Kitchen Displays Fresh, Transitional Style


Designer Kelly Guinaugh of Interior Enhancement Group was enlisted for the task of updating a couple’s suburban Chicago kitchen shortly after completing a new kitchen for the same clients in their Florida home. The clients wanted a kitchen that would feel as airy and spacious as their vacation home, with improved workability, increased storage and better traffic flow.


By widening the entryway from the kitchen to the dining room, Guinaugh was able to create a feeling of spaciousness in the 350-sq.-ft. kitchen. New full-height pantries and cabinetry, as well as a wine cellar, were installed in order to provide plenty of storage. Increasing the width and height of the window over the sink also provided plenty of natural light to make the room feel open and fresh, while removing all soffits and installing taller upper cabinetry created the illusion of higher ceilings. A new, narrower island provides improved traffic flow and facilitates entertaining, and also features increased seating facing the scenic back yard. The end result: a fresh transitional space that flows well into the dining room and great room.

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EPA Ruling Caps Production of HFCs in Refrigeration

WASHINGTON, DC — In what officials are calling a major step in combating global climate change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule establishing a program to cap and phase down domestic production and consumption of climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

The landmark program, announced today, will phase down the U.S. production and consumption of HFCs by 85% over the next 15 years, as mandated by the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, enacted in December 2020 as part of an effort designed to slow global warming, EPA officials said. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, as well as foams and other applications.

The bipartisan AIM Act, backed by a coalition of industry and environmental groups, not only phases down HFCs, but also ushers in the use of more climate friendly and energy-efficient alternatives aimed at saving consumers money while protecting the environment, according to the EPA.

“Today, EPA is taking a significant step forward to tackle the climate crisis,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “Cutting these climate ‘super pollutants’ protects our environment, strengthens our economy, and demonstrates that America is back when it comes to leading the world in addressing climate change and curbing global warming in the years ahead.”

“American companies are at the forefront of developing HFC alternatives and the technologies that use them, and the AIM Act provides these companies additional opportunities to continue to innovate,” Regan added.

EPA estimates that the cumulative net benefit of its action will amount to more than $272 billion from 2022 through 2050, and that the rule will yield cumulative compliance savings for industry. In 2036 alone, the year the final reduction step is made, the rule is expected to prevent emissions of the equivalent of 171 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – roughly equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from one out of every seven passenger vehicles registered in the U.S., the EPA said. The total emission reductions of the rule from 2022 to 2050 are projected to amount to the equivalent of 4.6 billion metric tons of CO2 – nearly equal to three years of U.S. power sector emissions at 2019 levels.

EPA officials said the agency will work with the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to prevent the illegal import and trade of HFCs through an interagency task force led by personnel from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and EPA.

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Nemo Tile + Stone Acquires Modern Stone

NEW YORK, NY — Nemo Tile + Stone has acquired Modern Stone Consulting, the leading specialists in the sourcing, project management and quality control of natural stone, the company announced. Modern Stone Consulting is active in both Europe and the United States, with consultants in New York, Boston and Carrara, Italy, a city known for its natural stone production and concentration. The company’s founders, Robert McArdle and Alvaro Torrecilla, bring over 40 years of expertise in the natural stone industry and will develop a comprehensive education program to complement the current knowledge and expertise of Nemo Tile + Stone employees to ensure a skilled and custom approach to stone project management, the firm added.

“We are thrilled to join Nemo Tile + Stone, and together, expand Nemo’s stone division in the company’s 100th year and beyond,” says McArdle. “With decades of experience in natural stone procurement, our team at Modern Stone Consulting is ready to arm Nemo Tile + Stone’s sales force with the tools to offer their customers the most competitive pricing, quality and lead times for any size project. This acquisition will diversify and modernize Nemo’s approach to stone selection and distribution.”

Modern Stone Consulting specializes in evaluating materials at quarries, assessing the quality as it is related to the budget of a project, curating alternate solutions specific to each client, and selecting factories for the work. Following the integration with Nemo Tile + Stone, Modern Stone Consulting will bring natural stone education to all sales channels, with a sharp focus on “cut to size” stone projects.

“As we continue to expand the portfolio of Nemo Tile + Stone, we have identified natural stone project management as an important segment of the design market that has been historically underserved,” says Matt Karlin, president and third-generation CEO of Nemo Tile + Stone. “Modern Stone Consulting’s comprehensive management package, as well as their connections to a large network of factories and quarries, allow us to curate an experience for our customers that exceeds what is currently offered in the industry. In turn, we can pass this benefit on to the design community, as stone projects are seamlessly made more efficient from a project’s concept to completion.”


