Category: Interview

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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Designer Profile: Mary Kathryn Strong

The Louisville Monogram Experience Center (MEC) brings designers to Louisville, Kentucky, for two-day experiences to learn about Monogram, the design process, our appliances – and even cook with them! We interviewed each designer to learn a little more about their background and design experiences. Today we’re featuring Mary Kathryn Strong with Trey Strong Custom Homes and MK Strong Design based in Lubbock, Texas.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Mary Kathryn: I have always paid attention to design even before I knew it would be my job. I used to listen to my grandmother talk about antiques and how she was always planning her next decorating scheme. She had an interior designer that she loved for many years and they would talk about different textiles, colors and interior styles. She taught me that if you love something like a piece of furniture or color, you can make it work for you and the rules are there aren’t any rules!

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

Mary Kathryn: One of my recent customers built a beautiful, traditional, two-story home. My style is probably a little more sleek than ornate, but they had huge, rare pieces of Baroque artwork they wanted all over the house. It was fun to incorporate them and have them against such clean and spacious backgrounds.

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about?

Mary Kathryn: New trends that aren’t really new … I’m glad color is coming back. I love a neutral house, but I need a little “pop’ here and there.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Mary Kathryn: I’m over all or nothing. I don’t like all grey or all taupe. Or all white. I like to mix and match the grey and tan. I think of it like jewelry. Gold and silver can be mixed and be timeless. I feel the same about a house.

SRFD: What did you learn during your Monogram experience.

Mary Kathryn: First of all, I thoroughly enjoyed my Monogram experience. I learned more than I could ever imagine about how a dishwasher works 🙂 I thought it was really cool to understand the technology behind refrigeration. The cooking experience with the chefs was a great lesson in heating your oven and pans before cooking. Most important, I am using Monogram on my next kitchen design project!

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Designer Profile: Katie Reece

We came across this stunning kitchen designed by Louisville, Kentucky-based Katie Reece with Century Entertainment and Furnishings and were so impressed we had to learn more.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Katie: I grew up with art always being my first love and design just fell perfectly into that love. I still hand draw all of my plans and elevations for clients. This is my true passion and it affords me the opportunity to impart this passion into their design. It feels more personal and makes each and every project truly custom.

SRFD: Tell us about this project.

Katie: This particular project was very special as the client is a builder, Leo Thieneman & Son’s Fine Homes, which I’ve worked with for years. His vision was a modern farmhouse that would serve their family of six while still maintaining a unique space he could bring clients into. He enlisted the services of Karista Hannah with Set the Stage Interior Design & Home Decor as well as myself to help bring this vision to life.

SRFD: What’s a design trend you love?

Katie: I have always loved using the color white on walls, cabinets, furniture, artwork … really anything having to do with design. I love that so many are seeing it as a color these days and not just a backdrop. Whites can be warm or cool. They can impart energy or keep a mood very subdued. It’s all in how you use it and what undertone you choose. This particular kitchen is painted Sherwin- Williams Pure White. Snowbound is another excellent Sherwin-Williams white that I use frequently.

SRFD: What’s a design trend you’re over?

Katie: I could really do without brushed nickel right now. I know it’s most people’s safe place, their go to choice for metals, but it’s so predictable. I want to see spaces that feel collected and eclectic and you just can’t get that without mixing finishes.

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Historical Home Renovation with Ember & Brune

Initially clients Adam and Sarah came to Ember & Brune because they were having a difficult time finding their forever home. Adam and Sarah were moving from Chicago to the suburbs and had trouble finding everything they wanted in a home. They decided to buy a home and remodel it, and hired Ember & Brune. The firm looked at the house before Adam and Sarah closed on it and came up with a plan to add an addition, while also reconfiguring the existing space to make this historical house everything they wanted in a forever home. All while being budget conscious. As a full-service Design – Build firm, Ember & Brune designs the project, builds it and even provides interior design services to help furnish it!

Take a look at the final reveal Ember & Brune blog post as well as the intro and in progress posts.

 

We interviewed the team at Ember & Brune to learn a little more about the project.

SRFD: Any surprises on this renovation?

