Category: Interview

Welcome Home to this Classic Farmhouse Kitchen

If you attended the Parade of Homes in Lakeville, Minnesota, this past September, you were able to take in the gorgeous farmhouse design of this home in person. Created by SD Custom Homes and decorated by Bria Hammel Interiors, this classically styled home seamlessly blends comfortable charm with upscale details, especially in the interior.

Photo credit: Spacecrafting Photography

The home’s interior designer, Bria Hammel Interiors, is based in St. Paul, Minnesota, and serves clients nationwide with residential design. They had worked with SD Custom Homes on previous projects and felt like they had a solid partnership with the home designers. One of the most important rooms of the home was the kitchen, and the two firms worked closely together to create a layout that fit with the farmhouse plan and flowed well for a modern family home. It serves as not only a place to create meals, but also as a hub of the home where people can gather at all times of the day.

Photo credit: Spacecrafting Photography

Both teams felt that having the sink under the window looking out over the front of the house created a beautiful focal point in the kitchen and allowed the island to be used as additional dining space. The windows bring in an abundance of natural light, which keeps the space bright and airy, and is a favorite aspect of this kitchen design.

Photo credit: Spacecrafting Photography

A secondary focal point is the area around the Monogram gas range top. The stainless and black range top sits against the gleaming, white tile backsplash and is flanked on each side by glass-door cabinets with curvy brackets beneath each. It’s a welcoming area where hearty meals can be cooked while family sits around the island for conversation and further meal prep.

Photo credit: Spacecrafting Photography

All the kitchen appliances are from Monogram, which Bria Hammel Interiors was very excited about. After touring the Monogram showroom in Chicago, they were taken aback by the innovative features offered by Monogram (especially the Advantium Speedcook oven) and the craftsmanship of the appliances. As they said on their blog, they take comfort in knowing “that whoever purchases this home will truly be getting the best of the best” with the appliances.

Photo credit: Spacecrafting Photography

We couldn’t agree more. Congratulations on designing an absolutely inviting kitchen and a lovely, gracious farmhouse home.

Monogram Enhances a Peaceful Retirement Lake Home

Retired sales and marketing executive Sam Skobel had a plan in mind for a peaceful retirement home on a northern Wisconsin lake. We interviewed him to learn about his design inspiration for the home, specifically the kitchen, and the process to create this idyllic retreat.

SRFD: Tell us about this home.
Sam: This is a rustic-style (not rustic in the roughing-it sense) home on a lake with 500′ of frontage on a very private five-acre parcel of wooded land at the end of a dead-end road in northern Wisconsin. So very laid back and peaceful. We purchased the home in 2001 with the plan to totally remodel it prior to retirement, and then live there full-time. Over the last 17 years, we have remodeled,  replaced, renovated and/or upgraded virtually all aspects of the home – only the original walls remain in place. For example, we upgraded the existing floors by replacing them with 110-year-old reclaimed pine and Douglas fir wood from a grain elevator in northern Minnesota. Very dramatic and a wow-factor of the first order.

SRFD: What was your inspiration for the kitchen remodel?
Sam: Being in the the northwoods of Wisconsin, loving the casual lodge-style type of decor and wanting to remain consistent with the design throughout the rest of the house, we chose the casual-but-elegant barn-board based style inspired by books, magazines, internet searches, model homes and retailer displays. It was very important to us to have the kitchen look high-end with a casual/informal feel, but without the typical minimalist look of many higher end kitchen designs. It’s the style of the whole house, and it’s the way we live.

SRFD: Tell us about the kitchen remodel.
Sam: The kitchen renovation began in March 2018 and, as planned, was the last step in the 17-year remodel plan. Similar to the reclaimed floors in concept and style, the custom cabinets are also reclaimed barn-board, very nicely complimenting but not imitating the floor. The countertops are exotic-grade, book-match granite with “rock-edge.” The sink and range hood are custom hammered-copper, as are the lighting and switch plates. The backsplash is 2″x4″ travertine brick-style tiles with hammered copper accent tiles. All cabinets have custom above and below cabinet lighting on dimmer switches allowing the mood to be fine-tuned.