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Kohler to Host Nov. 4-5 Design Forum

KOHLER, WI — Kohler Co., the Kohler, WI-based manufacturer of plumbing products, tile, cabinetry, lighting and related products, will host “Kohler Living,” a forum aimed at exploring ways that “thoughtful design and innovative technology can add beauty, convenience and comfort to the home,” the company announced.

The online forum, scheduled for Nov. 4-5, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. CST, will bring together “the leading minds in design, entertainment, art, culture and business to discuss the future of the places we live, stay and work in (and) present a path toward a more beautiful and sustainable future,” Kohler said. The free event is being offered to consumers and trade professionals alike, the company added.

The first day of the two-day virtual event will be focused on topics that highlight wellbeing, design and innovation, Kohler said. The second day will emphasize smart home, sustainability and social impact, event organizers added. In addition to attending the various discussions and events, forum attendees will have the opportunity to connect with Kohler experts and other attendees in real time via a dedicated chat function in each session page.

For all individuals who register, Kohler is offering a chance to win an Ultimate Destination Kohler Getaway — including a stay at Kohler’s five-star The American Club resort hotel, plus spa and golf packages for two, according to the company.

A complete program of events can be found by visiting

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The Invisible Workplace Crisis

There’s little doubt that COVID-19 has radically transformed the residential remodeling, housing and kitchen/bath landscape.

For one thing, remodeling demand is reportedly at record highs, with both short- and long-term forecasts overwhelmingly positive. At the same time, new lifestyles emerging as byproducts of the global pandemic are proving responsible for the current mindset driving home design, product preferences and consumer purchases. Homes have literally been transformed, doubling in many cases as offices, schools, playgrounds and multi-generational residences. Wellness, sanitization, biophilic design and an emphasis on outdoor living have become more pronounced than ever. Multi-functional kitchens and eco-inspired baths remain high on the list of remodeling projects favored by homeowners.

But there’s more to the impact of the coronavirus than simply that.

Businesses on every rung of the product-distribution chain have been forced in the past 18 months to essentially reinvent themselves, implementing virus-mitigation strategies ranging from masking and showroom protocols to an increased emphasis on remote employees and digital-connectivity tools. Product costs have risen sharply, while labor shortages have been exacerbated and supply chain disruptions continue to result in project delays. Home prices have also spiked amidst shrinking inventories and a pronounced flight from the cities.

And now there’s yet another COVID-related issue that’s increasingly impacting the residential construction trade: the profound impact that the public-health crisis is having on workplace mental health.

Indeed, throughout the months-long pandemic, employees and business owners alike have faced an unprecedented confluence of issues threatening their physical and mental wellbeing. Routines have been disrupted, relationships strained, fears heightened over personal health and the health of loved ones. Feelings of isolation have led, in many cases, to a pervasive sense of loneliness and vulnerability. Anxiety, uncertainty, depression and stress have similarly taken a toll. While many remote employees are handling the disruptions well, others miss the sense of connectedness they had once in offices, factories and showrooms.

The subject of workplace mental health has been thrust into the public spotlight in recent months, particularly now that the nation is experiencing a resurgence of the coronavirus amidst contentious differences regarding issues like masking and vaccinations. And now, with no end to the pandemic seemingly in sight, many people are experiencing a sense of “horizonlessness,” the lack of a firm reference point regarding the future, as well as a sense of déjà vu regarding potential job losses and business closures.

All of this has had a cumulative effect. Indeed, workplace mental health is being described by experts as an “invisible crisis” that has yielded a palpable rise in chronic pain, fatigue, substance abuse, loss of productivity and suicide.

It has also yielded, thankfully, some decisive action.

The National Association of Home Builders, for example, is actively attempting to change the culture regarding mental health awareness by providing resources tailored to employees and business owners in the residential construction trade. As evidence, the NAHB recently launched a multi-faceted initiative focused on helping business owners support healthy work environments and turn mental health awareness into action. As part of that effort, the NAHB partnered with other trade groups and mental-health experts to develop specific tools for business owners to learn more about employee wellbeing, help eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness, and encourage employees to utilize the resources available to help navigate this complex, sensitive issue.

This effort is more than simply commendable. Indeed, it should serve as a model for others.

Business leaders and industry trade associations have an important role to play when it comes to balancing worker health with the ROI that can be realized by focusing on wellness through the lens of lower healthcare costs, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.

Corporate management should fully understand why mental health is essential to the success of their companies. They should also understand how they can be proactive in incorporating mental health into a company culture that prioritizes the wellness of employees as much as it does revenue and profits.

