Getting a handle on handles

Getting a handle on handles

We all know that cabinet handles and knobs can make or break a kitchen. But clients are sometimes decision-fatigued by the time they get to the handle-question, and this very important selection is often rushed. We’re building a resource to help designers and consumers ‘handle their handles’, and decided to start by surveying Australia’s finest kitchen and bathroom designers about their most commonly specified solutions. Following is a summary of the responses we received.

Handle-free cabinetry is a popular option for KBDi members. Push-to-open options, bevelled edge panels and finger pull features allow a streamlined, clutter-free look, as successfully achieved in the examples below.

Above: kitchen designed by Matthew James (Better Bathrooms & Kitchens)

Above: kitchen designed by Alicia Jeffries (Mint Kitchen Group)

Above: bathroom designed by Frank Iaria CKD Au (Mint Kitchen Group)

Delicate little pulls add a nice detail, as demonstrated in these all-class kitchens below.

Above: kitchen designed by Hilary Ryan

Above: bathroom designed by Penny del Castillo (IN DESIGN INTERNATIONAL)

Post and rail handles can made a grand statement. The following are two stand-out examples in which the handles are an absolute highlight.

Above: bathroom designed by Gavin Hepper 

Above: kitchen designed by Eliesha Paiano

Oak and leather can add an au naturale appeal to kitchens and bathrooms. We love the look achieved in these two spectacular spaces.

Above: kitchen designed by Kia Howat (GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens)

Above: bathroom designed by Kia Howat (GIA Bathrooms & Kitchens)

In more traditional spaces, handle and knob combos were a hands-down winner for KBDi Members.

The combination of cups and knobs works a treat in this bright little number.

Above: kitchen designed by Shelley Fynn (Kitchen Capital WA Pty Ltd)

The delicate little knobs in this award-winning kitchen are on point: they suit the styling of the era and the proportion of the space, adding detail without distraction.

Above: kitchen designed by Nathan Wundersitz CKD Au (Space Craft Joinery)

Cup handles work perfectly in this traditionally-styled bathroom.

Above: bathroom designed by Caitlin Slater (Smart Style Bathrooms)

Do you have a handle preference or pet peeve? We’d love to hear your thoughts – start a conversation below.

PD Thursday | Exploring the colour trends of 2020

PD Thursday | Exploring the colour trends of 2020

As the Colour and Communications Manager for DuluxGroup, Andrea Lucena-Orr researches colour trends across the globe and presents her findings to media, trade and retail markets. In this professional development session, proudly supported by Lincoln Sentry, Andrea will be sharing her thoughts on the colours we can expect to see making their way into Australian interiors in 2020.

About Andrea Lucena-Orr

Andrea Lucena-Orr has been working with colour for over two decades at DuluxGroup, delivering colour training, researching trends and colour forecasting, and presenting her findings to trade, retail and media. Her recommendations play an integral part in Dulux marketing strategies, and ultimately factor into many of the colours we specify for our clients on a day-to-day basis.

Andrea is a member of the international Colour Marketing Group (CMG) and International Color Association (AIC), and a truly passionate advocate for all things colour.

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Watch the recording

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Boot room, mud room, what room?

Boot room, mud room, what room?

Australia may be an island, but we’re far from isolated when it comes to interior design. We have a plethora of international design blogs streaming to our phones, tablets and PCs every day, and so do our clients.

And when American and European interiors are ‘pinned’ and filed by these clients, so too is the international terminology, adding a few more tweaks to our complicated vernacular and more opportunities for confusion.

In this feature, we’ll look at the subtle differences between three rooms increasingly popular in Australia today.

Powder Room
The term ‘powder room’ has been used by Australians for some time, most often for the small bathroom to be used by guests. The room essentially houses a toilet, sink and mirror, and often adjoins the living/entertaining areas of a home.

Boot Room
The term ‘boot room’ appears to have originated in the UK, defining the room that football teams broke to for their post-game cheers or commiserations. As home-owners looked for a similar space to facilitate muddy boots and wet sporting gear, along with the necessary ablutions, the boot room made its way on to the home design wish list.

Over the years it has evolved to a bathroom near an entranceway that houses a bench to sit on while you pull off your muddy boots, along with coat hooks and storage, a sink, toilet and shower or bath. For obvious reasons, the boot room is best finished with hard-wearing, easy to clean products, but by no means need it look like the ‘man cave’ some would imagine!

Mud Room
The mud room is virtually the American equivalent of the boot room (without the amenities) and until the last few years, has most often been found in snowy, damp northern American climates. The sensibility of such a room can be appreciated in any climate, however, and as a place to store outerwear, boots, sports gear and the like, could be considered a practical must-have. The location of the mud room will generally dictate its contents and finish: by the back door, it may contain storage bins and shelving, and have a floor finish well suited to muddy ingress and egress. By the front door, a more welcoming arrangement would be required, with decorative hardware and cabinetry.

We’d love to see examples of your home-grown versions of these internationally inspired rooms. Send us your best projects and we’ll add them to this feature.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

Mirror, mirror, on the wall

So much #mirrorlove in this year’s KBDi Designer Awards…! In this feature, we’re reflecting on five of our favourite mirror installations, and sharing some tips for selecting the best-fit mirrors for your bathroom designs.

This 1915 Federation home had several stunning architectural features, giving designer Sally Woolfenden (Lavare Bathrooms), some great bones to play with. We love how Sally’s oval-shaped mirrors duplicate the stunning archway, while adding a touch of contemporary detail to the space.

