8 Tips For Choosing A Kitchen Designer

Very few homeowners have the knowledge to design, build and install a new kitchen. That’s why many of us employ an expert kitchen designer. But how do you know if you are choosing the right kitchen designer to work with? It comes down to a bit of research and gut feelings. Design mistakes are costly, so it’s worth connecting with more than one kitchen designer to get a feel for the designer who is right for you. Consider the following eight tips when choosing a kitchen designer:

  1. Design ability and creativity
    How do you know just how good a given designer’s ability is? Check how long they have been designing kitchens. Ask to see some examples of their work. Will they be able to show you 3-D visuals of designs they create for you before going ahead with any work? Conceptual design can look amazing, but you want a designer with an eye for the practical realities of kitchen life too.
  2. Technical knowledge
    Your kitchen designer should have architectural drafting and construction experience. He or she needs to have a good knowledge of buildings and industry trends to bring you a state-ofthe-art kitchen design.
  3. Product knowledge
    Providing the right products and appliances for your kitchen also requires knowledge and skill. Good kitchen designers will know trusted cabinet makers and appliance firms to work with.
  4. Experience
    Everyone has to start somewhere, but for making such a big financial investment in your home, you want to choose a designer with experience. Ask to see examples of your kitchen designer’s work.
  5. The ability to understand client needs
    Be clear about all the aspects of kitchen design you want. The best kitchen designers will offer advice and support and guide you to achieve a kitchen design you are completely happy with. They will want to listen to all of your ideas and concerns. Your designer should be asking questions about your living space, your lifestyle, your cooking style and your kitchen needs. Always remember that you are the client, so you can set the terms.
  6. Communication skills
    Kitchen designers will need to communicate clearly with building contractors, electricians, plumbers and other professionals to get your job done on time and on budget.
  7. Testimonials
    A recommendation by friends or family is a good place to start, but don’t let that be the only factor informing your decision. Ask your preferred kitchen designer if you can speak with one of their previous clients. Check whether your designer kept to deadlines and responded promptly to any concerns.
  8. Qualifications and credentials
    Make sure your kitchen designer has the qualifications and credentials claimed. You want to know that your designer not only has an eye for great design, but that they’ve studied and understand construction, plumbing and electrical technologies. They should adhere to a professional code of conduct as well.


Jewelry Artistry on display at TAM

Tacoma Art Museum Visitors have a new way to appreciate studio jewelry with a display at Tacoma Art Museum that prominently and effectively highlights the technical and creative artistry of these small artworks. The Christopher and Alida Latham Display showcases a wide variety of works from TAM’s Northwest studio jewelry collection including pieces by Ken Cory, Flora Book, Laurie Hall, Keith Lewis, Ruth Pennington, Kiff Slemmons, Ramona Solberg, and Nancy Worden among many others. The new display designed specifically to highlight over 100 works in Tacoma Art Museum’s central building. 

“When people think of Pacific Northwest art, they often think of studio art glass. But the region’s history as a key hub for studio art jewelry is rich and not nearly as well known,” says Margaret Bullock, Chief Curator. “TAM is fortunate to have a growing collection that illustrates the creativity, ingenuity, and craftsmanship of the Northwest’s, and particularly Washington’s, jewelry artists.” 

“We are incredibly grateful to the Lathams for their generosity in supporting this reimagined display, which allows us to prominently feature works by artists of our region and beyond who have had an impact on studio art jewelry,” says David Setford, Executive Director.  

TAM continues to be a key hub for studio art jewelry in the Northwest. The collection has grown to over 280 works. Several donors have added to it significantly from their personal collections: Flora Book, Sharon Campbell, Mia McEldowney, and Ramona Solberg. There are also numerous other individual gifts that reflect the dedication and generosity of the studio art jewelry community—artists, collectors, organizations, and enthusiasts. . Started in 1998 with 43 works from the estate of celebrated jewelry maker and teacher Ken Cory, the collection is expansive in its references and reflections on pop culture, politics, and personal experience to the art of metalworking, sculpture, and jewelry-making.

The display is made possible through the generous support of Christopher and Alida Latham. Additional funding for the installation provided by ArtsFund and the Guendolen Carkeek Plestcheeff Fund for the Decorative and Design Arts.

Nathalie Bajinya’s Future Is Bright

Nathalie Bajinya has been fascinated by textiles and fashion design from a very early age. She once cut up her mother’s dress to fashion into her own clothing designs at age four.

