Creative Carnival Kitchen Sparkles Like The North Star: Case Study

Carnival Kitchen featured in Kitchen & Bath Business magazine article

Carnival Kitchen featured in Kitchen & Bath Business magazine.

I didn’t intend for the Carnival kitchen to get national attention, but that’s what happened.

Let me explain.

I worked for a local custom cabinet maker and home remodeler as a sales-designer while finishing my design schooling. The owner expected me to schedule appointments with everyone who visited the business. One afternoon in early March, a couple came to the showroom, and we talked about their goals for remodeling an outdated kitchen. It didn’t register that they could afford a luxurious, custom kitchen with unique features because they had just started thinking about remodeling. They resisted when I asked to schedule a second meeting in their home, saying that they needed to do more looking. My boss was furious.  Although he taught me a lot about cabinetry, I didn’t particularly appreciate how my boss treated his “customers” and staff. I resigned three weeks later after he yelled at me for not meeting his sales expectations. That’s when I formed D. P. Design in April 1984.

When the couple returned to the showroom, they were told that I’d left. After seeing an article in the San Jose Mercury News about me winning the Henry Adams Award during graduation, they called me and invited me to their home to talk about what they wanted. Our meeting lasted over three hours! They had a long — and exclusive — wish list.

What features did they have to have?

Homeowners’ Wish List

  • Magnetic-induction cooktop (standard equipment today, but there was only one manufacturer at that time)
  • Gas cooktop
  • Wok (only available as commercial equipment)
  • Double ovens and a microwave oven
  • Serving cart built into the cabinets
  • Triple sink
  • Small desk
  • Walk-in pantry with dutch doors
  • Display area for their collection of Red Skelton clown figurines and plates
  • Sub-Zero built-in refrigerator
  • Sub-Zero built-in freezer
  • Countertop with two seating areas
  • A rainbow of bright accent colors — primary and pastel
  • Better lighting
  • Garden windows for daylight, display, and plants

A Dreary Kitchen Dungeon Needed Help — Lots of Help!

Springtime Carnival kitchen before remodeling

Original kitchen: a dungeon

Although it was large, the original kitchen felt like a dungeon. It had dark-stained cabinets, laminate countertops, and olive-green carpeting! Yes, carpeting! The lighting was awful. Fluorescent fixtures inside the skylight provided most of the light that glared in comparison to everything around them. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the adjacent eating area provided light during the day, but cabinets over the peninsula prevented light from getting into the kitchen. It was hard to imagine anyone working in the kitchen successfully while maintaining a good mood.

Delightful Carnival Kitchen Details

Red Skelton clown plate

Red Skelton “Freddie the Golfer” plate

The Red Skelton clown figurines and plates collected by the homeowners and fabric with a wreath of colorful flowers and butterflies inspired the “Carnival” kitchen theme. Hank Corriea and his employees used the material to create custom window treatments. Peggy Spaulding transferred the wreath motif to 12″ tiles that Fasar required with their magnetic induction cooktops.

The cabinet maker and I designed an enormous six-foot-wide custom wood hood with two exhaust fans hung above the Thermador gas cooktop and the Yick wok with a single burner rated at 36,000 BTU’s. We incorporated a unique lit display cabinet in front of the two fan ducts for the figurines and plates. Oak cabinets were still trendy, but we decided to use natural straight-grain rift oak to avoid visual overload.

Springtime carnival custom stained glass insert

Carnival Kitchen stained glass panels

Yippee! We achieved all of the homeowners’ needs and wants. My creative spirit was soaring, and we defined other “carnival” kitchen details that included:

  • Custom stained-glass inserts in the dish pantry and all wall cabinets created by Dave Benoit, backlit with automobile dome lights, made the stained glass sparkle. Remember, this was 30+ years before LED strip lighting.
  • Peggy Spaulding painted a fanciful flower-and-butterfly mural for the backsplash behind the gas cooktop and wok with the same colors as the induction cooktop tiles.
  • The contractor installed “Tivoli” rope lighting around the perimeter of the skylight.
  • Jan Moyer painted an imaginative portrait of the wife on the water heater door: she’s barefoot and pregnant, dressed as a clown, sitting on a stool with a frying pan in one hand and a golf club in the other hand. The bottom of her apron reads, “I’d rather be golfing.”

 

Carnival Kitchen Wife Clown Portrait

Wife Painted As Clown

It Pays To Work With The Best . . .

This Carnival kitchen remodeling was a magnificent opportunity to start my career! My clients and I had great brainstorming sessions, and they adopted all of my recommendations! To achieve my clients’ goals, I worked with the best people in the industry:

  • Rob, the open-minded cabinet maker
  • Peggy, the experienced tile artist
  • Dave, the detailed stained-glass master
  • Gary, the friendly appliance dealer
  • Hank, the masterful window treatment manufacturer
  • Jan, the creative trompe l’oeil painter
  • Bruce, the helpful lighting expert

. . . But There Are Always Challenges!

There were problems with this Carnival kitchen project: Because the roof over the kitchen was flat, there wasn’t enough space to install recessed light fixtures. We had to use track lighting. If we were remodeling this kitchen today, there wouldn’t be a lighting problem. About three years ago, flush-mount dimmable LED ceiling fixtures became available. There were problems with the floor installation and the tile. I proved to the homeowners that I was their advocate, and all of the issues were resolved successfully.

The Whimsical Carnival Kitchen Sparkles Like The North Star

soar like an eagle carnival kitchen

Carnival kitchen finished!

With all of the difficulties resolved, the wife said she was as happy as a child on a carousel. She admitted that they had doubts about how I would “pull off” mixing Red Skelton’s clowns into a sophisticated kitchen. An avid golfer and a lady with a great sense of humor, she was delighted with her portrait on the water heater door. She said that her husband liked all the stained-glass details, how we’d made the cabinet doors sparkle. I was delighted with their reaction and asked if I could photograph the kitchen. “Of course!” was her reply.

Two weeks later, I hired Russell Abraham, a renowned architectural photographer, to take pictures of the kitchen. His fee was three times what I charged for my design services, but it proved to be a blessing in disguise. In May 1985, two months after finishing the kitchen, I was at a national trade show. Leslie Hart, the editor of Kitchen & Bath Business magazine, approached me. We had attended the first bathroom seminar offered by Ellen Cheever, a kitchen and bath design leader who had been one of my teachers in design school.

Ms. Hart told me that I had made a good impression on her with a project I did during Ellen’s seminar and asked if I had any projects that she could publish in her magazine. I barely squeaked out the words, “yes, I do.”

