Score One for Skilled Labor

posted on Sep. 19, 2018, at 12:00 p.m.

NKBA Staff

NKBA Insider Elle H-Millard, CKD, wins for the Skilled Labor Fund. By Dianne M. Pogoda

The Skilled Labor Fund’s coffers grew a little richer in September as NKBA’s own editor at large and Insider Elle H-Millard, CKD, participated in a design competition on behalf of SLF— and she won!

The grand prize of $3,000 was donated to SLF. Competition partners and sponsors included Wood-Mode, NKBA’s Manhattan chapter, Sub-Zero/Wolf/Cove, HG Stones, Rohl, Häfele, TileBar and Amerock.

Millard competed in the “Top Designers Kitchen Challenge” at What’s New, What’s Next, in the In House Kitchen Bath Home showroom, which is managed by David Burcher, CKD.Brooklyn-based interior designer Jarret Yoshida, founder of his namesake design firm, and Mitchell Owen, a partner in Consolidated Design Studios and a professor of design and history at Parsons The New School, also competed in the challenge.

Yoshida’s charity, Womankind, received  $500, and Owen’s prize of $500 went to the North Shore Animal League.

The winners were determined by applause of about 150 gathered at this inaugural event, which included cocktails and nibbles. The designers each presented their projects and spoke on behalf of their charities. The assignment was designing a space for a fictitious couple, who were retired and relocating from California to New York. They have lots of visitors (children and grandchildren) and a dog, Max.

Millard’s top entry placed a transitional kitchen of about 240 square feet with an island in a three-bedroom New York City apartment, using ceiling-height deep green cabinetry from Wood-Mode; a rich, dark wood floor in a herringbone pattern; white and gray Neolith countertops sourced from HG Stones; tiled backsplash and floors using TileBar products; Wolf appliances; Rohl fixtures; Häfele lighting and interior fittings, and Amerock crystal hardware with brass accents. To punctuate the space with color, she chose horizontal chartreuse panels to cover two columns.

“There were a lot of structural challenges with this apartment,” Millard said, “so I flipped the living room and kitchen spaces. I had to deal with two venting units around the windows, so I placed the refrigeration unit between them. This gave it a built-in look, gave the unit some breathing room, and preserved the views of the city.”

To make the most of tight spacing, Millard vented HVAC through the toe-kicks of the cabinetry and out through the countertops along the windows. She also used the space in the custom island to accommodate a Häfele drawer for Max’s feeding station.

“There was a load-bearing structural element separating the living room and kitchen, so I converted it into a custom L-shaped ethanol fireplace unit and media center,” she said.

Millard applauded the mission of the Skilled Labor Fund, noting it is dedicated to providing scholarships to help young people who are choosing the skilled trades — carpentry, installation, plumbing, electrical work, masonry and the like.

“It’s important to nurture the next generation of skilled professionals in construction and kitchen and bath remodeling,” she said. “The shortage of talent entering these fields is reaching a crisis point. Our industries must all pitch in with internships, mentorships, training, and to encourage people to consider careers in the skilled trades. There are hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs just waiting to be filled by individuals with the right skill-sets.”

At the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas, Feb. 19-21, the NKBA is joining forces for an event on Feb. 20 with This Old House Ventures’ Generation Next program, now entering its third year, to raise money for the Skilled Labor Fund. To make the process as seamless as possible, attendees may donate to SLF as part of the registration process. Any amount they choose to contribute is added to their registration fee — it couldn’t be easier. There will also be a Givz app at the show for on-the-spot donations. And 100 percent of these tax-deductible contributions goes to fund scholarships and education programs through the SLF. To register, click hereor visit

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