A Cut Above the Rest

A kitchen fit for a Cordon Bleu chef, a master bath that looked as if it were plucked from a five-star resort and a bath design centered on the tenets of Universal Design. What do all of these have in common? They were among the winning projects in the 2005 Master Design Awards.

These projects, as well as a host of others, took top honors in the 27th annual MDA contest, which is sponsored by Qualified Remodeler, a sister publication of Kitchen & Bath Design News. Both are owned by Cygnus Business Media.

Each year, through these awards, QR is able “to recognize kitchen and bath specialists, remodelers, architects, builders and other professionals for outstanding project design, remodeling and construction,” notes Patrick O’Toole, QR’s editor in chief.
Continuing the tradition of the MDAs, QR has put a call out for remodeling projects completed by a professional contracting firm between January 1, 2005 and May 28, 2006 for the 2006 competition.

To submit a project, a completed form and the entry fee must be received by May 26, with full binders due June 9. Questions about the competition should be directed to Patrick O’Toole at 847-454-2712 or Heidi Riedl at 800-547-7377, ext. 1316.
The 2006 awards will be presented at a special reception October 18 in Chicago, the evening before the Remodeling Show.


Determining the current crop of winners, which were revealed in the October 2005 issue of QR, was a panel of remodeling professionals.

This year the panel included Robert Bell, CGR, CAPS, of Bell’s Remodeling in Duluth, MN; Michael Menn, AIA, CGR, CAPS, of Design Construction Concepts in Northbrook, IL; Mike Weiss, CGR, CGB, GMB, CAPS, of Weiss RCMI in Indianapolis, IN; Randy Ricciotti, CGR, of Custom Design & Construction in Los Angeles, CA, and Dan Klappa, CR, of JDJ Builders in Mukwanago, WI.

The judging took place last June at the Michigan Shores Club near Chicago to decide the winners in each of the 21 categories, which included Kitchens above $100,000, Kitchens $50,000-$100,000, Kitchens below $50,000, Baths over $50,000, Baths $30,000-$50,000, Baths under $30,000 and Universal Design, a new category for the 2005 competition.

Each entry was evaluated on “meeting project objectives, overall impression, aesthetic appeal, construction techniques, handling of unusual situations, attention to detail, functionality of space and financial value of the project,” notes O’Toole.

Here, and on the next six pages, KBDN spotlights the stunning kitchen and bath designs that won awards in the 2005 MDAs.

Kitchens above $100,000

Redesigned Kitchen, Now Fit for Cordon Bleu Chef, Radiates Period Charm


The circa-1800s, Second Empire Victorian charm of this Massachusetts home can be seen on the exterior, but when Arlington, MA-based Feinmann, Inc. looked a little deeper, it saw that the charm was not translating to the inside – particularly, not to the kitchen. Years of ad hoc shelving, misguided painting and inefficient use of space were its major problems.

Feinmann Inc. was presented with a multitude of challenges, including designing a kitchen around already-chosen, high-style Italian cabinetry, meeting a Cordon Bleu chef’s needs and linking the outdoor garden to the kitchen itself.

“We renovated and extended the house to the rear, recreating a slightly extended mudroom,” notes the firm, further stating that the link to the garden is established by a high indoor-outdoor space along the north end of the kitchen with skylights at close intervals along the roof of the extension. This space, dubbed “Skylight Lane,” ends at an 8-ft.-high, framed glass door that opens to the garden path.

The wall running along Skylight Lane has a large, six-shelf, built-in bookcase.

“A primary interior element is a ‘floating’ horizontal ceiling plane that centers and anchors the kitchen islands (countertops, range and sinks) in the large space. The low ceiling provides excellent lighting for the work surfaces, and also allows the high, sloped ceilings of the Victorian above to reconcile with the new kitchen,” notes the firm.

Slate-like tiles were used to give the kitchen a modern, yet Old World feel. The expansive counter space takes the form of two large islands, which also house a natural gas countertop stove, two sinks, electrical outlets and additional drawer and cabinet space.


Marred by bad 1970s design, this kitchen was in dire need of an update. Someone’s in the Kitchen in Princeton, IL came to the rescue with a plan to eliminate the loose floor, dark ceiling and masonry room divider, and create a more inviting entrance into the space. The firm re-applied the original Prairie feel to the kitchen, using quarter-sawn oak and granite, and specified new appliances from KitchenAid, Broan and Fisher & Paykel. A new natural cherry floor was installed, and the wood beams were re-stained and trimmed.


