Kitchen Appliance Innovations — KBIS 2015

Kitchen Appliance Innovations — KBIS 2015

What I Learned at the 2015 KBIS Show in Las Vegas

I made it to the 2015 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and International Building Show (IBS) in Las Vegas last week together with my Class A Contractor husband, Guy.

The two shows, intentionally combined, offered three huge exhibition halls—North, Center, and South–at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There among many aisles was a plethora of design and building elements to explore, understand, and make your head spin. For three full days, Guy and I walked each of the long aisles engaging our brains and legs, as this show’s participation required huge mental focus and lots of walking.

I arrived home greatly inspired with so much to share, I decided to do this blog in three parts. This PART ONE blog will cover appliances only.

The 2015 Look–Sleek and Seamless

Almost all appliance manufacturers, with a few exceptions such as La Cornue and Bertazzoni, embraced the integrated European style: a sleek look with seamless installations into the cabinetry and countertops. Here is an example from Bosch:


Note the overall horizontal aesthetic with nothing “protruding” and functional drawer storage below each oven.

The German manufacturer Gaggenau also offered similar aesthetics. Click the image below to view Gaggenau’s online showroom:

Gaggenau Online Kitchen Showroom

Perhaps after watching the Gaggenau online showroom (above) you concluded, as I did, that the geographic location can change, but the contemporary look can stay the same.

I think due to our “global” economy and world, this is most definitely a long term trend, the message being that contemporary design has a place everywhere.

Induction Cooking

Again, if you are still questioning the validity of my blog article about induction cooking last year, a visit to the 2015 KBIS show might have swayed you. Induction cooktops were displayed front and center at every appliance booth.

In fact, at the Gaggenau display, I had a nice chat with the executive chef who was cooking at their booth. He said he would cook with nothing but induction. While we were chatting, he explained the beauty of what he was cooking on: Gaggenau’s CX491 induction cooktop where the induction zone is continuous. The cooking zone recognizes your pan or pot no matter where you move it on the surface (see picture below):

Gaggenau Induction Cooktop

In addition, the CX491 Induction Cooktop can be installed so it is flush with the countertop.

New or Improved Ventilation

A flush ceiling mounted ventilation hood? Somehow I missed this product’s release three years ago, but thankfully I discovered it on this visit to Best by Broan’s booth. Their Cirrus built in ventilation hood is unlike any other I have ever seen. It offers a flush installation into the ceiling, and the ultimate plus is it can be mounted in ceilings as high as 9 feet. This eliminates any bulk above the cooktop regardless of location, wall or island.

Best by Broan also offers a new downdraft: Cattura™ (click picture below for details).

Cattura™ downdraft

Quieter but taller (18” versus 14”) than other downdrafts when fully engaged, its big bonus is that it can be installed with any other appliance manufacturer’s cooking unit.

Integrated/Specialized Food and Beverage Storage

Two dominant themes at the show were:
1. flexibility in design/ unit location, and
2. integrated installation.

With a large section of the population “aging in place”, improved undercounter refrigeration options were offered by both U-Line and Perlick.

Most notable was Perlick’s Signature Series Sottile Collection

Perlick™ Kitchen IslandPerlick’s “Sottile” display demonstrated how food storage needs can be addressed below the counter at 18” deep — easy access for all.

Throughout the appliance booths, a strong theme included the specificity of each appliance. The thinking is: you do need a separate icemaker, beverage center, wine captain, independent freezer and refrigerator because the more specific you are regarding these functions, the more efficiently you can design your space and work flow.

As for integrated refrigeration: we know that Sub Zero put integrated refrigerator and freezer installation on the map years ago. Now, more consumers recognize the benefits of integrated appliances that offer specific and superior storage with a clean design aesthetic.

