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Building the Heart of a Show Home: An Interview with Studio Dearborn’s Sarah Robertson 

By Design, Featured, Uncategorized

What happens when you take ten accomplished designers and give them a new-construction blank slate for the House Beautiful Whole Home Concept 2020? Bold designs, luxurious finishes, and room after room of Instagramable spaces. This 5,400-square-foot house built in the Fox Hill neighborhood located between Denver and Colorado Springs, Colorado, is a style unto its own, with each room as unique as the designer who imagined the space.

Since the kitchen is both the heart and anchor of a home, Sarah Robertson of Studio Dearborn was the first designer hired for the project. Though she set the tone and palate for the rest of the spaces, her design went through dozens of iterations. Sarah tells us all about working with other designers, how it differs from a regular residential project, what you have to consider with the architecture of a home, and her must-haves for every kitchen design!

Q: How was it? How was it working on this house? What were your general feelings, and how was it balancing your space with other designer spaces?

Sarah: That’s a really good question. That was the hardest, worst aspect because the kitchen was wide open to the family room and the dining area to the foyer. So, the whole center part of the home was wide open. And of course, because it was a show house, the designers wanted to make a big statement. And we’re in the kitchen, caught in the middle of these two different spaces between the dining area and the family room. House Beautiful advised, “Sarah, you need to establish what you want to do, and then let everyone else work around that because the kitchen is the most important space. So, I put it out there, here’s what I want to do. And it wasn’t going to work at all with what Andrea had planned for the dining room. So, I threw my entire plan out, started over, and then ended up redoing my design like 20 times to get it to be something that I liked. It was frustrating; it was hard to get to a design that I was excited about, and that felt like it wouldn’t fight with the adjacent spaces. There were so many compromises in the process, but it ended up feeling like a really good fit for the house, and I think that it was just important to me. Since the house was a spec home, I didn’t want to give them a kitchen that the new homeowners would hate.

 

Q: How does that differ from when you’re brought into a homeowner’s space where they have no intention of redecorating the other areas that join with the kitchen, and you’re tasked to work with the kitchen? How is that different than this process? Or is it different?

Sarah: It’s very different. I mean, it’s usually one of two situations. If the spaces are already done, they’re usually pretty neutral. But in a showhouse, everyone’s gunning to get their space on the front cover. And so, they’re pushing the envelope with the design, and you can wind up with spaces that don’t play nicely with adjacent rooms. So, that’s different and, if they’re not done, then I don’t worry about them at all, and they’ll do this room later on once I’m done with the kitchen. So, there’s that piece of it. There was also a tremendous amount of guesswork as to what the other designers were going to do. You have to remember that everyone is working on their designs simultaneously—it felt a bit like a game of “rock paper scissors!” And then I guess it was just the fact that there was more pressure, in general, to feel like it had to be completely amazing, whereas when I’m doing something for a client, I feel like it has to be all about them. It has to feel right to them. So the client is the reality check on whether the design feels genuine.

Q: Who does the overall architecture of the home? Do they give you that? Or who makes that?

Sarah: The builder’s architect already did the architectural drawings, and they had broken ground not that long, honestly, before they hired me… But anyway, the plans were pretty well set. I talked to them about maybe adding a window to the kitchen because I love to have a lot of light in kitchens and a lot of windows. Based on where this home was, I just assumed that it must have great views out every window, right? So, I asked the builder what the deal was out the back? But they said the view wasn’t great out the kitchen windows so that we couldn’t make a feature of the view.

 

Q: Are there elements that you try to include in all of your designs? Even a show home?

Sarah: I try to use all the storage elements that I already appreciate, and my clients appreciate. So, the double garbage pullout, the paper towel holder, which in this case was integrated with the garbage can. If my clients are willing to do compost, I always do compost but what was new was that stainless steel cover—I had never done one of those before. Pullouts that are flanking the range are something that I try to do in every kitchen because I just love them. I think they’re so practical and easy.

 

Q: I always think about these common elements, too, like flooring that’s mostly ubiquitous throughout spaces. Is that something that you had sway over? Is that set by an architect or builder or something like that?

Sarah: Yeah, the floor was our first challenge. In this case, we were in an open space. We didn’t see ourselves as having the option of putting down a different floor. We designed the kitchen before they had chosen the flooring. We came up with a design for the kitchen that we loved, but then their choice for the floor would have been a disaster with the cabinets we had picked. It sounds cliche, but it is the groundwork, and what’s going on the floor impacts everything. And, of course, there’s so much cabinetry in a kitchen, it probably impacts the kitchen more than any other room. Other designers can throw down a rug or even carpet, and we don’t have that option because you can’t hide the floor in the kitchen. So it was frustrating not to know what that choice was going to be. Ultimately, when they changed the flooring at the last minute, we did not have enough time to respond to that new color and create more samples for the cabinetry color. We were stuck with what we’d already sampled just from a timeline perspective.