“Good,” she said. “Send me a complete description of the project with all of the products you used. Don’t forget to send photos.” It took me two days to create a story about the project, entitled “Springtime Carnival.” I covered the article and the 8 x 10 photos with cardboard, then slid them lovingly into the manila envelope. Standing in line at the post office, I held the envelope over my heart and said a prayer for good things to happen.

For several weeks, I couldn’t concentrate on daily tasks because I was so excited about the possibility of being included in one of the kitchen-bath industry’s premier magazines. One month passed. Then two. Then three. I’d given up about “Springtime Carnival” ever appearing in K&BB magazine. It was early September when I got a call from Michelle Tomasik, one of the magazine’s staff writers. She wanted to verify details of the “Springtime Carnival” project for an article they might publish. She didn’t give any specific dates when the article might appear.

Be Patient. Then Follow The North Star To Success!

Again, several months passed, and I forgot about the phone call. I also forgot that the K&BB magazine’s new issues arrived in the last week of the month for the following month. In late November 1986, my husband and I decided to drive to Long Beach, California, for the first West Coast Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in early December, co-hosted by the National Kitchen & Bath Association and the K&BB magazine. They shared a sizable centrally-located booth. I wanted to see if Leslie Hart was there so that I could ask her about the article. I didn’t need to, because . . .

"Carnival" kitchen on the cover of Kitchen & Bath Business magazine

Magazine cover featuring “Springtime Carnival.”

As we approached the booth, I saw the December issue fanned out on the countertop. The “Springtime Carnival” kitchen was on the cover! And there was a four-page article inside! Whoosh! My career was off to a great start!

Remembering this one-of-a-kind Carnival kitchen still gives me goosebumps. I can’t believe that I’ve been a designer for 36 years! It’s been an incredible journey of personal and professional growth while helping others achieve their dreams. I’ve been fortunate to have many wonderful clients and fabulous projects.  There have been hurdles in my business, like the recession in 2006-2009 and the recession during the pandemic. Remembering successes like this keep me inspired and motivated to help you and others. There’s still a lot of untapped creativity inside me! Every kitchen is one-of-a-kind because your needs, lifestyle, and budget are different from everyone else in the world!

It’s an honor to share stories about real people, most who’ve overcome remodeling fears and lived through the transformation of their home and life. The articles are (and will be) about how my clients coped and what we did to achieve the best results. There will always be hints, how-tos, and tips. All of the articles will be in a particular category called “Case Studies.” I invite you to read them, leave comments, and share them with family and friends. Here’s a list of case studies:

 

Here’s the article that’s 34 years old:

"Carnival" kitchen magazine article page 1"Carnival" kitchen in magazine article, Page 2"Carnival" kitchen in Kitchen & Bath Business magazine article, Page 3"Carnival" kitchen magazine article, Page 4

Professional Tip To Achieve Remodeling Success

What I learned during this project will help you achieve what you want during the first meeting with your designer: Share everything you want to include in your project, no matter how expensive it is or how whimsical and unrealistic it seems! Of course, you can always add details during the design. But it could affect the priorities on your “wish list,” and it may require you to make tradeoffs. Remember that your designer is your facilitator, helping you to achieve your remodeling goals.

In Conclusion

The Carnival kitchen was the North Star that led me in the right direction to a successful career. I’ve had hundreds of opportunities to help homeowners achieve their dreams and goals over the past 36 years. The wonderful thing is that I still have a “creative bucket” that’s full and ready to help you with your remodeling project. Contact me for a phone call or virtual meeting to discuss your needs and intentions and what may be holding you back from achieving them. I’m here to help you — always, in all ways.

Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate who specializes in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards.

Why Are Designers’ Fees So Distressing? 5 F-A-Qs Answered

 
Why are designers' fees so distressing?
 

We Can’t Afford To Pay Designers’ Fees!

Designers’ fees can be frightening. “Sticker shock” is not uncommon for homeowners. I’ve got answers to five frequently asked questions about how much a designer may charge you for their services, and how their fee is calculated.
 

Has This Happened To You?

You call a designer to help you with your kitchen or bathroom remodeling. They may say their fee is “X” amount per hour, but you really don’t know how much you’re going to pay that designer in total. They may tell you that their fee starts at $2,500 and goes up from there. Or they’ll tell you that their fee is a percentage of your investment. It’s confusing and frustrating.  If you’re thinking of spending only $10,000 in your bathroom or $20,000 in your kitchen, you don’t know how much you’ll need or want to pay for a designer to help you.
 
The first question is critical for helping you decide how you want to proceed with your project.
 

#1: “Do I Need Someone To Help Me?”

That’s a great question! You may not need a designer if you’re:

  • Thinking about freshening up with a new color scheme
  • Painting your existing cabinets
  • Installing a new countertop and backsplash
  • Installing new flooring
A contractor can accomplish these types of projects without a designer. But they cannot advise you about the color and style, other than their personal preferences. You’re on your own to make these decisions. Or you’ll have to hire a decorator.
 
The second question is a good follow-up:
 

#2: “When Do I Need A Designer?”

You should hire a professional designer if you want to:
  • Do more than freshen up — new cabinets, new appliances, etc..
  • Change the layout within the same footprint.
  • Enlarge your bathroom or kitchen.
It’s reasonable to pay a designer to help you if your target budget for a bathroom remodel is $20,000 or more, or if your budget for a completely remodeled kitchen is $35,000 or more. Why? You’re going to need someone to:
  • Help you select the right products for your budget and lifestyle.
  • Create detailed plans that follow codes and show all your decisions.
  • Refer you to qualified contractors and suppliers.

The third question will help you refine who to hire.

#3: “Can I Hire A Decorator To Help Me?”

Not necessarily. Unfortunately, most homeowners (and many contractors) don’t understand the difference between:
  • Decorators: People who can help with colors, furniture, window treatments, and accessories. They do not have the education, training, and experience with building systems to draft plans and specifications. They need specific technical knowledge to make recommendations that are best for you and your budget.
  • Designers: People who have education, training, and experience. They can draft plans for a project. But they may not have the specific knowledge of products and codes to prepare detailed plans and specifications for your remodeling project.
  • Kitchen-Bath Designers: People who have education, specific training, and experience related to remodeling. They can draft detailed plans and prepare specifications for contractors’ estimates and permits. Some kitchen-bath design specialists have become certified to prove their knowledge and dedication to help you. Get more information about these designers at the National Kitchen & Bath Association website.
  • Architects: People who have the most education but may lack the training and experience to help you with specific details for your kitchen or bathroom remodeling project.

#4: “Okay,” you say, “I get it. But what is a kitchen-bathroom designer going to cost me?”

