The Innovators: Aw-Ga

Chris Awadalla

Designer’s diverse background, creative talents drive firm’s success

When Chris Awadalla founded Sanctuary Kitchen + Bath Design after working in the luxury kitchen and bath design field for over a decade, he already had a diverse professional background. From building and installing cabinets, framing kitchens, plumbing sinks and wiring electrical, he was well equipped to understand how a kitchen comes together.

A degree in information management and technology and four years working in mutual funds gave him a broad perspective, along with an appreciation for the balance needed to run a firm that requires both business and design savvy.

His tech background serves him well in his showroom, where he’s utilized technology instead of costly showroom overhead to grow his firm into one of Denver’s leading luxury design sources.

Awadalla began his career as an apprentice to a master carpenter in Connecticut who manufactured cabinets and performed installations for renowned interior designer Beverly Ellsley, a 2018 KBDN Innovator. He moved to Denver in 2009 where he took a job as a designer with Interior Intuitions, before starting his own business in 2014. Today, his firm collaborates with many of the state’s most skilled architectural, design and build firms, both in the mountain communities and in metro Denver.

With a passion for creative design, he’s already won numerous accolades, including Best of Houzz (four years in a row), 5 Under 40 Award 2019 by Colorado Homes and Lifestyles magazine, and Fabulous List 2017 by Colorado Homes and Lifestyles magazine.

Bonnie Bagley Catlin

Designer redefines West Coast design while serving community

For 20 years, Bonnie Bagley Catlin has been working in the kitchen and bath industry. She began her professional life in Portland, OR at Neil Kelly Company, later advancing her career through a move to the Seattle, WA office. In 2010, Catlin made the move to San Diego, CA, where she developed her distinctive California style. She is currently principal and owner of Signature Designs Kitchen & Bath Interiors. A Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) and Certified Interior Designer (CID), Catlin’s portfolio includes large custom, whole-house remodels as well as over 500 kitchen and bath designs. She excels at creating visual interest by layering textures, patterns and color into clients’ surroundings that are highly functional, distinctive and refreshingly unique.

Her work has been showcased in dozens of print and online publications, including the HGTV blog, Modern Luxury, San Diego Union Tribune and Seattle Magazine. She was honored this year by Kitchen & Bath Design News with the Bronze award for Best Kitchen, $150K to $225K division, and has been awarded best of Houzz nine times. In 2018, she was the winner of the website’s 10 Best Bathroom award.

Catlin also shares her talents with those in need. While in Seattle, she worked with Angel Helper, partnering with another interior designer, fundraising for single-mother home makeovers. In San Diego, she chaired the ASID Kitchen Bath Tour in 2017. She also works with design students, giving entrepreneurial guidance in social media development.

Jennifer Bertrand

Design star delivers positive messages through media activities

Being a ‘design star’ changes your life, and Jennifer Bertrand can attest to that. Bertrand, the winner of the third season of HGTV’s “Design Star,” has remained seemingly in constant motion since then, appearing on her own show – “Paint Over! With Jennifer Bertrand” – as well as in media outlets such as USA Today, Rachel Ray Magazine and InStyle Magazine.

In the time since being tapped on “Design Star,” Bertrand again won America’s vote in the Angie’s List national Sleep Revolution contest, for which she designed a bedroom based on Arianna Huffington’s book, The Sleep Revolution.

Bertrand has earned certifications as an Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer from the National Kitchen & Bath Association and Certified Living in Place Professional from The Living In Place Institute, and is one of 16 national designers to serve on Monogram’s Designer Council. She has also served as one of three national Insiders for the National Kitchen & Bath Association, and currently co-hosts the podcast KB Talks with Karl Champley. Speaking engagements keep her busy traveling around the country, including those for the International Design Guild and its Design for a Difference.

Co-hosting “Military Makeover” with Montel Williams on the Lifetime Channel is her latest venture. The designer and Williams, a Navy and Marine veteran, seek to transform the homes and lives of military families.

Alena Capra

Award-winning designer doubles as TV personality, educator

Alena Capra is as much at home in front of a TV camera as she is in creating award-winning kitchens and baths.