SRFD: Can you walk us through your design process?
Sam: The design process was very difficult – mostly because of our location in extremely northern WI and the minimal availability of licensed and/or certified kitchen designers. As such, we tackled the design process ourselves. The process started with appliance selection, as those items dictated many of the cabinet/other dimensions and configurations. Regarding appliances, we chose Monogram appliances because we felt they had the best available features and benefits, and they far-and-away provided the best value. We included the 36″ panel-ized fridge/freezer, panel-ized dishwasher, wall oven, Advantium oven, 36″ rangetop and panel-ized wine refrigerator. Now that they’re in place we absolutely love them – especially the panel-ized refrigerator/dishwasher/wine refrigerator. They look great! After choosing appliances we selected our cabinet manufacturer, followed by the sink (a 30″ apron-front single bowl hammered copper) and matching 40″ hammered copper range-hood. Granite countertop selection followed next, with backsplash and lighting last.

SRFD: What was the most challenging piece of the renovation?
Sam: Without question, the most challenging part of the renovation was personally coordinating all aspects of the tear out-to-completion process. We were let down many times by various suppliers who just did not deliver as promised, both time and/or quality-wise. As a result the original time line (agreed to by all) of six to seven weeks turned into about 11-12 weeks. While in the long run the additional four weeks is not a huge deal, it did cause us to live in a “construction zone” for an extra month and, more importantly, was wholly avoidable.

SRFD: What part did you enjoy the most?
Sam: The part we enjoyed the most was, as I’m sure with most renovations, was watching the space come together and seeing the finished product. Because we totally owned the project from concept to design to execution to completion, seeing the transformation become real before our eyes was most rewarding. I guess I’d put it this way – it’s very satisfying to see an image in your head become tangible and real, and be the place you stand back, admire and live in.The finished kitchen is absolutely beautiful and is everything we could have wanted….and more!

Designer Profile: Sarah Nelson

Monogram has the pleasure of working with so many talented and impressive designers across the country. Sarah Nelson, kitchen and bath designer with Kowalske Kitchen & Bath, is a true design professional we enjoy partnering with, and wanted to learn a little more about her background and experiences.

Monogram showroom at Kowalske Kitchen & Bath

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Sarah: My passion for design started very young. As a child, I would insist my parents “re-decorate” my room every six months … from the pillows to the paint color. It was always changing – thankfully, they embraced my hobby! Even as a child I knew that a room was not just a space. It was a place where memories were made. A room should not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also functional, inspire an emotion, and give off a feeling that makes you want to stay awhile. I use that motto everyday while working with my clients.

I have been specializing in kitchen and bath design for nine years. At Kowalske Kitchen & Bath, we are a full-service design build company. From the design phase to execution of work. In addition, we cater to numerous other projects that include whole house transformations.

Monogram showroom at Kowalske Kitchen & Bath

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

Sarah: Currently, I am working on renovating a 1940’s lakeside cottage. I wanted to keep a lot of the details that would have been original such as the hardwood floors throughout (which were in great shape), arched doorways, and moldings. We kept finishes cohesive due to a smaller, cozy floorplan. However, we did not skimp on any details! Painted cabinets with mullion glass doors, Brazilian quartzite countertops, bead board throughout, made-to-order etched chandeliers, custom iron railings, and a collection of items from the clients’ European travels. It will truly be the charming cottage it once was.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Sarah: I am excited to see the use of stained cabinets again instead of painted. I will say, a painted white kitchen is SO timeless and classic. Of course it’s always beautiful! BUT I am loving the look of lighter wood tones paired with a printed bold tile. It tends to look more livable and unique. Another trend I look forward to is more metals-gold/brass, rose gold, etc.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Sarah: The porcelain wood plank. It seems to be overused. It was once a specialty item and now it’s everywhere.  I get it…the look of wood with all the low maintenance factors of a porcelain tile. I still recommend as needed 🙂

SRFD: Tell us about your experience with Monogram.

