LEGO House?

Relatively new to the market is the online “point and click” cabinet ordering business. All that’s required is you running around with a measuring tape and your cell phone to take a few pictures of your space. Send your details to the call center in Anywhere, USA and VOILA! Cabinets made to order. It’s so easy, what could possibly go wrong!

Issue #1- Houses aren’t built like Legos. Those iconic interlocking plastic bricks are perfectly shaped and reliably consistent. Your home is not.  Walls aren’t always square or perfectly level and will require some special attention during ordering and installation. Most online customers won’t be thinking about fillers, shoe molding, toe kicks and their raw/unfinished edges, scribe trim, soft close and finished ends to complete the look of the base products. And the online designer they are chatting with can’t possibly notice every detail of the space if they aren’t standing in it. The professional designer who has been to your home and measured it several times has calculated and inventoried everything needed to achieve the end result of a finished space. Their cabinetry contract included everything to get the job done right.

Issue #2- Quality and Look of Product. Your professional dealer represents quality cabinetry lines that offer a range of products in various styles, stains, finishes, wood species, high pressure laminates, acrylics, thermally fused laminates… all in various price points. You can evaluate door size samples of all these products, using them to help you select complimentary countertops, back splash materials, paint colors, etc. When cabinets arrive at the job site? The product is inspected by the professional designer upon delivery and returned if any issues are detected, relieving the homeowner of managing quality control issues. Order online? They’ll send you some chips of what they offer and the process is yours to manage remotely.

For the type of investment cabinetry requires and all the interesting little issues each house presents, it’s not surprising to read a lot of negative reviews for online suppliers. Quality of Product, Incomplete Orders and Unfinished Look being three big issues most cited. Seems like a large investment to risk your expectations on.

Looking for no risk, all reward? Come see us at AKB.

Five Questions for Architectural Kitchens & Baths

  1. Investing in a new kitchen is a serious commitment. What do you consider the most important factor when someone is ready to remodel?

Answer: Hire a professional kitchen designer. A degreed designer who can show you an expansive portfolio of work and can explain every detail and decision made is the person who can best assist you. Independent kitchen designers work well with the builder of your choice to accomplish your goals.

  1. Looking at before/after photos, it is clear that kitchen remodeling can involve a lot more than just replacing cabinets and countertops. What does a professional designer offer to create some of these spaces?

Answer: Professional Designers have expertise in functional layout and the ability to pull together all the pieces (cabinetry, tile, hardware, appliances, lighting, paint colors) to create the perfect space for each client. They accomplish this by listening to their client’s and then designing solutions to their everyday challenges.

  1. Any special design needs requested by clients recently in your business?

Answer: Family Locker Systems, Integrated Kitchen Appliances, Smart Homes, Pet Feeding Stations, Aging in Place Designs, Custom Cutting Boards…

  1. In your opinion, what general trends are you seeing in the industry?

Answer: We see clients mixing materials and embracing patterns and durability. Personalizing spaces with custom storage options makes for clean, clutter free and easier living.

  1. What is the best way to understand costs associated with remodeling?

Answer: Great question, especially if someone has never remodeled before. The best thing to do is come talk to us. Home improvement shows don’t tell the full story of costs associated with redoing spaces. The Designers at AKB are happy to discuss all your options. We represent two comprehensive cabinetry lines that give people plenty to choose from!

Modern or Contemporary? In Kitchen Design, is there a Difference?