 

Q: Do you have a favorite element or a couple of favorites that are unique to this project?

Sarah: Just from an aesthetic standpoint, that batten detail on the refrigerator, and then on the hood, mixed with a little bit of the brass was new to this kitchen. And I think it would be fun to do that again in another design. We initially planned for that element to be wood, which I think would be pretty as an accent in another kitchen.

Q: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask, how did the pandemic factor into all this? And what considerations or concessions did you have to make as a result?

Sarah: You know, there were a lot. Some of it just had to do with the fact that we couldn’t reach people. When everyone shifted to working at home, many vendors were just out of touch, and they just weren’t able to respond to our emails, which caused us to run behind. And then we started running into production issues with getting what we wanted. We did have to make decisions all along the way of A) what did we want to use, and then B) was it available, and c) would they even return our calls. So it was everything from the hardware to the leather. I have to say that the companies we chose were amazing in terms of what they did for us in the middle of a pandemic. It would have been incredible, even if we hadn’t been in the middle of a pandemic, how quickly some of our vendors turned things around.

We were incredibly lucky that my cabinet makers kept their manufacturing facility open the whole time, no COVID related shutdowns. They made the decision—the tough decision—to go ahead and continue operating. They looked at it and said, hey, we’re allowed to operate legally, and it’s what we think is best for our employees. They were being rigorous about quarantining. So, they hit their deadlines while some designers struggled to get things delivered at all.

And then, of course, we had the issue of can we go out there. I couldn’t go out for the measurement, where I fully expected to fly out to measure the walls for cabinetry, and I couldn’t do that. So that became a new challenge for me; how do you handle a measuring session remotely? And thankfully, with Zoom and FaceTime, it’s much more like being there. It can be awkward if the contractor feels like somehow, they’re going to be responsible if they’re helping with the measure, and then if something goes wrong. Because typically, the cabinetry company would come in and measure themselves. So right there, that liability factor comes into play that you wouldn’t normally have to deal with.

 

Q: So, what happens with all the stuff?

Sarah: Well, in the kitchen, the majority of the fixtures stay. Decorative things, like the artwork, for instance, the artists will come in and pick that up, or we ship it back. And then the rest gets auctioned! For instance, William Sonoma provided a huge amount of our kitchen items, and it’ll all get auctioned.

(Editor’s Note: House Beautiful launched their Design Unites philanthropic platform powered by Charitybuzz to auction off items donated by both the designers and sponsors of the Whole Home Concept House 2020. Proceeds will go directly in support of Habitat for Humanity’s Annual House Party.)

 

Q: Would you do another show home in 2021? If yes, what learned lesson would be the most valuable to bring to the next one?

Sarah: I’d prefer not to in 2021.  While incredibly rewarding, doing a show house is a massive investment of time.  My youngest is entering his senior year of high school in 2021 and I’d like to prioritize time with him and the rest of the family.  After he is safely off to college, I might think about another one in 2022!!  It would be really fun to do a showhouse where the designers aren’t all socially distanced!!  I’d love to shake some hands and give some congratulatory hugs next time!

Introducing Short Base Pullout

By Design, Products, Uncategorized

Introducing Short Base Pullout!

Short Base Pullout joins the family of Kesseböhmer’s Base Pullout options offering a fit for door/drawer combination cabinets. The shorter frame is available in two frame colors, can be combined with any of our five tray color combinations, and fits cabinets with interior heights from 20-28”. Designers can incorporate the Short Base Pullout into a wide variety of cabinet widths with 12 different tray sizes ranging from 4″ to 20″.

 

The Short Base Pullout uses the same center-mounted runner, supported at the top and bottom, to ensure a smooth, consistent operation each time. The addition of the lateral support bar makes this top support possible when cabinet construction prohibits roller guide mounting. The Base Pullout smoothly glides the contents of your base cabinet out to give you clear access, on both sides, to your itmes stored. ARENA non-slip shelves ensure all your items stay put when operating your unit!

