All posts by K+B DECON

A Case Study: Master Ensuite Bath Remodel

The Objective

The purpose of this study is to give a comprehensive look at a master ensuite bathroom remodel for baby boomers.

Ageing-in-place design does not need to look like a bathroom out of a retirement home.  It can have a sassy, elegant look and at the same time functional and efficient.

This remodel will show how we fuse functionality with aesthetics through careful planning, expert implementation and meticulous selection of materials and finishes.

The Situation

Remodeled back in the 80’s with oak cabinets, tile counter top and mirrored walls.  The bay/transom windows provide abundant source of natural light during the day and ventilation all year-round; but the shower and the tub, positioned in front of it, create a challenge.   The absence of a door from the bedroom is a privacy issue with the toilet just behind the doorway and faces the mirrored vanity area.  The walls of the wet area, including the inside of the bay window, are tiled in.

Shower and Tub
Awkward position of toilet. Windows are difficult to open and shut with the tub obstructing the access.
Outdated Oak cabinets with tile counter top.


Client Wish List

  • Stay traditional
  • White cabinets
  • Barrier-free shower
  • Clean look
  • Open to relocating plumbing to solve the issue of the shower glass and the bay window
  • Loves the look of “bling-bling”


The Solution

Proposed Plan

In order to make this room functional, the layout needs to be reconfigured.  With this in mind, the clients are aware of the impact on the budget.  Relocating water and drain lines are a major feat.  But the long term benefit of a workable and usable bathroom is greater than the effect of a dent in the budget aka the retirement fund.

We separate the tub and the shower and move it away from the window.  We basically rotate the location of shower, tub and toilet,  1 step counter clockwise.  The toilet is relocated between the wall and the shower; providing privacy.  The freestanding tub, is placed next to the vanity, creates a focal point when you enter the bathroom.

The shower dimension is a few inches smaller than the previous but is more functional with it’s barrier free access.

Running a horizontal band around the bathroom establishes a break. The 12 x 24 field tiles continue on the upper part of a wet area; shower and tub, and paint on rest of the walls including the bay window. The wainscot is in 3 x 12 subway Carrara tile capped with a bullnose trim.

60″ Freestanding tub from Kohler with floating stone shelf from Caesarstone; material and ogee detail match the vanity counter top.
Toilet and “barrier-free” shower
Taller vanity height and under counter sink. Wall tower unit houses plenty of storage. Listelo band and Carrara tile backsplash with Benjamin Moore Aura Silver Fox wall paint.

Sconces on each side of the mirror provide sufficient artificial light combined with overhead LED lights and natural light.  Mirrors are from Robern.

Notice the blend of color temperatures of general, ambient and natural light.  It creates a perfect fusion with the white and grey tones.

The grey tinted mirror frame on the Robern mirror apply a punch of color on the walls and pull some of the accents on the listelo, together.

In Conclusion

The clients are very ecstatic and pleased with the outcome.  Not only do they  have a very functional space, the upgrade is definitely worth it.

A happy wife is a happy designer life.


When you have a challenging design issue, our office welcomes your inquiry.  We are pleased to service the needs of our clients by listening and doing beyond what is expected of us.

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A Case Study: Kitchen Remodel


The purpose of this study is to give an in-depth look at a typical kitchen remodel .  To provide an understanding on how the entire process works in order to eliminate unpleasant setbacks.  The study hopes to shed light on the importance of having a plan beforehand.  That communication between the  owner, designer, contractors and vendors, is very crucial to avoid the should’ve, could’ve & would’ve.

The Situation

This 1953 California Ranch custom home in Burbank, required a lot of upgrade when the homeowners purchased this in 2012.  For the past 4 years they have been remodeling this 3 bedroom/3 baths, continuously.  The kitchen, being the most important room of the house, was the last to get an upgrade.  With the holidays just around the corner, they did not plan to have any work in kitchen done until the new year, which was 2 months away..