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Ginger Rabe

Taking pride in custom designing each kitchen so that each has its own identity, Ginger Rabe, founder of Ginger Rabe Designs, LLC, in Carlsbad, CA, focuses on current trends as well as what is timeless.

With a Master’s Degree in architectural building within sustainable design from Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Rabe is now a professor of the Master’s program at the Design Institute of San Diego. This position allows her to share her knowledge of the kitchen and bath industry and sustainable design.

Rabe is on the board of the NKBA of Southern California chapter, and is also on the speakers bureau for the San Diego Green Building Council and the advisory council for Palomar College Interior Design Department. In addition, she gives master classes on kitchen design, and is a TedX speaker on healthy spaces.

In 2020, she received the Power Business Woman Award, and in 2021 received an award for the San Diego Favorite in Kitchen Design and Construction.

Proficient in design-build, Rabe reports that she will be getting her general contractor’s license this year, as her firm also builds custom homes. Her furniture line includes five unique pieces – each named after someone in her family – that pair perfectly with her cabinet designs.

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Coverings 2022 Opens Registration, Call for Award Submissions

ARLINGTON, VA –Coverings (, the preeminent event for the ceramic tile and natural stone industry in North America, has opened event registration and awards submissions for its 2022 event, scheduled to take place April 5-8, 2022, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV. Coverings is accepting submissions for the 2022 Coverings Installation and Design (CID) Awards and nominations for the 2022 Rock Star Awards online through Dec. 17, 2021.

Tile and stone professionals interested in attending Coverings 2022 can register by visiting Key advantages to registering online and in advance include preliminary notices of popular programs, special promotions, product sneak peeks and other opportunities only available with early registration.

“Las Vegas embodies the exciting work-meets-play attitude everyone is ready for, and we are excited to give Coverings’ attendees the best of both worlds in business and leisure,” said Jennifer Hoff, president of Taffy Event Strategies, the management company for Coverings. “Coverings 2022 exhibitors and attendees will be able to learn, explore, network and build business at the foremost tile and natural stone event during the day, and experience some of the best dining and entertainment the world has to offer at night.”

Attendees of Coverings 2022 will be able to experience the latest tile and stone trends, mix and mingle with industry peers and cultivate the knowledge and connections that will help advance their businesses and sales. Coverings’ show management is currently planning for a creative and strategic lineup of product displays, a global exhibit hall, networking events and robust educational opportunities, including CEUs through sessions, demonstrations, live interviews and much more.

Coverings Installation and Design (CID) Awards

The CID Awards bestow recognition for outstanding design and installation in residential and commercial tile and stone projects. Architects, designers, builders, contractors, distributors, retailers, installers and other industry professionals may submit their projects through the CID project submittal portal by or before the Dec. 17, 2021, 11:59 p.m. EST deadline.

Projects submitted for review by the deadline will be evaluated and awarded based upon eight categorical designations: Residential Tile Installation, Residential Tile Design, Residential Stone Installation, Residential Stone Design, Commercial Tile Installation, Commercial Tile Design, Commercial Stone Installation and Commercial Stone Design. Project entries are free of charge, and multiple entries are encouraged.

Winners will be selected in spring 2022 after an independent panel of judges assesses each project on the levels of creativity, craftsmanship and use of materials. International projects may be submitted, and all projects must have been completed between January 2020 and December 2021 for review eligibility. Winning projects will be recognized onsite at Coverings 2022 as well as in various publications and on Coverings’ website and social media channels.

Coverings Rock Star Awards

The Coverings 2022 Rock Star Awards will recognize emerging leaders in tile and stone from 2021. Nominations may be submitted by or before the Dec. 17, 2021, 11:59 p.m. EST deadline by using Coverings’ Rock Star nomination form.

Coverings Rock Star nominees must be 35 years of age or younger and employed as one of the following professions: architect, designer, distributor, retailer, contractor/installer, fabricator, specifier, manufacturer and/or trade association personnel. Nominees will be judged by a committee of industry leaders who evaluate experience levels; professional certifications or affiliations; previous awards or accolades; prior speaking engagements at industry events; quantity of published works; impact in the tile and stone industry, and traits that set them apart as emerging leaders in the industry.

Winners of the Coverings 2022 Rock Star Awards will be honored onsite at Coverings 2022; included in a Coverings press release distributed to dozens of top magazines and publications, and highlighted in a year-long professional feature on the Coverings’ website and via Coverings’ social media channels and blog.