The owner of Fort Lauderdale, FL-based Alena Capra Designs, Capra is a Certified Master Kitchen & Bath Designer whose projects have won national awards and been featured in national and regional media outlets.

A graduate of both the University of Miami and the Metropolitan Institute of Design, Capra in 2016 was named one of four finalists for the NKBA’s “Professional of the Year” Award.

In addition, she has been a member of the NKBA’s Certification Test Board, has served as a judge for the NKBA’s National Kitchen & Bath Design Competition and has served for the past five years as Industry Ambassador for Coverings, the largest global tile and stone exhibition in North America.

But beyond her achievements as a designer, Capra has made a name for herself as an on-air personality, sharing her expertise on local and national TV, on design-related videos and at home shows, showroom openings and other industry events. In 2018-19, she hosted several episodes of “Designing Spaces,” which airs on Lifetime. Prior to that, she served as lead designer on “Operation Build,” which aired on A&E, FYI and the History Channel. In 2014, she was a competitor on FYI’s renovation competition series “Rowhouse Showdown.” She was also most recently the on-camera bath design expert for the NKBA’s Certification Study Guide.

Louie Delaware

Living in Place co-founder promotes safety for all

Louie Delaware, CLIPP, CAPS, BSME, MBA, ACPC, is committed to helping make all homes as safe as possible. His knack for describing home safety issues in easy-to-understand terms comes after 22 years in research and development for medical, analytical devices and computer disk drives. He is recognized with many patents and was awarded the prestigious International R&D 100 award for Advanced Technologies. He has first-hand experience when it comes to what works, and what doesn’t, in home safety. In 2004, he founded US Safety Pros, LLC, providing childproofing, radon testing and mitigation, home accessibility and many other home safety services in over 3,800 homes.

Delaware is most well-known as co-founder of the Living In Place Institute™. This internationally recognized organization provides education, awareness and certification to professionals from all facets of the home- and human-related industries. As an author and national safety expert on television, news and radio programs, and in newspapers, including USA Today, he is known as The Home Safety Guru®.

Louie and his wife Judy, an occupational therapist, and their three whippet dogs, live in the town of Louisville, just outside of Boulder, CO and they are the proud parents of two adult children.

Dawn DeLuca

Industry activities and leadership lead to professional accolades

Staying connected to the industry leads to continuous growth, and Dawn DeLuca is a reflection of that ideal. With more than 25 years of design industry experience, the designer and design management professional is equally at home in her roles as designer and industry expert.

After studying at Mercy College and New York School of Interior Design, DeLuca established Transitions, her own design firm. Her commitment to continuing education has led to her earning three certifications: Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer from NKBA; Certified Living in Place Professional from The Living In Place Institute, and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist from NAHB.

As principal of Dawn DeLuca On Design in New York, she delivers beautiful, accessible and safe home and workplace designs. She is a professional educator, presenting CEU programs and sitting on industry panels. She is the first Ambassador of the Living In Place Institute, and was recently named to the Design Council for “2020 Design.”

DeLuca also fosters a strong commitment to volunteerism and seeing others succeed. She actively participates in the NKBA as a volunteer industry leader, currently is Programs Chair of the Manhattan Chapter, and was a founding member of the association’s Westchester Chapter. She is the immediate past Regional Director of the American Northeast and was a Member of the Board of Directors. This has led to a number of awards, including 2012-2013 National Association of Professional Women “Woman of the Year.”

Mary Douglas Drysdale

Iconic designer melds modern and classic styles

Washington, DC-based designer Mary Douglas Drysdale founded her full-service interior design firm, Drysdale Design Associates, in 1980, and has since become a recognizable, groundbreaking voice in the industry.

Drysdale, who grew up in Charlottesville, VA and was educated in Paris and New York City, has a wealth of international influences to draw upon for her designs. Drysdale’s designs are recognizable for their unique marriage of the modern and the traditional, seamlessly melding her diverse design influences to create thoughtfully crafted spaces with a truly American flavor. Her work often features classical architectural guidelines and forms with unexpected pops of the contemporary, often via eye-catching “modern” color palettes.

However, Drysdale’s style never trumps her clients’ needs. Her designs are always carefully tailored to suit her clients’ lifestyles – she considers herself a “problem solver” above all.