Originally from the Congo and orphaned at a young age, Bajinya learned to sew while living in an orphanage in Kenya. Excelling at the craft, fashion design quickly became a lifelong passion.

Today, under the label Undeniable Bajinya, Bajinya translates her sewing and design skills into exquisite one-of-a-kind garments and accessories in her Lakewood shop, Undeniable Bajinya.

Home to couture gowns, wedding dresses, and custom-tailored fashions, Undeniable Bajinya’s signature designs are vibrant cotton and wool dresses and jackets that combine French fashion with African colors and American styles.

A rare talent, Bajinya can look at a swath of fabric and intuitively know what design will best highlight the fabric’s motif or drape. “When I look at fabric I see something that is telling a story,” says Nathalie.

Often made with distinctively colorful and elaborately designed African wax print fabric – commonly referred to as the “wax hollandais,” “ankara,” or “kitenge” – Undeniable Bajinya’s unique designs encompass innovation, artistic creativity and the consumer’s choice to celebrate life through their clothing.

Recently featured on King 5 Evening, the segment thoughtfully shared Nathalie Bajinya’s journey, showcasing her love of fabric and her passion to design and sew beautiful garments.

In May, with only two weeks to prepare, Undeniable Bajinya featured twelve of her original designs during Africa Fashion Week Seattle in Redmond, Washington.

Without patterns, Bajinya designs, sketches, and crafts each of her beautifully unique fashions from customers’ measurements. She says there is nothing like a dress made exactly to your measurements.

“Back in my country, you don’t buy a dress from a store, you go to a tailor,” Bajinya said. “We don’t have that here in
America. Everyone should have access to custom garments that fit perfectly, not just famous people.”

For Additional Information
Undeniable Bajinya
6405A Steilacoom Blvd. SW, Lakewood


Defining Space in an Open Floor Plan

An open concept living room, dining room, and kitchen by nature blurs the lines between each area or room. The best way to define your space is to determine how you want to use the space.

Consider Traffic Flow

Once you have defined your circulation paths, also consider how you want to use the room. For more definition, incorporate a focal point in each adjacent space. These standout elements capture the eye while improving how the space works.


Creating a furniture layout in an open floor plan can be overwhelming. Arrange your furniture away from the walls. Anchor your furniture and conversation areas with a large statement piece like a coffee table and use a rug to complete the look.


What helps to make these spaces work is to have proper storage and thoughtful planning. These open spaces work best when you have adequate storage and defined smaller areas like an efficient laundry room, home office, home gym or an “amenity room” (also called a “plus room”).

Cohesive Color & Elements

When designing an open concept living room, consider the entire area, because you can see all your elements at the same time. Make sure they relate in some way. By using elements like color, texture and wood tones, you can repeat these to create layers and make your space feel cohesive. Our rule is three colors in a space. This also applies to textures and wood tones. If your style is more sophisticated than whimsical, you will want to add texture to a monochromatic space, with high contrast neutrals and layers of texture. If you are looking to create a high-end custom feel, use different custom wall coverings in different areas for added definition.

Create Intimacy with Lighting

Use a statement chandelier. Consider the light fixture but also how the light illuminates specific areas. If the lighting is versatile and visually interesting, it can help make a bright and spacious interior feel cozier and more intimate with strategic lighting.

For Additional Information
Instagram @alindamorris


The HeART of the Home Cabinets by Trivonna

Cabinets by Trivonna of Olympia pride themselves on a design experience that is uniquely customized to their individual client’s dreams and wishes.

Trivonna Cabinets brings to life an artful design plan built around their customer’s need and budget. We’ve all discovered that the ‘heart of the home’ isn’t just for the cook anymore. 

“The kitchen has become a gathering place meant for entertaining guests and gathering family alike,” states Trivonna.

Navigating the myriad of decisions on textiles and design options can be daunting. Trivonna has created a design studio offering a nurturing environment that helps clients realize their best kitchen design.

Many of us have already discovered our kitchens to be the center of the home in more ways than one. Often our kitchen plays host not only to baking and cooking, but to child and adult art, science and sewing projects, and even Dad’s auto repair, fishing and tackle shop.

Whatever your kitchen design dream, creating a work of art and functional space built for you and your family is what Cabinets by Trivonna does beautifully. Be sure to visit their creative space and showroom in Olympia and realize your dream kitchen fulfilled soon.