 
The fourth question is asked most frequently. It’s frustrating because there isn’t a lot of specific information about fees. But keep reading! You will need more information to understand how fees are calculated. There are three basic systems that designers use:
  • Hourly rate
  • Flat fee
  • Percentage of the project cost

Hourly Rate

Jill Geisdorf of Chic on the Cheap was recently quoted on houzz.com,  “No two projects are the same, and no two designers charge the same.” Bob Vila says, “Most independent kitchen designers charge by the hour with rates that can range from $65 to $250 an hour, and $125 to $150 is typical. If your designer charges by the hour, you’ll want an estimate of how many hours the designer expects your project will require.”

 

Flat Fee

This system gives designers the most flexibility because they can charge whatever they want for every project. You must know:

  • When the designer will expect payments.
  • What percentage of the fee they’ll expect you to pay for each interval.

Percentage Of The Project Total

The percentage system is based on a percentage of your total investment. The problem with this fee structure is that it’s in the designer’s best interest to increase your investment. Who’s going to be your advocate? Unfortunately, it will be you.
 

There’s A hidden “Gotcha.”

Some decorators, designers, and kitchen-bath designers may charge a lower fee. But they’ll want to sell products to you so they can mark up how much you pay for those products.  Also, they may receive referral or finder’s fees from contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers. Selling products and receiving finders’ fees increase their bottom-line income. You have a right to know how much the designer is making on products and referral fees. Of course, you should get a written agreement that states what services are included, what services are not included, a breakdown of what they charge, and how they will invoice you for their services.
 
Now, the fifth question:
 

#5: “Why Are Designers So Secretive About Their Fees?”

 
I understand your dilemma. Everyone cites a range, but no one wants to be locked into a specific fee — publicly. I hear your frustration. But there are two reasons for the secrecy:
  • Designers do not want their competition to know what they charge homeowners.
  • Months or years after the fee is stated, someone may demand that fee, creating a potential dispute.

You’ll have to call candidates to gather information, including how much they charge so that you can make an informed decision. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what and how they charge and be able to write it down on a comparison list? I’m going to give you a free chapter from my award-winning book to help you! You can get a copy of the chapter immediately by simply filling out the request form below. Filling out the form will also subscribe you to my friendly newsletter that’s filled with great information, remodeling hints and tips, and special offers.

Now I’m going to share my information with you because you deserve it. It’s one aspect of being a Homeowner Advocate.

 

You Ask For Total Honesty and Transparency. Here It Is!

I never sell products. Never!  My responsibility is to help you find the best value for the products you buy.  I have never received nor paid referral fees and never will, helping you get the results you want for the lowest possible investment. I am totally transparent about what you’re paying for my services.
 
Here is how I calculate my fee: After seeing your home and talking with you, I’ll tell you — in writing! — that my total fee is a calculated comparison with other similar projects I’ve had recently. Here are two projects that are good examples:
 

A Master Bathroom that was 168 square feet (11′ x 14′), with the following features:

Designer Fee for Master Bathroom in Vancouver was $3,645

  • Minor changes to the layout
  • A private toilet room
  • Two sinks
  • Storage for all personal-care items and linens
  • A whirlpool tub
  • A large, separate tiled shower with fixed and personal showerheads, a shampoo niche, and a bench
  • Dimmable LED lighting
  • Powerful, quiet exhaust fans
I devoted about 27 hours to that and similar projects. At $135 an hour, my total fee for all my professional services would be $3,645.
 

A Kitchen that was 250 square feet (15.5′ x 16′) with the following features:

Designer Fee for remodeled kitchen in Oregon City was $5,805
  • Minor changes to the layout
  • New appliances (range, hood, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave oven)
  • Quality plumbing fixtures
  • New custom cabinets
  • Stone countertops and custom backsplashes
  • Dimmable LED lighting
  • Ventilation that complies with current codes
  • Wood flooring
I devoted about 39 hours to that and similar projects. My total maximum-not-to-exceed fee for all my professional services would be $5,265 at $135 an hour.
 
Invoices are sent at least once a month and they’re calculated to the nearest 15 minutes. You’ll pay only for the time I devote to your project. My maximum fee remains the same unless the scope of your project changes or you request more services.  My goal is to help you achieve your goals. Get information about my creative design process, then call me today to chat about a project you’re planning.

In Conclusion

How much you pay a professional designer is going to be an essential part of your total investment. Their fee is only one aspect of your decision about who to hire. The relationship you have with your designer will last from the day you meet until after your project is finished. Therefore, it should be based on:

  • Mutual trust and understanding.
  • A common goal.
  • Stellar communication.

 

Get the FREE chapter of my book about designers.

 

 

 

 

Your comments are welcomed!

 
Diane Plesset, CMKBD, C.A.P.S., NCIDQ is a Homeowner Advocate who specializes in helping homeowners with remodeling and addition projects. She has been the principal of D. P. Design since April 1984. Diane is the author of the award-winning book “THE Survival Guide: Home Remodeling” and many design awards.
 
 
 
 

Bathroom Remodeling: 9 Awesome Steps For Success

Remodeled Master Bathroom in Vancouver

Follow These Steps For The Best  Bathroom Remodeling Results

Why do you need this information?

To help you:

  • Avoid confusion and frustration
  • Make great decisions
  • Create a safe, functional, and beautiful area for you, your family and/or your guests
  • Stay within a reasonable budget

There’s so much that you can include in your remodeled master or guest bathroom, so many details to think about. It can be confusing and frustrating! Do you know that remodeling a master bathroom can be a higher investment per square foot than remodeling  a kitchen? That’s why it’s important to follow my suggestions, so you make informed decisions about everything, and avoid expensive mistakes!

A standard bathroom is 5 feet by 8 feet, and includes a toilet, a lavatory sink or two, a tub and/or shower, faucets, etc., cabinetry, and finishes (countertop/backsplash, floors, walls, ceiling). Each of these categories requires many decisions, many opportunities to make mistakes.

What’s the first mistake that homeowners often make after they decide to remodel their bathroom?

Homeowners’ first inclination is to look at countertop materials and tile immediately. This is okay, but it may lead to confusion and it may delay other more important decisions like plumbing, cabinetry, and lighting. [read more]

Call a professional bathroom designer to talk about your remodeling project

Where do you start? Hire a professional bathroom designer

If you want to achieve all of the four goals I listed above, your first and most important decision is to hire a professional who specializes in designing bathrooms. The National Kitchen and Bath Association has a great article about the importance of hiring a design specialist. I wrote a blog about how to find and hire a professional designer that’s listed at the bottom of this blog.