Sarah: We had worked with Monogram to create a working showroom display. The goal was to design a kitchen that could appeal to many different tastes. It was a blank space and we wanted to showcase our products with an emphasis on the appliances. It includes a 36” dual fuel range with matching vent hood, the integrated fridge and freezer columns (which have a surprising amount of storage) and the 30” Advantium convection/micro. The microwave convection oven has been most popular as it has many functions, whether it may be heating up a cup of coffee quickly or cooking a full meal. We have enjoyed every aspect!

Monogram showroom at Kowalske Kitchen & Bath

Monogram as a whole appeals to our clientele based off their ability to provide innovative products, transitional sleek designs that accommodate any desired style, and a strong customer service team with a lot of knowledge.

Monogram showroom at Kowalske Kitchen & Bath

Designer Profile: Nicole Ellis Semple

Monogram has the pleasure of working with so many talented and impressive designers across the country. Nicole Ellis Semple with Kuklinski + Rappe Architects in the Chicago area is a true design professional we enjoy partnering with, and wanted to learn a little more about her background and experiences.

Photo credit: Leslie Schwartz Photography

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Nicole: Even as a child I was always specific about the aesthetics of my environment: the colors, the placement of furniture, finding practical objects that were beautiful. My mother is a pretty serious seamstress and crafty gal so I grew up around textiles, color, woodworking, and painting. My father is handy and took up woodworking and remodeling our house, and several of my uncles are in the construction trades. Design and construction were always a part of my life.

In my seventh grade shop class we had to design and draw a house floor plan and something clicked for me. I came home that night and told my parents that I wanted to be an architect.

SRFD: Tell us about your recent projects.

Nicole: We worked on two projects recently that involved subtle plan changes with a big impact on the spaces: one is a very contemporary design, the other quite traditional.

Photo credit: Leslie Schwartz Photography

Our Little Green Kitchen is a bold renovation of a small condo kitchen that previously had bland finishes and a poorly planned layout. The client wanted a colorful geometric backsplash with coordinating cabinets. We created a color blocked space with a much better work flow. Despite the bold pattern and color, the space is bright, fresh, and well-proportioned now.

Inversely, we recently completed a very traditional English cottage style kitchen on the North Shore. We reconfigured a winding floorplan in a small home to create a generous galley kitchen, a butler’s pantry that doubles as a laundry room, relocate a basement stair, and improve a bathroom. The house is small, but by cleaning up the plan and lightening the color palette, we were able to make a dramatic improvement.

And I’m excited about a third project that will be complete this summer: we moved the kitchen in a project we completed 15 years ago from one side of the house to the other. This is our third project for this client, and as her tastes and times have evolved, she decided she wanted something completely different. She put total trust in us to turn the house upside down and I’m not sure who’s more excited about it – her or us!

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Nicole: I appreciate the increasing desire to live simply in small spaces. Our best innovations come from serious space or budget constraints. I love exploring how to use the existing envelope of a home to make it work better without an addition. Subtle changes can have a much higher impact in small spaces. And when clients decide to pare down their belongings, those improved spaces feel so much lighter and brighter!

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Nicole: As classic as it may be, I’m really over standard white Shaker cabinets and basic white subway tile. I’d much prefer to see a similar rhythm and clean lines achieved in other ways. At the very least, we like to play with the edge profile or panel to give it a little oomph. If you’re already paying for a designer’s expertise and/or custom cabinetry, why select something so ubiquitous? Make it personal!

SRFD: Tell us about your engagement with Monogram

Nicole: We’ve been using Monogram for years now. They are a go-to for solving space problems and innovative technology: a 48” wide range with an oven cavity large enough for the heftiest of Thanksgiving turkeys, or a just-right sized built-in refrigerator for a small condo. We appreciate the consistent pace of innovation and that Monogram seems to have a perfect product for every client. They were a joy to work with for our Little Green Kitchen, which is fully equipped with Monogram appliances.

