Archive for the 'Designer Spotlight' Category

Cool Cabinet Options Lead to Happy Meals

This article is from Kitchen Views Magazine’s Premiere issue, Fall 2008:

Mother and children preparing Thanksgiving dinner in home kitchen

“Cool Cabinet Options Lead to Happy Meals” with Brandy Souza

A kitchen that works around your family’s needs can make mealtime easier, which means the chicken won’t burn while you’re looking for the pot holders.

“Having an organized kitchen isn’t as hard as it may seem,” says designer Brandy Souza. “Just think of your cabinets as the foundation – everything builds on them. With the right cabinet in the right place, you move around the kitchen effortlessly.”

With today’s choices in sizes, configurations, storage solutions, materials and price points, you can make your kitchen work for you.

“Do you need a snack cabinet for the kids, or a pet cabinet to keep the kibble out of sight? A 5’2″ cook might prefer a lower island, while someone taller might want dishwasher drawers on either side of the sink. Now is the time to choose options that will make life easier,” says this family-savvy planner and mom of two toddlers.

Since budget is part of any cabinet discussion, Brandy recommends asking yourself how often you plan to make over your kitchen. If your answer to that question is ‘never again,’ choose a timeless design that won’t soon look outdated.

You’ll also need to decide between stock, custom and semi-custom cabinetry. With custom you can create any size, style or shape. “If we can draw it, they can build it,” Brandy says.

Semi-custom is not quite as flexible, but the choices are still plentiful. Stock cabinetry offers fewer options, but they are truly affordable.

“Don’t forget to think about visibility. If you have a deep cabinet you’ll want to be able to see what’s in the back to avoid turning groceries into science experiments,” Brandy warns. “Rollout trays are a great way to accomplish that, or check out the many pantry accessories that are now standard in most cabinet lines.”

For her own kitchen, Brandy has her dream cabinetry but compromised with Formica countertops while her children are small. “That way I don’t have to worry about Play-Doh and Kool-Aid. As soon as they’re older, I get my granite,” she says with a wink.

Don’t Let Your Budget Limit Your Kitchen Design

Bob Russo, ACSD/PKBP

This article is from Kitchen Views Magazine’s Premiere issue, Fall 2008:

“Look outside the box – literally! No one says you have to use a wall cabinet on the wall,” says designer Bob Russo. He knows that innovative ideas can make any budget go further, whether you’re spending $3,000 or $30,000.

“If you know the ins and outs of cabinetry construction, you can use them in different ways,” he says, excitedly drawing an example. “Say you need a 12″ base cabinet for a narrow passageway. Don’t pay extra to modify a base cabinet, which is 24″ deep, use a wall cabinet, which is already 12″ deep and therefore costs less.”

With 33 years in the business, Bob has a long history of helping homeowners create their dream not only on paper, but within their budget.

“One customer came to me frustrated because she wanted an island in her new kitchen. Her architect, contractor and designer told her it would be too costly – her kitchen was too small and they’d have to knock out a wall or add on. By moving things around, I found a way to make it work without changing the project scope,” he says modestly.

One of Bob’s favorite budget exercises is to split your wish list into two columns: “must have” and “nice to have.” By helping people prioritize, he can figure out how to help them save money and still have an amazing looking kitchen.

“For example, you can use detailed cabinets with a rich finish for an island with a complementary but simpler look on the periphery. Or, use the new Formica that looks like granite instead of paying for stone. We have a full palette of options and even a few tricks,” he reveals.

Another way Bob helps homeowners is by showing them the pros and cons of different options so they can make informed decisions.

“When you’ve crossed as many bumps in the road as I have, you know how to find a way around them,” says this veteran designer and Air Force Vet. “I like to do everything I can to exceed my customer’s expectations.”

Bob Russo, ACSD/PKBP
Kitchen Views at National Lumber
15 Needham St. Newton, MA 02461
Phone: 617-244-8020

Finding the Right Kitchen Designer

This article is from Kitchen Views Magazine’s Premiere issue, Fall 2008:

Jamie Thibeault, Kitchen Designer, Mansfield, MA

Jamie Thibeault, Kitchen Designer, Mansfield, MA

“Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right” (A Kitchen Designer, that is!)

The relationship between kitchen designer and homeowner is like a marriage. You’ll spend a lot of time together, revealing intimate details of your home life and sharing your most hopeful kitchen dreams. If the chemistry works, the result can be a creative, beautiful experience. If not… a possible disaster.

