Qualified Remodeler

The Innovators: McD – RE

authors Janice Costa  Ashley Lapin Olian    Eliot Sefrin  Anita Shaw 


Danielle McDonald

Creating beachfront spaces is this designer’s specialty

Danielle McDonald has found her niche, and it’s one that many would envy. The famed New Jersey shore is her backdrop, and second homes on the beach are her specialty.

After many years in the design industry, McDonald started at Margate, NJ-based Colmar Kitchen & Bath Studio in 2005. The design approach to these homes is different, she notes, because the needs and functions are different than they would be for a main home.

“For entertaining purposes, we need to have the kitchen oriented to outdoor living along with indoor living because people are vacationing here,” she reports. “The outdoor space is a major focal point of the entertaining done here.

“Everything is about an influx of people for three to four days, and then there’s nobody,” she continues. Kitchens are often on the second floor to take advantage of the view, and they showcase a lot of clean lines and a modern aesthetic.

One of McDonald’s designs was recently honored with the Viking Designer of Distinction award. The client had purchased a huge retirement multi-unit home on the beach that was originally for Catholic priests. “They knocked down the facility and built one large home, which included an apartment for each of their children – three condos in one house,” she explains.

McDonald was honored at KBIS 2017 in front of her peers. “It was a great honor to be recognized for something I am passionate about,” she concludes.


John Morgan

Rep impacts the industry through CAD, virtual reality training

John Morgan has served the kitchen and bath industry from a unique vantage point – one that’s seen him serve a far-flung customer base of dealers, designers, distributors and multi-branch retailers, several thousand of whom he’s personally trained in computer-aided design (CAD).

The principal of Morgan Pinnacle LLC, a Maryland-based manufacturers’ rep firm founded by his father Jack, Morgan began working in the kitchen and bath industry as a college student nearly 30 years ago, and has long since made a name for himself through speaking engagements, writing and service to the NKBA, including a 2013 stint as national president. A champion of CAD when the technology was still in its untested infancy, Morgan has earned the distinction of being one of the industry’s top-performing reps, as well as a leading consultant and trainer. He has also contributed as an advisory board member for the Virginia Tech Center For Real Life Kitchen Design, and was a KBDN columnist for nearly a decade.

Morgan remains on the industry’s cutting edge, continuing to educate dealers and designers about virtual reality and the ways that technology can help enhance the sales experience.


Cassandra Nordell

Young CEO raises the bar for green design and women in business

At the age of 33, Cassandra Nordell has accomplished more in her career than your average 30-something. The CEO of design firm William Standen Co. in Sarnia, ON, Canada has already received numerous commendations after co-founding the firm with her husband, Patrick MacLean, in 2010. Nordell holds the title of one of the top 100 female Canadian entrepreneurs as ranked by Canadian Business magazine in 2016. She was also recognized in the PROFIT 500 for leading the fourth fastest-growing consumer services and construction company in Canada. And, in 2014, she was named to the NKBA’s “30 Under 30.”

Nordell believes that good design can have a true impact, changing the way people live. In the same vein, it can also have a positive impact on the environment. In keeping with those ideas, she has made sure that William Standen Co. remains a leader in green design, and that each project the firm takes on has a green element to it. The result has been numerous green design awards. “We were green from the get-go, despite the lack of interest. It has always been important to me to provide healthier spaces for our community and clients,” she says. Nordell plans to take her firm’s award-winning green-design consciousness and expand it into multiple Canadian cities in the future.


Mikal Otten

Leading designer combines a passion for nature, function and layer-upon-layer of materials

Mikal Otten is a second-generation kitchen designer and founder of Denver-based Exquisite Kitchen Design. Over 20 years, his work has been published in many national magazines and has netted numerous design awards. Otten is known for placing primary emphasis on kitchen function. His designs are well-conceived in terms of flow and form. At the same time, he consistently brings an artistic knack for layering textures and adding luxurious details.

