Report: IMM Cologne / LivingKitchen 2019

Mid-January 2019 I made the huge trip to IMM Cologne in Köln, DEU because ever since entering my professional design career this show was often venerated by my peers. LivingKitchen happens every 2 years and it was touted as the pinnacle of all kitchen design shows and I was super excited. So, I programmed my valuable vacation around getting in-and-out of Köln and traveled more than 10,000km.


Stop the pink velvet bucket chairs

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In pink, light green, teal, and gold with the exposed nordic birch plywood moulded leg or a brushed brass leg. It was sickening how frequently this bucket chair appeared. These types of furniture products are so widely available and I really am at a loss to explain why they are even a trend or stylish anymore. Please stop this insanity.


Colourful curves & swurves

Everything that is hard line and angular is rather basic - but stunning! Take the Schönbuch furniture line out of Germany, for example. A lot of furniture and style was based on the rounded, tufted, folded, and geometrical accents of a contemporary movement to take away harsh and strong lines. We are tired of the hardness off it all.


Jewel tones

A lot of edgy vendors were showing off the jewel tones in their upholstery fabric options. Take Bretz, for example, a slightly more edgy Roche Bobois style but a lot of that folded upholstery that everyone is hot for right now.

Traveling 10,000 km to IMM Cologne was not valuable

I’m guessing by the tone that you may now realize that aside from 2-3 brands, IMM Cologne & LivingKitchen is a disappointment. I am grateful that one of my brand clients gave me a personal tour of their booth (and they even covered the bill for two show tickets at CAD$200 each) yet, on the whole, the 22 stadium-sized areas of show floor proved that IMM Cologne & LivingKitchen is a failing show. There were so many instances where staff at booths were too involved in their own smartphones or sales meetings during trade days. On one occasion we were simply told “I can’t help you.” I wonder if they realize that within 5 years that their jobs will be replaced by algorithms and interactive devices. The show was basic.

5 Kitchen Wellness Must Haves

A recent Wallpaper* article exposed the Wellness Kitchen movement that I have been a huge fan of for more than the idea has been around. As a Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer, a lot of people are confused as to what functional needs they require in a kitchen and I’m always curious about what motivates their choices. Aside from trusting me to provide the right design solution, I often find that Clients are hung up on the design-normative aesthetic and jumping outside of that box can be a major hurdle. The idea of implementing Wellness into any kitchen design is one of them because the information is confusing. 

What the Wallpaper* article didn’t do a great job of was identifying Wellness Design and you can read more on that here. Taking from those principals and applying them to the traditional approach of kitchen planning needs a lot of tweaking. Here are the top 5 must haves in a Wellness Designed Kitchen.

1. Organics & Packaging Seperation

It’s not just a matter of reducing your packaging waste that is a good thing to do. Now more than ever Organics, different types of recycling and waste reduction are critical to our planet.  Traditional kitchen design calls this “Waste & Recycling Management” but that seems so dated now. We are not just sorting our recycling, we have reusable bags, organic compost, boxes from the farmers market, packaging we take back to the farmers market, and containers with a refundable deposit. Most kitchens have a small area to manage our bi-products of cooking, but there are better ways such as a minimum 4 bin pull-out that is at least 24” wide, a in-counter stainless steel compost bin, and a drawer or two to store reusable shopping bags.

In our South Gate Kitchen, we designed a lot of organics management for a Vegan.

In our South Gate Kitchen, we designed a lot of organics management for a Vegan.

2. LED Task Lighting (at the correct temperature)

A major are of both success and failure in projects is lighting. I get it, not many people think about hiring a design professional and often the electrician is left trying to fit a budget. The low-down on lighting is three fold: colour temperature, lumen output, and colour rendition index. To further complicate matters, there is no one set rule for one project because it depends on age and sight ability, materials, finishes, and reflectance in the room. So, a simpler common selection would be a colour temperature between 2700K - 3500K and warm-to-dim preferred, lumen outputs of 500l, and a CRI of 80-85.

At our 990 Beach Avenue renovation, the lighting in the kitchen had 4 different sources: Outdoors, track, under-cabinet, and pendant.

At our 990 Beach Avenue renovation, the lighting in the kitchen had 4 different sources: Outdoors, track, under-cabinet, and pendant.

3. Increased Food Preperation Areas

I recently started cooking at home 90% of the time and dining out simply 10% of the time. This means I needed substantially more food storage volume, and I am using 75% fresh food. No, this isn’t a diet and there isn’t a goal, it’s about tasting what is good for me and my health. There is a large vegan movement, vegetarians are on the up, and farm-to-table is massive. All this means that there isn’t just one preparation zone of at least 36” and 18” deep, but multiple preparation zones with varied use. In addition, refrigeration capacity is always over the limit and a supplemental refrigerator is key.

At our Hunter Park residential renovation, the kitchen was a U-Shape with limited space for an active cook. Now, there are 5 preparation zones and one larger baking area.

At our Hunter Park residential renovation, the kitchen was a U-Shape with limited space for an active cook. Now, there are 5 preparation zones and one larger baking area.