Designer Profile: Jean Stoffer

Monogram has the pleasure of working with so many talented and impressive designers across the country. Jean Stoffer with Jean Stoffer Design in the Chicago area is a true design professional we enjoy partnering with, and wanted to learn a little more about her background and experiences.

Kitchen in 1902 Victorian Home designed by Jean Stoffer Design. Photography: John Stoffer

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Jean: I became interested in design soon after graduating from college in 1982. After getting a business degree I went to work for a small interior design firm as the business manager. I was fascinated by what they were doing. The principle designer was very kind to me and informally apprenticed me when she observed my interest. I’ve never looked back.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

Jean: Our firm has been given the opportunity to do design work in many older homes with fabulous architectural details. We find it particularly gratifying to embrace this architecture as a gift and work with it to modernize the homes in a way that compliments how we live and work in our homes today. One such project we completed recently was in a 1902 Victorian in West Michigan. Very little had changed in the home over the decades. Although it was in rough shape, all the original moldings and some very special doors and windows were still there. Score! To agree with how the family lives we moved the kitchen into the original dining room, the family room into the original back parlor, and the dining room into the original front parlor. We made the old kitchen into a mud room, laundry room and powder room. Upstairs we converted one of the bedrooms into a bathroom. We kept the character, and whenever possible highlighted it. It was a triumph! Both we and the clients are delighted with the results.

Kitchen in 1902 Victorian home designed by Jean Stoffer Design. Photography: John Stoffer

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Jean: I’m excited about the trend embracing more color. Particularly in wall paint and accessory items like pillows.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Jean: A trend I’m over is recessed can lights proliferated in every single ceiling of an entire home.

Kitchen in 1902 Victorian home designed by Jean Stoffer Design. Photography: John Stoffer

SRFD: Tell us about your relationship with Monogram.

Jean: I have had the good fortune of attending a designer training event with Monogram at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. Since that training I have felt confident to spec Monogram in projects and educated enough to explain to the client why Monogram is a wise choice.

Designer Profile: Natalie Officer

We recently came across a beautiful kitchen designed by Natalie O Design on Instagram. We were so entranced, we asked if Natalie Officer, the creative force behind the company, would tell us a little more about herself … and share some additional photos. Take a look!

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?
Natalie: It started so long ago, the memory of exactly when is foggy. What I have always loved is the ability to make an impact and positive outcome in such a short amount of time. To truly affect a space, a design, a person in only a couple of days is motivating. It inspires.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?
Natalie: I am always excited by new collaborations or iterations, and love the fresh impact of colors. As far as trends, I try to stay clear of them.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?
Natalie: Excess. In any form (natural light excluded)

SRFD: Tell us about this kitchen.

Natalie: This kitchen belongs to a local Louisville-area family. It was a renovation from awhile back, but their matriarch, Nicole, is a busy yet wonderful mom and realtor who prefers tackling a little at a time! We’ve been fortunate to help her select vibrant wallpapers and fabrics to work throughout other rooms in her home, and to this day we’re still in touch! We’re currently adding some custom touches to her entry way. This kitchen renovation was a true mix of traditional style and modern functionality. Cabinetry and hardware selections were key here, using paneling on appliances such as the refrigerator. Nicole didn’t shy from mixing metals, using brass, stainless and even rose gold touches on her serving ware. The result is a warm, calming and inviting space for family and guests to gather.

Learn more about the Natalie O Design team here and explore this home and story exemplifying their true nature as a design company.

 

Designer Profile: Mary Jo Peterson

We have the privilege of partnering with impressive designers from across the country, including Mary Jo Peterson, President of Mary Jo Peterson, Inc., and a columnist with Kitchen and Bath Design News. Learn more about Mary Jo in our interview with her.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Mary Jo: Having started in education, I was crazy about design and anything to do with the kitchen when I headed to the showroom with the best reputation in Connecticut for my own kitchen renovation. There I met Lorey Cavanaugh, a phenomenal designer who not only saw me through to my new kitchen, but also brought me into the world of kitchen and bath design. Early on, I became interested in universal or inclusive design, and this became my professional passion.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project

Mary Jo: We recently completed the combining of two adjacent condos into one, a three story space, and incorporating client-specific access for a couple, one of whom has a degenerative condition, so sort-of a moving target. The overall space included kitchens on two floors, multiple bathrooms and the need to provide ease of movement throughout. It was what I call a reverse universal design project in that we started with specific access and then expanded to include spaces that will work for both members of the household and guests.

