Friday, November 11, 2016

One Room Challenge: A Kitchen Remodel (The Reveal)

One Room Challenge

It is time ... I am so excited and proud of the end result! 

I have been designing and decorating rooms for 10 years. It all started with projects in my house and then I decided to do this professionally. I went back to school and put in a real effort to learn the art and the science of Interior design. Since I opened my company, Lakbir Design (, I have completed projects both large and small. It has been quite the journey to develop my client and vendor list while building a business.

This is my second time participating in the One Room Challenge. When I thought of this project, I thought it was no big deal, I can remodel a kitchen in 6 weeks! While I had a lot of research done previously and had already ordered the long lead time items (like appliances), I clearly underestimated the complexity and improvisation required to get this completed on time.

Projects can be demanding, but remodeling a kitchen has its own challenges. It requires clarity of thought, a design that manages all constraints, tremendous research, great suppliers, perfect execution and a very patient client. We had a clear vision of the end result but it sure challenged our imagination along the way. At the end, I think it is perfect and I hope you will agree with me.   

I have shared my progress over the last 5 weeks with you. Here is a link to all the previous blogs for your reference.

The toughest part was agreeing on the design and scope. I had so many fantastic ideas but only a few would fit this project. We had a to match the old cabinets and floor with the new....well, everything else! Once we had the design figured out, it became an all out blitz to execute it ---    

Here is what the room looked like at the beginning --

Here is our design concept --

We had plenty of fun along the way! Choosing the amazing Brazilian quartzite stone, the hardware, the beautiful lighting concept for the breakfast nook and the custom artwork medallion were some of my favorites. All of our vendors were lovely to work with.

We also had our share of challenges - We had our back against wall when the stone would not fit, the appliance pulls did not match, we needed a new 220V line for appliances or had to incorporate a pot filler connection... We were able to overcome these challenges thanks to great services from my vendors and a fantastic general contractor.   



At Lakbir Design, we take pride in all of our work but this one was definitely a special project for me. It challenged my design creativity, vendor relationships and execution capability. The end result was even better than what I had imagined! 

It has been a pleasure sharing this project as part of the One Room Challenge. I would like to thank Linda at Calling it Home and other sponsors of this challenge. It has made this project memorable! Good luck to all the participants. Look forward to the One Room Challenge edition in the spring 2017.

Here is a list of some of the products/vendors used in this project:

  • Brazilian Quartzite #Walkerzanger
  • All Kitchen appliances #Subzerowolf (Leiberts Whiteplains)
  • Faucet, Sink and Pot Filler #Waterworks
  • Pulls #Waterworks
  • Paint #Benjaminmoore (Harrison paints)
  • Undermount lights #Bellacor
  • Custom artwork (Medallion) #Tommymitchell
  • Breakfast nook lighting #Studiodunn
  • Bar stools #Worldsaway
  • White vase #Spinceramics
  • Graphite Pod Oval Bowl #Lunareshome
  • Vase #Jonathanadler
  • Trevessa platter (Cheese platter) #Annanewyork
  • General contractor #Mariofalco
  • Custom cabinet #Woodworkingbyerminio
  • Custom cabinet #kennycabinets
  • Photographer (Macro) #Jeremysaladyga
  • Photographer (Details) #Tashography
Give us your feedback and share your stories of design. We love to hear from all of you as it inspires us on our future projects.

#Oneroomchallenge, #whitekitchen, #Lakbirdesign, #housebeautiful, @Lakbirdesign, @oneroomchallenge

Friday, November 4, 2016

One Room Challenge: A Kitchen Remodel (Week 5)

One Room Challenge

With the end in sight .. All about finishes! 

Ever have a feeling that you are so close to the end but yet so far. That is exactly how I felt all week. We finished installing the big items last week -- Appliance are in, stone is in place and the final coat of paint was done.

All that said, we still needed to get the accessories installed (undermount lights, ceiling lights, wall finishes, and countertop chairs) and complete the touch up of the paint.

Finishing touches to the paint

I am loving the color of the cabinets and walls. After a complex process and a lot of effort we finally got what I was looking for -- 2 days of mixing the color, applying sample coats on different areas to make sure we like the final color in different ambient light and coordinating the color with the rest of the kitchen. We used Benjamin Moore paint -- 'Babies breath' for the walls, 'Decorators White' for the ceilings and a custom color (Hue of blue and green in a white + grey base color) for the cabinets. #BenjaminMoore

Installing additional lights

WAC Lighting LedME PRO ACLED Brushed Aluminum under cabinet bar light made a dramatic difference.

We're making some beautiful additions to the breakfast nook. I have been eying these statement pieces for a while and they are absolutely stunning!