Call a contractor to talk about your bathroom remodeling project

Step #2: Hire a remodeling contractor

If you don’t have a contractor, it’s possible that your designer can refer you to someone who’s worked on her/his projects. There are several resources available to you, to find a qualified, experienced local contractor. Local building/remodeling organizations affiliated with national organizations that have excellent websites:

  • National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)
  • National Organization of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
  • National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA)

In a previous blog, I’ve written all the details about how to find and hire a contractor; you can see the links at the bottom of this blog.

Houzz is a great website to get bathroom remodeling information and ideas

Deciding your style is Step #3

This step helps you answer this question: What style bathroom do you want? Houzz.com has over 1.5 million pictures! You can select which style appeals to you:

Contemporary   *   Modern   *   Traditional   *   Mid-century Modern   *   Farmhouse   *   Transitional    *   Industrial   *   Scandinavian   *   Coastal

There are other filters, too, besides style:

  • Color
  • Size
  • Vanity color
  • Shower type
  • Shower enclosure
  • Bathtub
  • Wall tile color

You can easily share this information with your designer by setting up a project folder on Houzz.

It can be confusing and frustrating to set a realistic budget for a bathroom remodeling project

Step #4: Determine a realisting bathroom remodeling budget

With help from your designer and contractor, establish a realistic budget. There’s an excellent resource to help you, the Cost vs. Value Report, where you can obtain up-to-date, local information for a bathroom remodeling project to help you decide how much you want to invest.

 

Visit a local plumbing showroom to see all of the options for your remodeled bathroom

Step #5: Select ALL your plumbing!

Your designer may send links to plumbing manufacturers’ sites so you can pre-select what appeals to you. Next, visit a local plumbing supply showroom, not a “big box” store* with your designer to see (and feel) everything. There, you’ll see:

  • Toilets
  • Lavatory sinks
  • Tubs and/or shower bases
  • Lavatory faucets
  • Tub/shower plumbing
  • Valves and diverters
    • Showerheads
    • Tub fillers
  • Accessories
  • Towel bars
  • Grab bars (they’re very important for safety!)
  • Mirrors
  • Vanity lighting
  • Exhaust fans
  • Tub/shower enclosures

Get an estimate for all the plumbing you’ve selected and see how it fits into your budget. Make necessary adjustments to your choices.

*Why not a “big box” store?

  1. The employees may or may not have all the knowledge to really help you; they’re just there to take your order.
  2. The quality and selection of products is more limited than a specialty showroom; they show and sell only what’s most popular and profitable.

A virtual-reality perspective of your remodeled bathroom is helpful for making decisions

Bathroom cabinet decisions: Step #6

Your designer can help you define how you will store all of your personal-care equipment and products, towels, and toiletries. S/he should help you make final decisions about the style and color,  using Virtual Reality Perspectives.  Your designer and contractor will also help find the right cabinet manufacturer to supply what you want.

Visit a dedicated tile and countertop showroom to see all your bathroom options

​Step #7: Finally (!) select your bathroom surface finishes

Visit a showroom with your designer, not a “big box” store* to select everything that will make your remodeled bathroom special:

  • Wall tile
  • Decorative tile
  • Shampoo/soap niches
  • Backsplash (may be tile or the same material as your countertop)
  • Floor tile — think about radiant heating as a necessity not a luxury
  • Engineered stone countertop**

** If you prefer natural stone, visit a showroom that specializes in this material

Get an estimate for all the products you’ve selected and see how the numbers fit into your established budget. Make adjustments to what you’ve selected, if necessary.A dedicated file keeps all bathroom remodeling ideas, estimates, and information in one place

Step #8: Tie up your remodeling details

The last step before you actually start construction is several steps:

  • Verify all information on the plans that your designer has prepared, especially all of your product decisions
  • Obtain a preliminary-final estimate from the contractor that includes:
    • All products
    • All labor
    • Fees and expenses

Compare the estimate to your budget, and make final adjustments to your choices, as needed, especially if you’ve got a limited budget.

Step #9: Get your remodeling construction started!

You’ve made it this far! In eight weeks (or less), you’ll be able to enjoy your newly-remodeled bathroom! Congratulations!

Questions about your bathroom remodeling project? I will help you! I’m only one phone call or one email message away! Contact me today!

Blogs to help with your bathroom remodeling project:

A Professional Designer is Easy to Find

Your Contractor is Waiting for Your Call

Sustainable Bath Remodeling

Accessible Bathrooms

Two Master Bath Sinks are Desirable

Your Bath Remodeling Investment

Guest Bath for Multiple Users

A Powder Room CAN Be Different!

Bathroom Safety Is The #1 Priority

Select Bathroom Plumbing First!

Bath Remodeling Problems Can Be Avoided!

4 Bathroom Design Ideas for Comfort and Safety

Are Detailed Plans Really Necessary?

 

 

 

Gratitude for Awesome Awards and Accolades

Gratitude for Awards and Accolades

The phone rang at 7:15 am on October 4, not an unusual time for a client or contractor to call. My husband, Jay, answered the phone then said, “It’s a lady from Kitchen-Bath Design News.”

I thought, “They probably want to renew my subscription.”

“Hello, this is Diane.”

“Good Morning, Diane, this is Autumn McGarr. I’m an editor with Kitchen-Bath Design News. I’m calling to tell you that you’ve been included in this year’s ‘Top 50 Innovators.’ Congratulations!”

“Wow, that’s fantastic! Thank you so much!”

This couldn’t have come at a better time. I was in the final stages of a kitchen project that had taken a toll on my confidence. But I wasn’t going to think about anything negative right now. In 35 years, I’ve been fortunate to win awards, prizes, and accolades. But in the few minutes after the phone call, I re-visited the very first project after establishing D. P. Design.

1979 – Sound Systems and Interior Design

In 1979, customers at our two stereo stores wanted great but visually-unobtrusive music in their homes. At that time, the satellite+subwoofer and surround sound concepts had just become popular. Our employees in San Francisco and Palo Alto were eager for Sound Systems to become an early advocate for this new technology. We would offer a round flat top for the subwoofer that would make it look like a side table, especially with a floor-length table cloth. Our Palo Alto store manager figured out how to build top-quality speakers into walls, and we’d provide custom grille cloths to blend with the walls. We also figured out how to effectively hide the components so customers’ living rooms didn’t look like a recording studio with a multitude of blinking lights and volume gages.

Furniture placement is very important for serious listeners to be in the “sweet spot” for maximum realistic stereo effect. Jay and our employees would take care of the technical details, and I would help our customers rearrange furniture to achieve the look they wanted. Jay observed how much I enjoyed this creative endeavor. “Why don’t you think about taking interior design classes?” he asked. I thought about it — for about five minutes. It took another five minutes to find a local college that had an interior design department. Two classes a semester would be possible while working with Jay at Sound Systems.

