November Pro to Pro

What do you think? E-mail us your feedback, contact information and the subject line, 'Pro to Pro' with your message.

Have a question and looking for feedback from industry peers? This month KBDN listens in on dialogue between industry professionals as excerpted from the online Designer Discussion Forum.

Staying Current

I have recently entered the world of e-newsletters to keep up with contacts. My big problem is coming up with topics to write about. Everything I’ve read says the newsletter should be useful and not a complete advertisement about me.

What Web sites do you visit to stay abreast of current trends? Somehow I have trouble translating the information in the trade journals into topics that would be of interest to consumers.

Any suggestions?

Response 1
This is a good question! If you want up-to-the-minute searches of current discussions on kitchen design, I would suggest that you sign up for Google alerts. Type in a subject, such as kitchen remodeling, and you will get the most recent article across the blogosphere, in media print, and Web sites. You can refine your choices or leave it as broad as you want.

With this resource, I am never at a loss for new topics to share with consumers. For example, two topics that I find myself researching more and more are “aging-in-place design” and “formaldehyde-free plywood options in cabinets.”
—KB Design 1

Response 2
That is a great idea. You may also want to talk to allied professionals – such as real estate agents – to find out what buyers and sellers are looking for in kitchen and bath designs.

Other areas of interest may include utility/laundry rooms, closets and garages. I would also suggest that designers talk to appliance and decorative plumbing salespeople about new products and buying trends that are impacting the market.

Response 3
Another suggestion is that you can Google “kitchen bath trends for 2007,” or things like that. This also works well in regard to specific items, such as “faucet trends for 2007,” or something to that effect.

Collaboration Issues

I need advice on a new kitchen client who contacted me today.

She already has her architect, remodeler and cabinetmaker and now wants to hire me as the final piece of the team.

I will be meeting with her for the first time soon and I would like some input from those of you who are experienced working in this type of team arrangement – especially these arrangements that are set up from the beginning of the project. It appears that this is a design consulting role that I would be taking on. I will not be providing any product, so I plan to charge by the hour.

I have never designed for a cabinetmaker before – always instead getting involved with custom and semi-custom manufactured lines. I am going to stretch myself on this one and I want to of course do my very best job, but could really use your insights!

Response 1
This is the capacity I primarily work in. In fact, most of my referrals come from a woodworking company that does not have the time to do the design end of things. I also work with architects and interior designers.

In my experiences, I find the interior designers most difficult in that design ideas often take over function or practicality, inserting decorating ideas that shouldn’t necessarily be used in a particular application. Those are the times that I need to step back and take a deep breath, depending on the situation.

An important thing to keep in mind is that the architects usually have a concept in mind, as does the client. Your job as the kitchen and bath designer is to take all of those items and bring them together in a cohesive design set of drawings.

What I find most challenging here is that there are times when it seems like you aren’t designing all that much. However, when the drawings begin to gel, then creativity kicks in and you are able to come up with a signature element, or options to present to all of the people involved.

For my part, I usually have set up the design set of drawings during the first stage, carefully making sure that all appliances will work in the application and that any custom cabinets can be made, as well as lighting considerations, and even HVAC considerations. I don’t go into great detail, but ensure that it will work out if we include those elements into the design.
For my purposes, the fact that I have worked in a woodshop helps here, but you can always get feedback from the cabinet company as well. For instance, many times sufficient dimensions are measured and given (even though sometimes the project is a year off and the dimensions are theoretical), etc.

Typically, the next step taken is to begin shop drawings. Usually the design part is done for the client or architect, then, when doing shop drawings, I am working for the shop. However, you may not need to be doing the shop drawings at all, and this should be found out at the very beginning.

If you have no experience in this area it will be difficult as shop drawings are so much different from design drawings. Even when detailing drawings for a custom cabinet line for a previous employer, it was not the same as shop drawings for a woodworking shop. When I first started working this way, I was nervous and uncomfortable about all the sides involved. In fact I often wondered why they needed me. What could I possibly say?

My suggestion is to just be open to the opportunity, listen, remember what you do bring to the table – such as knowledge of how a kitchen functions, details – as well as your experience and perspective. Everything will then fall into place.

I would also suggest that you try to establish a relationship with the cabinet company so that discussions and learning can take place in a seamless fashion.

Response 2
What would you suggest in regard to the best way for me to learn how to do shop drawings? How is this different from the NKBA drawing standards used for the CKD exam?

