Our friend Morgan Molitor, designer, remodeler and stylist with Construction2Style, recently participated in a designer session at the Chicago Monogram Design Center. Read all about the experience on her blog.
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.
Recently a few team members from A Finer Touch Construction visited the Chicago Monogram Design Center (MDC) to learn about Monogram, the design process, our appliances – and even cook with them! Read about their visit and learn more about the cooktop showdown between electric and gas on their blog.
This week, we’re talking to a designer whom we’ve interviewed before. Robin Burrill is CEO/Interior Designer of Curb Appeal Renovations. She recently completed a major kitchen remodel using Monogram appliances, and she tells us her story below.
This was the second job that we were asked to complete for this homeowner…and while the first was a bathroom, it was very traditional. For their kitchen, the homeowners wanted a traditional style, but with more transitional elements. Transitional?! Yes!
Many probably don’t know what that means, so let’s explain it by saying transitional design helps move from traditional to slightly contemporary using very clean lines, not all the “fussiness” that traditional can sometimes have. And not all the decorations you see in a typical traditional design.
Much of this project was also structural. Since the home was built in the 1980s, it had very tiny rooms and, of course, the typical 8’ ceiling. While they wanted to completely open the kitchen, dining, and living areas, due to structural issues with the second floor, it was cost prohibitive to do so. The changes we did decide to make gave the area a much more cohesive, wide open look.
Since the appliances were original to the house, and these owners loved to cook, they added just about every appliance to the kitchen that they could! The 48’ Monogram range and the custom navy blue hood are the center of the kitchen with the pot-filler placed over the range. Since she didn’t want a freezer in the kitchen (it’s in her laundry room right around the corner), we installed the 30” Monogram refrigerator column. The Monogram microwave was installed in the upper cabinetry, next to the refrigerator, making easy access for reheating foods or when preparing meals.
Since the island was so large, not only were we able to get seating on the living room side, but the whole island also has an incredible amount of storage. On the one end of the island, closest to the door leading to the backyard/pool, we installed both the Monogram ice maker and under counter fridge for easy drink access. Instead of building a walk in pantry, the storage in this kitchen is incredible — with two-floor ceiling pantry cabinets with pull-out drawers, to the pull-out drawer on the one side of the range, the floor-to-ceiling appliance storage at the opposite end of the kitchen and all the upper cabinets…the walk in pantry just isn’t needed!
All the cabinetry in the kitchen was painted from DeWils. The main cabinetry is not quite white and the island, while in the pictures due to the natural light, actually matches the custom hood in navy. The counters are Superior (that’s the color name!) quartzite and while it is beautiful, it does require extra care as it is porous like marble. The backsplash is a traditional style, subway tile, but with that transitional twist that we talked about earlier in glass!
We installed hardwood from the front door, through the dining, kitchen and living areas to match the existing hardwood in the house. The dining room also got a facelift with a dramatic navy ceiling to match the hood and island and a beautiful light seafoam green on the walls. Polished nickel pendants were installed over the island, along with a new chandelier in the dining room and ceiling fan over the breakfast nook. The final touch was the polished nickel hardware on the cabinets…giving the classic shaker door an elegant detail!
Last week, we talked to Lauren Levant about her design background and inspiration. Today we’ll hear from Lauren about a recent, NKBA award-winning kitchen remodel that rings true to her town of Pittsburgh.
From the street, this house looks every bit a handsome, somewhat traditional home that you would find in any suburban neighborhood in America. The landscaping is neat and tidy, the neighbors wave hello as they walk their dogs and meet the kids at the school bus. In this case, this couple had just sent their last kid off to college and were easing into empty nester life – but the neighborhood and the relationships they’d formed there were enough to dissuade them from leaving the family homestead behind.
The challenge for me as a designer then became to somehow transform this traditional, uninspired kitchen/living space into a much more stylish and exciting one to help celebrate this new phase of life. As you can see in the before photo, this was a fairly small space with a cramped, inefficient layout. The clients craved a bright, breezy space, conducive to entertaining, and full of visually exciting details. They wanted to be sure that beyond improving the form and function of the space, that this renovation would also add energy and interest to their daily life.