1982 – Sound Systems, the Recession and Repercussions

Three years later, the recession thwarted our attempts to keep Sound Systems viable. Interest rates rose to over 20%. At the same time, video and computer technology affected consumers’ spending habits. We had already closed the San Francisco store. With dwindling sales, we decided to close the Palo Alto store, too. I was in the middle of finals week, working with Jay and our remaining employees to sell everything at a huge discount. After working all day, worry and regrets kept Jay awake while I drank strong coffee, studied and worked on final projects. It was hard to concentrate with all of the negative thoughts invading my head, “You’re a failure!” or “What are you going to do now?” and worst of all, my mothers words, “I told you so.”

We had big “Going Out Of Business” signs on all the windows. One night in particular is an experience Jay and I will never forget. He agreed to drive one of our employees home, so I drove home by myself. When Jay got home around 8:30, he discovered me on the kitchen floor, incoherent and unable to talk, with blood around my mouth and on my chin. He said that my tongue looked like a piece of raw hamburger, and took me to the local emergency room, where they confirmed that I’d had a grand mal seizure. They gave me a whopping dose of medications to prevent another seizure, advising Jay to watch me carefully.

Around 2:00 a.m., the phone rang. It was the Palo Alto Police Department, “Sorry to tell you this, but thieves backed a van through one of the front windows and cleaned out your store. You’ll need to be here to identify the equipment we recovered and supervise while the window is boarded up.” The next day, Jay confided, “That was living Hell for me. I didn’t want to leave you alone, but I had to.” The equipment, worth over $100,000.00, was damaged beyond repair or sale. We closed the doors and walked away, paying our employees’ severance and all of the manufacturers’ invoices instead of filing bankruptcy.

After Sound Systems: Gratitude for New Beginnings

I recovered from the seizure and became a sales-designer with a local custom cabinet maker and remodeler while still attending design classes. Jay became a salesperson for computers and accessories. In June, I graduated with multiple degrees in Interior Design, Lighting Design, Bath Design, and Kitchen Design. Interior Design was interesting, but the kitchen and bath classes had whetted my desire to lean more towards architecture and drafting. I had enlisted an architect friend to help hone my drafting skills, because the architectural drafting teacher believed that none of the interior design students deserved a higher grade than a C. The artificially-low grade was something I couldn’t tolerate. Several of us appealed the low grade to the head of the Interior Design Department. She reviewed homework assignments and tests and raised everyone’s grade to at least a B. I was fortunate to receive an A- for the class.

The architectural drafting class was just one example of what I did to learn what I’d be using for years.  But, for every assignment, I was compelled to work harder and longer to get what I believed to be barely-acceptable results, comparing myself to the other students.  I was continually shocked by the high grades and accolades I received for the assignments and tests. In my mind, I really didn’t deserve it.

Interior Design Education, Graduation and First Award

I admired and respected all of the teachers, but there was one in particular that I’ll never forget, Hub McDaniel. I’m filled with gratitude for his impact on my professional life. He was an advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act, advising us frequently, “Learn everything you can about accessibility and start using it in all of your projects.” His advice stuck with me, one of the major reasons I became a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. He also said, “Pass the NCIDQ examination. It’s the best way for you to prove a high level of professionalism with education, examination, and experience.” I added the NCIDQ to the Certified Bath Designer and Certified Kitchen Designer examinations, and successfully passed all three.

Accolades FLW DoghouseThe biggest impact Hub had on me, though, was his admission about being a raving fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. He found ways to include examples of Mr. Wright’s genius often. The final exam for his class was to design dog houses that showed a knowledge of different types of roof styles. One of my examples had a flat roof with deep eaves. There were banks of side-by-side narrow windows on three sides, and a doorway on the fourth side flanked with two flat bowls on pedestal bases. The “architect” signed the perspective: Frank Lloyd Woof. Hub’s influence on me is the reason that Jay and I are living in our dream home, inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Gordon House” in the Oregon Garden.

Every year, teachers and students in the Interior Design Department selected one person to receive the “Henry Adams Award,” for exemplary skills and talents. There were many students who I felt were top contenders. All of them had way more talent and ability than I did. When they chose me for the award, I was sure they had made a mistake, or I was having a dream. When Clarellen Adams announced the award, she said that the person receiving the award had proven a higher commitment to being a professional interior designer than other students. That’s when it sunk in that attitude and effort guarantee better results. It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

I was lucky to have a few minutes of private conversation with Mrs. Adams, who had developed the famous Design Center in San Francisco with her late husband, Henry. They were dynamos in the interior design community, and masters of marketing. She gave me advice that I followed immediately, “Send out press releases about your award to all local newspapers and magazines. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.” She was absolutely right!

June, 1984: The Birth of D. P. Design and First Clients

It was hard to believe how many people read the articles and called me to help them redesign a kitchen or bathroom. It was time to quit my job at the cabinet shop and establish D. P. Design. One lady who called reminded me about meeting with her and her husband when I was still employed with the cabinet maker. “I saw the article about you in the Mercury News. We haven’t remodeled our kitchen yet, and we’d like you to help us.”

Accolade kitchen beforeThe original kitchen felt like a dungeon. It had dark stained cabinets, olive-green carpeting and olive-green tile counters. The only light source was a glaring fluorescent fixture that encircled a large skylight. We worked together to achieve a well-lit kitchen where they could display their collection of Red Skelton clown figurines. The couple also collected original Red Skelton clown paintings, which were used as inspiration for colorful accessories.

Accolade kitchen in magazineThe remodeled kitchen included a custom induction cooktop, a commercial wok, a gas cooktop, Sub-Zero refrigerator and a Thermador micro-thermal oven. Induction cooktops are popular now, but at the time this kitchen was created, there was only one manufacturer of induction cooktops, “Fasar.” The couple hired a local artist I recommended, to paint the hot water heater door in the walk-in pantry. It was a portrait of the wife, who was pregnant at the time, a golf enthusiast, dressed up like a clown. She’s sitting barefoot on a stool, in front of a window, with a frying pan in one hand and a golf club in the other hand. The bottom of her apron reads, “I’d rather be golfing.”

Good luck led me to a Brunshwig fabric that had a circle of flowers for window treatments in the adjoining eating nook. The same fabric was inspiration for hand-painted 12×12 “Fasar” tiles and a mural behind the gas cooktop and wok. The same fabric provided inspiration for three-dimensional custom stained-glass doors in the wall and pantry cabinets, created by an artist in San Francisco. This was over 25 years before LED strip lights, so I devised a way to light the stained glass with automobile dome lights.