Many a realtor will list “modern kitchen” or “contemporary kitchen” as a property’s positive attribute. I’m pretty sure they don’t literally mean modern or contemporary, but simply any kitchen that has been updated to some degree in the last decade! No earth-colored laminate countertops or bold patterned linoleum floors! So, is there really a difference between modern and contemporary kitchen design?  Design industry experts tend to see modern as more of a style, or forward movement based on past design trends… a period roughly from early to mid-20th century. Many of the design elements of modern are popular now which makes the terms seem interchangeable. However, contemporary is what is happening now: it is the contemporary version of modern. It changes with the latest in technology and materials available. Both styles tend to be a rejection of the ornate, devoid of unnecessary details. They result in a visual impact with the least amount of distraction from competing details. Contemporary kitchens take this impact a few steps further by using integrated appliances. Coffee systems, Wine Storage, Refrigerators, Dishwashers and Ice Makers all disappear into the overall kitchen design using panel ready products fitted with custom cabinetry. Full-access frameless cabinetry options (allowing no space to go to waste) are available at AKB in solid hardwood, textured thermally-fused laminate, glossy high-pressure laminate and wood veneer options for you to explore.

Ready for a new kitchen? Don’t settle for a design firm that produces only one style. You don’t want your space to look like every other project  they have done. Let AKB help you create your own style. At AKB, unique clients deserve unique solutions.

Kitchen Design Online and Targeted Ads

Familiar with the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon? It’s when some obscure name or bit of information suddenly seems to appear everywhere… and with great frequency. Houzz was like that for me around 2011. Some of our more tech savvy clients would mention some element or picture of a kitchen they found on “House”. Did you say House? No. Not House –, “spelled with two z’s”. As Houzz gained content and popularity, clients increasingly started to stumble upon this site during their searches for kitchen and bath remodeling ideas. Started in 2009, this popular website and online community now has become quite the standard for remodeling, decorating and landscaping ideas.

Current statistics boast Houzz having 40 million users who enjoy browsing the 11 million photos for ideas and evaluating the selection of 1.5 million industry professionals who have personal sites on the platform. For design and remodeling clients, no more lugging around large binders and magazine clippings to show professionals what you want. For companies, no more heavy portfolios needing constant updates to show prospective clients what kind of work you can do. Houzz offers an easy way to sort, organize, showcase and share your ideas and/or volume of work.

Originally, this all came about in a beautiful ad free environment.  It prospered because design firms provided Houzz with their content (photos), free of charge. Companies were encouraged to upload their professional photos in hopes they would gain the notice of local prospective remodeling clients. Those 11 million photos are from companies like AKB. Look us up on Houzz at and you’ll find a wide sample of the hundreds of spaces we have completed in 14 years of business. There are currently 58 unique projects that add up to 461 images that we designed and photographed, adding more every month. Providing consumers equal access to any firm who wanted to showcase their creative capability was a real boon for having presence on Houzz. But a cautionary note- Houzz converted to pay to play several years ago which has created a negative perception. Firms now pay dearly to pop up as you are scrolling through images even when it has nothing to do with what you are searching. Looking for outdoor lighting ideas? Why do you keep seeing construction companies or makers of window blinds? For a site that built its presence on ad free values that lured many of us to upload our photographs and give them the content that has made them popular, it’s a little disappointing. I’ve been in marketing for over 25 years and sometimes cringe at the sophistication of digital advertising these days. Pop-ups interrupt my browsing experience and some ads just feel creepily intrusive. So if 2019 finds you in the remodeling spirit, here’s to you stumbling upon our portfolio on Houzz and maybe liking a picture or two. Come visit us the old fashion way and discover what we have to offer: talent, professionalism, fair pricing and results.

Proof in the Portfolio!

When it comes to selecting products based on color, finish, style or price, people can be very specific. Selecting an architect and/or designer for a project appears to be more of a challenge. It shouldn’t be. A new kitchen or bath is a serious investment and one should factor in more than what someone charges. In the remodeling process, finding the right service provider is largely about documented skill. You want to sell your house? Find a top producer in your market with the best track record for moving homes of similar size, like Reali. Need surgery? Find the physician with the most experience in that particular procedure. Ready to remodel your kitchen or bath? View the firm’s portfolio and evaluate the staff. By the way, how long have they been in business?