Ember & Brune: Endless. We were gutting the existing interior and adding an addition on a home that was built in 1910. Some things we found behind the walls were fun and interesting, like Saturday Evening Post magazines used as insulation and perfectly preserved. While others were scary like old electrical and gas lines that were still live and never properly disconnected and disposed of.

SRFD: What component of the project are you most proud of?

Ember & Brune: While it is impossible to pick just one component, I will say we are very pleased with the coffered ceiling in the kitchen. When our architect told us we could not open up the first floor without a hefty beam running down the middle, we decided to get creative. We designed the coffered ceiling to completely conceal the beam while adding an architectural detail in the kitchen. We tried to stay true to the home’s historical charm. The coffered ceiling has added so much character to the space.

SRFD: Tell us a little about the kitchen.

Ember & Brune: The clients like to entertain so a large kitchen was a must. The island is perfect for entertaining and comfortably sits their guests on the opposite side of their kitchen’s main cooking hub.

 

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Interview with Olga Odeide

Recently we interviewed Olga Odeide, Vice President of Industry Partnerships with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), to learn about her role with the organization and its’ focus on helping designers.

SRFD: Tell us about your background.

Olga: I’ve had an interesting, non-traditional career arc. I started out in design of a different sort – electrical engineering, circuits and high tech system design. I eventually led a diverse global sales team, but was drawn to more creative pursuits. I pivoted into Interiors and studied at The Art Institutes (where I originally connected with ASID as a student member). After some time at a leading firm working multi-million dollar installations, I combined my design knowledge with my background in business development into a consulting position, working with Design and Architecture firms nationwide to refine growth strategies, streamline operations and maximize profitability. It was during this time that I also enhanced my ASID experience with a Chapter Board role. I’m now at ASID National Headquarters as Vice President of Industry Partnerships, where I work with manufacturers and service providers at a national level to connect them into all that ASID does on behalf of the industry.

SRFD: Why should designers be an ASID member?

Olga: ASID is a community of designers, industry representatives, educators and students who believe that design impacts lives. When you become an ASID member, you are immediately connected to a distinguished network of peers, thought leaders and luminaries. Members have access to the Society’s leading-edge industry research, it’s bi-monthly international magazine, i+D, and a vast array of in-person and online professional development opportunities. ASID offers members a robust chapter experience and the chance to lead at the volunteer, local and national levels. And the Society provides members with a collection of business solutions – contracts, business insurance, health insurance, the ASID job bank, exclusive discounts and more – to help them develop successful careers in the design industry. ASID membership is an invaluable tool in propelling designers to the top of their game.

SRFD: What have you learned from being on the ASID team?

Olga: First and foremost, I’ve learned that the team at ASID headquarters is a committed, high-performing group of talented individuals. I look forward to working with my colleagues every day. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and engage with individual members, Industry Partner members, and leadership at both the local and national level. I’ve formed a new appreciation for the dedication of the designers and representatives I’ve met, and for the vastness of design. There are so many established and emerging areas of specialization – biophilic design, universal design, aging-in-place considerations, workplace and healthcare design – that substantiate the ASID belief that Design Impacts Lives.

SRFD: Favorite ASID experience?

Olga: I’ve had so many great experiences during my tenure with ASID. But if I had to choose just one, I would have to pick The Leadership Experience: Presented by ASID (EXP) which took place in July 2017 in San Diego. EXP was the Society’s most inclusive event ever and featured content for everyone, from emerging professionals to seasoned designers. Interactive workshops, tours, networking events and more were centered around three topic areas – Lead Yourself, Lead Your Team, and Lead Your Firm. ASID is committed to encouraging and training our members to become leaders in the design industry, and that commitment is the driving force behind EXP. Speakers, including Nancy Giordano, founder and CEO of Play Big, Inc.;  Andrew Dent, Ph.D. of Material ConneXion; and several design industry luminaries; offered attendees a fresh perspective on the world of business, leading in the 21st century, and how to lead with authenticity. It was a career-changing experience for all who attended.

SRFD: Tell us a little bit about your partnership with Monogram Appliances.

