do, offer to pay by check or cash in lieu of a credit card and ask for the 2 percent discount that the firm otherwise would pay to the bank. Don’t cut costs on the design phase. Hire a professional bath designer, preferably a certified bath designer by NKBA. The value of a good design is priceless – even if you plan to do the work yourself.
Design Tips: Don’t worry about being outdated or designing your home for a future buyer. If you love it, do it. Live life for today. Don’t be afraid to challenge your designer to achieve everything on your wish list. Consider adding chromotherapy (color therapy) lighting and music in your shower. They can really set the mood for the day, lift your spirits and get you started on the right foot.