Presently, if you are considering integrated refrigeration installation for your kitchen, you have a broader range of manufacturers to choose from:

  • Liebherr
  • Gaggenau
  • Thermador
  • GE Monogram
  • Jenn Air
  • Bosch

Compact Appliances for Small Spaces

If your kitchen space is extremely limited, which is typically the case in a metropolitan city such as New York or Washington, DC, Bosch is an appliance manufacturer you should seriously consider. Their 18” wide integrated dishwasher has been a mainstay for several years. Now, they have a 24” refrigerator and a 24” wall oven. Soon to be released is their 24” gas cooktop.

Bosch 24" RefrigeratorBosch 24" wall oven

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock has designed beautiful and functional custom kitchens for clients throughout Northern Virginia and the metropolitan Washington, DC region. For more information about Expert Kitchen Designs services, call Sandra direct at (703) 801-6402 or email

Kitchen Remodeling Arlington Virginia: Tudor Home Restoration Project

Kitchen Remodeling Arlington Virginia: Tudor Home Restoration Project

Getting to Know Paul, Tom and Their “New” Old Home

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Last January 2014 (just before we had that wicked polar vortex descend upon us), I was asked by Commonwealth Restorations to contact Paul and Tom about their kitchen remodel. They had just purchased a neglected Tudor home (circa 1904) in North Arlington.

My meeting with Paul, on a sunny brisk day a few days later, revealed a house possessing tremendous character: tall ceilings, unique moldings, wainscot panels on the walls, and the little quirky parts of the home that cannot be easily replicated. The entire home, including the kitchen, required restorative work to make it livable by today’s standards.

When I spoke with Tom and Paul on the phone a few days later, they told me the story about their decision to purchase the home. Paul said: “When I told Tom there was a house to look at on Glebe, he said he wasn’t going to live on that street. However, on first sight while standing in the rear garden, Tom said he wanted to buy the house having not even seen the inside.”

Obviously, the key ingredient for Tom was the mature and very carefully crafted backyard garden whose elements and style made one feel, while standing there, that one was in Old World Europe one hundred years earlier.

Unfortunately, unlike the garden, the existing kitchen lacked any style at all. It was dark with wood paneling. The floor was “busy”– laid with linoleum. The cabinets were an off white laminate. The appliances were white. A bit of a dichotomy in comparison to the garden’s class and sophistication.

The Original Kitchen

Paolini Kitchen Back Corner Before Paolini Kitchen Entry BeforeIn spite of its flaws, this “bad” kitchen had its good points. A saving grace was its fairly large rectangular footprint and access to the backyard garden. For this second reason, Paul and Tom stressed the importance of a beautiful kitchen which shared easy access to the garden below.

Kitchen Demolition and Planning

The actual kitchen demolition work commenced in February. Paul, Tom and I met several times to discuss conceptual ideas. Because the kitchen footprint was longer than it was wide, and one of the walls would house a sliding glass door onto the deck above the garden, we agreed on an L-shape perimeter footprint for the main working parts of the space. A 48” Thermador refrigerator and 48” Wolf range took up some “real estate ” on the longest part of the “L”.


Regarding cabinetry, Tom and Paul weren’t familiar with flush inset framed construction. Upon my recommendation, and to further enhance the period of the house’s style, we agreed this was the way to go with a Sherwin Williams paint “Snowbound”. The overall goal of increasing natural light in the kitchen was paramount, thus the plan included a large picture window. This would become the “anchor” for the main cleanup sink. The island would offer a prep sink across from the cooktop and near the fridge allowing efficient food prep without creating additional traffic at the clean up sink.


Initially, seating on one side of the long island was part of the plan. Further discussion created concerns as, due to the length of the island, such a layout would contribute to an unfavorable “cafeteria” feeling. I suggested creating an “L-shape” seating plan on the end closest to the refrigerator. Paul took this a step further by allowing the side opposite the fridge to be open as well to accommodate three or more people if they needed seating for informal gatherings. The stool on the refrigerator side could be easily tucked underneath that side without interference at other times.

Rohl sinks and polished-nickel faucets were mainstays for this kitchen, along with matching decorative cabinet hardware from Hardware Restorations. The floors, which were antique heart pine, were too red for Tom’s taste. The desire for darker floors seemed natural for this house—the floors were stained a dark brown.