Using Carrara marble countertops, cabinets from Hampshire and appliances from KitchenAid, Viking, Sub-Zero and GE, Michael R. Klement, AIA, NCARB of Architectural Resource, LLC in Ann Arbor, MI transformed this kitchen into something that was more functional for a family of three. Working with Bruce Curtis of Ann Arbor, MI-based Washtenaw Woodwrights, Inc., Klement reconfigured the first floor of the home to add a wine bar and a small sit-down dining area, staying within the existing footprint. He relocated the dining room, a powder room and an entry door, and created a new adjacent family area to the kitchen. Lastly, a plastered arched opening knitted the new kitchen gracefully to the main house.

Honorable Mention

Davitt Design Build in West Kingston, RI took this circa-1929 kitchen and brought it into the 21st century while keeping its original charm intact. It addressed several structural issues such as insect damage and removed the asbestos insulation. The firm removed the wall housing the refrigerator and relocated it, opened the old butler’s pantry and punched out another wall by 4' to create a vestibule at the entry. Paint-grade poplar cabinets, granite countertops and green-gray slate flooring completed the transformation.

Kitchens $50,000-$100,000

Kitchen Receives a Culinary-Quality Makeover Set on an Angle


The goals for this complete kitchen remodel by Eberle Remodeling in Sacramento, CA included designing and building a functional yet striking showplace with a seating nook, where the chef/homeowner could interact with guests without having them “in the way.”

The remodel also required incorporating much more storage for the owner’s myriad culinary gadgets, and many more angles in an otherwise ordinary rectangular and boxy space.

The Eberle Remodeling’s redesign put the kitchen walls, as well as the entire orientation of the new kitchen, on a 45° angle to create an interesting and distinctive look.

The new layout also features a single-level island that houses the sink, dishwasher, undercounter wine refrigerator and various storage cabinets.

To complete the look, the firm framed in an angled pantry cabinet behind the kitchen island. It also installed puck accent lighting to create a well-balanced lighting scheme for the new, angular kitchen.


The goal of this remodel was ‘to design a kitchen that opened the floor plan for the home while still offering definition,’ notes Chaden Halfhill, founder of Silent Rivers in Des Moines, IA. ‘The homeowners desired a streamlined look that integrated stainless steel details into the cabinets.’ Halfhill developed a symmetrically structured kitchen that centered on a core island. He installed standard European maple doors and drawer fronts with horizontal stainless steel accent bands for a clean look. The stylsh atmosphere Halfhill’s team created for these homeowners was further emphasized by the Silestone countertops and subtle lighting effects.


The redesign of this initially non-descript, Avondale Estates, GA kitchen by Small Carpenters at Large in Atlanta, GA called for removing all of the existing white cabinetry. This was replaced with stained maple cabinetry from Lockwood Custom Furniture that features a custom glaze. The new cabinetry, columns and dropped beam create the subtle division between the kitchen and family room the clients wanted, notes the firm. A new pantry, a slew of storage options, matching wood appliance panels and a plethora of furniture details complete the look.\

Kitchens below $50,000

Seaside Kitchen Redesign Frames River Views, Provides More Storage


Set on Florida’s beautiful Indian River, this homeowner’s dream kitchen included a functional, yet updated look, plus a room that reflected his affinity for the water.

Enter Patricia Davis Brown Cabinetry in Vero Beach, FL, which transformed this once 1980s-style kitchen into a stunning seaside escape.

Making a visual connection between the kitchen and family room and opening them both to the river view was key to the firm’s redesign. The designer removed the header and the corner of the kitchen that protruded into the family room. This change helped to give the appearance of a wider family room and kitchen.

“The view was now of the river, and not cabinetry in your face,” the designer points out.

Ample storage space in the form of a dish pantry now houses a treasured collection of canisters that had once belonged to the client’s grandmother.

Layered countertops were used in the design, with granite at the kitchen counter height and soapstone on the raised counter that butted the mahogany.

“The use of several different counters creates a very dramatic look. It further adds life to the kitchen design,” concludes the design firm.