I had an itchy-twitchy feeling about this project, a feeling that I’ve had many times since that often precedes an accolade or award. A well-known architectural photographer captured the kitchen with his 4×5 camera. Again, remembering Clarellen Adams’ advice, I sent press releases to local newspapers and magazines. No one was interested. Then I remembered a discussion with the editor of Kitchen & Bath Business magazine at a seminar I’d attended. She said, “We’re always interested in projects. Send us copies of photos and detailed information.”

First Major Accolade

Accolade Kitchen PantryI sent everything about the project to the magazine in April, 1986. Five months went by and I was ready to give up until one of the editors called in mid-September. “We’re thinking about including your kitchen project in an upcoming issue. Do you have time to answer a few questions?” That phone call lasted for over an hour. I anxiously anticipated arrival of the October issue. Nothing about the project. The November issue didn’t include my project either. “Okay,” I thought, “this project wasn’t good enough for such a well-known publication after all.”

In December, the first west-coast Kitchen-Bath Industry Show was being held in Long Beach. The huge convention hall was packed with hundreds of exhibits featuring latest technology and design elements. Thousands of attendees from all over the country and several foreign countries played “bumper bodies” in the aisles, trying to see the exhibits. Kitchen & Bath Business magazine had a large booth at the center of the exhibits. As we approached, I saw a continuous row of their December issue displayed on every inch of countertop. Then I saw the cover. There was my kitchen project!

The Impact of Awards, Accolades, Medals, and Prizes

Ever since that wonderful day in December, third-party acknowledgement for a job well done, I know the gratitude that athletes feel when they win gold medals at the Olympics; how medical researchers feel when they discover a cure for an insidious disease; the pride and gratitude that Nobel Prize winners feel; how performers feel when they are given a lifetime-achievement award; the over-the-moon joy that new parents feel.

This is how I felt when Autumn McGarr called in October. In no way does the inclusion in the Top 50 Innovators mean that I’m better than anyone else in my profession. It’s an acknowledgment for commitment to excellence in all ways, at all times. An accomplishment, award, prize, or medal for one of us is a major achievement for all of us — inspiration and motivation to be better and do better.

To see a complete list with links to all Awards and Press that D. P. Design has received, click here to visit the page.  If you want to update your home with a home addition, with a remodeled kitchen or bathroom, call today! 503-632-8801. I’d love to chat with you about your goals and how D. P. Design can help you achieve them!

Best Bathroom Details Help to Make Great Decisions

Best bathroom details for a personal retreat

You need the best bathroom details to help you avoid confusion and frustration, to make great decisions for a safe, functional, and relaxing personal retreat! There’s so much that you can include in your new master or guest bathroom, so many details to think about. Do you know that remodeling a master bathroom can be a higher investment per square foot than a kitchen? That’s why it’s important to use these authoritative bathroom details, to make informed decisions about everything, and avoid expensive mistakes!

When homeowners are thinking about remodeling a master (or guest) bathroom, the first inclination is to look at countertop materials and tile immediately. This is okay, but it may lead to confusion and delay other more important decisions, like plumbing and plumbing fittings, and cabinetry. Your first decision for your bathroom remodel is: what style do you want? If you didn’t read my last blog (or listen to my podcast), “Essential Details Are Critical For Your New Kitchen,” I suggest that you read at least the first part, where I list the different styles to choose from.

A standard bathroom includes a toilet, a lavatory sink, cabinetry, a tub and/or shower, plumbing fittings, and fiinishes (countertop/backsplash, floors, walls). What’s the big deal about  bathroom details? Let’s look at each one of these items separately:

Toilet Details:

Yes, you can have a toilet that’s similar to the one you have now, but your new toilet will be equipped with water-saving features which will save you money. Your investment can be less than $200 for a white, two-piece, short-front toilet with exposed P-trap on the side below the bowl. Your investment can grow exponentially if you want a toilet with the following features and benefits:

  • Wall-mount (can be installed at any height; easy to clean underneath);
  • Floor-mount with a skirt that hides the ugly P-trap (easier to clean);
  • Elongated bowl (provides better ergonomics);
  • Dual-flush buttons (extra water saving);
  • Bidet seat (better personal hygiene and healthier than using tissue);
  • High-fashion color;
  • Composting.

Several manufacturers offer a wide range of toilet styles, including models that provide ultimate personal hygiene and luxury:

If you want to be scandalized by really expensive toilets, here’s the article to read: https://moneyinc.com/the-five-most-expensive-toilets-in-the-world/

Lavatory-Sink Details:

The word “lavatory” is derived from 1325–75 Middle English lavatorie which came from Late Latin lavātōrium washing-place, equivalent to Latin lavā(re) to wash. “Lavatory” in Britain refers to a flushing toilet. Americans use “sink,” whether it’s for a kitchen or a bathroom. Sinks are available in four shapes: (1) Oval; (2) Rectangular; (3) Round; and (4) Square.

There are six specific installation methods:

  • Top-mount (set into the countertop with the rim exposed);
  • Top-mount “vessel” (the entire sink sits on top of the countertop);
  • Under-mount (installed under the countertop; rim must be flat and unfinished);
  • Under-mount with front edge overhang (often referred to as “European”);
  • Integral (manufactured from and part of a solid surface countertop, i.e., Corian);
  • Wall-mount with or without a supporting pedestal or legs.

Vessel Sinks:

Vessel sinks have been very popular for several years. Vessel sinks are wonderful for powder rooms that don’t get used often – and they make a great focal point. There are limitations or requirements to keep in mind if you’re interested in vessel sinks:

  • If the bowl is tall, you’ll need to lower your countertop so the top of the bowl is at the height your countertop would be (more about this in the cabinet  section).
  • They require a taller faucet than normal, or mounting the filler and valves on the wall.
  • Think about how difficult it might be to clean the base of the vessel sink; I recommend that you resist the typical round (or oval) bowl that creates a tight “V” where the sink meets the countertop because you’ll have to use a Q-tip to clean the area.

Sinks can be made from a plethora of materials: Brass, bronze, ceramic, copper, glass, porcelain,  resin,  solid surface (i.e., Corian), stainless steel, stone, and wood. Your investment in a lavatory sink can range from a low of $150 to over $1,000.