Olga: It’s been great! Monogram is a National Industry Partner with ASID, supporting the mission to showcase the Impact of Design. National Industry Partner membership provides Monogram access to the broad ASID Chapter network to get brand visibility, participate in various activities, and build relationships with designers at the local level. In addition, we work closely with Monogram designer engagement leader Alex Skobel to better understand Monogram’s overall goals and objectives to augment efforts with sponsorship at the national level. We’ve had great success with both exposure and engagement with designers, and look forward to continuing to grow our partnership for many years to come.

Designer Profile: Lauren Levant

Our Monogram team met and fell in love with designer Lauren Levant. Lauren is an up-and-coming, award-winning designer, and today we get to talk to her about her design background, projects, and inspiration.

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SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

I became interested in design indirectly at a very early age.  I studied fine art (drawing, painting, sculpture, and photography) avidly from the time I was seven years old.  By the time I was in high school, I had become fairly accomplished in the fine arts, and everyone expected me to go on to study art professionally.  But before I headed to college, I realized that I wanted to channel my creative energies into a more collaborative, dynamic platform that would keep me interacting with other people’s ideas every day.  I also wanted to know that my work would make a measurable impact on others on a daily basis, and help them to live their best lives.  The idea of creating artistic environments that people could live in became an answer to those things for me, and so I decided to earn my degree in Interior Architecture/Design.  After thirteen years working in the industry, I feel lucky every day to have made this my career and my calling.

SRFD: Tell us about a recent project.

I was fortunate to find that my move to Pittsburgh four years ago provided an opportunity to grow as a designer and business woman.  I had been working in Connecticut, New York, and DC before then, and I wasn’t sure what the appetite for interior design would be in Pittsburgh before I arrived.  Once here, I was thrilled with the excitement and support for my work that I found in this community.  I have been involved in several exciting projects since moving, but my favorites are the ones where I have the chance to collaborate with local artists and craftsmen, and Pennslyvania is a rich, fertile ground for that talent.  One such recent kitchen design collaboration featured a large, rolled steel cooking mantle, fabricated for the ventilation of a large Monogram range.  The mottled blue markings of the steel hood are organic yet modern, and it gave this kitchen a unique touch that has a lot of meaning in our “Steel City” context here in Pittsburgh.  It was gratifying to know that the clients are loving their new space, and it was also an honor to see this project receive two 1st place design awards this spring from the National Kitchen & Bath Association.

SRFD: What do you enjoy about working with Monogram?

One of the things I enjoy most about working with Monogram is the attention to detail – both in design and technology.  The line features pieces that are consistently at the forefront of innovation.  The smart cooking technologies in products like the Advantium ovens, or the Bluetooth-enabled induction cooktops make it possible for chefs of all ability levels to make incredible food consistently in their kitchens.  They also instill confidence for cooks to try new cooking techniques.  One of my favorite Monogram gadgets is the Bluetooth attachment for Sous Vide.  I had the opportunity to try this out myself in the Monogram center at Chicago Merchandise Mart, and it convinced me that everyone should try, learn, and love cooking in the Sous Vide technique.  Monogram’s technology makes it safe, easy and delicious every time – and that’s worth a lot to me and to my clients.

SRFD: What’s a design trend you love?

One of the design trends that I love right now is the mixing of materials – particularly multiple metals.  Stainless is still king in the kitchen – but I’m loving the way multiple finishes are being mixed together successfully, and enriching the kitchen experience.  Blackened steel, aged brass, bronze, nickel, and zinc – all finishes that can be blended and worked into a balanced design.  It started with decorative hoods, hardware, and plumbing – but these days, natural metals are also making their way into cabinetry, countertops, and open shelving.  I look forward to seeing more of this mixed material approach in kitchen design in the years to come.

SRFD: What’s a design trend you’re over?

One of the trends I’m ready to let go of is the wood planking trend – which has become fairly pervasive at this point.  In residential projects, as well as in restaurants and bars – it seems like everything is getting planked and distressed to death.  I loved the idea initially – but I think at this point, I’m ready to move on.  Let’s not leave behind natural wood – but most of us do not live in a barn – so let’s keep looking for new, interesting and authentic ways to use it in projects in the future.

Lake House Kitchen Remodel

Following up on last week’s profile of designer Nancy Blandford, we’re including Nancy’s story of her most recent kitchen remodel.