4. Low Maintenance Material

One of my principals with kitchen design is to create a “wash & wear” space with the right materials that work for each homeowner because it all depends who’s doing the cleaning - in-house or outsourced. It is always important to keep top of mind that cabinets are made of wood, wood is not perfect, and to maintain the freshly installed look you need to stay on top of spills with a warm, lightly damp cloth and some mild natural soap. For counters, I’m a strong believer in engineered stones like quartz because they are strong and food safe, but be ware of high-sea imposters because they aren’t equil. Combining with the right splash material means a kitchen that will stand the toll of everyday use. When it comes to plumbing fixtures and sinks, I’m a huge advocate for BLANCO’s quality and their SILGRANIT sinks. Ask me to tell you about the time I threw a hot cast-iron frying pan into a white SILGRANIT sink and nothing happened.

At our South Gate Kitchen again, the sink had to be resilient and easy to clean. Just use baking soda and a green scrubby... that’s it!

At our South Gate Kitchen again, the sink had to be resilient and easy to clean. Just use baking soda and a green scrubby... that’s it!

5. Connection to Community

A little more esoteric, but a kitchen that permits flexibility with entertaining, farm fresh food storage, and easy cooking is extremely important. More time to spend connecting to our roots, neighbours, friends & family is what we all want. Part of that is focusing the orientation and activities within the kitchen to support your lifestyle. This includes everything from how you come into the home, arms loaded with groceries, to how you like your glass of water - filtered or tap. Ensuring that your needs are addressed is how our skill and expertise are put to good use because anyone can put a couple of boxes together with a laminate top and call it a kitchen, but not everyone can understand you and dedicate them self’s to finding solutions to suit your direct needs.


Refresh: White Subway Tile

White subway tiles are a staple in kitchen and bath design, invoking a timeless feel. BUT no one said you have to stick to the plain white, glazed ceramic ones were so used to seeing. Take a turn for the modern by playing with texture, size and style to add some interest, while preserving the classic design feature. Here is a round-up of some of our favourites, with a fresh take. 

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If you want to stay with a traditional option, there are a few things you can do to switch it up and play with pattern. 

Here are some tried and true subway tiles, and patterns to compliment them. 

Here are some tried and true subway tiles, and patterns to compliment them. 

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Not all backsplashes and shower details have to be the same old subway, done in the obvious way. Experiment and create a focal point that you will love just as much as the favourable classic design!

Friday Style Guide: Modern Pendants

Lighting has taken a turn for the modern and industrial, it seamlessly adds a clean component to any interior style. Adding contrast, modern pendants are an easy way to elevate a deign. Below are 13 fixtures to make even the traditionalists, modern believers. 

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1 - Mantra Lighting // 2 - CB2 // 3 - Kichler // 4 - Cedar + Moss // 5 - LBL Lighting // 6 - Mitzi //          7 - Cedar + Moss // 8 - Schoolhouse Electric // 9 - CB2 // 10 - ET2 // 11- Hudson Valley //                 12 - Schoolhouse Electric // 13 - Maxim Lighting

Even the best piece can look sub-par if not installed correctly. Keep reading to find a few tips of the trade that will make your statement fixtures, POP!

Hot Tip #1: Hanging Height 

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As a rule of them having the bottom of the fixture 60" above the finished floor will always create a balanced look. But if you want to get more specific these are a few of the common places in the house that pendants are used: 

  1. DINING ROOM - A 30" dining table is standard so if you go 30" from the table top you will get the ideal height. If you want more of a statement, place the fixtures between 24"-28" above the dining table top. 
  2. VANITY HEIGHT - having pedants in bathrooms is very trendy right now, to achieve this look place the pendants at eye level, or 60" above the finished floor. Get ready to have an Instagram ready bathroom!
  3. KITCHEN CABINET - 36" kitchen cabinet height is standard, 32"-36" from top of countertop to bottom of fixture, depending on the shape and proportion will be the most visually sounds. 
  4. BAR HEIGHT - At 42" the bar really shines with pendents to ground the elongated portion. 24"-26" from the top of the bar surface the bottom of the fixture, and you will be ready to CHEERS in no time. 

Hot Tip #2: Light Temperature 

The colour temperature of a light is measured in Kelvins, which means when the light is turned on is it producing a warm yellow light, or a cool blue light. Both ranges of light colour are important to the overall appearance and use-ability of the space. 

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A good rule of thumb is to look for a colour temperature between 2700K (lower contrast) and 3700K (higher contrast for tasks).

Lighting is an important feature of any space, now with the knowledge you have from our designer hot tips, you will be confident selecting lighting for any part of your home! Play around and have fun with different fixtures to create a focal point. 

New Year, New Sofa

Are you looking for a change this year? Nothing freshens up a space like a new sofa. With endless styles and fabrics its easy to get lost in a sea of seating options, but with the right one you have an investment piece for years to come. Here is a hand-picked selection with timeless strong lines, but a fun twist playing with textures like velvet and leather, and mixing in some cool gem toned colours that are sure to inspire.  

Sofa Spruce-Up


These six sofas fit many styles and budgets, and with neutral tones these large staple pieces can evolve with whatever you decided to try next!