Simply put, KBIS is a mecca for anyone and everyone in the industry. In January, I attended the show in Orlando as a Modenus Blog Tour participant. What is a blog tour you ask? It’s a group of “Industry Influencers” who are sponsored to blog about the latest trends.  This blog post is l-o-n-g and chock full of information and inspirational photos.  May I suggest that you print it and read it in a bubble bath? Or use a web clipper and read it on a train?  Great – let’s get to it!

The undeniable showstopper was the elegant and sophisticated “Monolith Inception Kitchen” by Richard Anuszkiewicz for German manufacturer Liebherr Appliances. In my next design life, I’m going to be Richard!  Liebherr introduced its Monolith Column smart refrigerators and freezers, and my new best friend took it from there.  The refrigerators are 84” tall, which creates ample opportunity to make a design statement with custom panels and cabinetry. The high-gloss figured fumed eucalyptus armoire housing the appliances was stunningly unique. The kitchen has a decidedly masculine bent.  Mixing metals, in this case brass and stainless steel, was a trend found throughout the show.

My design philosophy is “God is in the details”, and here is a perfect example. The saddle-colored leather refrigerator handles are accented with contrasting French stitching.

Another detail – I opened the drawer and color came popping out. Surprise!

Speaking of coming back as Richard, let’s look at a throwback to his bar design for Perlick a couple of years ago. I didn’t share it then, but it’s been taking up space in my head so I’ll do it now. Perlick is well known for its undercounter refrigerators. If you look closely at the handsome cabinet on the left, you will see that it is vented and conceals a refrigerator. Using the look of drawers rather than a door is a great design device. The equestrian theme begins with a polished stainless and brass sink from Linkasink which I have coveted since the day I laid eyes on it.  Enough fangirling, because really, if you need a designer you should hire me, not him.

Everyone seems to have gotten the memo – blue, blue, and more blue! As a long-time blue lover, I ended up on a treasure hunt. See some of my favorite examples below.

Blue lighting in this Thermador dishwasher attracted me like a moth to flame, but it was the concept that made me linger. Ta da – this is the “Entertainer’s Dishwasher.”  It has a gentle cycle, soft rubber racks, and adjustable rack stands to keep your glasses safe and secure. It allows you to wash 26 or more wine glasses at one time.  Thermador is known as a brand for serious cooks who love the entire food and wine experience, including entertaining, so this is genius! Speaking of genius, this is a smart appliance which be controlled through an app.

So many trends to notice in this kitchen by True. The blue refrigerator is a knockout. I love the glass door look – it breaks up the mass of the refrigerator and allows light to flow through. This a great solution for kitchens which have little natural light. Open shelving has been popular for a few years now, and remains strong. Of course, you have to be organized and neat to pull this look off! That cabinetry! Look at the horizontal graining, the rich variation in wood tones, and the metal trim pieces that remind me of luggage.

Laminate has come a long way, baby! Lots to notice beyond the beachy blue island at Wilsonart designed by Danny Seo. Remember how laminate countertops of days gone by used to pull away at the seams? Problem solved with folded edges on the island and the waterfall sink area.

Not into blue? There’s a color for everyone. A fabulous range and hood make a statement and personalize your kitchen without the investment of a suite.

Fire engine red from SMEG


A little Mondrian from Coastal Shower Doors


A shot of orange from Hestan


A range of colors from Galley

There was a wide range of cabinet finishes at the show. Which do you like and why? A designer needs to know!

DXV’s Modulus line won Best of Show for good reason. The clean design in natural oak is very Zen to me. There are many pieces, so the configuration and flexibility means that no two bathrooms have to look exactly alike. The nubuck handles and modern sink with sliding tray are nuanced details.  The choice of black and the molding details on the wall really make the oak stand out, and lend a classical vibe that is a brilliant juxtaposition to modern design.

If you follow design, then you know about gray! American Standard showcased their Avery pull-down faucet in this kitchen with gray cabinetry and white quartz countertop. As a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, I recognize that this faucet model is ADA compliant. The lever operation allows one to control the temperature and flow with the flick of a wrist. Arthritic hands need not worry.

Rustic meets modern in this kitchen! Floating shelves with a contemporary silhouette are on trend. Beveled white subway tile is classic. Oak raised panel cabinetry is so pleasingly country. The glue that holds this look together is the gorgeous contemporary stainless sink with an apron front design borrowed from a previous era.

The moody greenish-gray finish on the intricately detailed cabinetry in this Sommelier’s Tasting Room by Metrie is just right. The shimmery golden accents lend depth and interest. Cheers!

White is always right, but holy cow look at this black island by Electrolux! Clever copper pot mobile too.


Let’s switch it up and talk tubs. We can get back to kitchens later. So many styles…

The depth of this tub by DXV is sinfully deep. No more cold shoulders when you take a bubble bath! Room design by Alison Habermehl for DXV.

Want to feel like you’re in a boat? Look at this handcrafted work of art by NK Woodworking. Better yet, each tub is made of sustainable domestic and exotic woods.

Lit up like the star it is! Matte black tub by Clarke Architectural Studio made of their proprietary solid surface material which gets poured into a mold.