Two major adjustments proved to be the key to everything:
Now for more details… Last week, I mentioned that one of the kitchen design trends that I love is the mixing of unique metals. In this case, we used a hot-rolled, natural steel hood, created by a local metal artist. Pittsburgh is Steel City, after all. I love how the natural waxed finish allows the metal to show off its natural mill-scaled patina of blues and grays. It sets off the gorgeous Monogram range beautifully. In between those two metals, the backsplash area is paneled in glass, edge-lit by embedded LED lights. This little trick not only looks sexy, but it also enables the client to have notes and recipes written with a wax pencil, which adds some more energy and fun.
Quartz countertops in white provide a lot of light-bouncing from the view of the pool area, which helps to fill the space with even more light. Most of the time people don’t think of countertops as a light source, but in this case, they are. The cabinetry is done in a modern, textured laminate finish, which adds some contrast from the other glossy surfaces. The secondary wall of storage at the rear of the space is designed at 3⁄4 height, creating a feeling of openness and interest, and making a transition to the third level – a massive center island. Storage is incredibly important in an open kitchen plan, and in our case, we used every available inch to create areas that are functional and easy to keep up with. I mean, who doesn’t love a hidden coffee bar?
Using high-quality products, particularly appliances, is key to a project that works just as well as it looks. I enjoy using Monogram’s technology and quality whenever I have the opportunity because it helps to reinforce the high standards that I try to emulate as a design professional. These clients are cooking, entertaining, and living in this kitchen, and I feel great knowing that with such a well-equipped new space, they’ll be enjoying this space for many years to come.
In last week’s conversation, I mentioned a recent kitchen renovation in Pittsburgh that had snagged two first place NKBA design awards nationally this year. I’m glad to have the chance to share photos of this project this week – because I think it highlights so many of the things that kitchen design should aspire to be about in the coming years. Designers aren’t always lucky enough to have clients who trust them enough to sign on for ideas that push the limits of a space physically and visually, but in this case, the courage and faith of these empty nesters helped me to transform their modest sized kitchen entirely.
Photos: Dave Bryce Photography, courtesy of Lauren Levant Interior
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.
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.
Monogram® connected appliances just got smarter, making multitasking even easier with its connected appliances integration with Google Assistant. That’s important, as the 2016 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study reported that 33 percent of homeowners are choosing new kitchen appliances with tech features like connectivity.
“Consumers with high-end kitchens are looking for personalization of their appliances,” said Michael Mahan, general manager for Monogram. “Integrating our Monogram suite of connected appliances with Google Assistant makes it easier for owners to control their appliances and adds an element of fun to their daily routines.”
Last year, Monogram integrated its connected appliances with Amazon’s Alexa using its Geneva skill. Now, with Google Assistant integration, consumers can control their Monogram appliances by simply saying, “Ok Google, ask Geneva Home to set the oven timer for 10 minutes,” which will tell the connected oven to set its timer. A few other skills include:
Available today, the entire Monogram connected suite of kitchen appliances will integrate with Google Assistant enabled Google Home.
Learn more about Monogram appliances and Google Assistant in the press release.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Following up on last week’s profile of photographer and designer Jamie Sangar, we wanted to learn a little more about her background and most recent project – her own home.
As a little girl, I never imagined myself being a general contractor. General contractors carry tape measures and wear hard hats. I was going to wear tutus and make-up. In my wildest imagination I never guessed that general contractors could do both!
When my husband and I decided we wanted to build a modern, energy-efficient home in Indianapolis, Indiana, our options for homebuilders were pretty slim, to say the least. In a market with much more conservative taste overall, and neighborhood homeowner’s associations that have a tight hold on architectural styles, the challenge was real trying to find the perfect land that would allow us to have neighbors, since we aren’t the country-dwelling type, as well as the design freedom to build a modern home. So, before even getting started on the land search, we knew we were up against two major roadblocks.
Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised to quickly find the perfect land. It’s as if fate was on our side. We knew that our next step was to find the perfect architect. Even though we are both artists (my husband, a Visual Effects Supervisor, and me, a photographer by trade) and can easily visualize and design things on our own, we put the upmost value in hiring an architect, that could not only design a functional home based around the way that we live, but also, build a home that fit the land. We lucked out with lots of tall, mature trees, and a hill that our house would set atop—all things that we wanted to help dictate our home design, rather than knock-down, flatten, and plop a house on top of.
After meeting with three different architects, we chose to work with Jason Wolfe at Demerly Architects, who was the perfect match for us in terms of style, personality and being willing to work with, what some would consider, a tough budget for a custom home that offers some high-end technology and appliances. He had ideas on where to save money to help offset those luxuries we weren’t willing to give up.
After having our plans priced with two local builders, and feeling frustrated by the price that came back both times, we decided that if we were going to make our dreams a reality, we were going to have to get our hands dirty. And by “dirty,” I mean, take on the responsibility of being the general contractor on our build.
I managed the day to day progress, scheduling the sub-contractors, managing material deliveries, working with our lender, meeting with potential subs, getting quotes, keeping the job site clean, hiring and firing, all while managing a full-time photography business and two children.
Our exterior walls are SIPs panels (structural insulated panels) built by Thermocore, which means that not only is our home very insulated and energy-efficient, it meant that our walls were built indoors in a factory, unexposed to the weather elements, and then delivered on two semis to the job site. A crane and a framing crew would then set the walls, which drastically cut down on framing labor and time. So within days, our home had a roof and we were ready for the rough-in stage.
Next was the fun part. That’s when all of the finishes and final design came into play! I knew I wanted to be minimal but warm and inviting, sleek but introduce textures, and add pops of color through furnishings rather than with wall or tile colors. The palette was simple; white walls, polished chrome finishes, black windows and maple hardwoods.
The most important room to us was the kitchen. I love hosting, cooking and entertaining, so our main “splurge” was our kitchen appliances. An example of finding ways to offset the cost of our commercial-grade kitchen “must haves” was to design and build our own cabinets from Ikea. Ikea’s white glossy lacquer cabinets were the clean and efficient look we were going for!
I’ve always had a passion for interior and architectural design. It’s just something that’s in my blood and I’ve followed for years through social media outlets, magazines, and in stores. But the most fun and applicable way for me to put that knowledge to use was by building our own home. With this home, unlike our last home, I wanted a clean and modern neutral palette. Our last home had lots of color incorporated by different colored painted walls. My plan with this house, however, was to incorporate color with furnishings, while keeping the floors and walls neutral. This has allowed for a consistent look and feel throughout the entire house, while each room has a unique flair based on the furnishings.
I especially have a love of mid-century modern design, so while our home is brand new, those same ideals were used in the design of our home. The idea that large expanses of glass be used to bring the outdoors inside, with a large open floor plan concept, we’ve topped that idea off with lots of mid-century modern furniture and decor. Another goal with the design of the interiors was to be as minimal as possible, while still being comfortable. An example of this is designing our closets so that our dressers fit inside there, rather than in the bedrooms. This allows for more floor space and less surfaces that likely end up finding clutter, and not to mention, dust. We also chose wall-mounted vanities in every bathroom to give the illusion that the rooms are larger than they are, by being able to see the floor underneath. The same is true for our master bedroom with floating nightstands. From an exterior standpoint, we chose a front door that is one that you would’ve seen in the 1950s, and we chose to make it orange, to contrast our two-toned grey siding.
Now that we’ve gotten comfortable in our new home, I decided to carry on with my design passion, and start Mod Abode. I view Mod Abode as a blend of all of my passions; photography, design and architecture! It also gets me involved in a social media community that shares those same interests. 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.