Kitchen then.

Things that needed consideration for the new design:

  • Incorporate the “V-groove” on the cabinet doors which can be seen as an architectural detail all throughout the house.
  • Stay within the budget.
  • Keep the existing footprint.
  • Create a modern approach to a transitional kitchen.
  • Design cabinets to anticipate appliances replacements in case of breakdown or defects. To foresee possible changes in sizes or specs by appliance manufacturers.

The Challenges

Here are some challenges during the initial design process :

  • What will the gap of the V-groove door detail be?
  • How can the white laundry machines flow seamlessly with the new stainless steel appliances and make that area a multi-purpose, catch-all, parking spot for groceries, laundry, purses and toys?
  • How to transition the wood floor in the dining room to the new porcelain tile in the kitchen without using wood reducers?
  • Can the engineered quartz, being the preferred counter top surface over granite, fit into the budget?

The K+B DECON Approach

Material swatch.

Within a couple of weeks from the initial meeting, we presented 4 schemes to the owner.  Our design schemes started from the simplest to a more complicated approach giving the owner the option to decide which among the schemes fit their long-term goals.  They approved the open layout,which was the most expensive of all the 4 schemes. Not so much as the cabinetry, but the construction became a little more challenging.  More work, more money.  The approved design set things in motion.  A more accurate bid was generated.  Materials for floor, countertop, and walls were selected.   A final color match of the door stain was produced for the client to approve.  Appliances were purchased and the schedule for construction was set.  It was a moving target but all vendors were made aware of the schedule so they can anticipate their own work load.  Each party (owner, designer and contractor) had a different task and a responsibility but all shared the same goal.  To start and finish the project on-time; per specs, per budget.  On the day of construction, all major decisions were made.  Every materials were ordered and on cue for delivery and installation.  It was just a case of implementing the design and whatever we find between the walls and beneath the floor and the ceiling were matters to be addressed at that point in time.

Kitchen during construction: Day 1
Kitchen Now: View from dining room
Kitchen Now: Built-in laundry with floating shelves above.
Beautiful glass backsplash complimented the honed quartz counter top by Caesarstone.


Open bookshelf breaks the ‘panelling effect’ of the V-grooved doors.

The Result

By managing the client’s expectations, we eliminated most of the gray areas.  We were also fortunate to work for a client who kept an open mind during the entire process.  Who trusted us and the rest of the crew to deliver our best.  We encountered some minor obstacle: new laundry machines to replace the old one due to a broken part which could cause leaks in the future.  This created a setback with the counter top installation and the cabinetry around it.  But a quick phone call to the cabinet shop, they produced and installed 3 new panels in a matter of days.  We promised the client the process will take 6-8 weeks.  They moved in after 6 1/2 weeks.

One happy client = mission accomplished!


5ive and a Half Steps to Fail Your Way to a Successful Kitchen Remodel

Henry Ford quoted: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”.  

Failure is viewed as the recipe to success, because you can always try again and watch out for any pitfalls that caused you to fail the first time and be more cautious on your next attempt.

This is very true, but you DO NOT want to encounter failure when you are doing a kitchen remodel. There is a reason why most homeowners remodel or upgrade their kitchen once every 25 years. Kitchens are kind of a big deal. It is a huge part of our lifestyle. It is the nucleus of every home. The gathering point and the epicenter where memories are made, where the body is healed and where the soul is enlightened. A slight disruption of that lifestyle can be nerve wracking, stressful and life changing. But why do people fail their way to a successful kitchen remodel? Here is the list of bad habits and wrong practices by some unfortunate homeowners:

One:  Poor planning – Mistake no. 1 is lack of having a plan in place.  All projects begin with a goal and a vision. Creating an overall outlook prior to beginning your project is important.  Know your expectations and limitations in terms of budget, deadline and quality.  If budget is the deciding factor, plan around your budget.  This will help you navigate your way to choosing how extensive you want your project to be; how much to spend on cabinetry, appliances and other finishes.  If you are planning to have a huge party on Thanksgiving Day with a new kitchen, plan at least 6 months ahead (or more, if you are doing a major tear-down), and finalize all purchases at least 3 months before you start the construction work.  Inadequate planning mixed with poor decision-making is a recipe for a disaster.  Plan ahead.

