Kitchen design through the decades (cont.)

Kitchen design through the decades (cont.)

Tuesday | 30 November 2021 | 4 pm 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.

Join us as KBDi Executive Director, Royston Wilson CKD Au, continues his tour of kitchen design through the decades. Past KBDi President, kitchen historian and famous storyteller, Rex Hirst CKD Au, will be joining us, too, so you’re sure to take away some terrific tidbits and kitchen trivia.

Watch the recording

The video conference recording will be available for KBDi Members soon.

Asking the right questions in a kitchen design briefing

Asking the right questions in a kitchen design briefing

A keen eye for detail is an invaluable tool for a designer. With sharp observation, you’ll be able to discern a great deal about your client and the proposed design before you’ve even started conversations. There are, however, some important questions you may need to ask to ensure you don’t miss the mark. Before we share examples of some key briefing questions, it’s worthwhile revisiting the simple concept of open/closed questioning.

Open questions generally gather more useful answers during a client brief. They usually begin with what, why or how (or lead to that kind of questioning). You’re trying to garner your client’s opinion or feelings, so starters like ‘tell me’ or ‘describe’ are helpful.

A closed question, on the other hand, usually receives a single word or very short, factual answer. Closed questions are good for:

  • Confirming a point of view: ‘So, am I right in understanding that you’re not keen on a traditional style?’
  • Concluding a discussion or making a decision: ‘Now we know you hate green, can we agree to take this tile out of the selection?’
  • Frame setting: ‘Are you happy with the way this space works for you now?’


Be warned: a misplaced closed question can bring your conversation to an awkward halt, so use them only when you’re wrapping up or summarising a discussion.
The following are examples of some important briefing questions (both open and closed) that you’re likely to use in a kitchen design briefing.

Architectural Style and Influence

It’s essential to observe and note the architectural and aesthetic influences of the existing building style. After assessing the era or style of the house (along with neighbouring properties), you should probably ask:

In a renovation
How do you feel about the existing architectural style of this house? Do you love it or hate it? Should your new kitchen reflect the style or be in contrast to it?

In a new build
What are the building elements that you really love about your new home? (External cladding? Roofline? Ceiling details – raked, vaulted or square set?)? Would you like to duplicate these in your kitchen?

Family Makeup & Lifestyle

Who’ll be living in the home – immediately? In five years? In ten years?
How often do you entertain? Do you typically host big groups or have small gatherings?
How do you feel about cooking? Is it a chore or a pleasure?

Cooking Styles & Dietary Requirements

Do you prefer to bake, fry or steam?
Are there any dietary intolerances or allergies in the home?
Do you have preferences for regional cooking styles? (Italian, French, Spanish, Asian etc.)
Do your cultural or religious beliefs influence your cooking and eating habits? How so?

Appliance Preferences

Do you purchase meat and cold goods weekly or fortnightly?
Are you particular about wine storage?

Storage Requirements

Are you a daily/weekly shopper? Do you purchase goods in bulk?
Do you own (or wish to own):

  • an electric kettle or a cooktop kettle
  • a manual or automatic coffee machine
  • a coffee or spice grinder
  • a juicer or smoothie maker
  • one or more slow cookers/pressure cookers/multi-cookers
  • one or more food processors/food mixers
  • one or more deep fryers/air fryers
  • one or more electric woks/pans
  • one or more paella pans
  • one or more rice cookers
  • one or more sandwich press machines/jaffle makers/toasters
  • one or more dehydrators
  • kitchen scales
  • large platters or serving trays


Aesthetic Preferences

Discussing aesthetic preferences can be precarious: it’s important not to impress your own ideas upon the client before they’ve had the opportunity to put forward their own ‘loves and loathes’. Starting with the existing home is sometimes helpful – what does your client like or hate about their current kitchen? If this doesn’t help or isn’t applicable, have a digital or physical gallery of images to share, and encourage your client to determine what they like, love or hate about the interiors you’re showing them. You’ll soon see if they’re inclined to favour:

  • warm or cool? (They will tend to lean one way or the other.)
  • blue or green? (This can help with selecting undertones.)
  • glossy or matt?
  • timber or two-pac?
  • bright or dark?
  • showy or homely?