A matt black metal framed custom mirror suspended in front of a window makes a striking statement in this bathroom beauty. This out-of-the-box thinking allowed Melbourne designer, Penny del Castillo (In Design International) to practically position the mirror while maintaining natural light and ventilation.

Melbourne designer, Alicia Jeffries (Mint Kitchen Group) added a contemporary touch to this period-style bathroom with a bright and bold circular mirror. The curved-end vanity and circular accessories finish the space with class.

Gently curved corners soften the edges of these striking black-framed mirrors. Perth designer, Sally Woolfenden (Lavare Bathrooms) replicated the black detailing in the room’s barn door handle and rail, cleverly linking the bathroom to its adjoining bedroom.

This custom curved mirror makes a grand statement in this beautiful bathroom by Melbourne designer, Olivia Cirocco (GIA Bathrooms and Kitchens). The geometric detail is replicated in the overhead shower roses, making for a very smart and unified space.

Our top tips for selecting the perfect mirror

#1 Size Matters

All of the above mirrors work so well because they’re in great proportion to the vanities they’re sitting above. Intentionally oversized mirrors can be magical, too, but avoid making your mirrors too small.  

#2 Get the Height Right

The height of your mirror may depend on how tall (or short) your clients are. Your clients will want to see the tops of their heads, so ensure your mirror sits at least 300mm above their eye line. Likewise, they’ll want to see below their chin, too, so make sure you consider where the bottom of the mirror will fall.

#3 Lighting for Love

You may have picked a stunning mirror, but poorly placed lighting could make reflections far from pretty. Allow space around or above your mirror for one or more wall lights, and avoid placing downlights directly over the vanity.

Have any other tips to share? As always, we welcome your feedback, so feel free to comment below.


Beauty in imperfection: Laminex Planked Urban Oak

Beauty in imperfection: Laminex Planked Urban Oak

A message from our Diamond Sponsor, Laminex

Created from a photograph of a beautiful piece of salvaged timber, Planked Urban Oak joins Laminex’s collection of highly realistic woodgrain decors.

We can identify any number of reasons why architects and designers are drawn to reclaimed timbers: the warmth and character that comes to timber with age, for example; the emphasis on recycling and sustainability, and the provenance of building materials; the connection to ideas of craftsmanship and authenticity. But Laminex Product Design Manager Neil Sookee sums it up neatly in one short sentence: “It’s the story of imperfection.” A new addition to Laminex’s Woodgrains palette, Planked Urban Oak celebrates the flawed beauty of its source wood, a single piece of salvaged oak, employing the latest production technology to recreate with incredible realism the colour, fibre detail and subtle marks made in the wood over the years – “those checks and splits that develop over time, and the yellowing that comes with exposure to the sun and elements.”

Capturing the true character of aged woodgrain

This approach of realistically rendering the unique qualities of the source wood, common across the Laminex Woodgrains palette and only made possible by advances in digital imaging and engraving techniques, is quite distinct from the flawless appearance often associated with new timber veneers. Sookee refers to the process as the “authentic imitation of genuinely aged material”, and it’s something of a mantra for what Laminex seeks to achieve in all of its imitation decors. “Nature is imperfect, so if you’re reflecting on a piece of material found in nature, then you represent it honestly,” says Sookee. “It’s about taking inspiration from gracefully aged materials – that are almost like found objects – rather than trying to artificially create the look.”

Bringing the look of reclaimed timber to more design projects

The benefit for architects and designers is that it makes it more feasible to bring the look and feel of reclaimed timber into more interiors, because not every project can accommodate the resources required to find the perfect piece of salvaged timber. And by its very nature, the timbers are only available in limited quantities. 

In the case of Planked Urban Oak, the work of finding that perfect timber has already been done by the product design team who, according to Sookee, “will search far and wide to find buildings and structures anywhere they can for inspiration. And then there’s a real skill in being able to develop separations for something that’s beautiful, in a way that delivers the realism they’re looking for.” But once that work is done, the unique beauty of that original plank of oak can be captured in interior spaces again and again, no longer a limited resource.

Planked Urban Oak is available in low-sheen, smooth Natural finish. It’s also offered in the new low-gloss, tactile Chalk finish, which adds additional realism and highlights the source wood’s intrinsic character.

Laminex Planked Urban Oak is available now, order a sample here.

Shades of grey with a touch of timber

Shades of grey with a touch of timber

Warm tones of timber alongside various shades of grey were popular combinations in the KBDi Designer Awards program of 2019. In this feature, we’re sharing just a few of our favourite grey and timber combos.

Timber, white and charcoal were combined to great effect in this stunning kitchen design (St James Whitting). White storm benchtops sit beautifully with charcoal-coloured cabinets, with the pairing brought together by a stunning Calacatta marble splashback. Charcoal-stained floors unify the interior, while oak veneer adds warmth and homeliness to this special space.

Sharp geometric details amidst a black and white scheme were a winner for Tasmanian designer, Lydia Maskiell. The almost-black cabinetry and white and grey-veined benchtop are balanced beautifully with a concrete-look floor, while Tasmanian Oak detailing adds interest and warmth.

Victoria’s Lindsay Williams CKD Au (Mint Kitchen Group) played with several shades of grey in this stunning kitchen design. A textured white splashback adds brightness to the room, while Tassie Oak tones add a homely appeal.

Victoria’s Sam Robinson CKD Au, CBD Au, took out the State title of KBDi Bathroom Designer of the Year VIC with this beautiful bathroom. We love the textural interest of the Grey Oak laminate, and the welcoming warmth of the well-planned lighting.