Another stunner by Clarke Architectural Studio. Inspired by Art Deco furniture designer Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann. The dramatic base is actually made of solid surface for stability, with a zebrawood skin, which cleverly prevents warping.

One more thing… After you climb out of the tub, wrap yourself in a toasty towel courtesy of Mr. Steam. New Lexington towel warmers have wider bars for more warmth. Great style too – contemporary  and urban. Choose between polished or stainless finishes.

Back to kitchens. Are you a technophile? A foodie? A chef? A baker? An entertainer? Then this section is for you!

Thermador is leading the way, with over 300 innovative new products to be rolled out in 2018. What else would you expect from the luxury appliance line? Some aren’t available on the market quite yet, but will be well worth waiting for.  

The Professional and Masterpiece Series have been redesigned. Here are ovens from each collection so you can compare.  

The Masterpiece Series has a sleek streamlined look and digital controls. Notice the way it sets slightly into the cabinetry for a seamless installation.  The metallic gray glass is an eye-catching addition and unique to Thermador.

The Professional Series embraces the commercial look, but still includes metallic gray glass.

Each Series includes a convection, deluxe convection, steam and speed ovens. All except the speed oven can be operated through the Thermador Connected Experience, allowing home chefs to use the Home Connect app to start the ovens remotely and be notified when the food is ready. The oven in the Pro Grand Range can also be monitored remotely. The range has an extra low simmering system, with settings as low as 100 degrees.

Tesla is introducing dashboard connectivity to Thermador appliances – preheat your oven on your way home from the grocery store. As an aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of making coffee from the car! It never hurts to have a (handsome) chauffeur!

Let’s explore the Freedom Induction cooktop. It has the largest usable cooking surface on the market. The cooktop is Smart, too. It has sensors to track and light when a pot is moved, and whether the pot is hot.  The Cooktop Hood syncs with the cooktop to automatically activate ventilation. Thermador Connected Experience app not only allows monitoring and settings, but provides recipes, tips, tricks, and diagnostics. This lady definitely could use some tricks.

More Freedom! Thermador is making it easy to personalize your refrigeration, freezer, and wine storage needs for the way you shop and cook with the redesigned Freedom Refrigeration Collection. First up – look at the witty way Thermador made the point that you can customize the door panels. Pretty hard to forget, isn’t it? This sure made my designer heart beat faster! (Rick Hackett plays Vanna White.)

Why didn’t anybody ever think of this before? The Built-In Fresh Food Column has a touch latch. Sounds simple but you can open it with both hands full – a big time saver. Watch how many times you have to put things on the counter in order to open the refrigerator door. I did and I was amazed. One thing we all need is more time! You can also independently and remotely control the humidity and temperature in each bin, keeping your food fresher longer. Oh – the columns also have theater lighting, just in case you were wondering. Thermador also has a Sabbath Mode, which disables portions of the lights and features in accordance with observance of the Sabbath and high holidays. I’ve always wanted to design a kosher kitchen!

That was a LOT of writing. I’m ready for a shower!

Ready to renovate? Take a look at this “Wet Wall” laminate by Wilsonart. Amazingly, the laminate is completely waterproof and can be installed right over existing tile. No mess, less labor cost, and a myriad of choices.

Steam shower anyone? I love this linear steamhead by Mr. Steam, not to mention the river rock shower floor tile.

Wet bathrooms are trending. A wet room is one where the shower floor is flush with the rest of the bathroom. It makes the bathroom feel more spacious. While it is stylish and contemporary, it is also a good solution to provide accessibility to all. This one is by American Standard.

Impact statement! Shower door by Coastal Shower Doors. Enough said.

DXV = LUXURY.  Period. How elegant is this shower? That rainhead!

It has to be said – no bathroom is complete without a toilet, but I’m talking bidets. I’ll dispense with discussion of function and just show you two styles that I liked. You can thank me later!

Ooohhh. The Modulus wall-mounted bidet and toilet were my absolute favorite.  Don’t they look like sculpture, especially against the black paneling?  Your house cleaner will love you. No more scrubbing around the toilet base. Here’s a little tip from me though. If you have a bidet, no need for toilet paper, which is an added style bonus as far as I’m concerned.

If you want a bidet but don’t want to renovate, here’s a plug-in bidet seat by American Standard with a flippin’ lid!

Brass, brass, baby! Brass is back, but not the super shiny brasstastic version of the 80’s  – today’s brass finishes are more mellow. Here is some brass eye-candy for you.

The lotus sink from Thompson Traders was a smash hit.


Interchangeable apron sink fronts from Thompson Traders. Great innovation in personalization!


Brass and crystal door jewelry sparkles on the custom door by Metrie.


Metrie is a molding guru, but they’re up on their trends too!


Gorgeous satin gold shower faucet from Rohl. Look at that net detailing!

There is so much more I want to share with you, but Veronika Eagleson says it’s time to put my pencil down. I mean, if she called me an “influencer,” she must know what she’s talking about, right?  Happy building! Happy renovating! Happy decorating! Stay tuned on Instagram