Jerome Quinn of SawHorse, Inc. in Atlanta, GA gave his bachelor client a better organized kitchen that was much more contemporary and masculine in tone, yet still warm and cozy and ready for plenty of entertaining and cooking. To meet his client’s needs, Quinn overcame several challenges, the greatest of which was its 8'x15' size. He did so by removing portions of two of the walls to open the kitchen to the adjacent Great Room and moving the sink area to an island with seating. KraftMaid Huntington Maple Shaker-style cabinetry packed full of such storage options as lazy Susans and a hidden wastebasket, stainless steel GE appliances, Tropic Brown granite countertops and a subway tile backsplash complete the look.


Castle Ridge Construction in Basking Ridge, NJ transformed the small, cramped galley kitchen in this town home into an open-plan kitchen featuring more functionality and countertop space. This was done by removing the wall and door separating the kitchen from the family room. By stealing just 2' from the large family room, the firm created a peninsula countertop that sits across from the new elevated bar top. These structural changes gave way to a more open layout for the entire first floor, including the kitchen.

Baths over $50,000

Bath Redesign Keeps to Original Footprint, but Maximizes Space & Function


The master bath in the home of two doctors – and parents of four children – was in dire need of a makeover. The homeowners asked McClurg Associates in Marcellus, NY to deliver a retreat-like bath that would feel like a luxury resort. But the challenges were formidable.

For starters, the couple did not have additional space to offer. They wanted to keep the bath at exactly its original 162-sq.-ft. footprint. Plus, the couple desired a completely framed-out toilet with a door, further reducing available space. Lastly, the size and space available for the walk-in shower required a mudset base with multiple pitches to be built without disturbing an ornately trimmed dining room directly below.

The firm’s solution for creating a stable mudset base, which involved cutting down the existing floor system, and for framing out the toilet, which called for a custom-made translucent panel door, made the MDA judges take notice. They gave this project uniformly high marks, particularly in the areas of “attention to detail” and “functionality of space,” and awarded it first place.

The judges also liked the way McClurg Associates was able to open up the space visually without overstepping the original footprint of the bath. “[For instance], a curved, glass-block wall for the walk-in shower, a large, arched-topped window and light colored walls combine for a feeling of greater spaciousness in the room,” according to McClurg.

Other details included a rich use of natural materials, such as limestone and marble; the use of brushed nickel finishes and furniture-style cabinetry, and a custom, five-piece crown molding along with other custom trims.

Separate his-and-hers cabinets and mirror combinations, as well as a flat-panel TV “pocketed into the head of the shower wall,” maximize space and function.


Cool, calm and collected are the watchwords for this bath design by CARNEMARK systems + designs, inc. in Bethesda, MD. The firm created this bath with a host of natural materials, including bamboo flooring, a 6"-thick concrete vanity top, large-format, flamed impala granite wall and floor tiles, and bright blue porcelain vessel sinks. Functional features include an almost-transparent, curbless shower with two showerheads, thermostatic valves, a hand spray and a boxy bench; hidden storage options such as pull-out toiletry boxes in the vanity, shower wall niches and a large linen closet tucked behind a shoji screen pocket door; and a private toilet concealed behind a shoji door.


Harmonious colors and textures enhance the clean lines of the floating Euro-style maple vanity from Charlestown Caseworks Custom Cabinetry in this master bath, which was designed by Classic Remodeling & Construction, Inc. in Charleston, SC. It
creates the illusion of additional space, notes the firm. A frameless shower door continues the contemporary theme while the addition of a skylight and Pannelli pendant lighting adds warmth.

Baths $30,000-$50,000

Sleek, Master Makeover Expands Bath’s Overall Footprint


Part of a one-floor remodel of a townhouse in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, DC, this bath transformation by Landis Construction Corp. in Washington, DC was made possible by a plan that called for eliminating the now-no-longer-needed nursery adjacent to the couple’s master bedroom.

By breaking down a wall, the entire 200-sq.-ft. space was converted into a functional space with a modern flair. The master bath suite shares space between the master bath and a newly created walk-in closet.

“[Overall], the design is a serious yet fun study of lines and curves,” says the firm. “The Italian double-bowled vanity console is mirrored by a half circle of glass tile. Glass mosaic and Thassos-tiled curves in the shower continue the theme, and are visible through a custom, frameless shower enclosure that makes the room feel larger.”

The MDA judges were impressed enough to award the firm first place for its efforts, noting: “This is a great design; the sink area, in particular, is beautiful, and the overall project is a great success.”

