Dark and moody bathrooms

Dark and moody bathrooms

While ‘light and bright’ is often the brief given to bathroom designers, dark and moody bathrooms are becoming increasingly popular. In this feature, we’re sharing four of our favourites from the 2020 KBDi Designer Awards.

Sydney’s Gavin Hepper (Concepts by Gavin Hepper) conquered challenging site and building restraints to design this elegant ensuite for his clients. With a practical floor plan in place, Gavin dressed the room for drama. Deep Nero tones create a cocooning ambience, and exquisite lighting selections bring warmth and moodiness to the space.

The original leadlight window in this beautiful bathroom was the design inspiration for Tasmania’s Lydia Maskiell (Lydia Maskiell Interiors). Deep green fish scale mosaics reflect the window hues, while bevelled black subway tiles are a nod to the federation style of the home. With almost-black painted plasterboard wrapping around the room, the light thrown from the window is a literal highlight, creating a magical retreat for the homeowners.

ACT designer Sonja McAuliffe (Archertec Interiors) used thoughtful space planning and a striking combination of materials in this luxurious master suite. Graphite and charcoal tones create an intimate feel to the generously sized bathroom, while bronze fittings and timber veneer joinery add warmth. The gorgeous herringbone marble tiles offer texture underfoot and visual interest, while carefully selected luminaires spill light in all the right places.

With abundant natural light flooding this family bathroom, Perth designer Andrew Daly (Lux Interiors) went to town with contrasting tones and textures. Black and charcoal chevron tiles wrap from floor to ceiling, and the walnut-toned cabinetry fits right in. Reddish brickwork adds even more interest, while brushed copper fittings bring an industrial edge.

Have a favourite from the above? Share your vote below.

Pattern Play

Pattern Play

From simple gingham-style checks to complex motif repeats, patterns have been a feature of design and decoration for centuries. New technologies in tile manufacturing, combined with the practical attributes of this decorative finish, make tiles an exciting choice for designers and homeowners. In this feature, we’re sharing five of our favourite tile applications, as seen in the KBDi Designer Awards of 2020.

A pretty patterned tile takes pride of place in this vibrant kitchen (below) designed by Perth’s Shelley Fynn (Kitchen Capital WA). The lively repeat is balanced by the soothing colour of Dulux Lakelike and White on White cabinetry, and makes a delightful contribution to this joyful space.

The magnificent marble tiles are the hero of this bathroom (below) designed by Melbourne’s Frank Iaria (Mint Kitchens). The oval shape and natural stone composition create a striking backdrop to the shower recess, and the copper-coloured tapware adds just the right amount of bling.

Sydney designer, Dean Welsh (Thinkdzine), went all out with these vintage decor patterned tiles. The striking design makes a big impact in this small bathroom, and the traditional patterning complements the Mediterranean styling of the home.

This timeless black and white kitchen was given a burst of colour and a geometric twist by designers Garrett Hebden and Matthew James of Better Bathrooms & Kitchens (Melbourne). The tiled splashback adds a sense of energy and movement to the space, balanced by the lovely teal tones.

Brisbane designer Estelle Cameron (Designtank) paid tribute to the architecture of this 1930s cottage, selecting a sweet little floor tile to suit the bones of the home. The diamond patterning of the finished lay mirrors the original leadlight window, creating a timeless result.

Delivering your design concepts

Delivering your design concepts

The Kitchen & Bathroom Designers Institute of Australia has been conducting regular surveys with members for some time now. Our ‘One Question Wednesday’ surveys cover various topics and garner valuable industry data and anecdotes.

If we’ve learned one thing about our cohort with these exercises, it’s that there is no one size fits all approach to delivering design in this industry.

Our recent survey regarding concept presentations demonstrated the range of services and business models we house within the group. Here’s the question we put to the membership in April:

A Design Concept is the central theme from which all design elements are expanded. We’re interested to know how you present this initial concept to your clients.

When sharing your FIRST ROUND design concept with a client, which presentation method/s do you use?

We learned that our members use a variety of tools and presentation methods when presenting to their clients with round one concepts. Of course, the business and sales model used by the designer will determine the extent of detail delivered. Those who’ve locked in a comprehensive service and fee schedule are more likely to offer a full package presentation early on. Designers working on nominal fees and manufacturing commissions will be a little more efficient with first-round concept deliverables.

The following is a general wrap up of how our members operate, with some neat little tips and tricks for those new to the game.

Orthographic Plan Sets
Orthographic drawings are two-dimensional representations of a 3D space. In our world, that means floor plans and elevations. A comprehensive orthographic set is essential for production and construction, but when it comes to presenting a design concept, only 5% of the membership use this as a stand-alone method. Over 60% of those who responded present the orthographic set as part of a more extensive package, combining 3D renderings and sample boards (more about both of these later).

Hand-drawn perspectives
Many designers enter the profession with an artistic leaning, and some develop ways to use their sketching skills as a successful sales strategy. 12.5% of those surveyed said they use hand-drawn drawings to illustrate their design intentions with some individual flair. Members like Jamal Ghouzali (Frenchitecture) believe drawing to be an essential communication skill and an excellent way to engage the client in the creative process. He’s shared examples of kitchen and bathroom concept sketches below.

