NKBA’s Guide to Good Design 2015

Designs by (clockwise from above left) Crystal Kitchen Center, David Heide Design Studio, Jaque Bethke Design, and Novare Renovation and Design.

Photo credits clockwise from above left: courtesy of Crystal Kitchen Center, Susan Gilmore Photography, Troy Thies Photography, Todd Buchanan

Who We Are

img_08-15_MH_Green-KitchenThe 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.

Nearly 50 years after its inception, the NKBA has a membership of more than 60,000 and produces the annual Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS).

Design by Sawhorse Designers and Builders.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Stengel

The Benefits of Working with an NKBA Certified Professional Designer

When it comes to renovation, bathroom remodels provide one of the highest rates of return on investment. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 “Cost vs Value” report, a mid-range bathroom remodel in the Minneapolis area recoups 65.5 percent during resale; a minor kitchen remodel 74.9 percent.img_08-15_MH_347-Grand-Ave-W-South-Saint-Paul

When you invest in a kitchen or bath remodel, you want to make sure the work is done correctly, to code, and turns out exactly as you envisioned (and deserve!). The services of a professional designer usually represent 4 percent of the total project budget. That investment alone has the power to save you valuable time, potential headaches, and money in the long-run.

One of the primary reasons a homeowner turns to a certified kitchen designer (CKD) or certified bath designer (CBD) is to translate your vision—and often your unstated or unrealized needs—into a design that maximizes the functional use of space, desired resources, and budget.

Building or renovating a kitchen and bath is one of the most important investments you will make in your home. Not only does it involve careful planning, but also extensive research and building knowledge. 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 two-part exam testing academic knowledge and
    practical skills.
  • Understand the NKBA Kitchen and Bath Planning Guidelines and 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 continuing education requirements.

NKBA-certified kitchen and bath designers can assist you every step of the way, clarifying the planning process and identifying the fun and exciting decisions you’ll be making.

Designs (from top down) by Arrow Cabinet Gallery and Partners 4 Design.

To find a member near you, visit nkbamn.org.
From top down: photo courtesy of Partners 4 Design, photo courtesy of Arrow Cabinet Gallery

The NKBA Difference


img_08-15_MH_Crystal-Kitchen-Center-Extra-Laundry-RoomWhen homeowners are considering a remodel, they’re considering changing one of the most important things in life—their personal sanctuary, the cornerstone of cherished memories—their home. It’s no secret that the remodeling process can be challenging, but with the help of a National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) member, who has been educated, trained, and required to maintain their certification through regular courses, homeowners will reduce the amount of stress and worry that goes into a project as personal as their homes.

Highly qualified NKBA designers are trained in conceptual design, documentation, materials and finishes, bidding and estimating, and managing contractors. “The popular DIY shows give the illusion that it takes a couple of days and a limited budget to pull together a magnificent design,” says NKBA-Minnesota Chapter President Jackie Schneider Maher, CID, Kohler Co. “In reality, it takes the professional skill set of an NKBA-affiliated kitchen and bath designer.”

Design by Crystal Kitchen Center.

photo courtesy of Crystal Kitchen Center

Casa Verde Design

Like many homes built in the 80s, this dated bathroom had pastel fixtures, carpeting, golden oak cabinetry, and an overall drab color palette. The homeowner hired Casa Verde Design to bring the bathroom into this decade, creating a modern, stylish, spa-like sanctuary—without changing the square footage of the space.

Not only was the bathroom outdated, the layout was less than ideal, with the bathtub immediately noticeable from the hallway. One of the design challenges for Casa Verde designer Kate Roos was to figure out how to make the bathroom feel more private without enclosing the space, and how to incorporate an existing window into the overall look without sacrificing privacy








To separate the bathroom sightline from the bedroom entry/hallway, a wall was added in the bedroom. To create a private spa retreat, the original tub, once located across from the window, was replaced with a luxurious bubble massage tub beneath the window. A large glass enclosed shower was installed next to the tub, eliminating the visual barrier of a shower curtain or doors.

To make the room feel more spacious, two vanities on either end of the bathroom were outfitted with tall decorative mirrors. Layers of lighting include sconces and LED lighting around the mirror, allowing the homeowners to control the ambiance. The bathroom also features sophisticated white granite countertops, deco tile, white bronze hardware, richly stained vanities, and a beautiful gray porcelain plank floor with radiant heat (a special treat on cold days).

Designed by Kate Roos.

Visit casaverdedesign.com or call 612-353-4401.
Photos courtesy of Andrea Rugg Photography

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 show room 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 membership. NKBA members specialize in kitchens and bathrooms and you will benefit from this focused expertise.

Design by Kohler Signature Store.


Photo courtesy of Kohler Signature Store

Understanding the Process

The first step in understanding the remodeling process is to look closely at your space and decide the main purpose of your remodel. Do you want extra space? Do you want more modern amenities? Do you want better security? Is there a health reason for the change? Is there room to expand or redesign the existing floor plan? Get input from all members of your household to find out what they want.

1. Map out the terrain. As you make your observations, write down your daily routine on paper. The best way to evaluate the functionality of a space is to create a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t work. As you do this, be sure to note all obstacles that now keep your current kitchen or bathroom from meeting your needs. Question everything. 

2. Start gathering ideas. Save photos of rooms, products, and floor plans that catch your eye. Collect fabric and surface samples. Visit design centers and manufacturer/supplier showrooms. (At this point, the sky’s the limit.)

3. Set a budget. You’ve seen what you like. Now you’re getting a sense of how the things you like coincide with how you
actually use the space. The next step is to look at what this will cost. How much are you willing to spend? How much are you willing to borrow?

4. Find a qualified NKBA Professional. NKBA members can add value to your investment by applying their experience, expertise, and credentials to the job.

Design by Monson Interior Design.

Contact Us: NKBA Minnesota Chapter at nkbamn.org
Photo courtesy of Mark Ehlen

By Chrissy Sarinske, special sections editor
Presented by NKBA


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