Budget Parameters and Project Timing

More often than not, the budget is the ‘elephant in the room’. Presenting budgetary options as a range will sometimes help the clients be more forthcoming. For example, you may ask if they’re planning to spend:

  • up to $30,000
  • between $30k and $60k
  • between $60k and $100k
  • whatever it takes

Setting out the process of a kitchen design is helpful, too. When you outline the various stages (highlighting the relevant tradespeople involved), you’ll potentially get your client in a more realistic space. And as you explain the process from A to Z, you can begin to ascertain if the timing will be an issue. If your clients have been watching (so-called) reality renovation tv, they may have a skewed perception of turnarounds. Part of your role will be to formulate a realistic time frame that won’t put yourself, your clients or any suppliers or trades under pressure.

Including questions like those set out above – in both open and closed formats – in your briefing checklist will help you get all the information you need. If you have some staple Qs on your list, we’d love to hear them. Drop them in the comments below.

Building bathroom design resources

Building bathroom design resources

It’s been a while since we shared a ‘one question Wednesday’ survey – it turns out there are only so many questions we can come up with on our own. 🤨🤷🏻‍♀️ To make this a valuable exercise (and to allow us to build useful resources), we really need to know what you need to know, so we’re starting afresh with the following.

Bathroom planning presents many challenges to even the most experienced designers. While the physical footprint is often small, the product and trade knowledge required in these wet areas is expansive. As we prepare our next round of technical bulletins, we’re keen to know which areas stump you (or your clients or trades) most often and the specific topics you would like our ‘cheat sheets’ to cover.

Bathroom Design Technical Resources

KBDi Membership Status(Required)

Selecting and Specifying Stone

Selecting and Specifying Stone

Tuesday | 16 November 2021 | 4 pm 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.

In this session, the Stone Ambassador team will cover everything you need to know about selecting and specifying stone. From bases to bookends and veins to values, you’ll discover how to make stone the hero of your next design project.

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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.

Making your measure up manageable

Making your measure up manageable

Our April ‘One Question Wednesday’ survey touched on the three core parts of a design delivery: the site survey (or measure up), the concept presentation and the working drawings.

As always, those who contributed offered honest commentary and some excellent advice. We’ll cover concept presentations and working drawings in another article, but here’s what our members had to say about measure ups.

A comprehensive site survey – combined with a detailed client brief – is an essential cog in the wheel of an efficient and effective design process.

While many won’t admit it, few designers haven’t experienced the distress caused by a missing dimension or overlooked detail. Hours of design time can be lost scouring through photos, analysing scribble and playing the detective in an attempt to work out what was missed in the measure up.

To start with, we asked our members which tools they use most often for kitchen or bathroom site surveys.

Only 12% of the respondents said they use a standard old-school tape measure. More of the bunch – 83% – use a laser and tape combination, while just 6% put all their faith in a laser measure. (Note: we’ve asked members to share their particular favourites – brands and all – in the private Facebook group. Jump in and have a peek or add your pics if you haven’t already.)

Top three challenges
We asked the Members to share which aspect of measuring up they find most challenging.

#1 Talkative Clients
Not surprisingly, the key complaint noted was dealing with clients chatting during the process. Concentration is key to catching all the details required in a comprehensive site survey. Following are some of the strategies employed by your fellow designers, along with a few of our top tips:

  • Be direct: let the client know you’ll need x-minutes of quiet time to capture all information required. (See note below about timing.)
  • Suggest they get on with their day so you ‘don’t hold them up, and let them know you’ll sing out if you need a hand.
  • Use this time to share your folio with the clients – hand them a hard copy presentation and some post-it notes, and ask them to (quietly) consider the things they love and hate about particular projects.
  • Get the clients to complete a survey about their wants and needs while you’re measuring. Yes, you may have covered this in your initial discussions, but their written confirmation could be helpful in confirming the brief.

#2 Time Limitations
Rushing through a measure-up is a sure-fire way to miss essential dimensions. Allow yourself ample time to:

  • Sketch out a mud-map of the overall space, including dimension lines for the essential details. (Having your ‘must-gets’ pre-empted in this way means you’re less likely to miss them.)
  • Measure methodically in one direction (e.g. clockwise) around the room.
  • Double-check each measurement and tally up overall lengths/heights.

#3 Measuring angles and curves
Measuring angles and curves is an enormous challenge for the best of us. We have a few members who deem themselves Pythagoras pros, and we’re going to challenge them to make us a video. (Make sure you’re a part of the private Facebook group so you can be the first to see it.) The less mathematically minded amongst our community swear by their angle finders – if you don’t already have one, an investment of between $40 and $150 could save you a tonne of time and hassle.

