The Pinnacle of Success

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ –It’s not every day that people reach the pinnacle of their given field. It’s not only an honor, it also serves as an inspiration to all those aspiring to greatness. All of which is why the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s (NKBA) Design Competition pays tribute to top designs ceach year with its annual Design Competition.

The 42nd annual NKBA Design Competition once again honored the year’s most vibrant, innovative and inspired designs from top kitchen and bath designers, representing a cross section of the U.S and two provinces in Canada. After careful consideration by the judges, a total of 44 winners were selected from 11 categories.

This year, Lori Carroll and co-designer Mary Roles of Tucson, AZ-based Lori Carroll & Associates not only took home first place in the “Open Plan Kitchens” category, but also earned the “Pinnacle Design” award as the contest’s best design.

Carroll’s and Roles’ design not only combined stone, tile and light-colored woods for a more layered and textured feel, but also masterfully integrated a large center island for more efficient utilization and access between the kitchen proper and the living room (see related story, below).

Indeed, many of the designs this year featured nature-inspired materials and colors intermixed with high technology, incorporating everything from high-end appliances to plasma televisions.

But that is not to say that function wasn’t equally well represented in this year’s winning designs, which often featured clever and efficient use of space and innovative storage options – both in high demand among today’s consumers.

There were more than 470 entries submitted for the competition – a new record, according to NKBA officials. Judging was conducted by a panel of noted kitchen and bath designers, industry professionals, editors and publishers, with award-winning designs selected on the basis of visual appeal, creativity, elements and principles of design, presentation, basic safety and ergonomics.

Winning entries earned recognition at the NKBA Board of Directors’ Gala at the recent K/BIS in Chicago, as well as awards and prizes.

Sponsors included Sub-Zero Freezer Co.; Dornbracht USA, Inc.; 20-20 Technologies, Inc. and Meredith Corp.


Best Overall Design
Design Team Showcases ‘Natural Beauty’ and Earns Top Overall Honors

Ask Lori Carroll, and she will tell you that there is indeed such a thing as natural beauty.

In fact, that was precisely the case when Carroll – along with co-designer Mary Roles of Tucson, AZ-based Lori Carroll & Associates – incorporated stone, tile and light-colored woods to add depth and dimension to this spacious kitchen.

Indeed, it was this combination of natural materials and classic style that earned Carroll and Roles first-place honors in the “Open Plan Kitchens” category, as well as “Pinnacle Design” honors as the best overall design in the 2006 NKBA Design Competition.

“The unique thing about this kitchen was the island,’ says Roles. “The idea was to make it functional and usable at the same time.”

According to Carroll, the kitchen is enhanced by glossy granite countertops, which curve stylishly while still retaining an air of practicality.

For a vibrant effect, select walls were enveloped in shimmering bronze glass squares.

She offers: “Exclusive faux finishes were applied to blend flawlessly with the natural elements featured.” Carroll also adds that engaging vignettes border the food prep area, maximizing the entertainment potential of the space.

Complementing this design are a microwave, cooktop, oven and ventilation from Dacor, as well as a Sub-Zero and a Bosch dishwasher. French Vanilla limestone flooring finished off the look, Carroll adds.


Category 1 – Small Kitchens – 1st Place
Eye-Catching Kitchen Design Proves That Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Tom Trzcinski, CMKBD, of Pittsburgh, PA-based Kitchen & Bath Concepts of Pittsburgh knows that good things come in small packages.

How else to describe his entry in the 2006 NKBA Design Competition that was big enough on design details to earn first-place honors in the “Small Kitchens” category?

He explains: “The clients wanted their kitchen to be as attractive as the adjoining rooms that [featured] fine antiques.”

But, none of the entryways, walls, plumbing or electrical could be moved, and the existing parquet floor had to remain in place.

“The original kitchen was very unbalanced. We really wanted to widen it, and make everything very symmetrical,” he says.

To accomplish this, Trzcinski opted for a more airy look by adding matching storage and appliance cubbies on the walls adjacent to the cooktop.

The look is kept light with cream-glazed, custom maple cabinetry from Premier, seeded glass with wire mesh doors lit from inside, down lighting and undercabinet lights.

He adds: “When you look at the sides of the cabinetry, the sides of the refrigerator and the taller pantry, it looks like a window [because] we used an antique mirror to create some reflective value.”