So how do you find an expert kitchen designer who knows his or her way around the project and can help guide you through the entire process, from choosing cabinets to finding a builder? Take some advice from designer Jamie Thibeault, who knows his way around construction sites.

“Ask friends and family who they used for kitchen design and if they would use him or her again. Then ask those designers for other references you can speak with. If they can’t give you any, that’s a red flag. Ask to see other projects, one in progress, which will show you how things are going at a job site, and one from five years ago so you can see how it’s holding up,” says this straight-talking designer.

The next step is to do a gut check for chemistry.

“See if there’s a connection when you speak with them, and make sure they’re really listening to what you’re asking. Ask yourself if you feel they’ll be there for you every step of the way. Anyone can sell you a cabinet. You want more than that, you want a designer who understands your point of view.”

Ask about their background too – many of the best designers have an abundance of experience in the construction trades, architectural or engineering firms. For example, Jamie is a Master electrician who filled in designing kitchens when his wife went on maternity leave 18 years ago. He fell in love with the job and today he works closely with builders and contractors on all kinds of kitchens, from custom homes to multiple-lot subdivisions.

“Knowing my way around construction projects and time-frames definitely gives me insider knowledge that is helpful when planning kitchens,” he says.

Another way to evaluate a designer is to look at project photos. The bonus: you might pick up a few new ideas for your own project along the way!

Jamie Thibeault
Kitchen Views at National Lumber
71 Maple St, Mansfield, MA 02048
Phone: 508-339-8020

Collaborative Creations: Brandy Souza & Lawton Design Studio

This article was featured in the Fall 2009 issue of Kitchen Views Magazine.

This wet bar features Greenfield cabinets with the Ashford doorstyle finished in Bisque; the mahogany countertop was custom-made.

Long before the first power saw is plugged in to begin most major kitchen renovations, a critical team has to come together — the designer, who will plan how the new kitchen will look and work, and the architect, whose job at minimum is to handle underlying structural issues.

When the two work together especially well, the benefit to the homeowner can be tremendous.

Architect Mark Lawton and designer Kyra Lawton of Lawton Design Studio relax in South Dartmouth.

Such is often the case with Brandy Souza, manager of the Kitchen Views showroom in New Bedford, MA and an expert in kitchen design, and Kyra and Mark Lawton, a husband-and-wife architecture/design team in South Dartmouth ( For three years, Brandy and Kyra Lawton in particular have combined forces on a variety of projects both in and out of the kitchen. Where one’s work ends and the other’s begins can be tough to sort out, but the results often are stunning.

Brandy Souza, Assistant General Manager of Kitchen Views

Brandy Souza, Assistant General Manager of Kitchen Views

“We always come up with a fresh idea for each new project,” says Brandy. “We want to take a design as far as we possibly can and we don’t want it to look like anyone else’s.”

For the homeowner, that usually means a room or rooms that look like no others.

The effectiveness of the partnership is all the more surprising because their styles are considerably different.

“Kyra’s very contemporary,” says Brandy. “And I’m more traditional.”

“We challenge each other. We respect each other’s choices,” Kyra says.

Because Kyra also is a designer, Brandy’s job many times is to bring to the conversation up-to-the minute knowledge of what myriad suppliers are offering. If a new countertop is hitting the market, Brandy knows about it.

One recent project showed how unique their work can be.

This three story tower, designed by architect Mark Lawton, was added to an existing summer retreat.

The trio collaborated on the interiors of a three-story tower designed by Mark Lawton that was added to an existing home on the South Coast of Massachusetts. The master suite is on the first floor, a game and media room on the second, and on the third floor a wet bar/lounge sits high among the oak and birch trees.

“It’s our favorite room,” Mark said, referring to it as a “sky room.”

While the Lawtons did much of the design work, Brandy was intimately involved throughout the process.

Dynasty cabinetry was selected for this country kitchen in Wellesley, another team effort by Souza and the Lawtons.

“She would help us visualize things and make it all more real,” Mark said.

Kyra said she and Brandy work so well together in part because they get along so well.

A dramatic two-sink vanity featuring painted inset cabinetry by Greenfield provides ample storage in the master bath. Matching panels on the Jacuzzi along with the built-ins at each end complete the elegant design.

“We would be friends even if we didn’t work together. I trust her,” Kyra said. “She goes the extra mile the way I go the extra mile.” And so they do, from one project to another, from the Boston suburbs to the shores of Rhode Island.