Portfolio- Checking out a company’s portfolio has never been so easy. Company websites should showcase a variety of recent projects that are updated often. A robust portfolio demonstrates the scope and range of work a firm can handle. It should show diversity, as this indicates designers who are listening to what their client’s want. Take your search a step further and explore sites such as Is the company on this site as well? You can read additional reviews and see images which can be a great source of inspiration and discussion.

Experience- Experts in the functional layout design of spaces is what you’re after! The person who has the experience and past designs that show how colors and materials can work together to compliment the client’s taste and style is easily discovered by asking them to show you their portfolio of work! Additionally, degrees and industry affiliations give you the confidence of dealing with professionals.

Years in Business- It’s important to deal with a company that has been operating in a trustworthy manner for many years… AKB has proudly been in business since 2005. What does 13 years in business offer clients? A wealth of industry and product knowledge. Confidence in being financially sound. Multiple repeat clients.

Come see us at the Little Yellow House of Big Ideas!

Welcome to the Hood

Great kitchen stove hoods make great focal points. Aside from covering the vent system, (necessary to pull steam and smoke away while cooking) they can provide the WOW factor in the overall aesthetic to the room. And the options for Hoods are endless: Wood, Stainless, Brass, Copper, Zinc, Stone and many combinations of … Wall Mount, Cabinet Mount, Under Cabinet Mount… Hoods that have plinths and corbels, banding, or a baffle base… Hoods with simple or classical moldings… Hoods made to blend into upper cabinets… Hoods that are made to make a statement.

Too many important options not to consult the best. Degreed with years of experience, let the kitchen design experts at AKB help you navigate the perfect hood look for you. Come visit us at the The Little Yellow House of Big Ideas! Or check us out online. You will find us at or on  on Instagram at @architecturalkitchensandbaths  and on Facebook at online 


Alexa… What’s involved in a kitchen remodel?

Response: “Hmmmm, I’m not sure.” If you have Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service in your home, you’ve probably noticed a critical component. To get the right answer, you have to ask the right question. When my husband wanted to play golf but was worried about the weather, asking Alexa “What’s the weather?” didn’t tell him what he needed to know. “When is it projected to rain today?” gave him what he required to schedule a tee time.

At AKB, asking Brent, Gwen, Jessica, Linda or Melanie your questions will definitely give you the answers you want. It’s why experience in the business is so important when deciding on which professional to use when you’re remodeling. We consider things you might not have, for example hiring walk in skip bins when taking on a big remodel task to make clean up 100x easier! Ready for a kitchen remodel but not sure where to begin? That’s where we shine at this residential remodeling co. AKB designers ask the right questions to help you decide on the layout, materials and appliances to meet your goals. Do you like to cook? Do you often use a microwave and would you use an over-range one? If you answered yes, then by having a look at these reviews, ( they could help to give you a head start on your remodel. What do you traditionally prepare? Want an eat-in kitchen? Need seating for how many? This definitely needs to be considered, and should translate in the size of the dining table in your kitchen if you do not have a dining room. If you’re struggling with finding the right dining table size and design for your own family’s tastes, check out the, with plenty of beautiful designs available. What other activities happen in your kitchen? Do you like to entertain? Want double ovens? Need a place to store your bar supplies? Docking stations for tech gadgets or storage for an upright and canisters vacuum? (After all, vacuum cleaning is essential to keep the kitchen spotless and pristine; if you’re in the market for a new one, you might want to check out this Stick vs Upright Vacuum Reviews website before making your purchase.) Cabinet-concealed garbage bins? Elevated dishwasher? Does a heat-, stain, and scratch-resistant countertop sound perfect for your family’s use? Prefer the beauty of marble? Want appliance garages to hide all your fun kitchen tools? Super Susans to get the most out of every corner cabinet? Thought about the sink you want? Basin configurations, sink shapes, materials and even accessories? Where does one begin? Easy answer. Come see us at AKB, the Little Yellow House of Big Ideas!

What’s in a Name? Plenty when it’s Architectural Kitchens & Baths!