Likewise, the French stucco hood with wood mantel from Dacor is flanked by butternut display cabinets, with one cabinet concealing a GE microwave behind a flip-up door. Drawers with elegant pulls and finished bun feet – found underneath the cooktop – also create a furniture feel.

He explains: “We had to maintain the wood flooring that was already there, but with the room as small as it was (9.5'x13'), it was really chopped up by the Sub-Zero and oven cabinet. [So we had] to move the tall units next to the Kohler sink. [However], putting the sink between the two taller units, there was not enough counter space to meet the requirements of those designs,” he adds.

Therefore, Trzcinski designed a sliding butcher block for the sink that allowed for countertop space on either side, as needed.

Completing the look are granite countertops.

Second-place honors in this category went to Jennifer Gilmer, CKD, of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchen & Bath, Ltd. in Chevy Chase, MD, who overcame structural challenges to create a stunning kitchen layout.

“There was a support column on the right side of the space, so we made it a design feature,” she says. She adds that the Thermador cooktop was a focal point, while the double ovens were replaced with a single oven under it.

Third-place honors were earned by Jan E. Regis, CMKBD of Pickering, Ontario, Canada-based Binns Kitchen & Bath Design, for an L-shaped kitchen remodel.


Category 2 – Medium Kitchens – 1st Place
Rejuvenated Small Kitchen Converted from Outdated to Old World

Needing to update a small, dark and outdated kitchen, Merrie Fredericks went old school, or rather, “Old World.”

Fredericks, CMKBD, for Newtown Square, PA-based Selective Design and Construction Inc. T/A Design Concepts Plus, explains: “The owners wanted Old World charm in a larger kitchen with a range, wall oven, two sinks, eating for five and a mudroom.”

In fact, she was able to accomplish this task so well that it earned her first-place honors in the “Medium Kitchens” category of this year’s Design Competition.

The kitchen was expanded by adding a mudroom with a stone archway defining the space and ample natural light.

Fredericks also included high-end products to the layout, selecting an oven, microwave and range from Wolf and a Bosch dishwasher.

She concludes that decorative columns, corbels, glass door cabinets, bead board wainscoting and bracket feet were added to enhance the feel, as well.

Second-place honors were earned by Vernon Applegate and co-designer Gioi Tran of San Francisco, CA-based Applegate Tran Interiors, who fused neutral tones with accents of warm red hues and stainless steel to create a minimalistic kitchen.

Third-place honors were earned by Erica Westeroth, CKD, and co-designer Tim Scott from Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based XTC Design Inc. who infused a drab, downtown condominium with natural light and a floorplan geared for entertaining.


Category 3 – Large Kitchens – 1st Place
Contemporary Kitchen Showcases Dramatic Asian Ambience

Sandra Steiner-Houck certainly has a flair for the dramatic – an Asian flair.

That flair was clearly evident in the kitchen she designed, which earned first-place honors in the “Large Kitchens” category in this year’s NKBA Design Competition.

Specifically, Steiner-Houck, CKD, of Steiner & Houck, Inc. in Columbia, PA, was asked to create a livable, yet sophisticated kitchen that offered subtle, Zen-like elements for a family of five.

To achieve the look, she began with quartered cherry veneers from Premier Custom Built, Inc. blended with granite countertops as well as a stainless steel island top and glass.

“The kitchen was designed with multiple islands to open the work areas. Maximum counter space was provided and wall cabinets were minimized to retain an open feel and allow the view to be a focal point,” she says.

To create the streamlined effect, Steiner-Houck utilized built-in and fully integrated appliances, including a Sub-Zero; a Wolf cooktop and ventilation hood; two Bosch dishwashers and two GE ovens. The Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer were specified as 36" dedicated units to provide maximum storage.

“By floating the sandblasted glass bar top, the space retained a lighter, more elegant feel,” she adds. “[Meanwhile] the wet bar was positioned out of the work area and convenient to the dining room for entertaining.”

The look is completed by a Marvel wine cooler and an In-Sink-Erator disposal as well as Grohe fixtures and sphere-shaped, stainless steel wall sconces from LBL.

Marcy Adler Wells, CKD of Fair Lawn, NJ-based Sticks n’ Stones, in conjunction with Ridgewood, NJ-based Ulrich, Inc., earned second-place honors in the “Large Kitchens” category with a galley-style kitchen that features an inviting, off-white paint with brown glaze and serves as the ideal gathering place for the client’s family. The design is capped off by Banquette cabinets from Wood-Mode, a Wolf range and oven, and granite countertops.