Tile was selected in crackle porcelain finish—in Champagne and Cocoa colors hue to pick up these element in the granite tops.

Because we had a great team — meaning client, contractor, and kitchen designer — we completed the house by Memorial Day weekend. Paul and Tom continue to email me and let me know how happy they are with their kitchen.

Arlington VA Tudor Home kitchen restoration

Sandra Brannock, Expert Kitchen Designer, in the remodeled kitchen

Client Feedback:

Following a work assignment of two years overseas, we began living in our friends’ home last September while they were away for ten months. Their own home was expertly renovated by Commonwealth Restorations. When Paul and I bought our 110 year old home in December, we knew Commonwealth was a firm we should consider. Commonwealth’s owner Bob Strunk took on the renovation project for our home and from the outset, he suggested we would want to work with Sandra Brannock of Expert Kitchen Designs.

Paul and I had gone through many books and visited several kitchen design locations and were overwhelmed by the choices and the “cookie cutter” approach the designers offered us. We were renovating a historic property and wanted all of our ultimate selections to be integrated and cohesive in their entirety. While there were many nice components available at the design centers, it was an overwhelming decision process to achieve the “total fit” without the assistance of someone who could offer us a great deal of informed guidance. We quickly realized we needed such a knowledgeable guide who could work with us very closely throughout the entire kitchen design process.

Sandra’s first visit occurred at our house and she quickly grasped the basics of what we hoped to achieve. The size of our planned kitchen was large and Sandra guided us to the best design and function attributes from a broad perspective. She helped us to maintain proportionality so that “less really is more”.

Sandra also “spoke” the contractor’s language so it was no surprise to us that Bob had strongly suggested we use her. We learned to appreciate very much the importance of her knowledge of a contractor’s perspective. As a result, she anticipated and helped to forestall many issues before they became problems as she worked very harmoniously with Bob and his subcontractors.

Sandra guided us through the entire decision process and met with us at multiple distributors to have us see and feel the products we were deciding upon. She brought a great deal of intuitive insight to the process and worked extensively with Paul and I to bridge our often different goals.

Once the general layout, cabinets, and appliance decisions were made she developed very detailed and precise schematics. These went through several iterations and served several purposes. Sandra incorporated exact dimensions into the schematics and thereby “translated” our plans into the right language that the contractors could understand. Plus, the schematics gave us visuals into what our individual choices would look like when all combined into one cohesive product.

We would refer Sandra to anyone facing a kitchen redesign project. She was always available for to answer questions and to give gentle guidance for grey areas. She helped us make the right decisions and to pull together our dream kitchen. Sandra:

  • Worked as our guide
  • Made the difficult process easier
  • Was always ready to consult
  • Knows the industry’s standard metrics for functional kitchen design. (Space between island and adjacent counters, etc.)
  • Offered intuitive insights as to what we both sought but were unable to individually articulate.
  • Processed our goals and choices well and came back with appropriate suggestions.

We had gone through many books on our own to establish styles and concepts we both liked, but pulling those into a cohesive whole would have been very difficult on our own.

We visited several kitchen design centers where a cookie cutter approach was offered to us, which wouldn’t have amounted to much in the way of a cohesive finished product.

Sandra offered gentle guidance to steer us away from ideas that were either too big or otherwise not really good for our home. She has extensive design talent and architectural knowledge.

She asked the right questions to get us to identify our likes and dislikes and our goals. She then refined these into a workable and cohesive whole through an iterative process.

She was cognizant of the perspectives of contractors and anticipated issues that might arise. She went to bat for us as needed.

She meticulously assessed the ultimate kitchen appliance choices we made for functionality and suitability and then assessed them for their physical fit into the planned layout. She informed us where we would have to adapt space configurations, and she developed beautiful schematics that enabled us to visualize the finished kitchen in its entirety.

All decisions were made with space considerations in mind.

She worked to help identify common goals and preferences of two strong willed individuals who couldn’t always agree.

