One of the great parts of an existing-space kitchen renovation is joining the team. The very best news is that, when you choose to work with a company like KB, there’s only one team, and everyone’s on it! Unlike a space-changing renovation or a be -your-own-contractor job, you all spend your time implementing the solutions rather than arguing over the problems.

Just because you’ve contracted with experts doesn’t make you a spectator. You won’t be asked to set tile, but your active participation in the design and materials phases of planning are heartily welcomed. You are working with experienced professional designers, and one of the processes that will help make your kitchen really your kitchen is making informed decisions. This works best when you know how to communicate effectively with your teammates.

No matter how unique your situation, professional designers ground the bulk of their decisions in widely-accepted general principles of design. Because kitchen design combines aesthetics with practical issues of energy, water and safety, the National Kitchen and Bath Foundation regularly updates common-sense design rules formulated by the University of Illinois; rules do not correspond directly to local building codes but offer guidelines based on the Americans with Disabilities Act and American National Standard Institute universal design recommendations.* These respected guidelines can help you maximize the function of your existing space, turning a good design into a great one.


When it comes to the appearance of your kitchen, designers turn toward design principles as old as the classical buildings of the ancient world. Interior designers are trained to establish visual balance in their designs. Sometimes that balance involves repetition (the same bank of cabinets appears on each side of a window); results are described as being symmetrical. Assymetric balance involves two areas filled with different objects striking a visual balance; a tall cupboard creates a sense of heaviness similar to that of the refrigerator.

In addition to balance, designers seek to create a focal point—the heart of the room or its most intriguing feature. The focal point is often where the eye first settles when entering the room; in some complex designs a main focal point is joined by lesser “oh, look” points. A trained designer will also seek to establish a rhythm in a design. Sometimes this means a repetition of color in different shapes or a design-shape in different sizes. Contrast can be an important ingredient in rhythm. When things just seem to go together, that’s usually a good sign of rhythm, even if it’s hard to describe.

Hard-to-describe means learning a sometimes-confusing vocabulary. “Light” and “heavy” often describe how something looks, rather than its actual weight. “Busy,” “hectic,” “crisp” and “gritty” attempt to describe visual impacts rather than states of being or behavior. In a designer’s mind, the connections between how something looks and how someone feels can be extremely strong and intensify with experience. Practiced designers also tend to see things more complexly than many homeowners; a designer knows that a stone that looks one way in sunlight will appear very different in artificial light or the gloom of a cloudy day. Working with a trained designer can teach you to use  your vision in new ways.

Fortunately, most designers are also good communicators. The important thing for you to do as a participating member of the design team is to listen carefully and ask lots of questions. Is that counter top choice likely to look very different at night? Can we add more “glow” and less “glare”? Am I choosing a good balance between hard and soft?  I love your color choices but want a contrasting idea for textiles; what could we use?  Participating in design decisions is more fun than frazzle. KB’s designers know how to make your work a pleasurable part of the job.