Earning third-place honors was Susan Klimala of Glen Ellyn, IL-based The Kitchen Studio of Glen Ellyn, who turned a 1950s-style Garrison colonial kitchen into a highly functional space with a range, dishwasher and refrigerator from Viking Range Corp. and Vermont Soapstone countertops with a cherry butcher block as part of the large, central island.

Category 4 – Open Plan Kitchens – 2nd Place
Unique, Open Plan Kitchen Promotes ‘Addition by Subtraction’

For Timothy Jerome Huber, design success came through an act of subtraction.

Earning second-place honors in the “Open Plan Kitchens” category, Huber, CKD of Scottsdale, AZ-based Affinity Kitchen Design Group, Inc. – along with co-designer Larry Langhurst of Phoenix, AZ-based Woodesign, Inc. – utilized space occupied by a walk-in pantry to create a reorganized layout, complete with a second island and a plethora of high-end products from KitchenAid, Sub-Zero and Wolf, among others.

Huber explains: “The walk-in pantry occupied nearly a quarter of the space, so it had to go – and the clients agreed.”

With extra space freed, Huber and Langhurst installed a freestanding double entry china cabinet with aluminum framed matte glass doors.

The pair also replaced the outdated commercial range with a modern, residential range from Wolf and topped it with a custom stainless steel ventilating hood. The space also offers a Wolf microwave, oven and warming drawer.

Perhaps the most unique part of the space, Huber adds, is the use of the Inca plasma television.

“The plasma was placed next to the fireplace and remains visible from the kitchen by the use of a motorized TV lift and swivel controlled by a remote,” he offers.

The look is completed with a KitchenAid dishwasher; a Sub-Zero refrigerator and wine cooler, and Scotsman icemaker.

Sandy E. Hayes, CKD, CBD of Portland, OR-based Hayes Design, LLC earned third-place honors by updating an outdated kitchen with a two-level, curved island; a side storage garage in the side of the pantry and a grand cooking area on a new, angled wall.

(For information about the first -place winner in this category, see Best Overall Design story at top.)


Category 5 – Powder Rooms – 1st Place
Award-Winning Powder Room Recaptures Authentic Victorian Styling

Using the original Victorian powder room as a template, Lori Carroll not only emulated its finer design details, but created a space with its own character.

To accomplish this, Carroll and co-designer Mary Roles of Tuscon, AZ-based Lori Carroll & Associates mixed tone and texture throughout the space, as well as developing contrast with the use of Luna Negra countertops to capture the imagination.

Complementing the look, the designers incorporated Luna Negra cabinets, as well as Kohler Co. fittings and fixtures and an Alchemy sink.

Carroll and Roles were also able to overcome a slew of design challenges to not only satisfy their clients, but also satisfy the Design Competition judges, earning the project first-place honors in the “Powder Rooms” category. “We were really challenged by this room, which was [initially] filled with uninspiring features,” she offers. “But, this refurbished powder room now escapes the ordinary.”

For instance, she cites the vanity as a crucial element to the design, offering: “The vanity is an original work of art, masterfully crafted with a smooth veneer, and embellished by metal inlays.”

She continues: “Ascending from the hand-stamped concrete tile floor, the walls make an impact with burnished glass squares and natural cork, mottled with aluminum.”

Other products featured throughout the powder room include a mirror from Luna Negra; Bega Lighting and walls and soffits from Nueva California Simone and Innovations. She concludes: “By placing recessed lighting in the walls adjacent to the mirror and pedestal, any reflection is flawlessly illuminated.”

Taking second-place honors in the “Powder Rooms” category was Mark S. Morris of Brisbane, CA-based Mark Morris Group who created a unique thematic powder room design based on a Japanese haiku.

Mary Lou Kalmus of La Grange, IL-based Designing Edge took third-place honors for a flowing, curvaceous design complete with an amoeba-shaped mirror and glass countertops. Rounding out the minimalist look of Kalmus’ layout are a Kohler Co. toilet, a Lacava sink and oak flooring.

Category 6 – Small Bathrooms – 1st Place
Designers Create ‘A Day at the Beach’ with Beachfront-Inspired Design

Facing a wave of design challenges, Erica S. Westeroth and Tim Scott knew their bath project would be no “day at the beach.” Or would it?

