Noteworthy Books for Kitchen and Bath Pros

Style To Go: Bed & Bath
By Josh Garskof
The Taunton Press, Newtown, CT

A sourcebook for the style-conscious, the Style To Go books are a series of pocket-sized references that offer snappy tips and style points for everyone from designers and builders to savvy consumers.

Bed & Bath aims to show an effective symbiosis between the two sanctuary rooms in the home. Garskof examines what makes the rooms work, what makes them worthy of retreat and how master bedroom and bath designs can work in concert with one another without standing in contrast or monotonously blending together.

With helpful sidebars including tips and tricks to overcome style challenges such as limited space and storage issues, Bed & Bath shows conventional styles with customized twists such as the inclusion of unusual wood species, often combined with a traditional element like wainscoting and moldings to make the space truly personal.

Suggestions for satisfying the homeowner’s needs during the process are peppered throughout, such as ideas for selecting tile accents, and how to choose and combine attractive, slip-resistant surfaces for the bath.

Garskof suggests the creation of “bathroom work zones” where, much like the kitchen work triangle, activities can be usefully grouped together to create an efficient, shareable space, better for busy families.

Additional suggestions include ideas for decorative/functional hardware selection and innovative storage solutions to make small areas such as narrow guest baths feel luxurious.

Garskof completes this volume with a comprehensive product source guide, lists of builder- and designer-friendly organizations and resources for each bed and bath featured. From simple tips about matching new and salvaged bath components to form a singular look, to tips about changing up decorative hardware to infuse a new look into old cabinetry and doors, the strengths of the Style To Go series lay in its wide inclusion of ideas that fit every budget and its attentive, eye-catching photography.

Contemporary Asian Bathrooms
By Chami Jotisalikorn and Karina Zabihi
Periplus/Tuttle Publishing, Vermont

Successful ethnic design, no matter what culture it is derived from, thrives on merging the effects of that culture with the latest innovations to create a thrilling aesthetic. And contemporary Asian bathroom design is no different.

In this richly photographed coffee table book, Jotisalikorn and Zabihi give a complete history of the Asian bathroom, from its outdoor origins to its modern-day status as art form.

The books include photos from private homes – luxurious Southeast Asian spas and resorts – that any designer charged with creating “a temple dedicated to body worship” would do well to take note of during the design process.

The designers featured are of a new generation ushering in a wave of innovative bath design who desire to bring their designs to an international audience, the authors further note.

Utilizing locally available materials such as coconut shell in the Philippines and Balinese boulders crafted into soaking tubs, the signature of each is the successful marriage of traditional elements, clean, modern design and regional flavor.

The harnessing of local objects is key. In parts of Southeast Asia, outdoor living influences home building, and the bathroom’s integration of that concept looms large. The idea of the bathroom as sanctuary is found in the serene lines and subtle colors of baths in this book.

The photos of the various spaces all have one thing in common and that is the proof that the essence of Asian minimalism survives: clean lines. Although the soul of the movement is intact, other trends point to a widening palette of materials growing in popularity. Traditional white tile is taking a back seat to versatile, eye-catching materials such as terrazzo, identified as the “material of the moment” in Asia, and clean, sleek stainless steel.

Minimal chic, long a hallmark of Asian design’s past, still has a strong presence, but the authors point to a growing trend of daring designs blending traditional materials in reimagined situations. Other trends include giving every-day household objects a second life, reimagined as trendy bathroom fixtures.

This new adventurous spirit allows the blending of Western influence, like the marriage of a cream-toned modern palette, Indian antiques and Philippe Starck fixtures to create a fresh, innovative design that is distinctly Asian in influence.

Smart Business for Contractors: A Guide to Money and the Law
James M. Kramon
The Taunton Press, Newtown, CT

Written by James Kramon, a lawyer with an extensive background in contractor/trade litigation, Smart Business for Contractors covers everything from writing effective letters of agreement for your clients to staying on top of the most beneficial insurance plans for you and your business.

Kramon is in awe of what a contractor can do, and the fruits of his efforts show it. In his quest to create “one manageable volume [that includes] everything the typical contractor needs to know about business matters,” he spoke with many contractors, trying to get a sense of where the gap in information was, and how he could help to fill it in.

The result is Smart Business for Contractors, an immersive text meant to comprehensively educate contractors and, indeed, any subcontractors who must deal with issues of liability, insurance and self-care in an industry that is led by the small business owner.

In its 12 chapters, Smart Business, part of Taunton’s “For Pros, By Pros” series, covers the groundwork of running a builder’s business, like setting up effective pricing, billing and collection methods; the details of setting up an office and dealing with a growing staff; how to keep and maintain organized records, and knowing when it’s time to seek help with record-keeping. It also covers how to manage taxes, and the details Kramon says an average contractor starting out might overlook, such as planning ahead for retirement, making the best use of provided health coverage and how to handle those first contracted jobs.

With common sense tips included and written in a plain-spoken text that makes the legal jargon easy to negotiate, Smart Business for Contractors is a must for any builder or contractor with a small business, trying to make their own way.

50 Great Bathrooms by Architects
Edited by Aisha Hasanovic
Images Publishing, Australia

From the publisher of notable design and architecture books comes this handsomely designed showcase of baths designed by noted and up-and-coming architects. Accompanied by personal notes about the designs by the architects who created them, the full-color photographs and layouts are accompanied by very little text, which lets each bathroom literally speak for itself.

This sharp coffee table book shows how architects interpret differently the traditional notions of the bathroom as the haven of the home for it occupants. As its editor says, it is a place for “relaxation, grooming and total privacy.”

The full-color photos reveal the prevailing trends subtly: Modernist lines, vessel sinks and spa-like shower environments all make an appearance, as does the growing interest in bringing nature into room design.

Working as an idea book, 50 Great Bathrooms by Architects gives a peek into the minds of the designer to see what inspires today’s truly stand-out baths.

50 Great Kitchens by Architects
Edited by Aisha Hasanovic
Images Publishing, Australia

The sister book to 50 Great Bathrooms, 50 Great Kitchens by Architects explores a wide variety of projects by noted and up-and-coming architects and offers notes about what makes the design elements come together by the architect who worked on it.

A coffee table book with lush photography, 50 Great Kitchens includes detailed layout and renderings of each kitchen.
Every trend and style is represented here, from a Modernist look with straight lines and splashes of color in the details to experimental kitchens with unusual use of natural light and window placement.

Other features include kitchen designs incorporating the outdoors, and keeping appliances at the same depth and/or hiding appliances behind custom cabinetry or in enclaves to create a sleek line for the eye to follow. The book also looks at using unusual wood species and other materials to create a custom look and incorporating a family work station into the design for items like computers and organizational tools.

Ultimate Guide to Kitchens: Plan, Remodel, Build
By the editors of Creative Homeowner
Creative Homeowner, Upper Saddle River, NJ

While designing a beautiful kitchen may sometimes come easily, designing a kitchen with special needs can be more complicated. For instance, accommodating a homeowner who is aging-in-place and requires more natural light in the kitchen requires specialized knowledge and skills.

In keeping with this idea, Ultimate Guide covers a wide range of topics that kitchen designers might not have a specialty in, but could use to enhance their designs and expand their profit centers.

From the basics of window design to the nitty-gritty of drywalling, wiring and hanging a chandelier, the book offers a host of information to help designers understand and work more effectively with contractors.