“I’m really loving the layering of materials, [like] soft, raw steel against brushed oak,” says Otten, who grew up in the business under the tutelage of his exacting kitchen-designer father. “We just began incorporating brushed, warmer bronze and darkened brass. It’s all about adding layer after layer.”

Living and working in the Mountain West, Otten draws inspiration from nature. This is evident in his designs – in particular, a project in Vail dubbed “Mountain Bliss.” That project won global first place for best transitional design in the prestigious Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Competition.

“We’re continuing to look to nature for inspiration, especially in Colorado, bringing the outside in and incorporating the greenery, landscape, stone and even water into the kitchen. We’re creating depth and texture within the layers as you would see in nature. It’s about letting the materials be true to what they are. When chosen correctly, we can create something truly beautiful.”


Christopher Peacock

Award-winning British designer makes sure it’s ‘Made in America’

Christopher Peacock is in a rare position, being able to say that he has truly left his mark in the homes of two U.S. presidents; his namesake cabinetry can be found in the kitchens of both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.

The British native has made a name for himself in the U.S. since coming over from London in 1987, first working as a designer at the Boston Design Center, and then in New York where he designed kitchens in the Architects & Designers building. Peacock started his eponymous firm 25 years ago, and it has grown to include seven showrooms in the U.S. as well as two showrooms in Europe – all of which he still owns and operates out of his corporate headquarters in Norwalk, CT as the president and CEO.

In a world where “Made in the USA” is less common, Peacock makes it a point to “proudly” design and manufacture his pieces out of his own U.S. factory. He notes, “I’m a little different in that I completely design and manufacture my own cabinetry. I think we’re a leader in that.” Peacock’s style of cabinetry has been imitated many times over, but his creations are singularly his own.


Kenneth Peterson, CKD

Veteran dealer champions business management education

Ken Peterson’s passion has long been to teach kitchen and bath dealers how to run their businesses more effectively and profitably. In fulfilling that role, he’s established a noteworthy industry niche.

With nearly 50 years of experience in the kitchen and bath industry, Peterson – who once headed a multi-location, family-owned dealership in Connecticut – served as a consultant, trainer, writer and conference speaker before launching the industry’s first buying group and business-development organization in 1994.

Today, his Charlotte, NC-based SEN Design Group boasts more than 200 dealer members and 70+ vendor partners, and offers a wide range of services, including financial planning, sales and business management training, marketing tools, networking and management systems.

Peterson, who served as NKBA president in 1981, has also spearheaded the development of numerous marketing tools and management programs, including the recently launched NMS Network Management System, which he calls the only industry-specific, business management software program that automates dealer operational functions to improve team productivity, revenue growth and company profitability.

Besides his corporate duties, Peterson is a frequent seminar leader, a consultant to his team of personally trained business coaches and a business columnist for Kitchen & Bath Design News.


Mary Jo Peterson, CKD, CBD

Designer, author and educator is a true pioneer in Universal Design

Mary Jo Peterson developed a specialized design niche years before it became in vogue, focusing her kitchen and bath projects to address the special needs of a previously underserved base of clients.

In the process, Peterson established a national reputation not only as a pioneer and innovator, but as an award-winning designer, writer, consultant and educator with unrivaled expertise in universal/accessible design –  a specialty that’s become increasingly critical in today’s multi-generational, aging market.

Peterson, whose Brookfield, CT-based design firm serves all sectors of the residential construction market, has served as a TV spokesperson, author of four books on kitchen and bath planning and columnist for Kitchen & Bath Design News. An award winner of NKBA’s annual Design Competition, she has also been honored for her contributions by the National Association of Home Builders, the American Institute of Architects and the National Building Sciences Museum, among other organizations. Peterson has also been instrumental in developing coursework for the Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) designation, as well as serving on the board for the Living in Place Institute and its CLIPP program, which is aimed at creating safe and accessible living spaces in today’s homes.


Joe Poehling

CEO invests heavily in new ‘experiential’ retail

As CEO and fourth-generation owner of First Supply, LLC, Joe Poehling is investing heavily in creating premier buying environments in two primary ways.

