NKBA Guide to Good Design 2016

NKBA Bathroom with clawfoot tub and half circle windowPhoto courtesy of Bear Trap Design, Design by Tami Holsten, AKBD,  Photo by Steve Voegeli

Who We Are

The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) is a nonprofit trade association that promotes the professionalism of the kitchen and bath industry. Established in 1963 as a network of kitchen dealers, it has grown into the premier association of distributors, retailers, remodelers, manufacturers, fabricators, installers, designers, and other professionals. The NKBA’s certification program emphasizes continuing education and career development, and includes designers and professionals in all segments of the kitchen and bath industry.

Fifty years after its inception, the NKBA has a membership of more than 60,000 and produces the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS).

The NKBA Difference

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2015 “Cost vs Value” report, kitchens still offer the most “remodeling bang for your buck,” with bathroom remodels not far  behind.

That’s good news for people who want to remodel these spaces, either by updating and “modernizing” the rooms, utilizing existing space in a more efficient way (aka more storage), or bringing an old home up to code.

“If you’re considering a remodel, you should think about your goals as well as what the remodel will do for your home’s value,” says Jackie Berg, marketing director at Select Surfaces, professional realtor, and president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. “Will a remodeled kitchen or an added bathroom hold more value? How much money should you invest? Since price ranges and priorities vary, NKBA professionals will work with you, and are skilled at listening to the wants and needs of each homeowner so they can ensure your satisfaction by keeping these items front and center during each project.”

Not only do NKBA professionals have a grasp of good design and high-quality materials, but also construction, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems, building codes, safety regulations, and an understanding of what’s “behind the wall.” They can help streamline the process by helping with planning, design documentation, selecting materials and finishes, bidding and estimating, and managing contractors.

Courtesy-of-Monson-Interior-Design,-design-by-Lynn-Monson,-CMKBD,-photo-by-Mark-Ehlen,-Ehlen-CreativeCourtesy of Monson Interior Design, Design by Lynn Monson, CMKBD, Photo by Mark Ehlen, Ehlen Creative

A Wise Investment

If you’re worried about how much it costs to hire a pro, think of it this way: the services of a professional designer represent a fraction of the total project budget. That investment alone has the power to save you valuable time, potential headaches, and money (fixing problems) in the long run.

An Associated Kitchen and Bath Designer (AKBD), Certified Kitchen or Bath Designer (CKD/CBD), or Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD) knows how to effectively translate your vision—and often your unstated or unrealized needs—into a design that maximizes the functional use of space, desired resources, and budget. NKBA designers hear a common expression from their clients: “I never knew that was even an option.”

Certified kitchen and bath designers are tested to rigorous and relevant standards, much like certified public accountants or financial planners are tested for their industry competencies.

The NKBA is the certifying body for kitchen and bath designers, requiring a demonstrated level of professionalism before designers can even take the certification exam.

A fully qualified designer must:

  • Have seven years of full-time residential kitchen/bath industry experience, including proven knowledge of kitchen and bath design, as well as construction, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems.
  • Complete a minimum of 60 hours of NKBA professional development programming.
  • Pass a rigorous, two-part exam testing academic knowledge and practical skills.
  • Understand the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Planning Guidelines & Access Standards (31 kitchen and 27 bathroom planning guidelines), recognizing the importance of consumer health, safety, and welfare in kitchen and bath design.
  • Remain current on local building codes, safety and environmental regulations, and the wealth of new products and equipment through ongoing continuing education requirements that mandate a minimum of 10 hours of continuing education every two years.

Photo-courtesy-of-Kitchens-by-Design,-designer-Dawn-Gertz,-AKBD,-photo-by-Stuart-CrenshawPhoto courtesy of Kitchens by Design, Designer Dawn Gertz, AKBD, Photo by Stewart Crenshaw

How to Get Started

Choosing a Certified NKBA Professional Designer

When remodeling your kitchen or bathroom, bring in a specialized professional to make accurate measurements, suggest proper materials, and design a functional, safe and cost-efficient space that specifically reflects your taste and lifestyle. The NKBA offers the following tips:

  • Do your research. Pick several designers or dealers in your area, then meet with them. Ask to see past projects.
  • Clean, neat showrooms. Showrooms serve as a way for designers and dealers to showcase their work. When a showroom is messy, missing elements of displays, or doesn’t look professional, this could be a red flag to look elsewhere.
  • Interesting designs. Look for a professional who designs outside the box. This is a major investment and you don’t want to settle for the status quo.
  • Well-constructed presentations. Craftsmanship is just as important as innovative designs. If your kitchen or bathroom isn’t built well, you’ll notice the flaws and defects rather than enjoying your new space.
  • Broad range of styles. You’ll want a professional who can create more than one look. If all the products or designs look the same, they may not have the skills to help you personalize your space.
  • Friendly, helpful staff. A kitchen or bath remodel could take months to complete. You will be in close contact with these professionals during this time and you want it to be an enjoyable experience.
  • Satisfied client references. A designer should be able to provide you with a list of satisfied clients. Ask for referrals. NKBA-certified kitchen and bath designers will assist you every step of the way, clarifying the planning process and identifying the fun and exciting decisions you’ll be making.

To find a member near you, visit nkbamn.org.

Featured Project

Tamara-Johnson-CKD-5209-Windsor-After-2bPhoto courtesy of Tamara Johnson

Dark Galley Kitchen Gets Bright and Modern Makeover

This 110-square-foot galley kitchen may have been practical when this home was built in 1954, but by today’s standards, it felt dark, outdated, and entirely way too closed off.

The homeowners hired Tamara “Tammy” Johnson, CKD, to create a light-filled open kitchen with multiple work spaces, and modern conveniences. They also wanted the family room addition, added by a previous homeowner, to feel less like an after thought and more like a natural extension of the kitchen, with room to entertain.

The homeowners were ok with changing the roof and ceiling, but other than that, didn’t want to altar the existing footprint of the home. “Part of the overall scope of the remodel included a new roof plan with a vaulted ceiling,” Johnson explains. “This allowed us to remove all interior walls on the main level, creating the open kitchen plan with a large multi-purpose island as the focal point.”

The vaulted ceiling adds visual volume, preventing the space from feeling cramped. The half-wall was also opened up to make the space feel bigger—and converted into a snack bar/ homework station for the kids.


Before Photo courtesy of Tamara Johnson


After Photo courtesy of Tamara Johnson

In order to creatively maximize all available space in the kitchen, the stainless steel refrigerator and range (with the addition of a vent hood) moved to an exterior wall opposite the sink, making an efficient work triangle.

The bright, sun-filled kitchen now features simple white subway tile, light-colored granite countertops, a large kitchen island, artistic metal hanging fixtures, undertask lighting, and white-painted perimeter cabinets, perfectly contrasting with a newly created dark-stained built-in dry bar in the living room. The dry bar and additional prep/serving space was incorporated into the new design for convenience when entertaining (it’s nice to have an area for friends and family to congregate other than the kitchen). The open concept and continuation of modern cabinetry ties the rooms together as a beautiful cohesive space, rather than two distinctly separate rooms.

By Christina Sarinske


Personal Designer

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