Two:  Going for the cheapest bidder – The most destructive of all is going for the cheapest and lowest bid.   Low prices always attract buyers but it seldom leaves satisfied customers because hidden behind the too-good-to-be-true “bargain” price are sub par materials, unlicensed practice or inexperience crew/team compounded with mediocre service and lack of follow through which can lead to dissatisfaction and extreme disappointments and oftentimes, sadly, to legal actions.  A contractor who under bid his price in order to win a contract usually does not have enough funds to pull it through.   An abandoned job is typically the consequence of awarding the contract to the cheapest bidder.  In the end, you wish you can tear it all down and start over.  Going cheap is the one mistake you cannot afford.

Three:  Procrastinating – Though it is best to take your time and weigh your options when tackling a kitchen remodel because it gives you time to organize and plan a strategy, you also need to gauge the disadvantage of putting aside a task or decision that needs attention.  A kitchen project is a link of a chain of decision-making, productivity and results.  Productivity relies on decisions made in order to achieve results.  Waiting on the last minute to order your cabinets with an 8-10 week lead time or the Italian range that takes 5 months to ship and you realized you only have 3 weeks can put your project at a grinding halt.  Time is gold.  It is something that you cannot take back.  Decide now!

Four:  Lack of Communication – The most common ingredient to a disastrous kitchen remodel is lack of communication.  This can happen from the onset or during the course of the project.  Once you signed your name on the dotted line, you, as a homeowner is a major key player.  Your decision is golden.  Your ‘nay’ or ‘yay’ is the word that keeps the project moving.  So always do your best to keep the lines of communication open.  Follow up on your designer, vendor or contractor when you need clarification or changes to your project.  Never assume that the other party understood when you implied you want the lights to be controlled by a dimmer.  Ask for a written agreement or take notes or email your contractor and have him / her confirm it.  This will save you a lot of frustration and setback.  You can never be too repetitive.  Again, you can never be too repetitive.

5ive:  Seeking Perfection – I hate to blow your bubble – but there is no such thing as perfection.  Every tile installation has a flaw, every cabinet door paint finish differs slightly from the other, every schedule is never on time and every slab of granite has the vein at the wrong place. When you seek perfection at a construction job, you are in for a great disappointment.  Don’t freak out and complain about an installation in the middle of it being done.  Or the delivery is 10 minutes past the delivery window.  Grant yourself some wiggle room.  Remember, there is one common denominator in your kitchen remodel: the human factor.  Let the expert do their work.  That is the reason why you hired them in the first place – they know their craft and they stand behind their work (that is, when you hired the right ones and didn’t go for the lowest bidder!).  But if you need to voice out your concerns, bring it to your designer or contractor’s attention.  A great designer or contractor is the one that makes your satisfaction their ultimate goal.

5ive and a Half:  “ I can be a DIYer” – If you or your significant other is quite handy and is familiar with building materials and local codes, then don’t read this part.  But if you lead a busy work and lifestyle, you will need an experienced professional who is knowledgeable, conscientious and trustworthy.  This is a huge investment.  Whether you intend to flip it or to live in it until you retire, spending a good amount of your hard-earned money is serious business.  Do not be fooled by television shows that make tearing down a wall fun and easy.  It never is and never will be.

If you can identify yourself with any of the above or in a similar scenario, stop and reflect,  then read again. Share this post to someone who you know is going through or is thinking of doing a remodel, this may help him / her make an intelligent move.

We put our customers first.  It is because of you that we are in business.