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My clients had just purchased this wonderful lake house. The kitchen, dining, and living spaces are open and face the lake.

The new owners requested an update to get rid of the orange woodwork, the faux painted sky ceiling, and all the murals and painted tiles.

They also questioned the “why” of the angles on the existing kitchen. The home had been remodeled in the early ’80s. I was pretty sure it was just a designer being clever since nothing else in the home was angled.

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Since the kitchen is the backdrop of the living and dining room, the room needed to fit in without dominating. I was able to straighten out the angles. We kept the existing pantry and hid the refrigerator/freezer behind cabinet doors by using two 30” Monogram appliances side-by-side framed by ovolo posts. The 48” Monogram range and hood were centered on the wall space that remained. On either side of the range are wide, deep drawers.

The island is home to a Monogram microwave drawer (hidden on the back side of the island), pull-out trash and recycling bins, a Native Trails curved farmhouse sink, a cabinet front dishwasher, and large, deep drawers for dishes. The backside of the island is raised with furniture-piece cabinets on both ends and four wide, comfy stools tucked into the center.

The island cabinets were painted a custom blue with black brushing. The remaining cabinetry was painted white with a pewter highlight.

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We took the existing hutch space and made it into a dry bar with leaded glass doors above and a Monogram Bar Refrigerator.

We used a honed onyx white quartz countertop with an ogee edge.

The ceiling was painted a deep navy and glazed with silver. In the center of the raised ceiling, we hung a chandelier that when lit, makes the ceiling glow.

And for the finishing touch — what I like to call the jewelry — we used polished nickel oversized handles and a polished nickel bridge faucet.

 

Designer Profile: Nancy Blandford

A couple weeks ago, the Monogram team was contacted by an amazing designer, Nancy Blandford. She shared with us a recent kitchen remodel that she’d just completed with Monogram. Her design work was so beautiful that we had to feature her on our blog. Check out Nancy’s designer profile and learn more about her business, Built In Design. Next week, we’ll talk to Nancy more in-depth about her recent kitchen remodel. Stay tuned!

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SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

I grew up in the 70’s loving to create. I made clothing out of old jeans and flour sacks, repurposing before it was cool. I also loved to paint and draw. I wanted to go to art school, but my parents had a home furnishings store and pushed me to go into Interior Design. Looking back, I am happy that they led me that direction. I have never grown tired of helping my clients discover their design aesthetic. I believe it is important to first get to know my clients and how they use their space and then design something unique that works for them.

SRFD: Tell us about your recent kitchen project.

Most of my work is from referrals and from projects I have posted on Houzz or Pinterest. I had a client recently contact me from projects I had posted on both sites, and she hired me to do her lake house. I was her “boots on the ground” while she was back home. We had weekly FaceTime meetings so that she could watch the project progress. 

She would pin photos of things she liked and wanted to incorporate into her kitchen. I would send her sketches of different options, and together we designed her space. She described her style for this home as “Country French”, but not shabby. I would relabel it as “Elegant French”. I took her clever angled 1980’s kitchen and cleaned up the lines. Since the kitchen was front and center in the dining living space, it needed to fit in and serve without dominating.

SRFD: What’s a design trend you’re over?

Her existing kitchen was the epitome of passe` design! I am so over angles just for the sake of angles. I am also over orange wood tones. 

SRFD: What’s a design trend you’re excited about?

I am excited about the options appliance manufacturers are coming up with. I love, love, love the Monogram 30” Integrated Refrigerator! I was able to put two together and give my clients what they needed for food storage, and it looks like a beautiful piece of furniture. I also like microwave drawers, being able to hide it somewhat. Now if someone could engineer a microwave with a panel front, and while they are at it, make a reversible hinge door.

Designer Profile: Jamie Sangar

The Monogram team came across a photo designer and photographer Jamie Sangar shared on her Instagram account earlier this year and were so impressed by her design aesthetic, we needed to learn more! Today we’re sharing Jamie’s path to design and her company, Mod Abode. Next week we will feature her gorgeous kitchen.

SRFD: How did you become interested in design?