Introducing YouK

By Company, Featured, Products

Kesseböhmer USA’s New Customizable Open Shelving System

We are proud to introduce to you the newest addition to our line of storage solutions, YouK. This powder-coated metal open shelving system is fully customizable. YouK’s various frameworks are offered in two depths and four heights that can be mixed and matched. The system’s high scratch resistance is achieved by incorporating a large portion of Teflon into the surface finish and will keep the unit looking great year after year. The YouK frame system is offered in a matte black and is equipped with optional feet so you can extend this wall-mounted system to the floor! Shelves are not included, so you can choose a shelf to match the rest of your design!

Kitchen Open Shelving

Open shelving in the kitchen is a stylish way to reimagine kitchen storage. YouK is the perfect option for incorporating wall mounted open shelving into your space!

Bathroom Open Shelving

Open shelving in the bathroom is a great way to add additional storage space for bathroom essentials.

Livingroom Open Shelving

YouK is the optimum choice when incorporating open shelving into your livingroom design. It’s modular functionality enables it to be used as a furniture piece, or as a room divider in open spaces!

2020 Design Trends

By Design, General, Uncategorized

A Look Ahead—Kitchen Trends for 2020

As a decade comes to a close, it’s a good time to discuss design trends that will define this year and the 2020s. Insider gives a comprehensive overview of the top trends of the 2010s, noting the shift from warm neutrals to cooler tones, and the emergence of the all-white kitchen. Last year saw terrazzo make a stately come back, black and bold colors eclipsing the ever-popular white cabinet, and open shelving showed us that it is here to stay. We have canvassed design blogs and resources to compile a list of design trends that will kick-start this decade! 

Integrated Storage Solutions 

2020 will see double duty spaces where storage can be both functional and discrete, according to KBB Online. Designated storage solutions and integrated functionality improve the layout, flow, and usable space. 

Photo Credit: @KBBCollective.KBBOnline.com
Kesseböhmer Wastebin Pullout (Double)
Photo Credit: @StudioDearborn

Open shelving & Deep drawers

Open shelving is a trend that we have seen gain popularity over the late 2010s, and it is here to stay with the start of this new decade. The widespread use of open shelving will continue to extend beyond the kitchen. Deep drawers have begun to emerge as a growing trend in lieu of traditional hinged door lower cabinets. 

Kesseböhmer StraightLine for Deep Drawers
Kesseböhmer YouK (coming soon!)
Kesseböhmer tRACK

Double islands 

Kitchen islands have become design staples. Why have just one of what you love, when you can have two? When space is not a concern, double islands have become popular choices to create a visually appealing way to utilize floor space, increase storage, and define areas in open-floor plan configurations. 

Photo credit: @CourtneyHillInteriors
Photo credit: @kitchenarchitecture.co.uk.
Photo credit: @Magnolia

Pantry cabinets

Tall pantry cabinets, sometimes called larder cabinets, have begun to rise in popularity. Having a convenient, one-stop location to store dry food items is emerging as the new kitchen must-have. 

Kesseböhmer Tandem Pantry
Kesseböhmer Dispensa
Kesseböhmer Tandem Solo

Kesseböhmer USA’s Event Manager, Morgan Chiarelly, Awarded 30 Under 30!

By Events, Uncategorized

Kesseböhmer USA’s Event Manager, Morgan Chiarelly, Awarded 30 Under 30!

Each year, the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) honors thirty kitchen and bath industry professionals with the title, 30 Under 30. The program is designed to celebrate the future of the industry by recognizing young professional’s contributions and achievements. The winners help identify significant trends, innovation and technology, sustainable business practices, and emerging business models at KBIS each year. 

This year, Kesseböhmer USA’s Event Manager, Morgan Chiarelly, joins the other young professionals as a 30 under 30 recipient for 2020! Chiarelly is recognized for her accomplishments with Kesseböhmer and within the Kitchen and Bath industry. Her potential for future industry leadership, as well as her commitment to Kesseböhmer USA, industry organizations, and community outreach programs, makes her an outstanding choice for this honor. 

We sat down with Morgan to chat about this award and what it means to her! 

How does it feel to be awarded the 30 under 30 title?

“The accolade alone is exhilarating! Still, our Managing Director, David Ivey, nominating me and hearing from other colleagues how deserving they think I am of the award has me overflowing with joy. I am eager to get to KBIS and meet the other 30_30s, inspire the industry, and make my company and NKBA Eastern Carolina’s chapter proud.”

What do you think it takes for a young professional to be successful in this industry?

“Patience! We work in an industry that has been around for a long time; the NKBA was founded in 1963, and designers have been taught “best practices” that may very well not be as practical in this day-and-age. We are now working in a new world, driven by technology. From my experience, change can be intimidating to those who don’t fully understand how much they have to gain from a young professional’s take on day-to-day tasks and projects. We are here to drive the future, but we also have to take into consideration the experiences and growing pains previous generations dealt with before our time.”

