Fabrication Innovation Garners Honors for Two Kitchens, Baths

FORT ATKINSON, WI - When SolidSurface magazine, owned by KBDN parent company Cygnus Business Media, announced its 2005 Design Contest, entries poured in from fabricators across the U.S., and around the world.

A wealth of creative projects were reviewed by a panel of judges chosen by SolidSurface, based here. But the judges were looking for more than just innovation for innovation's sake. "The point of the contest isn't about putting fabricators head-to-head, but more to show the real-world potential that exists for the materials. Our winners fit that bill," according to SolidSurface.

Judging criteria included overall creativity and beauty of design, quality of execution, and innovative use of materials.

Winners were named in five categories: best residential kitchen, best residential bath, best commercial/institutional, best non-traditional application and best overall design.

There were plenty of eye-catching kitchens to choose from, with top honors in this category going to Spectrum Surfaces in Green Bay, WI for a project in Pound, WI. The Pinske Edge in Plato, MN took second place in this category for a project in Glencoe, MN.

Baths were well spotlighted in the competition, as well, with top honors in the bath category going to Onalaska, WI-based Solid Surface Specialist for a master bath in LaCrosse, WI. Art-Tech Surfacing Inc. in Knoxville, TN earned second place for its fiber-optic vanity for a master bath in LaFollett, TN.

Other winning designs included an unusual billiard table created by the Top Shop in Salinas, CA, which won first place in the best non-traditional application category, and unusual egg-shaped tables, designed by Sterling Surfaces, which took second place in this category.

This month, Kitchen & Bath Design News spotlights the winning kitchen and bath designs.


The owners of the first-place- winning kitchen had chosen traditional, raised-panel cabinetry at Midwest Cabinets for their kitchen remodel, and had a standard suite of appliances in place. But they couldn't decide on a specific direction for the countertops.

It was Spectrum Surfaces that set them on the right path: due north. "We started out with a plain top, but after they saw one in the showroom with some detail, it gave them some ideas. Ultimately, we came up with a compass design that pointed due north," explains Spectrum designer Cindy Boyd.

With the help of Boyd and Scott Tate, Spectrum's owner, the clients chose the look for the compass design. Karadon's Northstar Black Sea solid surface served as a backdrop for the compass design that helped this project win top honors in its category. It was comprised of LG HI-MACS' Coconut Ice and Silver Night solid surface.

"One of the biggest challenges on this project was getting the compass to read true north in the kitchen," relates Tate. "The assembly of the star was also very challenging since all of the pieces had to be glued at one time with two different colors of adhesives so all of the pieces could fit back in their place."

Tate worked with his team of Spectrum fabricators on a solution that involved using a global positioning system (GPS) to determine true north - although it would not work in the house.

"The compass measurements were taken outside and then imposed upon the compass. [Then] everything was dry fit first so it all matched up properly before assembly began," notes Tate.

The Spectrum team complemented the look by pouring a 1/4"-wide black strip 2" from the front edge on the rest of the countertops. They used the same Northstar Black Sea solid surface.


The owners of the second-place kitchen wanted to transform their dated, closed-in space into an inviting open one with a center island for family gatherings. Enter Tom Pinske at The Pinske Edge, and kitchen and bath designer Jamie Thoele at Plato Custom Concepts - an offshoot of The Pinske Edge that handles kitchen design and installation.

Thoele created an open-plan kitchen, specifying Plato Woodwork cabinetry in Rustic Alder with a Chestnut finish and Amana appliances. And, of course, Pinske fabricated the tops, with a focus on beauty and easy care.

He used Wilsonart Earthstone Flagstone solid surface and an Avonite Copper Canyon solid surface inlay because, as Thoele indicated, "the owners wanted a seamless, low-maintenance" surface. "It also gave them the design flexibility they wanted," she adds.

To that end, Pinske created a full-height, coved backsplash in the same Wilsonart material. The Avonite inlay was added in a diamond pattern to the backsplash. The same surfacing inlay appears as a pinstripe in the island top. A large windowsill integrated with the coved splash finishes the look.


The owners of the first-prize bath wanted to completely redo their master bath to include a larger, more functional vanity, a walk-in shower and a new tub deck.

Enter Paul Mauss, owner of Solid Surface Specialist, who handled the fabrication of the new shower, vanity top and the tub deck. He worked with Stefana Pretasky, the showroom manager at LaCrosse, WI-based First Supply Group - the kitchen and bath firm that redesigned the bath, and expanded it by 2' on all sides.

"The design expanded the room into the existing roof lines, and used existing skylights for natural light," notes Mauss. But Pretasky's design, and the owners' wishes, created several challenges for Mauss and the Solid Surface Specialist staff: installer Randy Tuquro, shop foreman Brian Kromke and sales rep Karissa Mauss.

"The owners also wanted a large expanse of solid surface used for a one-piece effect," recalls Mauss.

So, using only DuPont Corian's Beige Fieldstone solid surface for cohesiveness, Mauss and his team topped the undermounted Kohler Co. vanity sinks and tub, installed coved splashes and put in an all-solid-surface shower area.

Out of all of the fabrication, it was shower that proved the most challenging aspect, Mauss shares. "The thermoformed pan measured roughly 8'x7' and weighed about 250 lbs., and we had to get it up a flight of stairs. To reduce the size we put in the clipped corner for the door and installed a shower bench at one end," he explains.

"The walls presented a similar dilemma. We couldn't do one continuous piece, so we created several large sections that overlapped to give the illusion of one piece. We overlapped the pan with a lip on each wall section. We also thermoformed several overlapping ceiling panels," Mauss adds.


The owners of the second-place-winning bath wanted a unique vanity and "a clean, modern look, mirroring the surrounding water [of the lakeside home], with a custom lighting effect to provide design interest and usefulness as a night light," elaborates Marvin Swingle, owner of Art-Tech Surfacing Inc.

Swingle and his Art-Tech staff met these requirements by fabricating a one-of-a-kind, fiber-optic vanity top in the dimensions provided by designer Denise Honaker of Knoxville, TN-based Kitchen Sales Gallery and builder Rob Thomas of nearby Custom Homes.

Swingle chose Avonite Antique Glass "because of its luminescent quality." He used it for the top and the wave-like, 1.5"-thick backsplash. He gave both a high-gloss finish, and applied a chiseled edge to the top. Swingle then installed fiber optics from Ed Zubco of nearby Green Earth Services in the splash for a star effect. Swingle completed the vanity with two DuPont Corian 831 Glacier White sinks.

See related story at SolidSurfaceMagazine.com.