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Spotlight on a Designer: Kira Schmeling

Posted on the 10/17/2017 by Karndean Designflooring

For designer Kira Schmeling of Bargreen Ellingson FoodService Supply and Design in Tacoma, Washington flooring can be the element of a space that sets the tone, but it’s only one of many important elements to consider when designing a commercial space. Schmeling shares her design process, the role flooring plays in a space, and one of her favorite Karndean Designflooring projects in our designer spotlight.

What’s the most important element you look for when stepping into a space? How does this approach differ between commercial and residential spaces?
It’s not just one element as you walk into a space that is important. It’s a multitude of elements working well together to create a fully functioning, aesthetically pleasing environment. When I walk into a space I ask myself and check all my senses: Is the temperature just right and the lighting level adequate? How does it smell? Is it made of sound materials that look and feel substantial? I touch surfaces as I walk through to feel the quality and texture. You know where to go following a layout that is not confusing. It’s pretty apparent from the first few moments how your experience will be as you step inside. 

What’s the first question you ask a client before undertaking a design project?
The first thing I ask is what their vision is. They have thought about their project long before we even come into play. I ask them what they see when they close their eyes. I ask for photos or inspirational images they have seen or taken throughout their travels. I gather all the ideas and a detailed description of how they view the space and try to implement their ideas. I may take an idea they have and spin it to create a more functional use.  We have to work together to define realistic goals and expectations that are both cost-effective and functional. 

What’s the most important aspect or element in commercial design?
Durability with style. Finding materials that encompass these elements is the tricky part. This is why I’ve found Karndean Designflooring to be a great choice. It not only has a realistic look of distressed wood or a specific species of wood, it is very durable and easy to work with. I like to specify materials that I won’t have to worry about in the future. We even incorporated Karndean Designflooring into the Bargreen Ellingson office design when we expanded earlier this year.

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What's the biggest and most common design mistake you see in commercial spaces?
The use of non-commercial grade materials. Adhering to code compliances and life safety is key. There is nothing scarier than walking into a restaurant or store and almost falling down because the tile doesn’t meet the correct coefficient of friction. YIKES!

How does flooring affect the way a room or space is defined?
Flooring can set the tone for the space. Concrete gives an industrial look and already exists in many leased spaces, but increases the noise level. Carpet softens the space and helps with acoustics, but has its own cleaning challenges. Hardwood is beautiful, but requires more maintenance and is expensive to install. Laminate looks ok from a distance, but can sound hollow when walked on with heels. LVT softens a space, giving it the warmth and character it needs with a cost-effective approach.

How would you describe Karndean Designflooring to friends or colleagues in the field?
It’s not just plain old vinyl flooring anymore. It has come a long way with its designs, durability and appearance. Each time Karndean Designflooring come out with new styles, they look more and more like real woods and grains.

Are there any particular trends you are incorporating into your latest projects?
Reclaimed and distressed wood is all the trend, though I see it headed back towards cleaner lines with less distressing. Luckily, Karndean Designflooring seems to carry a variety of choices to meet all styles and needs. 

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What has been one of your favorite Karndean Designflooring projects to date?

Poodle Dog Restaurant in Fife, Washington is a local icon and a work horse of a restaurant. The customer wanted everything to be “indestructible” and for this to be “the last remodel I do.” With that direction from the customer, I thought about what would be a durable and aesthetically pleasing product to use. That’s when LVT came to mind.

We put Karndean Designflooring Merbau VGW41T throughout the restaurant, overflow dining area and bar. We also ran Aged Kauri VGW51T up the booth bases and built table tops with Karndean Designflooring as the top material with a steel edge band. The front cashiers counter has Karndean Designflooring on the millwork face instead of real wood, and the bar die has Karndean Designflooring with an orange plexi glass wave inset and down lighting to accent this detail. This project was completed about 3 years ago and has held up incredibly over the years. Even though these types of applications voided the Karndean Designflooring warranty, we were willing to take that chance. So far, everything is holding up perfectly and the customer is incredibly happy about the look and durability.

Our thanks to Kira for taking the time to answer our questions and share her expertise!