She quickly returned our calls and responded to our messages. She was a delight to wrk with throughout the process.

She is proud and knowledgable of her work and it shows in the beauty and integrity of our kitchen.

The size of our kitchen impresses on its own, but Sandra’s assistance in guiding us to suitable design features helped us to keep from choices that would have overwhelmed and exaggerated the space to the detriment of the overall effect.

She focuses on proportionality in her design which is very important. Less is more.

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.

Reston Town Center Kitchen Remodel

Reston Town Center Kitchen Remodel

How do we get those cabinets and appliances up those very narrow stairs?

Several weeks ago I blogged about how to pick finishes for a kitchen. The kitchen referenced in that article is located in a large 4-story townhome right next to Reston Town Center in Northern Virginia. This townhome has extremely narrow staircases that do not easily accommodate the 100” tall oven and Sub Zero refrigerator cabinets the client wanted so that the kitchen could be “all that it can be”.

If you do not think ahead about entry and exit points for the delivery of new kitchen appliances, you can become quite unnerved on the day they arrive!

Thankfully, our careful advance planning prevented a panic attack.

Delivery Day

The cabinetry for this kitchen had been ordered 12 weeks earlier. Finally, the “big” day — delivery day -— arrived. I left early in the morning to drive directly to Reston, Virginia to meet the Pennville Custom Cabinetry truck and Brannock Built contracting crew.

Pennville Custom Cabinetry truck

Pennville Custom Cabinetry truck

Upon my arrival, the Pennville truck was there. It was a generous 43-foot-long tractor trailer truck equipped with “air ride” technology to ensure a safe, smooth, and secure ride for the kitchen cabinetry inside.

The first few cabinets were unloaded off of the truck. As expected, each was wrapped carefully with a its own blue quilted blanket for additional protection during transport. Nevertheless, as the cabinets were unloaded I still braced myself for possible damage just before examining them (a normal OCD trait of mine).

Thankfully there was no need to worry — after all, this was top-of-the-line Pennville Custom Cabinetry! Pennville cabinets take longer to engineer and build (right now, a 12 week lead time), but in the end, when you run your hands over the finish and view them in the sunny daylight, their exceptional high-quality construction makes them worth the wait. Pennville goes the extra mile to ensure that each cabinet is dimensionally correct and exemplary in its final form. In my experience, I have never seen a cabinet company with such high quality control standards. For discerning clients, Pennville cabinetry is always my top recommendation.



So what came next? Well we knew that most of the cabinets could fit easily into the narrow stairway up to the kitchen. For the larger cabinets and 42″ Sub Zero refrigerator, we had planned to use a different, albeit unconventional, means to transport these into the client’s home. We used a fork lift-—this exact one:

Lazy Susan transport

Lazy Susan transport

The one cabinet we did not anticipate needing a forklift delivery method was…the square corner lazy susan! Glad we were prepared.

sub zero in windowNext, we brought in the Sub Zero refrigerator. Yes, it came in through that window.

Other large cabinets making their way through the window....

Other large cabinets making their way through the window….

Plus a few other cabinets . . .

These pictures document our how our advance planning prevented last-minute delivery issues. We examined all the steps and logistics that could present a problem during delivery, and by doing so, we were able to carry out this phase of the kitchen remodel successfully and with minimal stress.

Here is the contractor, Guy Brannock who, after everything made its way into the house, is very happy that all of our preparation paid off. Bravo Guy!

Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished!

Stay tuned for the next phase: the installation process.

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs

Sandra Brannock, Owner, Expert Kitchen Designs, Virginia

Sandra Brannock designs beautiful, timeless, functional kitchens that reflect your personal style, within your budget. She helps discerning homeowners throughout Northern and Central Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC get the kitchen of their dreams and select the perfect cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting, and appliances to make their dream kitchen a reality.

Call Sandra today at (703) 801-6402 to schedule a kitchen remodeling consultation. Sandra will help you get the most value out of your kitchen remodeling budget and ensure that all the details of your kitchen renovation proceed smoothly, on time and within budget.