Cabinets:

Cabinets can be any style, made of natural wood or painted wood. Homeowners prefer kitchen-height cabinets (36” finished countertop height) over shorter heights (30” – 33” finished countertop height) for two main reasons:

  • Provides more storage (equivalent to one more drawer)
  • Reduces back strain (no cantilevering of the body when bending over the sink)

All-in-one units that include the cabinet, countertop, lavatory sink, and faucet have grown in popularity because the decision-making time can be greatly reduced, and these units are competitively priced. But you may have to forego one or more features (like the countertop material or cabinet color) to get other features. An online search for “lavatory vanity cabinets” yielded 2,380,000 results! Popularity verified!

Tub or Shower:

The majority of homeowners remodeling a master bathroom prefer a large (two-person) shower to a tub-shower combination, unless bathing is a necessity (usually requested by the wife). House Beautiful has an excellent article about this subject. If you have the room for a large shower and a separate tub, that’s great! However, your tub decision is a critical detail to consider. The popularity of free-standing tubs has grown in the past five years. Yes, they’re beautiful, but they’re unsafe because they require the bather to straddle the tub while getting in or out. Think about this: What if the floor or the tub is wet and slippery? The best way to enter and exit a tub is to sit on the edge and swing your legs in or out while you’re holding onto a grab bar. Most free-standing tubs do not support sitting on the edge.

Yes, grab bars are an essential bathroom detail to include. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 235,000 people over age 15 visit emergency rooms because of injuries suffered in the bathroom, and almost 14 percent are hospitalized. More than a third of the injuries – about 78,000 – happen while bathing or showering.

Plumbing Fittings:

These include your sink faucet and tub-shower water supply and water controls (valves). Your sink faucet is named by the type of water control:

  • Dual control (valves on both sides)
  • Single control (valve on top or on the side)

Your investment in a sink faucet can range from $300 to over $1,500. It’s popular to have an electronic control in addition to the valve(s) that turns the water on or off when you wave your hand in front of it. Of course, you’ll pay extra for this feature.

There are hundreds of different styles of plumbing fittings available, from ultra contemporary to ultra traditional and everything in between. The available finishes are also part of your decision, especially if you want all of your bathroom fittings to match. Not all manufacturers have the finish you like in the style that appeals to you, so you may end up buying all of your plumbing fittings from one manufacturer. Here’s a list of finishes to consider:

  • Brass (antique, burnished, polished, satin); should have a “lifetime protective finish” to prevent tarnishing
  • Bronze (the finish may be affected by exposure to hard water)
  • Chrome (brushed, polished, satin)
  • Copper (the finish may be affected by exposure to hard water)
  • Nickel (antique, black, brushed, polished)
  • Powder coated (black, red, white, and other colors)
  • Stainless steel

Shower Fittings:

If your bathroom will include a new shower, you have many options available that can be confusing. Understanding the Different Types of Tub & Shower Valves is an excellent article to explain what valves are and how they work. There are also diverter valves that can switch different water supplies on and off for maximum control. Diverters can be a separate valve or they may be included with the temperature and pressure valve that turns the water on and off. Then there are choices for water distribution:

  • Fixed shower heads with multiple types of spray
    • “Standard” wall mount
    • Rainhead wall mount
    • Rainhead ceiling mount
  • Adjustable shower heads
  • Personal shower heads on a slide bar
  • Body sprays

Here’s a list of bathroom plumbing manufacturers that I recommend to my clients:

Bathroom Finishes – Countertops:

Confusion creeps in when you think about all of your available choices and patterns for your bathroom countertop. You have to think about your color scheme, whether you want your countertop to blend or contrast. Of course, you must consider your investment, too, because your decision has to fit into your target budget. Several years ago, I wrote a blog entitled “Bathroom and Kitchen) Countertops – An Overview” that had three follow-up sections that detailed the pros and cons of the different types of countertops: 1/3, 2/3, and 3/3.

Bathroom Finishes – Floor, Walls, Backsplashes:

Your bathroom finishes can be anything you want them to be. For inspiration, visit the Houzz website, where you can see inspirational pictures. A certified bathroom designer knows about the best materials for your lifestyle and budget. You can find a certified bathroom designer at the National Kitchen and Bath Association website.

Safety and Accessibility:

Bathroom safety should be your highest priority, followed by function and appearance. Your bathroom flooring should have a texture for safety. Shiny tile or polished stone will become slippery like ice when wet. Matte or honed finishes can also be dangerous, as I discovered two weeks ago when I fell in our bathroom because there was a wet spot on the floor. A previous blog talks about why bathroom safety is so important. Curbless showers with linear drains are being requested by many homeowners. A recent project converted a powder room into a fully-accessible bathroom. Click on the link to see details.

In Conclusion:

In this blog, I’ve covered the best bathroom details to help you. Remodeling a bathroom can be confusing and frustrating, if you don’t have access to an experienced, certified bathroom designer.  A qualified designer has education, training and experience to personally guide you through all of the important decisions, and to prepare detailed plans reflecting all of your decisions.  I hope my podcasts and blogs help you make informed decisions about all of the important details for your remodeling and building projects, to reduce stress, limit confusion and frustration. My goal is to help you achieve a personal haven of tranquility and safety that reflects your lifestyle and priorities within a reasonable budget.

Listen to the Podcast: Best Bathroom Details Help To Make Great Decisions


As a Certified Master Kitchen-Bath Designer, I can (and will) help you make all layout and product decisions for your remodeled bathroom. Read more about me, then call 503-632-8801 so we can talk about your remodeling needs.

Essential Details Are Crucial For Your New Kitchen

Essential Details Are Crucial For Your New Kitchen

Many essential details  are crucial to achieve your ideal kitchen.  What details are necessary to consider when you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen? The first is style.

Fundamental Detail #1: What style appeals to you?

  • Asian: Emphasis on natural materials, strong horizontal lines and a mix of textures. The color scheme can be monochromatic (aka “shibui”) or high contrast.
  • Beach: Crisp white or aged driftwood cabinets with sand-colored countertops . Aqua blue and turquoise accent colors.
  • Contemporary: Clean and uncluttered, practical. European-style cabinets made of wood or high-gloss solid colors, or a combination. Backsplash accented with geometric shapes.
  • Craftsman: Simple straight lines, quality construction and minimal ornamentation. Emphasis on natural materials. This style originated with the Arts and Crafts movement, often confused with the Shaker style.
  • Eclectic: These kitchens have a mixture of textures, time periods, trends, and colors. Keep in mind that there shouldn’t be too many focal points.
  • Farmhouse: Rough-hewn beams and old-world appearance is the appeal of a farmhouse kitchen. Cabinets are simple style, often distressed; some cabinets may look like old repurposed furniture. Wood floors are popular for this style.
  • Industrial: Characterized by high ceilings, large windows, wide open space. Exposed brick and concrete, piping and structural supports.
  • Mediterranean: There’s nothing shy about a Mediterranean kitchen; it’s full of saturated colors, strong lines and ornate details. Often includes rough-hewn beams and dark wood cabinets.
  • Modern: Features flat surfaces, geometric forms, and little or no ornamentation or adornments. Cabinets are flat panels, made of wood or laminate with solid-color countertops.
  • Traditional: Embellished cabinets have raised-panel doors and drawers with heavy moldings; mix cabinet finishes and counter depths for a custom, furniture-style look.