Tip: Drawing is a skill that anyone can learn. If you’re looking for ways to complement your communication and CAD skills, keep an eye on our upcoming events. Selina will be sharing some tips in Brisbane in June, and a Sydney Symposium session we have planned could be right up your alley, too.

Computer-generated 3Ds
Not surprisingly, computer-generated 3Ds are a much-loved tool for kitchen and bathroom designers. Over two-thirds of the respondents deliver their design concept with a 3D presentation. (It should be noted that only 12.5% use this as their only tool – the majority present the 3D alongside orthographic sets and sample boards.)

Tip: Several members indicated that their 3D presentation is used more for the purposes of demonstrating the volumes and layout of spaces. Clients are often distracted by colours – presenting ‘white box’ visuals means the focus can remain on the practical elements of the space planning.

South Australian member, Tony Warren CKD Au, takes great joy in presenting images like the following to his high-end clients.

Computer-generated Walk-throughs
12.5% of survey responders have upped the ante on their 3D presentations by offering computer-generated, animated walk-throughs. With the right tools and some technological nous, you can ‘walk’ your clients through your design. Long-time member, Darren Genner CKD Au, has mastered this technique, as demonstrated in the video below.

Above video was created with PYTHA and PYTHA Radiolab | Design and animation by Minosa

Sample Boards
65% of members take the time to present a sample board to clients at their round one presentations. A third of these members deliver digital representations, and two-thirds prepare physical, in-the-real sample boards.

As indicated at the beginning of this feature, our main takeaway from this particular survey was that there is no set-in-stone way to deliver a design concept to a client. Finding a method that suits your skillset, your personality, and, of course–your budget and business model–is the key to a successful strategy.

As always, we welcome your feedback and commentary. Share your words of wisdom or questions for our crew below.

PD Tuesday | Polishing your Presentations

PD Tuesday | Polishing your Presentations

Tuesday | 25 May 2021 | 4pm AEST

In her ten plus years with KBDi, Selina Zwolsman CKD Au has seen many hundreds of kitchen and bathroom presentations. In this session, she’ll walk you through ten ways to polish your own presentations, and will share how you can up the ante for clients, panels, peers and the media.

Watch the recording

Whoops, this video is for Members only. If you have a Membership, please log in. If not, you can get access by becoming a KBDi Member here.

Inspiration or imitation?

Inspiration or imitation?

We know our Members love Instagram, and we get that it’s a great source of inspiration for both designers and clients.

But with a non-stop stream of stunning designs in our social feeds every day, how do we make sure our inspiration doesn’t become imitation?

How can we be inspired by a style without downright ripping it off? And when our Client shares a Pinterest picture and wants ‘exactly that’, how do we encourage them to add their own flavour to their new bathroom or kitchen?

We’ve taken some inspiration from one of our favourite authors and have come up with three tips to help keep you on your own path:

1. Look through your own lens

‘You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.’
Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

If you’re continually drawn to the style of one or a small number of designers, start looking for the parallels in their folio/s. Are there elements that they seem to repeat? Patterns? Colours? Lines? What do they see from a design perspective that you may be missing in your work? How can you learn to see through your own lens of awesomeness?

2. Give an idea an all-new spin

‘Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of one or more previous ideas.’
Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

If you (or your Client) are taking inspiration from another designer’s work, you’ll want to make sure you put your own creative spin on the concept. What was the element that caught your eye? A colour? A tile? A combination of finishes? How can you take that element and give it a remix? If your finished design has a hint of the original inspiration, but it’s been reworked enough to have its own sense of style, you’ve done right.

3. Credit where credit’s due

‘Don’t try to be hip or cool. Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who like those things, too.’
Austin Kleon, Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

If you love another designer’s work and draw inspiration from their style (without imitating it to a tee), let them know. You may even earn yourself a new fan with some ‘credit where credit is due’! We have some inspiring examples of modest, humble and incredibly talented designers in our community. If you’re not already a part of it, join in!


Meet a Member Tuesday | Betty-Jo Bleakley

Meet a Member Tuesday | Betty-Jo Bleakley

Tuesday | 23 February 2021 | 4pm ADST

*Note: Australian Daylight Saving Time (ADST) applies to NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and ACT only. In Queensland, this session will commence at 3pm (AEST), and WA should clock in at 1pm (AWST). SA guests should note a 3.30pm (ACDT) start.

Betty-Jo Bleakley has been a member of the KBDi community for many years. The Toowoomba-based designer has a passion for all-things-outback, and covers some serious ground in her quest to bring beauty and bliss to Queensland’s hard-working rural families. She combines her interior design knowledge with feng shui principles and a holistic mindset, creating healthy, healing and supportive environments for residential and commercial clients. In this one-hour session, Betty-Jo will share how her business has grown and evolved, and inspire you with her heart-centred approach to interior design.

Places are limited (with priority allocation going to KBDi Designer Members). Register TODAY and we’ll confirm your spot via email.


Event registrations have now closed.