My other question is whether there is a publication that I might use as a reference if it is different from the NKBA standards?

Response 3
I wanted to offer my opinion in regard to shop drawings.

They take a while to learn because you are drawing in detail the construction of a cabinet. All dimensions are specified to 32mm cabinets and knowledge of the machinery and construction process is needed. Knowledge of hardware is also needed, such as tolerances, actual dimes, applications, etc.

It took me years to learn, and I am still learning. The best advice I can give is to hook up with a company willing to teach you.

Response 4
By the way, do most designers submit their design plan to the cabinetmaker and then he/she does the shop drawings? Perhaps seeing your example will clarify the difference for me.

Response 5
You can get a free AutoCad viewer from It allows you to open and review any AutoCad drawing.

Response 6
I work for a cabinet and millwork manufacturer. I am a licensed interior designer and also do a lot of high-end kitchens. In my opinion, a designer only needs to furnish the design and detail the really custom pieces, such as wood rangehoods, refrigerator cabinets, post turnings, etc. The cabinet shop will use its standard construction for typical cabinets.

It is imperative that you give good specifications as to door/drawer style, species of cabinet exterior wood, cabinet interior, special hardware, shelves or pull-out trays. If you are doing a really expensive room you may want to specify a bookmatch sequence match cabinet front. You should also specify AWI custom or premium grade for the look you want. It all depends on the budget of the project.

Even with 32mm cabinets, a lot of cabinet shops use their own standards – and even then many are not 100% 32mm standards.

It has been my experience that a good cabinet shop will want to do their own shop drawings.

Response 7
Bronze Bird, do you use hand drawings, AutoCad, 20-20 or some other software for the design drawings you provide to the cabinet shop?

Response 8
We have several co-workers working with CAD and I do all hand detailing. One reason is that I do a lot of really fancy work on high-end residences, country clubs, and a lot of paneling for commercial projects, etc. One-
of-a-kind custom items are usually a lot faster to do by manual drawing. For standard cabinets, the computer is much faster because you can modify cabinets quickly for size, etc.

Stacking Cabinets



Response 1
Can you tell me in terms of wall cabinets and base cabinets? You can do arched all over or, probably more common, arched on top and square on the bottom (walls/bases respectively.) However, I’d be careful of telling her what’s right. Instead I’d tell her what’s “typical” and let her decide.

Response 2
When I’m stacking wall cabinets on top of each other I will put the arch cabinet on the very top, and use a square door cabinet underneath. The base cabinets are in the square door style.

I imagine you could stack an arched door on top of another arched door. I sometimes feel there are too many arches. I prefer the top cabinet to carry the arched line, and the cabinets underneath to stay square to pull the eye up to the arch on top.

Response 3
Now we’re only doing a stacked cabinet over the vent hood cabinet on one side of the room and between the oven cabinet and refrigerator on the opposite side. So, instead of doing double (stacked) walls all the way across, it’s just in the middle of each run. I think I could do both with an arch. I am stacking a 36" and a 14".

One more question: If I am using stacked crown moulding, I only do the stacked crown on the upper cabinets (the 14"), not the 36", right? I’m thinking the 36" should have standard crown.

Response 4
It depends on the look you want, as well as the height disparity between the lower and higher wall cabinets. Whatever the overall vertical height of the stacked moldings is, you need at least as much difference in cabinet height. In other words, if your wall cabinets are 90" and 96", your stacked moldings must be 6" overall height or shorter.

If the stacked moldings are large and complicated, we will eliminate one element at the lower level of the cabinets.

Response 5
If your taller wall cabinets aren’t deeper, too, you may encounter a problem with the crown returns.

I’m also assuming that you’ve probably already designed it for the returns, but I am mentioning it to you just in case.

Be aware that stacking the mouldings on the lower units would tend to compound the problem with the returns.

Editor’s Note: Material for Pro to Pro has been excerpted from the online Designer Discussion Forum at the Web site under an exclusive agreement with Kitchen & Bath Design News. is an online networking community for kitchen and bath professionals whose goal is to create a central forum for industry professionals, open 24/7, through which they can collectively share knowledge and information. This sharing of resources enhances the industry’s value to the public, builds more successful businesses and raises the bar of excellence in the industry.

To join in this free kitchen and bath industry discussion forum, sign up at, or contact Susan Serra for more information at