For Additional Information
Cabinets by Trivonna


Tips to Design an Outdoor Kitchen

Outdoor kitchens are gaining popularity. They are a great way to extend your living space and maximize your outdoor space. There are many details to consider, so take your time in the design and planning. Alinda Morris of Alinda Morris Interior Design, LLC offers her tips.


Consider how you will use the space and how you want it to function. Encourage a relationship with the indoor space. All of the areas in your home should work together so it makes sense that the outdoor kitchen should be a natural extension of your interior and other outdoor entertaining spaces.

When designing any kitchen, start with the layout and appliances. There are lots of outdoor appliances to consider; if you want an easy outdoor cleanup option, think about investing in a sink and dishwasher. Utility drawers and mini refrigerators make storage and entertaining easy.

Do not limit yourself! Think about adding fun features (if you think you will use them) like a smoker or pizza oven. Make sure your appliances are rated for outdoor use — that means they can withstand freezing temperatures and extreme heat.


You will need to consider what materials are the best fit for your project. Is your outdoor kitchen covered or open to the elements? Here in the Pacific NW, we experience a variety of weather including world-record winter snows, the strongest non-tropical storms in the nation, and lots of rain, moisture and humidity. All of these factors will affect the integrity of materials used in your outdoor selections, especially your cabinetry, so consider this in detail.

Stainless steel is a good material to use for outdoor kitchen cabinets as it likely matches your grill and outdoor appliances, and it is weather- and bug-proof.

If you love the look of a painted cabinet, you can use a powder coated finish. The powder coating process provides a strong defense against corrosion. It is also a durable finish to protect cabinet doors and drawers from chips, spills, stains and unsightly fingerprints.

There are a few species of wood that can perform incredibly well in outdoor environments like teak, but any wood cabinet will require maintenance.

For a completely custom outdoor cabinet on a budget, you can use prefab stainless cabinets and set them in a natural or pre-cast architectural brick and stone veneer; stone is also highly weather-resistant.

Countertop materials such as concrete and natural stone are both durable and decorative. Concrete is porous and will capture stains and continue to patina over time. Granite works great outdoors, but marble may not. Most engineered stone is not recommended for outdoor applications. It is non-porous, but the process used to color and seal this engineered stone can fade and discolor significantly in direct sunlight.

Pulling it all Together

When selecting materials for your outdoor space and adding the finishing touches like furniture or a fire pit, you want to create balance with the interior and exterior color palette. You can add texture like stone, concrete, and more natural products but they should all work together to create the story you are trying to tell. This is the trick to creating a seamless yet stunning exterior space.

For Additional Information
@alindamorris on Instagram


Outdoor Living Spaces

It’s time to start thinking about your impending spring and summer garden parties. Outdoor living and entertaining are important to modern life; people enjoy spending time outside, surrounded by fresh air, wildlife and the sounds and smells of their environment. Ultimately, this means you need to offer your guests an outdoor space where they will feel comfortable spending time. If you haven’t given your outdoor spaces a second thought since fall, you might need some guidance toward up-and-coming trends. Here are some design ideas to jumpstart your creativity and get your outdoor areas ready for sunny skies.

Natural Materials

Metal and plastic outdoor furniture and features have been popular for decades because these materials offer the clean, modern lines essential to minimalism, and metal and plastic tend to withstand the elements fairly well. However, as interest in minimalism has waned, so has the use of synthetic or artificial materials in outdoor décor. Instead, you should look into utilizing natural materials, like organic cotton, wool, wood and wicker.

Warm Colors

In addition to the change in materials, the most up-to-date deck and patio furniture is warm and inviting in color. In recent history, color palettes for the home have been relatively cool-toned: grays, icy blues, white and black. Cool colors are refreshing and tend to have a calming effect, but they don’t often make a space feel welcoming or comfortable. As the new year dawns,
almost every designer is shifting focus toward warm and earthy hues, like brown, taupe, golden yellow, dusty red and olive green.

You can integrate warm colors many places in your exterior design, not just your outdoor furniture. You might consider giving your front and back doors a new coat of paint or changing the color of your home’s trim around windows and doors. You could add decorative hardscaping, like fences, with a new and inviting color palette. Finally, you can stain your concrete or repaint your deck to add color to your exterior. Most of these fixes are relatively small but pack a major decorative punch.


It doesn’t matter how much time, effort and expense you put into your outdoor living area if your furniture is uncomfortable. Perhaps most important of all, the features you place in your exterior living spaces should be functional, meaning you and guests should be able to enjoy the stylish outdoors with ease and comfort.