Indeed, when Landis was creating the space, special care was taken to get the framing and plumbing just right “so the lines would be perfect. The tile installer was particularly detailed in his approach. He had to be. The tiles were of different sizes, yet the lines of the curves needed to remain clean,” adds the firm.


After demolition of the existing bath, bedroom and existing third floor above, Stimmel Consulting Group in Ambler, PA was able to create a master bath that blended the home’s architectural antiques originally installed by the builder and the owner’s desire for a ‘modern’ retreat. To accomplish this, the firm used such design elements as antique barn beams and exposed brick chimney mixed with Oceanside palladium glass tile and 1"x2" glass tile set in a brick pattern. Sinks by Kohler and cabinetry by Crystal Cabinet Works, Inc. complete the design.

Honorable Mention

David Crane, of Crane Builders, LLC, in Nashville, TN, gave the owners of this Brentwood, TN ranch home a master bath that was more in line with a luxe, high-end home. He began by reclaiming space from an unused closet for a dressing room and demolishing the existing bath and another two closets to create the bath area. He then installed custom walnut cabinetry and all Kohler fixtures, as well as marble floors, countertops and shower.

Baths under $30,000

Small Master Bath Packs a Big Visual Punch in an Open Space


The master bath designed by Otogawa-Anschel Design-Build LLC in Minneapolis, MN made the most of the allocaed space – and budget. With a little ingenuity, the firm was able to create a stylish bath where none previously existed within the constraints of the budget.

The home in which this new master bath resides sits among many 1-1/2-story homes in “a gentrifying urban neighborhood of central Minneapolis,” describes Otogawa-Anschel. In this case, the home had been previously remodeled, and the half-story attic was converted into a cavernous, hallway-like master bedroom. The only thing missing was a master bath.

The Otogawa-Anschel team conceived a master bath plan that was more than slightly open to the rest of the large bedroom. A curving, angled wall provides most of the privacy for a new jetted bath, a separate shower and a fully enclosed toilet room, plus a stunning lavatory with a granite surround.

Remnant granite was used as a starting point, but was cut and polished to allow the stone’s “natural, un-loosed” shape to emerge around a new undermount sink. The irregular shape added a lot of additional space to keep cosmetics and other toiletries the couple uses regularly. A similarly styled granite shelf installed outside the shower provides additional space for shampoos, conditioners and the like.

Plenty of time was spent choosing a wide palette of 19 colors of paint, which added “dimension and depth” to the project. Other nuanced details included “bamboo flooring that meets vertical-grain bamboo in the tub surround and pushes up against a rich red tile at the tub deck,” concludes the firm.


The owners of this home wanted a bath that was a cross between one found in a W hotel and one featuring Craftsman design. They also wanted a white with maple palette with cobalt accents. And, they wanted it before their baby was born. Fisher Group LLC in Annandale, VA stepped up to the plate and met their needs and time frame with a design that features ribbed and mosaic glass tiles, an asymmetrical tub, curved shower rod, angled open shelves and a granite countertop.

Universal Design

Stylish Master Bath Boasts Universal Appeal and Accessible Design


While a great deal of master baths are remodeled these days to create a therapeutic, soothing spa-like environment, this master bath by Curb Appeal Renovations in Ft. Worth, TX, takes that idea quite literally, sporting a design that is both universally appealing and accessible.

The firm needed to remodel the bath to accommodate the needs of the disabled homeowner, who’d been waiting for this remodel for five years after being severely injured at work in 2000 and wading through tons of red tape to get the money to have the bath remodeled.

The owner needed access to the shower, commode and sink, but still needed it to be stylish and modern.

To start, the floor had to be jack-hammered to eliminate the curb leading into the shower itself in order to provide barrier-free access. Further work was required to relocate the toilet, which is now situated in such a way that a commode chair can be rolled over it while still appearing aesthetically pleasing.

The homeowners also wanted the sinks and vanity tops made higher than usual since they both were more than 6' tall, so Curb Appeal built two at different levels. A barrier-free countertop was installed so the owner’s custom wheelchair could still be wheeled under it. The plumbing was installed with protective covering so his legs would be not burned by the hot water.

Other Universal Design features included an anti-scald shower system; grab bars, and shampoo and soap boxes that were built into the wall at a lower height. In addition, the doors leading into the bath and closet are now double doors, which creates a more accessible traffic flow.

Qualified Remodeler Master Awards 2005

Qualified Remodeler 2005 Master Awards Entry Form