The company is a long-time partner with the Kohler Co. in three of its Signature Store locales – Minneapolis, Kansas City and Milwaukee. In 2018, it will collaborate on a fourth location in Detroit.

First Supply also owns and operates 29 Gerhard’s locations around the upper Midwest. Gerhard’s is a consumer-facing retailer founded by Poehling’s father in 1940. Indeed, 120-year-old First Supply is truly a groundbreaker in the industry, having opened its first showroom in 1920, says Poehling. “We think we are the oldest kitchen and bath store in the country.”

In addition to the company’s Gerhard’s and Signature Store locations, the company operates 60-plus supply outlets with 650 employees.

But Poehling isn’t resting on First Supply’s laurels. About 10 years ago the firm began greatly expanding and upgrading all of its showrooms. “We sensed a real change in what drives success into that segment. So we picked up on the whole concept of driving traffic with inspirational design and staffing with people who are capable of offering inspirational design.”

In the past, notes Poehling, showrooms had offered more of a directed sale. “Today the consumer wants to be involved. They want to be in control of what is going into their home in a much greater way,” he says. Anyone who’s visited a Gerhard’s location or one of First Supply’s Signature Store locations understands Poehling’s commitment to this new way of selling and buying.


Matthew Quinn

Design and product collaboration lead to creative inspiration

Principal of the Atlanta, GA-based Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath Studio, Matthew Quinn has worked around the world, creating original and memorable living spaces. “I work hard to avoid designing by formula; it is important to me that the kitchen represent my client’s soul, not mine,” he stresses. The recipient of numerous national design awards, he won the grand prize of the international Sub-Zero and Wolf Kitchen Design Contest.

In addition to co-owning Design Galleria Kitchen and Bath Studio and the Matthew Quinn Collection, a boutique decorative hardware showroom concept, Quinn also remains active in product design. His hunt more than a decade ago for a freestanding tub led to a collaborative design with MTI Baths, with a line of sinks following. “By this time, I was addicted to product design, as it was another creative outlet and provided products for my projects that were innovative and unique,” notes Quinn. He has since created products for Reveal Designs/Sun Valley Bronze, Francois & Co., Art for Everyday, Julien, The Rubinet Faucet Co., AKDO and LaCornue.

“All of my licensed products have been designed so that the designer can take them and put their own spin on them with the use of multiple finish, texture, configuration and size options,” he remarks. “It makes me so happy to see other designers using my designs in applications that I had never imagined.”


Rebecca Reynolds

Inspired design travels around the world and onto the web

While Rebecca Reynolds notes the majority of her work is in the Connecticut/New York metro area, her out-of-state projects come from her local clientele. Her designs extend throughout New England, the southern U.S., California and as far away as Kosovo. “ My clients have multiple homes and rely on working with a trusted designer,” she explains. “My relationship with my clients is as important as the design.”

After raising her family, Reynolds shares, “I’m now afforded the time to travel. It’s an endless source of inspiration. It informs and fuels my passion for design, cooking, art and culture.”

An award-winning designer and contributor to many design panel discussions and industry events, Reynolds has recently embarked on a new venture, partnering with Los Angeles-based designer Lori Gilder. Together they’re building the Kitchen Design Network, an online design and lifestyle website for kitchen obsessed homeowners, designers and brands.

The duo discovered that there was no comprehensive site for kitchen design, so they set out to design a trusted, one-stop source for everything needed to design, plan and build a new kitchen: inspiration, resources, professional renovation advice, a vetted directory connecting consumers directly to designers in addition to lots of lifestyle content.

Reynolds explains, “Like the kitchen table, the site will be a global meeting place, the hub to connect homeowners, designers and brands.”

Click here to continue to RO – ZI: Rose; Salerno; Schimelpfenig; Tatarko & Cohen; Stapperfenne; Wheeler; Williams, J.; Williams, K.; Ypsilantis; Zielinski

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