Jamie: Regardless of whether you believe in the myth of people being either right-brain dominant or left-brain dominant, I think we can all agree upon the fact that some people are just born with certain talents. Everybody has their own unique talent, but it’s up to them to discover it and apply it in a real world scenario. The definition of “talent” is “natural aptitude or skill.” In other words, someone was born that way. I have always loved design for as long as I can remember. My style preferences weren’t learned from my parents, it’s just something that I always had a flair for. It wasn’t until after college, where I graduated with a Marketing degree from Miami University, that I got to professionally enter a creative environment. First starting my career in advertising, where I was an account executive for big brands, acting as the middleman between the artists and the client, I got my first taste of the creative world. The environment was awesome to be a part of. Halfway through my 3.5 year stint at the ad agency, I started a photography business on the side. After seeing quick growth and repeat customers, while also consistently gaining new customers, I realized that there just weren’t enough hours in the day to complete both jobs at 100% effort. So I decided to take a leap of faith and pursue my photography career full-time. That was 11 years ago and I couldn’t be happier to be making my own rules as I go, meeting new clients along the way, and continually surrounding myself with creativity! That interest has always been there from an interior and architectural design standpoint, but I never tried applying it professionally. So, I thought, what the heck, and Mod Abode was born. It is a blend of all of my creative passions; photography, design and architecture. I get to take pretty photos of design elements and credit those who are responsible for designing or carrying such cool things in their stores. I am not quite sure where Mod Abode might lead me, but my hope is that new doors open that let me expand upon the things I’m always eager to learn more about.

SRFD: Tell us about your recent kitchen project.

Jamie: The number one, most important room to me, as we were designing and planning the build of our new home, was the kitchen! I love cooking, hosting and entertaining, so I wanted to put a lot of thought into the layout, the design, and most importantly the appliances and technology! Because we were working with, what some would consider, a tough budget in the custom home realm, we knew that the build process was going to be a relationship of give and take. Aren’t all solid relationships about give and take?! We knew that we weren’t willing to backdown on the commercial grade appliances that we had researched and tested-out, so an example of a “give” was to take on some of the kitchen building labor, and build our own Ikea cabinets. They were always the look we wanted, white and glossy, but sure, we could’ve saved ourselves a bunch of time and effort if we had gone with another custom (expensive) brand. But that was one example of us not backing-down to what we felt was important in our kitchen. We chose a Wolf induction cooktop, a Wolf wall oven, a 48” Subzero refrigerator freezer, and a Monogram Advantium wall oven! While the kitchen is not huge, it is very functional for the way that we live in it. It is also designed with 180 degrees of window views overlooking Geist Reservoir in the distance and woods to the side of our property. Not only does the daylight keep the kitchen bright and airy, but the beautiful views help create a warm environment, for not only us, but our friends that we enjoy hosting.

SRFD: A trend you’re over?

Jamie: I almost hate to point-out a trend that I personally do not gravitate towards, because I know that many people don’t prefer my taste. (So, feel free to punch holes in the way I like to design, ha)! However, if there’s one trend that I feel has been used over and over again for years, it’s gotta be the distressed, eclectic, shabby chic look, with mismatched furniture, mismatched fabrics and patterns, combined with distressed everything!

SRFD: A trend you’re excited about:

Not a trend, but a style I obsess over, is bringing the outdoors inside. In fact, that’s a really old idea of mid-century modern style. If you’re remodeling an existing home, you’re definitely limited by window size if you’re not into cutting larger window openings, and making sure appropriate engineering and headers are in place. However, there are some things you can do to help achieve more of this look without a hefty price tag. Simple things like removing the grilles from your windows will completely open up the room and give the illusion of letting more light in. If you have the opportunity to buy new windows, consider something like casement windows that allow you to open up to the outdoors. Consider brands with small, minimal trim/mullions to keep the look minimal, but the daylight to a maximum.

For new construction, it’s definitely easier to plan for these types of things. Think about incorporating a large window expanse towards a pretty and private part of your property. Higher-end window brands have even engineered moveable window walls, that actually allow you to open up to the outdoors, making you feel at one with nature. So while this is certainly not a new trend, it’s one that I feel should be placed at the top of the “must have” list!

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