The style of your kitchen is important. However, it’s more important — especially if you have an open floor plan — for your kitchen to blend with your home’s style and color scheme. You can see examples of these kitchen styles at Houzz.com. It’s the best resource to see examples and find information. The great thing about this site is the ability to save and send pictures to others. It’s a great communication tool! You can also find professionals in your area, and select products from the Houzz extensive catalogs.

Essential Kitchen Details: Homeowner Survey Sample

How To Define And Prioritize The Necessary Details

During the design and layout phase, you’ll be making hundreds of product decisions! To help you define the essential details you want to include in your new kitchen, I’ve created the 15-page Homeowner Kitchen Survey checklist.  It’s easy to download the Kitchen Survey: click the link below and fill out the simple form. The Kitchen Survey includes extensive lists about the following major topics to help you, in an easy-to-use format:

  • Architectural Features (doors, windows, skylights, HVAC, exterior walls, roof)
  • Appliances
  • Plumbing
  • Cabinets
  • Countertops and backsplashes
  • Flooring

The Kitchen Survey has other information to define your lifestyle, color preferences, and ergonomics that may affect the layout. Your new kitchen should meet your needs for a specific style. But it must also be functional and safe. If any of the essential details that define function and safety get overlooked, they could negatively impact your end results.

Most of us use our kitchen differently from the way it was originally designed to be used. This is one of the major motivators for kitchen remodeling. Homeowners typically ask for more and better storage, more countertop area, and appliances that make kitchen chores easier. There is often a request for custom features that fit the occupants’ unique lifestyle.

Appliance Placement Is The Most Important Detail

I ask about the food that the family likes and how they prepare it. I also ask about how meal preparation and cleanup chores are shared. As we chat,  I observe and ask about their dominant hand, because we always move towards our dominant hand. This is important when placing appliances in relationship to countertop landing areas.  Years ago, NKBA did motion studies and determined that someone with a dominant right hand wastes more time when the dishwasher is on the right-hand side of the sink. Why? Here’s what happens:

Right-handers will pick up a glass, dish or utensil with their right hand. Then they transfer it to their left hand, and use their right hand to scrape and rinse the item. Then they put down the scraper or sponge and transfer the item to their right hand to place the item in the dishwasher. Then they repeat the same motions with the next item. That’s many transfers per load! This equates to time wasted doing the dishes! When you’re cleaning up after meals, observe how many times you have to transfer from one hand to the other. Now you have something to think about when you’re layout out your new kitchen!

When I was attending kitchen design classes, I had an “old-school” teacher who emphasized the importance of the working triangle. It’s still a reference used by the NKBA: “. . .  an imaginary straight line drawn from the center of the sink, to the center of the cooktop, to the center of the refrigerator and finally back to the sink. It should be no more than 26′ total.  No single leg of the triangle should be less than 4′ or longer than 9′.”

The working triangle assumes that only one person will be using the kitchen, which doesn’t align with current multiple-user trends.  The original triangle didn’t include a microwave.  A microwave oven is used more often than a cooktop because it’s uses less energy and heats food faster.  A microwave-convection oven is used more often than a standard oven. It cooks food faster and uses less energy because the oven cavity is smaller. Instead of using the work triangle solely, I prefer to use a customized work station layout that is defined by the activity and the family’s lifestyle: 

♦  Main course preparation

♦  Salad and vegetable preparation

♦  Baking preparation

♦  Serving

♦  Cleanup

An Overlooked Essential Detail: Appliance Doors

There is an essential detail to consider when placing appliances: Do the open doors create a conflict with traffic or another appliance? Years ago, I learned a simple step to avert problems: on the floor plan, show all of the appliance doors open, using dotted lines.

Many older homes have ovens that are placed adjacent to a doorway. This is very dangerous, especially if young children live in or visit the home. It’s normal to leave an oven door open after we’ve moved the food to a countertop. When children come dashing into the kitchen full-tilt, they don’t see the open oven door. It’s a catastrophe waiting to happen. This is a good reason to show all appliance doors open on the floor plan.

But appliance placement is just part of your new kitchen. The appliances you choose are affected by your lifestyle. In recent years, I’ve seen increased interest in a single oven with a separate microwave-convection oven.  French-door refrigerators with a bottom freezer drawer generally provide better storage than side-by-side refrigerators. They’re a better option than refrigerators with full-sized doors because the door swing can block an aisleway.

Light Is A Key Detail For Success

Lighting is an essential detail that not only enhances your beautiful new kitchen, but makes it functional and safe. To be effective, lighting must be designed to work in layers. This is achieved by using three or four dimmers. The quantity and quality of light is different for preparation, serving, eating, entertaining and cleanup. We’re lucky to have dimmable LED fixtures to light our kitchen. Lighting falls into four categories:

1.  Ambient or General: It usually refers to natural light, coming through windows etc. It can also mean artificial lights such as recessed fixtures used to light walkways.

2.  Task: Increasing illuminance to accomplish a specific activity. General lighting can be reduced because task lighting provides focused light where needed.

3.  Mood: This is often overlooked. But it’s easy to achieve with dimmers that provide flexibility of use.

4.  Accent: This focuses light on a particular area or object, like a painting on the wall or beautiful accents inside a display cabinet. It can also be the object of interest, like beautiful blown-glass pendant fixtures over an island or peninsula. Accent lighting creates visual interest to a room.

Recap: Essential Details For Your Kitchen

To be successful, your new kitchen requires a lot of thought about all of the essential details, starting with style. Then there are all of the products that will be included in your kitchen. The placement of your appliances determines the layout, how you’ll use your kitchen. Lighting is the final necessary detail in your kitchen. Can you achieve everything on your own? Only a certified professional kitchen designer who has the education, training and experience can help you make all of the decisions ahead. And a professional kitchen designer will  prepare detailed plans for estimates, permits, and construction. You can find certified kitchen designers in your area with a search on the NKBA site.

Get the FREE Homeowner Kitchen Survey!

PODCAST: Essential Details For Your Kitchen


If you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen, I’d love to help you! Read about me to learn how I’m uniquely qualified. Then call me today (503-632-8801), so I can learn more about what you’d like to achieve in your new kitchen.