SRFD: A trend you are excited about?

Mary Jo: The growing availability of modular appliance options- cooking modules that let one have it all, some induction, some gas, and more, as well as refrigerator/freezer/beverage storage columns that allow one to plan multiple units in multiple locations and of various sizes. This all does so much to allow us to personalize the space for each particular client. This is obviously great in large kitchens, but it also allows us to make the absolute most of small spaces.

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Mary Jo: Stacked oven cabinets. I really appreciate the design aesthetic and the function of the horizontal line in appliance installation, particularly when this can be accomplished in mid-height cabinetry. It gets easier and better as our appliance manufacturers create a variety of appliances at the same height.

SRFD: Tell us about your relationship with Monogram

Mary Jo: My relationships with GE and Monogram go back many years and includes some of my favorite people and experiences. One project that stands out is the Real Life Design Kitchen, which we created for GE to tell their universal design story and to promote the concept within the design/build community. This was back in 1995 (or about then), showing GE and Monogram to be ahead of the curve, and in fact, the newest version of that same kitchen anchors the Real Life Design Lab at VA Tech today. Design innovation is a reason I continue to keep up with what’s new at Monogram.

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Designer Profile: Wendy Franz

Through our activities in the Chicago area, we came across Wendy Franz, owner and lead designer with Studio 912. We were so impressed we had to learn a bit more about her.

Kitchen space in Studio 912 Chicago studio

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Wendy: I have had a remodeling business with my husband since 1995. We operated our business out of our home, which was the perfect setup for me as it allowed me to be home and flexible for our kids as they were growing up. About 15 years ago, we remodeled our own kitchen and it was fun being able to plan every single spot in the kitchen for maximum use and efficiency according to how we use each area of the kitchen. It sparked my creativity and gave me a desire to be more than the person in the background handling operations and office matters. I wanted to be more involved with the customers and in the design process of our projects. In 2010, I investigated whether any of the local colleges had a specific degree or program specifically for kitchen and bath design and was so excited to find that Harper College in Palatine did. It was a certificate portion of their Interior Design Degree. I went in two different shifts, taking a 2 1/2 year break from school and being in business for myself due to the recession, but when I was able to return to the industry, I picked right back up where I left off school wise. So thankful that I did. It is truly a passion of mine, creating beautiful spaces for my clients that they love to wake up and come home to – a space that gives them a place of peace, comfort and refuse from the world around them.

Now that I have my own design studio/cabinet and countertop dealership (two of them actually, one near our home in Crystal Lake and one that I partner in with a fellow Harper student) and having the suburban location be in front of my husband’s woodworking workshop has given us a business that we can employ both of our daughters in. It’s nice to be working side by side with my hubby again and it’s such a huge plus to be able to offer woodworking piece in my designs to our clients, such as barn doors, tables, countertops and now, we’re starting to offer custom hoods too. Down the road, I hope to have time to create custom vanities too.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project

Wendy: We just wrapped up project for a repeat customer who we had done woodworking for in the past. This time, she came to us to design her kitchen, using two of our three cabinet lines. We did the perimeter in a white transitional door style and the island/hood/cooktop cabinetry along with the butler’s pantry and a bar wall in a dark stained rustic cherry. We used three different Cambria countertop patterns along with a reclaimed wood table extension off of the island and reclaimed shelves. She put in eight different zones of lighting and very interesting backsplash tile. Can’t wait to get in for the photo shoot.

SRFD: A trend you are excited about?

Wendy: The combination of wood grain cabinets with painted. Or the use of different colors throughout a space. We’re about to have a kitchen installed that we designed in a sleek white Acrylux door style on the uppers and a lined dark Acrylux door style on the lowers with a couple of aluminum/glass door cabinets mixed in. Should be very elegant and classy.