Read more Kitchen Views Magazine articles at

New Kitchen Design Brochure from Kitchen Views

Kitchen Views is proud to announce the release of our new kitchen design brochure. It features Brandy Souza, designer and assistant general manager of Kitchen Views and Jessica Williamson, our award-winning designer at Kitchen Views Custom in Newton, MA.

The publication of our new Kitchen Views 8-page brochure is currently being distributed inside the 2011 January/February issue of New England Home magazine. It’s also available at each of our showrooms and as a PDF on our website.

This new brochure and past issues of the Kitchen Views design magazine are available at

Kitchen Views at National Lumber

Jessica Williamson Wins Award in 2010 NKBA Contest!

NKBA Award Presentation for Jessica Williamson 2010-04-16

Jessica Williamson at her NKBA award presentation

Kitchen Views proudly announces that Jessica Williamson of Kitchen Views Custom in Newton, MA won 2nd place for Best Small Kitchen in the nationwide 2010 NKBA design contest, which was awarded at KBIS on April 16, 2010. She was accompanied by Manny Pina, President of National Lumber, and Brandy Souza, Assistant General Manager of Kitchen Views. Jessica is seen standing in front of a picture of her award-winning small kitchen design.

Manny Pina, Jessica Williamson, and Brandy Souza at KBIS

Manny Pina, Jessica Williamson, and Brandy Souza

Category: Small Kitchens
Name: New England Niche
Story: This comfortable kitchen greets guests and family at the forefront of a Cape Cod home. A relaxed family environment was created in fluid complement to the Atlantic Ocean, which is viewed through windows running along the back of the home. Touches of blue-green ocean in the colored glass pulls, coupled with Island Knotty Alder with Cape Cod stain, incorporates soothing accents against the whitewashed landscape of the room. Pine flooring and reclaimed beech used for the island countertop both add a warm balance to the white in a kitchen that makes the most of the home’s ocean view. The designer blended old with new, creating the relaxed vintage appeal that the clients wanted and so timelessly inherent to the region.

Designer: Jessica Williamson, AKBD, Kitchen Views Custom, Newton, MA
Photo: Judson Abts Photography

KBIS Jessica Williamson NKBA 2nd place winner - 2010-04-16

Jessica standing in front of the picture of her award-winning kitchen

HGTV Audience Choice Award Winners will be posted on or about April 23, 2010. More photos from Jessica’s portfolio will be featured on in the near future. Jessica’s kitchen is featured here on HGTVpro.

Designer Spotlight: Harry Mangsen

Harry Mangsen, Kitchen Views, Berlin, MA

This weeks’ featured designer is Harry Mangsen. He is based out of Kitchen Views’ Berlin, MA showroom. You can view his portfolio here.

Here is an excerpt from his feature article in Kitchen Views’ summer 2009 magazine. It’s about Harry and his longtime relationship with the Massachusetts-based neighborhood developer WGB Homes.

It was late on a Friday afternoon when Harry Mangsen received a call from the cabinet manufacturer’s representative with news that a replacement cabinet for WGB Homes that had originally been damaged in shipment was on its way and would be delivered on Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week. With the house closing scheduled for that Monday, Mangsen knew he needed to act quickly.

“Had it all happened before the weekend, I might have been able to ask the manufacturer to do something about it,” he recalled. “But when it comes to customers, you can’t just settle for better luck next time. You have to fix problems when they arise.”

With that, Mangsen cleared his schedule, hopped in a Kitchen Views truck and set out to intercept the cabinets at a freight hub in Connecticut and drive them back to Brookmeadow Village.

William G. “Greg” Burrill, founder and president of WGB Homes, remembers the episode well.

“In a day and in an age when quality customer service has been replaced with automated and technology driven solutions, it is comforting to know that if a question or a problem arises I can still pick up the phone and call Harry. His devotion to Kitchen Views and supporting his customers is what sets him apart.”

Mangsen adds that it helps to work for a company that supports its designers in trying to mitigate trouble, and one that has grown its reputation by setting realistic expectations for customers and delivering on them with relentless consistency.

Mangsen and Burrill both say the business partnership they’ve built over the last decade has been outstanding. “There are many details that are involved in building a multi-home project,” says Mangsen. “It’s my job as the designer to make sure all of those details are addressed and any problems that may arise are attended to immediately.

You can read the rest of the article here:

You can read the entire Summer 2009 magazine here or contact Brandy Souza with your mailing information at if you would like a free copy of this issue sent to you.

Harry Mangsen
Kitchen Views at National Lumber
25 Central Street
Berlin, MA 01503
Tel: 978-838-0810

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