You see, Westeroth, CKD, and co-designer Scott of Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based XTC Design Inc. were not only faced with an undersized bath that lacked storage, but they also had the specific request of creating a space that offered a beachfront aesthetic.

Westeroth and Scott were up to the challenge, earning first-place honors in the “Small Bathrooms” category of this year’s NKBA Design Competition.

Westeroth explains: “The space from both closets was [needed] to design a functional bathroom.” However, she adds: “Even with the space from the old closets, the room was still [small].”

Therefore, the tub from Ultra had to be located along the length of the room, which left enough space to relocate the TOTO toilet.

Westeroth offers: “The walls were strapped and insulated, and the single glazed window was replaced with a thermal casement. The plumbing was relocated and upgraded, while all new electrical lines were added for task and ambient lighting.”

The space also features a Panasonic ventilation fan and receptacles; a custom glass enclosure; and Brazilian green slate countertops.

She also notes that natural maple wood, demi-high linen cabinetry from Le Groupe Luxorama offers additional storage for towels and toiletries, Earning second-place honors was Margie Little, CMKBD, of Pleasant Hill, CA, who used negative space masterfully in her design.

Third-place honors were taken home by Sheila K. Tilander, CKD, CBD of Redmond, WA-based Showplace Design & Remodeling, who designed a bathroom with a retro furniture frame and a glass shelf.


Category 7 – Large Bathrooms – 1st Place
Large Bath Accurately Emulates Soothing Resort Environment

Asked to create a spa-like master suite, Lori Carroll used pure luxury. And, as a result, Carroll and co-designer Mary Roles of Tuscon, AZ-based Lori Carroll & Associates earned first-place honors in the “Large Bathrooms” category, as well as “Best Bathroom” honors for this year’s NKBA Design Competition.

Specifically, Carroll and Roles fused together the warmth of natural materials with the sleekness of stainless steel to create a complex and eclectic master bath. Tile was used in varying colors, sizes and shapes to vitalize the shower as well, she points out.

“Since the day begins and ends in the bathroom, creating an intimate space that invigorates, rejuvenates and [allows the user to] unwind became fundamental in this space,” Carroll explains.

Carroll notes that natural wheaten stone from Conway Tile and custom maple cabinetry from Monarch Cabinetry (stained in a butternut hue) create a soothing influence throughout the space.

“Stainless compartments are aesthetic and practical as they heighten the richness of the surrounding stone,” she describes.

To continue the contemporary look, Carroll and Roles also incorporated a Kohler Co. tub, toilet and fixtures and fittings.

Carroll adds that the vanity serves a focal point of the space.

“The vanity is a masterpiece, with an innovative trough sink shaped from limestone flowing gracefully beneath the partition of skillfully crafted glass, mirror and stainless steel,” she offers.

She adds that a contoured dresser at the end of the vanity added depth to the design as well.

Completing this master bath is Fractured Earth flooring.

“This area emerged as a retreat, reminiscent of a luxury resort,” she concludes.

Taking second-place honors in this category was Erica S. Westeroth, CKD, and co-designer Tim Scott of Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based XTC Design Inc., who submitted a master bath design that taps into the client’s love of exotic sports cars, including the use of playful, circular elements.

Third-place honors went to Holly Rickert of Ridgewood, NJ-based Ulrich, Inc., who mixed natural materials, such as a carved glass panel depicting the Japanese wood cut of Mt. Fiji with a natural view to create a striking palette.


Category 8 – Master Suite/Bathrooms – 1st Place
Master Bath Captures Golden Age of Glamour

When Bonnie Crawford needed to create a master bath that would make her clients to feel like movie stars, she took it to heart. She explains: “The design concept [for this master bath] was developed from sophisticated segues between contemporary styling and Hollywood modern.”

Indeed, Crawford was able to capture the “golden age of glamour” so well, that it earned her first-place honors in the “Master Suite/Bathrooms” category of this year’s Design Competition.

But, first she had to overcome some unique space constraints.

“The single sink was replaced with a double sink, seating was provided for the shower and dressing space and additional storage was developed,” she describes.

She continues: “A small amount of space was borrowed from the adjacent guestroom closet to augment the new master closet. The existing closet space was traded for toilet and shower areas, with the closet divided into a walk-in shower and separate toilet.”

Complementing the look are custom cabinets from BCDG, accented by fixtures and fittings from Neiman Glass, Normandy, Opus and Sunrise Specialty.