There is never a dull moment until it is complete. I received 2 different finishes for the counter stools so i'm hoping to get it all together in time for the photoshoot next week.

Looking forward to everyone revealing their final results next week. I would like to thank Linda from Calling it Home for giving us a chance to showcase our projects. 

#oneroomchallenge, #housebeautiful, #LakbirDesign, #home, #design, #kitchen, @oneroomchallenge, @housebeautiful, @LakbirDesign

Friday, October 28, 2016

One Room Challenge: A Kitchen Remodel (Week 4)

One Room Challenge

The day has come... time to get things installed! 

I woke up every day this week, praying hard that all goes well. It is all about coordination, patience and very big smiles. Remember to keep smiling and stay positive. It is my job to think on my feet and make impromptu decisions along with finding solutions to problems and surprises. 

It was a big week and we sure got a hell of a lot done. The pictures below will give you a sense of the progress made and flavor of the the ultimate design.  

Immense coordination was needed to install the stone this week. I was practically at the fabrication shop everyday to ensure the stone was being fabricated in the right manner. I was very particular about getting the right pieces in the right spot. On the day of the installation, I got a call from the fabricator, "Please have the countertop loose and removed" were the instructions. Well, when they arrived, it was loose but not removed from its place and for a good reason; we had been using it till the last minute. That did not work very well for the installers since they were overworked and overbooked. All they want to see is a bare kitchen, work their magic in 10 minutes and race to their next job. Really?! Run away in 10 minutes from the stone that I so lovingly picked out after much research and procrastination. We had to improvise at the spot and be quick about it. If the old stone was not removed quickly, we would loose out on our installation slot and that would've put us significantly behind our project schedule. Thankfully it all worked out.

The installation of the perimeter was a bit challenging but the backsplash and the island went very smooth. The backsplash was the one I was the one area I was most nervous about. It required absolute precision, patients and perseverance to go in as such a large single unit. I wanted it to go in one piece despite the fabricators hesitation and concerns that the pre-installed cabinets might hinder the installation. 

The existing granite from the island has been repurposed and converted into a outdoor table on the patio.


Appliance deliveries, the installation teams, the electrician and the plumber need to be present during the installation of all appliances. 

Despite asking the installer to come to the project site and take the measurements in advance, we had a few problems during the final installation. A few lessons learned along the way -- the appliance delivery teams are not responsible for protecting the floors -- If you don't ask the right questions, you may not get the right answer. Somethings have to be learned through experience. 

The warming drawer pull did not match what we had requested, the Wolf kitchen vent would not fit as the depth was too much for the space available. Solve, solve, solve and solve now! I had to work with the sales and installation team to change the vent from Wolf to Best. We also needed to special order a 1" tubular handle for the wine cabinet to match the handles for the refrigerator.

Over the years, I have learned to work with local suppliers and dealers as it is easier to get quick and quality service from them vs. others that may offer higher discounts but the wing-to-wing implementation and service cost may not be the lowest. 

Removing the island was a bit tricky. It was a large and heavy piece of granite. We also wanted to reuse the piece, so we had to make sure their was no damage while taking it off and moving it to the patio. 

You can see that the new design is starting to show in the kitchen.

#Alaska #inspiration #color

Why does a picture of a glacier belong in a blog about remodeling a kitchen? Well, inspiration can come from anywhere. I happened to be on an Alaskan cruise this summer and was mesmerized by the pristine beauty of this glacier. The layers of ice accumulated over centuries had created a marvelous color that I have tried to capture in the paint used in the kitchen. A tough task that required endless samples and an enduring effort to mix colors, drop by drop, to create the perfect color needed. 


Well, we are on the home stretch. Next week is about lighting, fixtures and furnishings. 

Here is the link to my week 1, 2 & 3 blogs -- Please read, if you have not already.

A Kitchen Remodel (Week 2)

A Kitchen Remodel (week 3)

Please leave us all of your questions, comments and feedback as it's an inspiration to us and others.

#oneroomchallenge, #housebeautiful, #LakbirDesign, #home, #design, #kitchen, @oneroomchallenge, @housebeautiful, @LakbirDesign

Sunday, October 23, 2016

One Room Challenge: A Kitchen Remodel (Week 3)

One Room Challenge

Its week 3 already! 

We are working hard on every element and the remodeling of the kitchen is in flight. Everything from our kitchen cabinets is in boxes and our living and dining room have become a huge storage area. 

As disruptive as it feels, seeing the work progress every day and getting closer to the end is extremely encouraging and exciting. I thought it might be best to share the changes through pictures so you can get a good view of things we did this week.

The task list for the week was long and honestly, a bit daunting but I am proud to say we got through it and made significant progress.

  • Get the old stuff out --- Removing the old paint, get the appliances out, tear up the old sheetrock, remove the backsplash.