Throughout her career as a designer, Drysdale’s distinctive designs have made her a consistent influencer within the industry, garnering numerous awards and recognitions, including being named to House Beautiful’s Top 100 five years in a row, as well as being named to the publication’s Family Tree of American Design. Additionally, her work has been recognized by Traditional Home magazine, This Old House, the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum Interior Design Awards, Kohler’s Design Museum and many other organizations.

Doug Durbin

Firm owner provides overall design leadership

Doug Durbin and his brother John began as cabinetmakers in Chicago in the late 1970s. Initially, they were master cabinetmaker’s apprentices. Together they launched Exclusive Woodworking, and five years later, they went on to found nuHaus, a kitchen design firm.

Durbin is an innovator because of his overall excellence in design work. He leads the design team at nuHaus, where he oversees the evolution of the company’s showroom in downtown Chicago.

Recently, Durbin was honored with a lifetime achievement award by Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove (SWC) Appliance Corp. for his collection of work and his many wins in the international Kitchen Design Contest. For several years, Durbin has collaborated with SWC on showroom development and design around the country including showrooms in Atlanta, Miami, Costa Mesa, CA and Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

Other notable collaborations include work on behalf of Restoration Hardware, where nuHaus designed and built the company’s café and wine vault concepts for design galleries in West Palm Beach, Nashville, Toronto, New York’s Meatpacking District and Yountville, CA. Durbin and nuHaus also recently collaborated with The Galley to design and engineer a new line of culinary furniture. Durbin is known for inspiring both designers and manufacturers with his tasteful, original kitchen compositions that have been deemed “fabulously fresh” by industry colleagues.

Rob Feinberg

Lead designer and showroom manager creates team culture

Rob Feinberg, CKD, CAPS, started at Allied Kitchen and Bath 35 years ago and has built his career within the family-owned business, focusing on team building strategies that have stood the test of time. As lead designer and showroom manager, he handles the company’s largest number of clients and projects while also focusing on creating a team culture within the company.

In 2006, when the company began the process of tearing down its existing showroom and designing a new kitchen, bath and decorative hardware showroom, the Great Recession tested his mettle. But in leading the expansion, Feinberg found new ways to help grow the business, to the point where the luxury 15,000-sq.-ft. space is now a true destination showroom featuring 30 kitchen and bath vignettes, while a second 7,500-sq.-ft. showroom spotlights contemporary kitchens, gourmet appliances and outdoor living products. He also provides tech leadership for his firm, being the company’s official in-house “tech guru.”

A proud supporter of many non-profit organizations in the South Florida community – including Habitat for Humanity, LifeNet for Families and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Feinberg believes strongly in “paying it forward.” That same philosophy has driven his involvement in industry associations; he participated in the original formation of the NKBA South Florida Chapter and has held various Chapter Officer roles in the past 30 years, along with being a past member of the NKBA National Dealer Advisory Board.

Patricia Gaylor

Designer promotes sustainable design solutions

While green design has become trendy in recent years, Patricia Gaylor was leading the charge for sustainable design well before it was in vogue. Indeed, the veteran designer at Patricia Gaylor Interiors has long been recognized as one of the early mavericks of green design.

Her collaboration with Sarah Susanka, architect and author of The Not So Big House, was featured at the International Builders’ Show. This was followed by Susanka’s Home By Design showhouse, BASF’s Near Zero Energy Home, HGTV’s Cool Energy home remodel and GREEN BUILDER Magazine’s VISION HOUSE and REVISION HOUSE series.

Gaylor has also appeared on “Good Morning America,” where she discussed the Near Zero Energy Home initiative.

An accomplished speaker, she is sought after for her sustainable design expertise, and her work has been published in numerous industry publications. She believes great design is about quality, value and providing a healthy lifestyle, and she continues to provide green leadership by promoting design that saves energy and water, contributes to good indoor air quality and has a lower impact on natural resources, protecting and preserving the environment for future generations.

Gaylor notes a more sustainable world through technology is changing the way we approach design. “As design continues to evolve through the use of smart technology, it will be used for the greater good, promote wellness and conservation and help those sight or mobility issues.”

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