Finally, we asked the members to share their top measuring tips for less-experienced designers, and the following gems should be noted:

  • Take photos of every wall, the floor AND the ceiling. 
  • Take a photo of the final site survey sketch to ensure you have a digital copy on file.
  • Don’t shoot your laser at a glossy surface and expect an accurate result – carry some masking tape with you to provide a dull end measuring point.
  • Colour code your trades: use a different colour for electrical and plumbing references.
  • Have a comprehensive checklist and USE IT!

We know you’re a busy lot, and not everyone has time to contribute. Those of you who do, however, are hugely appreciated. Your generous advice and honest commentary help us design and curate useful and relevant PD and articles like the above. Your five-minute response could be a game-changer for an industry newbie – thank you!

Hey, did we miss something? Add your comments below. 


Writing a professional Design Statement

Writing a professional Design Statement

Former entrants in the KBDi Designer Awards program will know that both Design Briefs and Design Statements are requirements in most categories. We’re sometimes asked why this is necessary, and often get a ‘please explain’ about the difference between the two.

In this article, we’ll set out the definitions of a Brief and a Statement. And we’ll share how designers can use these tools in all projects, regardless of whether or not they’re being entered into an Awards program.

What is a Design Brief?

A Design Brief is, in essence, a summary of the vital information you took away from your first Client meeting. The Design Brief will offer a clear and concise explanation of your Client’s wants, needs and desires. It will also set out the most relevant restrictions, parameters and opportunities presented by the actual building space.

Summarising your client survey form and assessing your site survey in this way is valuable for both you and your Client. You’ll have a concise and to-the-point reminder of your key objectives, and your Client can enjoy the peace of mind in knowing you’re both on the same page. Formalising your Client’s agreement to the Design Brief with a signed acknowledgement also gives you a great point of reference if your project turns pear-shaped.

What is a Design Statement?

A Design Statement allows you to present your response to the Design Brief in an equally clear and concise manner. Your Design Statement will set out how you’ve responded to your Client’s wish list, and how you have dealt with restrictions or expanded the opportunities of the given building space.

Preparing the Design Statement before presenting your final concept to the Client is as essential as rehearsing your next big speech. With a well-prepared summary of your design/thought process, you’ll be clear and confident when selling your design, and will impress your Clients with your professional service.

How to write a winning Design Statement

When your design has ticked all the boxes for your Clients, and is looking pretty spectacular, it’s tempting to be a little ‘braggy’ when summarising your brilliance in a Design Statement. You may even find yourself getting carried away with some creative writing as you outline your awesomeness, digging out your most descriptive words and design clichés.

Or better still, you could follow the tips below and present an informative, influential and professional design statement.

Keep it simple, stupid

Apply the KISS principles to your Design Statement: use the Statement for what it is – it’s a response to the Design Brief, and a summary of your design solution. Keep it ordered, too – the following three ‘rules’ will help keep your statement succinct:

(1) set out how you overcame challenges of the physical space (site),

(2) explain how you made it look good (remembering the aesthetics will be visually sold with your mood boards or 3Ds and perspectives), and

(3) describe how you fulfilled the Client’s wish list.

Forget the fluff and faff

Flowery words like fabulous, marvellous and gorgeous are rather ambiguous, and don’t always do your design justice. As a design professional, you will have considered the elements and principles of design from beginning to end of the project. Use straight-forward and relevant terminology to convey how you’ve used these visual tricks to make your design an aesthetic success.

Use your spell check (and read it out loud)

If you consider yourself a design professional, you’ll want to make sure your writing reflects this. A spell check will pick up basic spelling errors, but pay extra attention to industry-specific words and brands. Yes, your clients are paying for your design skills, and they may not expect you to be a grammar geek. They will, however, hope you have a great eye for detail, and having an error-free statement is one more way to demonstrate your attentiveness.

And finally, to ensure your text is 100% accurate, read it out loud! Use your computer’s text-to-speech function to hear the words out loud; you’ll easily pick up any misses or duplications.

Of course, you should always bring your own sense of style to a Design Statement, and you shouldn’t see the above as a solid set of rules. Consider them merely guidelines to help you develop your own unique voice. And if you have a tip to share, please comment below – we’d love to hear it!