Additionally, you might consider adding functional features to your outdoor living space, transforming it into a true room of your home. A popular choice is to add an outdoor kitchen space, replete with refrigerator, counter space, cooktop and more. An outdoor kitchen can be fun and interactive during warm-weather months, when you don’t want to separate the party between your yard and indoor kitchen. Plus, it gives you more opportunity to design your exterior, perhaps adding trendy countertops, backsplashes and lighting to the space.


Truly a Life, Handmade

One of the exciting new retail stores at the Public Market at Point Ruston is Jack + Adeline Home. Owners Paul and Leanne Franetovich are creating custom wood furnishings, rustic home decor and personalized gifts from wood salvaged around the Pacific Northwest. Their products and furnishings are all handmade and vary from elaborate dinner tables and matching benches to gift giving items like candle holders and cutting boards.

Born from a similar background of building a community through family connections made at the dinner table, Paul and Leanne named their business after their grandparents. When Leanne and Paul married in 2015, his skills in woodworking emerged. Paul realized he could make the tables needed for their wedding less expensively than he could rent them. He made six 8-foot by 3-foot tables, one of which still serves as their dining room table to this day. His talent in this area flourished and he began making custom order pieces as well as volume items that he and Leanne began selling at the Tacoma Farmers Market. Then on July 10, they opened their first brick and mortar store at the Market.

Working nights and weekends to ensure there is enough inventory at the retail location, Paul still works at his day job. Leanne loves to bake and is working on perfecting her Wild Yeast Sourdough bread recipe and the next part of their ten-year plan, opening Jack + Adeline Hearth. Hearth will be a bakery that will fold into their home décor business.

Paul and Leanne hope that their store and handmade goods democratize luxury goods. By placing their items at approachable pricing, they increase access to luxury goods to more people. The couple plans to do the same in the pricing of the food they will offer in the future at Jack + Adeline Hearth.

Visit their store at the Point Ruston Public Market (5101 Yacht Club Road in Ruston, WA) to see the latest product offerings in rustic home décor and furnishings.

For Additional Information
Jack + Adeline Home


Spring Fashion in with Flair

Eager to enjoy the sense of fresh beginnings this spring, we look forward to the promise of spring and the freshening of our attire.

Flourishing Floral Patterns

Change is absolutely inevitable this season as life is in bloom. Dressing in floral patterns this spring will make a statement as you walk into a room.

Wide Leg Pants are Adaptable

Keeping it comfortable yet classy, wide leg bottoms are being revived. Worn in many different materials, this 70’s statement is back and better. Whether this look is utilized in denim, rayon, polyester, and dare we say spandex, admiring the versatility of this look is pivotal as this silhouette transitions easily from casual to the boardroom.

Khaki and Yellow are Aesthetically Kin

Blending with nature this season, khaki and yellow will capture a feeling of
coherence in any outfit. Worn together or apart, these two colors are bringing an organic aura to spring attire.

White Dresses Wear Wonderfully

Going for the white wine instead of the red this spring is worth it. Any desired length of white dresses this season are being admired for their ethereal charm.

Physique Cinch

Easy to achieve with any belt, embracing the form of your body and emphasizing what you’ve got this spring is easy to achieve. Worn with a dress, jacket, or a high-waisted skirt, this take on sinuosity will uplift your pure, feminine body confidence.


Chic Farmhouse Design for Dash Point Home

When Terry and Kathy Kleeberger decided to upgrade their Dash Point home they envisioned a lighter brighter space. We loved the rustic cozy feel of the house but wanted to update and brighten up the kitchen, says the Kleeberger’s. 

The project began in Jan 2019 and was completed that June. They brought in the experts at Signature Design and Cabinetry to help with the design. “We wanted to keep it cozy and  inviting a comfortable place for friends and family while incorporating some chic farmhouse charm”, says the Kellenergers. The couple also envisioned a space with tools and equipment for plenty of ongoing entertaining both indoor and outside.   

“Remodels can be difficult and typically take longer than expected, but it all came together beautifully” says the home owners. The cabinet design, ordering and installation was seamless. In the end we have tons of storage and love the new pantry and wine cooler.  Entertaining is so much easier with an indoor and outdoor kitchen, too. We now have an expanded  space for people to enjoy in and around the kitchen. 

Signature Design & Cabinetry


Images by: Denise Knudson Photography