A single door was designed to pivot 180 degrees, allowing one-touch movement from either direction of all rooms, she adds.

“The door was spring loaded to stand open at the center for clear passage and to be positioned at any angle without stops,” she says.

She also notes that an additional skylight introduced natural light into the walk-in shower and water closet compartments.

Earning second-place honors was Mark S. Morris of Brisbane, CA-based Mark Morris Group, who created a bath based on the architectural detailing and cabinetry of the Hotel de Salm. The design captures the look of a formal suite, while incorporating marble countertops, a tub, toilet and sink from Kohler Co., and Christopher Norman lighting.

Third place went to Erica S. Westeroth, CKD, and co-designer Scott of Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based XTC Design Inc., who created a budget-conscious design with a variety of products, including Le Groupe Luxorama cabinets and a sink and toilet from American Standard.


Category 9 – Other Rooms – 1st Place
Laundry Room Combines the Best of Entertainment and Function

When is a laundry room not a laundry room? The answer is “when Alan Vaughn Hilsabeck, Jr. designs it.”

You see, when Hilsabeck, CKD, CBD, ASID, of Dallas, TX-based Premier Kitchens and Baths, Inc. began work on this unique laundry area, he was faced with three specific requests: Include large-capacity appliances, maximize storage and integrate an expanded butler’s pantry.

Indeed, Hilsabeck, along with co-designer Allison W. McKinney, were able to address these issues and earn themselves top honors in the “Other Rooms” category of this year’s Design Competition.

Hilsabeck explains: “Specifying a large-capacity, front-loading washer and dryer [from Bosch] was the first ingredient. “This allowed for a beautiful bamboo countertop with full-height backsplash.”

Complementing the countertop are custom auto-body finished metallic cabinets from Acorn.

“The upper wall cabinets, with full-height adjustable shelves, include aluminum with frosted glass doors to provide visual privacy while maintaining an open feel,” he offers. “These doors coordinate with the aluminum and frosted glass sliding wall system across the room, which provides a ‘moveable wall system,’ hiding the laundry area and storage while the room is being used for entertainment.”

The design also includes Sub-Zero drawers, and wine storage from Viking Range Corp. For additional storage, a tall, freestanding linen tower was included.

The streamlined look is completed with maple hardwood flooring and enhanced by Juno lighting, Hilsabeck concludes.

Placing second was Burke Cheney and co-designer James Whitehouse of Wilton, CT-based Country Kitchens LLC, who converted a client’s basement into a suitable area for the client – a competitive ballroom dancer – to entertain and dance with friends. The space includes a full bath, a media area and a bar area, and features a Sub-Zero refrigerator and icemaker, a GE microwave and Dutch Mill cabinets.

Third-place honors were earned by Peter Ross Salerno, CMKBD, of Wyckoff, NJ-based Peter Salerno, Inc., who submitted a wine cellar design that features CraftMaid Cabinetry along with a slate floor and backsplash for added warmth.

Category 10 – Non-Residential Spaces – 1st Place
Inspired Break Room Breaks from Convention for Clients and Staff

If you ever need a break, or should we say, breakroom, just ask Patricia Davis Brown.

Brown was able to create this eye-catching company breakroom that could be enjoyed by the company’s staff, or its clients, should it be required.

As a result, Brown took first-place in the “Non-Residential Spaces” category of this year’s NKBA Design Competition.

“Every ounce of space is used in this design – from the corner base turnout to the pull-out trash,” Brown offers. The space also features a 10-cup coffeemaker that is built into the wall for ease of use, she notes.

Brown also chose a Northland refrigerator, Grohe fixtures and fittings and Corian countertops.

“The built-in refrigerator is great food storage, leaving ample counter space,” she offers.

Lighting was an integral part of this design too, she points out.

“The design has general recessed incandescent can lights placed so that the beam spread does not intersect the face of the wall cabinets,” she explains.

Low-voltage clickstrips were used for undercabinet lighting to illuminate the hand-painted, mosaic tile backsplash under the cabinet, Brown concludes.

Second-place honors were earned by Esther E. Kaminski of Middlefield, OH-based KraftMaid Cabinetry, Inc., who submitted a contemporary conference room design with a fully functional kitchen for catering during large meetings.

Third-place honors were earned by Patricia Davis Brown, who created a drafting room, complete with television monitors that will alert staff to incoming clients, and computers equipped with AutoCAD software.

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