Transforming your kitchen with stile

Note:  The featured kitchen above was planned carefully 6 months prior to the start of construction.  No surprises and no hiccups.  It was a project  made in heaven. 🙂

Photo courtesy of Jason Jorgensen Photography

The Tailored Kitchen

Most people think that kitchen cabinets are expensive. Though it is true in a lot of ways, there are other approaches to make it more affordable. But what really makes a kitchen cost more than others? Here are some pointers to consider and to discuss with your designer the best way to minimize the cost but still add value to your kitchen.

  1. Quality – There are 2 areas to look out for:   a}  Cabinet box construction and  b} Drawer box construction. Manufacturers offer different grades in building the boxes. I always recommend using ½” to ¾” thick plywood box with a wood print melamine on the inside. This is typically 10% more than particle board boxes because it holds up better, during installation and with use over time.  When choosing a type of drawer construction, first understand what your needs are. If your kitchen has 20 drawers, it can take a huge impact on cost. I always use ½” – ¾” thk solid wood dovetailed joint with under mount full extension guides and soft close mechanism.  Majority of manufacturers offer this as a standard but you may choose to downgrade to stapled plywood box or laminate box for a more cost efficient approach.
  2. Door Style – Cabinet doors are built in 3 styles: recessed, raised and slab. Recessed panels are generally used on transitional and contemporary kitchens while raised panels are widely used on traditional kitchens. The more detailed, the pricier it can get. The most cost efficient way to do a kitchen is a recessed panel, also known as a shaker door. This style is very versatile. It can be used on any style kitchen – traditional, contemporary or transitional.  Slab drawers are typically used in contemporary or modern kitchen.  It gives a clean and sleek look.  It also offers the application of exotic veneers to create an organic modern feel.
  3. Finish – Stain vs Paint. Finishes dictate the look of your kitchen. It can also lend a huge impact on the cost. Stain finishes are typically included in the cabinet cost. However once you add glazing to highlight details on the door, or adding rub-thru and distressing to give it an antique look, price can go up from 15% (glazing) to 30% (distressing) of the base price. Paint is a multi-step application and is generally an upcharge. White, beige and soft greys have been dominating the market for the past 4 years and they are here to stay. If you are planning to keep with the trend, prepare to pay 10% more for paint finishes.
  4. Accessories – Internal conveniences are best to consider at the early stage of planning but it is important to understand that there are other accessories like tray dividers, cutlery dividers and spice shelves that you can purchase from a big box stores later in the process. One of the most important accessories I always include is roll out trays. Just like drawers, roll out trays offer ease of access and allows for flexibility in organizing. This is something that is custom fitted into your cabinets and best to include with your purchase.
  5. Embellishments – The little details set your kitchen apart from the cookie-cutter. But adding accent moldings, appliance panels and custom carvings are often the tipping point of the scale. These add-ons have a tremendous impact on the cost. With embellishments, you can really get that French country look that you’ve been dreaming of. Without these, it can look plain boring and uninteresting. So you need to have an inner conversation on how far you really want to go with your kitchen.
  6. Delivery – Now that you have spent thousands of dollars for your cabinets, it is very important to get your cabinets in good order, without any scratches or damages. Most cabinet dealers hire a third-party logistics for delivery.   It can cost from $250 – $600, sometimes more for difficult access like stairs, elevators etc. A great way to keep the funds in your pocket is to ask your dealer to have the manufacturer to “home deliver” the goods to you.  The average cost for home delivery is $150 and mostly offered by out-of-state manufacturers. The downside to home delivery is it may not be available in your area where semi trucks are prohibited. You also need to stand by your phone to confirm that you can accept delivery at a certain time window. Home deliveries are often “curb side”, so be prepared to have a furniture dolly in hand.

If you are ready to tackle on a kitchen remodel.  Give us a call to schedule a consultation.  We will provide you with a budgetary estimate in minutes.

Call NOW to start the process  323-719-2204.

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