Describe your favorite trends, design style, or products!

“We are in a very exciting time in the kitchen industry! Honestly, at this point, I feel as if I’ve exposed to too much! The open-concept trends and having a workstation on the island to encourage cooking to be an engaging experience has been my favorite to dream about for my future kitchen. Contemporary and minimalist designs are what resonate with me. I love the dark wood or black cabinetry with fresh white countertops and smooth stainless steel appliances. Of course, working with storage solutions, the contemporary kitchen being functional with a place for everything is a must; I can hardly wait to outfit my future kitchen with cabinet and drawer solutions.”

Tell us about yourself, your company, job profile, etc.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have the position I have with Kessebohmer USA. I manage events and projects for a company that genuinely drives global trends and influences the industry on a global scale.”

What is your philosophy towards your work?

“One of my all-time favorite quotes is Thomas Jefferson’s, “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” There has never been a procrastinating bone in my body, and I’m always willing to take the initiative to get the ball rolling on a concept or project. Making time for work-life balance, and having the time to give back to my community is very important to me as well.”

How do you define success, and how do you measure up to that definition?

“Saved the toughest one for last!! Success is hard to measure in my particular role because ROI on the events and projects I am managing doesn’t always correlate with numbers. Because of that, success in my world is directly correlated to my quality-of-life in the workplace. I believe I am successful because I work for a great company, with great people, in a great town, and my opinions and suggestions are truly valued and validated.”

Kesseböhmer USA Hosts NKBA Eastern Carolinas!

By Uncategorized

Kesseböhmer USA Hosts NKBA Eastern Carolinas!

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) provides an integral link between industry professionals and a network of resources across the US and Canada. The NKBA has 70 chapters that you can join to become an engaged member of your local kitchen and bath community and also obtain invaluable professional certifications.

Last month, we had the pleasure of hosting the Eastern Carolina’s Chapter of the NKBA for a CEUs by the Sea event in our new Historic Downtown Wilmington office and kitchen showroom space. We are so grateful to the NKBA Programs Chair, Christine Zahuranec, for planning a phenomenal event alongside NKBA Secretary / Treasurer and Kesseböhmer USA’s Event Manager, Morgan Chiarelly. A big thanks to all the design professionals who participated and made this inaugural event a success!

CEUs by the Sea was unique in that there were over 6 hours of CEUs presented throughout the weekend. A big thanks to Bebhinn Gray of Cosentino, Kesseböhmer’s own Dee Maher, Tim West from Native Trails, Gary Booth of Bosch/Gaggenau/Thermador, Marni Corley from The Binnick Group, and Ashley Morrison from Abundant Marketing. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the wealth of knowledge each presenter carefully and informatively illustrated.

A huge thank you to our sponsors Häfele, Native Trails, and Galley for a successful event!

CEUs by the Sea

CEUs by the Sea

Kesseböhmer USA hosted the Eastern Carolina’s Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) June 21 & 22 for a weekend of enriching continuing eduction hours!

“Driving the Future”Kesseböhmer Germany at Interzum 2019 – Clever Storage by Kesseböhmer

By Uncategorized

Last month, our German parent company exhibited at Interzum 2019 in Cologne, Germany. Their impressive booth focused on displaying a new generation of forward-looking product innovations with smart design, clever technology, and well thought out digital applications. Kesseböhmer showcased new designs centered around their theme of “Driving the Future.”

The new iteration of Kesseböhmer’s booth was constructed with tRACK, the new convertible shelf system that can be customized to suit individual needs. The thematic highlight of the booth was the concept of lifting, showcased by the FREEspace. This new lifter boasts a slim, compact design, offering just as much power as traditional larger models, but with a more streamlined design.

Trending at Interzum was the urban smart kitchen design. This trend focused on the need for smart home integrations as well as space-conservative accessories and appliances. Kesseböhmer displayed how a 64 sq ft space can be a fully-functional kitchen when outfitted with accessories that maximize storage in tight spaces. Additionally, Kesseböhmer is equipping its relevant storage solutions to be smart-home ready with activated voice technology.

tRACK by VOLUME K

tRACK is the newest convertible shelving system that can be totally customized.

Learn More

FREEspace lifter

This streamlined lifter provides all the function of traditional models but with a compact design.

Learn More

Take a digital tour of Kesseböhmer’s 2019 Interzum booth!