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‘Strong Growth’ Foreseen for Remodeling Through 2022

CAMBRIDGE, MA “Strong growth” in home improvement and maintenance expenditures is expected to continue over the coming year, according to the Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity (LIRA), released last month by the Remodeling Futures Program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

The LIRA projects year-over-year gains in annual improvement and repair spending will reach 9% in the fourth quarter of this year and maintain that pace into 2022. Annual improvement and repair expenditures by homeowners could reach $400 billion by the third quarter of 2022, according to the Joint Center, which warned that “several headwinds” – including the rising costs of labor and building materials, as well as increasing interest rates – “could still taper expected growth.”

“Residential remodeling continues to benefit from a strong housing market with elevated home construction and sales activity and immense house price appreciation in markets across the country,” said Carlos Martín, project director of the Remodeling Futures Program at the Cambridge, MA-based Joint Center. “The rapid expansion of owners’ equity is likely to fuel demand for more and larger remodeling projects into next year.”

In related remodeling market news:

n The U.S. building products market will continue building on its “exponential growth” of the past two years, gaining an additional 2.9% from 2023 through 2025, with the professional sector increasing by 4.6%, according to a newly released forecast by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI). The Indianapolis-based HIRI predicted that the total U.S. building products market will increase by 13% in 2021 over the previous year, with the professional sector growing by 18.2%. The total building products market is forecast to grow an additional 2.3% in 2022, with the professional sector growing by 7.1%, HIRI added.

n Businesses in the residential construction and remodeling sectors anticipate “strong activity” through the balance of 2021, although many companies report steady increases in backlogs since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with wait times of nearly three months before new projects can begin, according to the Q4 2021 Houzz Renovation Barometer, a quarterly gauge that tracks market expectations, project backlogs and recent activity among U.S businesses in the construction and architectural/design services sectors. Results of the survey were released last month by Houzz Inc., the Palo Alto, CA-based online platform for home remodeling and design.

“Confidence prevails across the industry through year-end,” said Marine Sargsyan, Houzz senior economist. “We’ve seen some settling of home renovation and design activity following record high performance earlier in the year, yet many businesses are struggling to catch up with heightened demand as they navigate supply chain challenges and labor availability, leading to record-long backlogs.”

n Demand for remodeling remains strong, and remodelers “are doing quite well as long as they can adequately deal with material and labor shortages,” according to the latest Remodeling Market Index (RMI) compiled by the National Association of Home Builders. The NAHB last month released its NAHB/Royal Building Products Remodeling Market Index (RMI) for the third quarter of 2020, posting a reading of 87, up five points from the third quarter of 2020. The finding “is a signal of residential remodelers’ confidence in their markets, for projects of all sizes,” the NAHB said.

“We are seeing strong demand and continued optimism in the residential remodeling market, despite the fact that supply constraints are severe and widespread,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.


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U.S. Action Urged on Supply Chain Bottlenecks, Tariffs

WASHINGTON, DC A pair of prominent industry-related trade associations have issued pleas for Congress and the Biden administration to help ease global supply chain bottlenecks that are stunting housing affordability and hindering the availability of key products used in new construction and residential remodeling.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) last month each issued separate calls for government policymakers to eliminate current trade barriers and seek solutions to port congestion and major delays in truck and rail transportation.

Testifying before the House Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations, NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke told government lawmakers that disruptions in the building materials supply chain exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic are having “a disproportionate” impact on smaller homebuilding firms.

“Without large economies of scale, small businesses generally cannot negotiate bulk discounts on lumber and other key building materials,” said Fowke. “The effects of this uncertainty trickle all the way to the (prospective) homebuyer, many of whom have balked at projects due to unexpected price increases.”

According to the Washington, DC-based NAHB, historically high lumber and building materials prices continue to serve as “headwinds” for the U.S. housing sector, significantly impeding housing affordability.

“From steel mill products and plastic piping to cooper pipe and wood windows and doors, prices are up dramatically year-to-date and are exacerbating the growing housing affordability crisis,” Fowke said. “Until a long-term solution can be reached, Congress and the administration should temporarily suspend duties on a wide array of imported building materials and goods, from Canadian softwood lumber to Chinese steel and aluminum.”

In addition, “policymakers must continue to aggressively explore solutions to ease building material supply chain disruptions that are causing project delays and putting upward pressure on home prices,” Fowke added.

Days before Fowke’s plea, AHAM joined several other trade associations in telling Congress that ongoing supply chain challenges “are hurting the competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers, stalling the economic recovery (and resulting in) unprecedented damage to the global product supply chain.”

“The ability to produce and deliver home appliances to consumers has been dramatically hindered by the COVID-19 pandemic and other supply-related issues, creating hardships for consumers and businesses at every step in the supply chain,” said Joseph McGuire, AHAM president and CEO. “The result is ongoing shortages of products, materials, components and labor, leading to delays and increased costs.”

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