Much thought and research was done to avoid any additional plumbing and new construction. We wanted as little work and were fortunate to have an existing plumbing line running under it. We simply had to extend the line to be able to install the new pot filler (pasta arm).

  • Prep for the new stuff --- Start painting the cabinets, fix the electrical and the plumbing, get the new sheetrock.

We are trying to replace a double oven with a convection oven and a steam oven. The new units require a 220V line individually. Therefore needed to pull another 220V line to stay within the code.

The refrigerator had an outdated water line feeding the dispenser but this was an easy fix. We had to add some electrical fixtures for the new appliances and new under mount cabinet lights. 

Adding a new wine cabinet -- Minute details of the cabinet need to flow through the new wine cabinet. The crown molding above the refrigerator needs to be cut from the side for continuity of the design and seamless integration. We will get new crown molding installed later with dental spacing and other specification as it needs more detailed work and time. 

Replacing the cooking range with a cooktop left us space at the bottom that needed to be redesigned. This helped us incorporate the warming drawer and configure the remaining space.

  • We got the template made for the countertop and backsplash --- This needs to perfect so we don’t have to do rework at the time of the installation. The team from Marble America did a phenomenal job in getting it done. Then comes the harder part, trying to fit the template on the crystal quartzite slabs. Remember the slabs from the blog last week?... Walker Zanger’s Crystal Quartzite slabs from Brazil is a great choice for a light colored, durable, and exotic natural stone counter top. This quartzite has a beautiful white translucent background with copper colored veins. Unlike a marble, a quartzite is less likely to etch, scratch, and stain. As a natural stone, this quartzite needs to be sealed (see my previous blog). We spent a fair amount of time trying to fit the template so we could capture every vein from the slab and make sure it was going to be on the right areas in the kitchen. After all, you only change the slabs once in a long time! (#WalkerZanger, #MarbleAmerica)

  • Hardware makes all the difference --- When looking for a company, there were four things that I looked for: excellent design aesthetic, products that supported artisanship, craftsmanship for quality, and a commitment to customer service. After a lot of research, I found Waterworks (, #Waterworks). Mostly sourced from European and American studios and factories, Waterworks supports local and artisan workshops. 

  • The level of craftsmanship can be seen within the RW Atlas Two Hole Faucet. Designed in conjunction with Rowan & Williams, the faucet combines an industrial aesthetic with fine details. The industrial look of piping in the faucet pairs with the refinement of a hexagonal base and twirling (cross hatching) found on the spray, faucet and handles. A kitchen, more than any other place in the home, is where show stopping aesthetics should marry functionality. This can be seen in all of the Waterworks products used. The Cushing hardware shows this idea. The sinuous lines of the hardware are not only pleasing to the eye but ergonomically feel good in the hand. The Kerr metal sink is the embodiment of functionality. Made from 16 gauge stainless steel, the sink offers more stability than a 18 gauge or 22 gauge sink. Additionally, the dual compartments of the sink, allow for a separation of dishes when cooking or cleaning and space for a normal drain and garbage disposal. The Waterworks team was really knowledgeable and became an extended part of my team. Beyond offering design advice and sending over visual products, making approval easy, they also acted as a logistical coordinators, managing lead times and delivery. 

R.W. Atlas Wall Mounted Articulated Pot Filler, Metal Lever Handles

RW Atlas Two Hole Bridge High Profile Kitchen Faucet, Metal Side Mount Levers and Spray

Cushing Pulls

Length: 3"
Primary Material: Brass 

Length From Centers: 12" Projection: 2 1/4"Height: 1 3/16" Length: 18"Primary Material: Brass 

Kerr 35 ¾” x 18 ½” x 10 5/8” Twin Stainless Steel Kitchen Sink with Rear Drains 

  • Finally starting to see some finishes --- Still very early but I am starting to get a feel for the new design. I already have butterflies in my stomach … Here are some pictures that will give you some idea --

Next week is a big and challenging install week -– Appliances, stone and final coats of paint.

I will share more about the final color for the cabinets and the walls --- I have spent countless hours at the paint store getting a ton of samples and trying them out already. So many great choices, but I finally decided on the paint for the cabinets. #BenjaminMoore

Lots more coming next week. Hope you come back and follow me on this journey.

Here is the link to my week 1 and week 2 blogs -- Please read, if you have not already.

I am sure you are hoping to get a sneak peak at the end product like my son (see below) ! 

Please dont forget to leave us your questions, comments and feedback, it's how we stay inspired and inspire others.

#oneroomchallenge, #housebeautiful, #LakbirDesign, #home, #design, #kitchen, @oneroomchallenge, @housebeautiful, @LakbirDesign