In the world of Kitchen and Bath design, finding the right company for your project is critical to the overall success. Beyond asking friends and family for referrals, an easy way to evaluate ABILITY can be demonstrated through a close look at a company’s Education & Experience. This is why AKB is the Best!

Many individuals in the industry have a working familiarity with the basics of architecture and interior design.  Yet most projects require in-depth knowledge of one or the other of these, or both. At AKB, this is where we make the top of the list! Owner M. Brent Richards is an architect with over 25 years of experience in functional layout and design. He graduated with honors from UK’s School of Architecture and is a member of the American Institute of Architects. Brent’s Design Team includes 4 Interior Designers: Linda Bratton, Melanie Flynn, Gwen Fowler and Jessica Mandt… each personable and professional. They can show decades of design experience and portfolios of work that are sure to impress any potential client.

There’s a simple reason that the Little Yellow House of Big Ideas offers the best option in kitchen and bath design… Education & Experience!

Kitchen Design Credit

In the world of publishing, an author that doesn’t credit the origin of their inspirations can potentially face a legal nightmare; conscious or unconscious plagiarism ruins credibility and confidence.  In the design business, this is also a struggle. When I see pictures of AKB kitchens on other people’s business sites without proper credit, I believe it robs designers of all the hard work and effort they spent in creating that beautiful space for their client. I’ve stated before in prior posts, any consumer looking to hire a company should wisely evaluate the company’s portfolio and should be vigilant about asking the important questions, WHO DESIGNED THIS SPACE?  WAS A PROFESSIONAL DESIGNER INVOLVED?  What was the scope of design influence beyond framing, plumbing, electrical work, drywall, paint, etc?

Companies or individuals that post pictures of finished projects that they did not design are seemingly taking credit for other people’s work. That beautiful photo resulted from many hours of design time, meetings and trips to evaluate materials and finishes for a professional designer to create a “playbook” for a remodeling team to follow.  Those leaded glass cabinets that reminded you of your grandmother’s kitchen? The herringbone pattern tile floor for your young family’s high traffic area? The table height seating for six to accommodate the various ages of your family? The hidden storage for all your high end baking appliances?… every decision incorporated by the designer reflects the attention to detail that came through the investment of time and design skill to uniquely satisfy each client.


Is Talking Better than Texting or Emailing. Yes

Since the kind of kitchen and bath assignments AKB engages typically require a substantial investment on our client’s part, we think that kind of investment deserves extraordinary attention, both ways. You get to know us, we get to know you.  Our designs are amazingly original- each custom cabinetry project reflects the time spent getting to know the client and becoming familiar with their likes, dislikes, wants, needs, desires and dreams. That happens best when we can sit down together and understand one another better- confidence is built to move forward.

Voice-based vs. Text-based

We have received many wonderful leads from social media over the years from Houzz, Facebook and Instagram but the ones that turned into clients always started with a phone call. We’ll invite you to visit our showroom with a  “Come meet us and see samples of our products!” This is a great way to gauge what your next step will be. Did you like what you saw? Did you respond to who you spoke to? Rarely do we get the luxury of working with an unlimited budget, but when we do, our clients have contracted with us because they have met us, personally evaluated our credentials and found us more than capable for the job. They rely on our expertise in layout and design and product knowledge to guide them in their decision making. Those important conversations happen in verbal discussions. SMS texts and emails may be great for When are we meeting? What is the address? What lines do you carry?  but not for deciding whether we are the right company for your project. On a recent inquiry to a provider in a similar but creative industry, I appreciated that they wanted to use the ease and anonymity of an email process, but it didn’t really resonant with me. I felt they really weren’t interested in me as a client. Some people have grown up with these formats and are more comfortable not “talking” to potential clients.  However, with designers, nothing takes the place of one on one communication. When I asked a peer who is an interior designer, “In your business, what type of client contacts you first by text message or email?” She responded, “No one legitimate. Considering the investment, the type of client who takes the time to personally meet with me and mutually discover if we are a good fit is the best client.”

I agree.