Kitchen designed by Studio 912. As Wendy said, “I of course LOVE any design I can incorporate my husband’s handiwork in like this beautiful, reclaimed island top.”

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Wendy: There have been so many white shaker kitchens, but we like to do them with touches of uniqueness that make them anything but the typical cookie cutter kitchen (as can be seen in the kitchen above).

SRFD: Tell us about your relationship with Monogram.

Wendy: We have a Monogram Advantium Speed Cooker/Microwave along with refrigerator drawers at our Chicago studio and LOVE using them and showing them off. We are recommending Monogram to all of our clients and will be meeting with the Monogram folks to talk about how we can have a more involved relationship with them. Can’t wait!

The Boulevard Show House Appliance Expert

As we shared back in September, Monogram is the proud sponsor of the Boulevard Show House in Houston, Texas, in collaboration with Laura Umansky. You can learn more about the announcement here and read our interview with Laura here.

Earlier this week the Laura U team talked with Alexandra Skobel, Monogram Designer Engagement Leader – Central Region, about Monogram appliances and the new appliances soon to be featured in the Boulevard Show House kitchen. Read the interview here.

Just wait until you see this vent hood in the Boulevard Show House kitchen!

As you may know all too well, remodeling projects take some serious time and then shift into super-speed. There are lots of exciting updates happening at the Boulevard Show House now! Check out The Boulevard Show House website and Facebook to stay up-to-date on all the progress updates and exciting announcements.

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Designer Profile: Laura Umansky

Following our exciting partnership announcement with designer Laura Umansky, we wanted to learn a little more about Laura and her design background.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Laura: Creating beautiful environments has been important to me for as long as I can recall. As a child, I would draw home plans, sketch my room layout, and design my personal space from top to bottom. Luckily, my mother let me have control of this from a very young age. Most likely because she was not interested in interior design at all!

In undergraduate school, I studied Art and didn’t hone in on the profession of Interior Design until late in my college career. After graduation, I knew that I wanted to dive head first into interior design and I started working for a fantastic designer who showed me the ropes. After a year, I enrolled in graduate school and, in 2005, received my Master of Architecture Degree. Studying Architecture definitely had a huge impact on the way that I approach interior design and how I structured my firm.

I started Laura U Interior Design in 2007 and we are celebrating our 10th anniversary this year. It is such an incredible milestone and I couldn’t be prouder of our team. I am so excited to see what we can all accomplish in the next 10 years!

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

Laura: Currently, I am working on my own home: a 1925 Tudor Revival in a Historic District of Houston. It is a fantastic home and I love the neighborhood. Being a historic home, it has had it’s share of challenges: foundation issues, termites, etc… All things you may expect with a home that is nearly a century old, but none of them are really fun to deal with.

What is fun to deal with is the design of the home and bringing it back to it’s original glory. It will be a gorgeous and stately home when it’s finish; perfect for the Monogram appliances that are going in our new kitchen and butler’s pantry!

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Laura: As I write, I am at High Point Market in North Carolina. I love market because I get to see all of the brand new introductions from the best design houses and manufacturers in the business. Right now, I am very excited to see the classic contrast of Black and White everywhere! I love the crispness of this pairing and you will see plenty of this in my new home when it is unveiled in the Spring.

SRFD: A trend you are over?

Laura: I am never really completely over any trend because it always comes back around at the right time. For example, who saw macramé being 2017s go-to wall art? For this very moment, I can do without large scale floral wallpaper. It is gorgeous but I think I have seen it implemented just enough to get me through the next decade!

SRFD: Why are you partnering with Monogram?

Laura: Monogram is everything my Classically Current design philosophy is grounded in: it is synonymous with luxury and livability. My Monogram appliances are timeless in look yet are modern in performance. As a mother of 5-year-old twin girls, my home must be beautiful, warm and welcoming to our friends and family, and it has to support our busy (aka crazy) daily lives. Monogram appliances easily check each of these boxes!

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