5 Questions With – NKBA


Diane Plesset, CMKBD, Celebrates an NKBA Milestone

Diane Plesett with her NKBA | KBIS 30-year membership certificate.
The longtime member looks back at three decades with the association
By Elisa Fernández-Arias

Award-winning designer and author Dianne Plesset, CMKBD, Principal at D.P. Design, celebrates 30 years as a member, supporter and advocate for NKBA.  

Plesset, who has been in the industry for over four decades,  started her own remodeling, design and contracting firm, D.P. Design, in 1984 in her native city of Portland, OR. Since then she has won numerous awards, one notably for her book, “The Survival Guide: Home Remodeling.” 

In addition to holding the CMKBD certification, Plesset is a Certified Interior Designer and Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist who has degrees in lighting design, kitchen and bath design, and interior design. She is a member of the NKBA Columbia River Chapter.

NKBA recently sat down with Plesset to talk about her 30 years with NKBA and here’s what she had to say.

NKBA: Can you tell us a bit about your time as an NKBA member?

Plesset: NKBA and I have been literally joined at the hip ever since I got into the business. The association has been the biggest influencer in my entire career. I was a student member, and when the time came for me to open my own business, I became a professional member. I was also very active in my local chapter. So I’ve been with NKBA for as long as I’ve been in the industry!

“NKBA and I have been literally joined at the hip ever since I got into the business. And it has been the biggest influencer in my entire career.”

NKBA: It must have felt significant, receiving your 30-year NKBA certificate. What was that like?

Plesset: The day I received the certificate was really a validation of how important my career is to me. In May, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to continue working, with chemotherapy and all of that. Opening the envelope and seeing the letter from Bill Darcy, it was a sign to me that I have to figure out how to continue doing what I do. Whether that’s designing, or writing about design. Because I love my career, and I love this industry. I’m going to continue with my passion, I won’t give it up, no matter how challenging things may get.

NKBA: It truly seems like NKBA really has had an impact on you…but specifically, how has it helped your career? 

Plesset: NKBA has been the single most important thing in my design business. First, the association provides impactful certifications. Very early on, when I was still in design school, one of my teachers stressed the importance of not only getting educated, but getting certified. As soon as I could, I studied and took the CBD examination, then the CKD examination. Being certified, this really set me apart from other designers.

And there’s the quality of the education itself. The one thing that really has helped me all these years is that NKBA helps people become certified, and they obtain and retain certification by attending absolutely stellar ongoing classes, seminars and webinars.

NKBA:  What additional benefits did you experience as an NKBA member?

Plesset: Well, there’s KBIS, of course. And the stellar publication, KBB. These also made a huge impact on my career. This is really going back, but, in the ’80s, I was taking a seminar with Ellen Cheever — who I was fortunate enough to have as a teacher, and mentor  — and it turns out one of my classmates was the editor of KBB. One day, after I presented a project for the class, she approached me and told me that if I ever had a project I felt would be a fit for print in the magazine, that I should get in touch with her. So I did.  I submitted a project for my first client at my new company. I didn’t know anything would come of it. And then, in 1986, walking into KBIS, I saw the magazine with my design right there on the front! It was an unbelievable experience, especially at the very start of my career!

So there’s NKBA’s community, too, and the connections you make. It’s just wonderful that we have these opportunities that come our way, that help us climb the ladder to where we want to be in our career.


Stu Dettelbach’s Perspective

A Discussion with the Founder of SD Kitchens and former NKBA President.

by Elisa Fernández-Arias

Stu Dettelbach, CKBD, Founder of SD Kitchens and former NKBA President, has been part of the kitchen and bath industry for more than 50 years. In 1973, he designed and installed his first kitchen, and in 1979, he opened his first showroom. Dettelbach’s term as NKBA President was from 1994-1995.

NKBA recently sat with Dettelbach to discuss his career, the association, and what he sees ahead for the kitchen and bath industry.

Remembering His NKBA Presidency

When recalling his time at NKBA, Dettelbach fondly remembered many moments — so many, in fact, that it was impossible for him to think of just one favorite memory. However, he did say that the people he met during his tenure were an important part of his experience. “Traveling to many chapters, working with the local executive committees and speaking with chapter members was exciting,” he said. “I feel lucky to have been president of NKBA; it gave me an opportunity to make friends throughout the industry and country.”

Changes in NKBA and in Dettelbach’s Career

Since his term as president in 1994, Dettelbach has watched NKBA go through many changes and continue on a path of growth —  growth of the number of chapters, growth of KBIS and growth of NKBA’s authority within the kitchen and bath industry. “NKBA has now become the ‘go to’ source for information about the industry,” he noted, adding that the association’s reputation has grown globally, too.

In terms of how his career and personal life have changed post-NKBA presidency, Dettelbach said that he has been focusing on his own kitchen remodeling and installation business, SD Kitchens. “My business will be 53 years old this summer,” he said.

Dettelbach has also assumed leadership roles in various areas, including the Bath & Kitchen Business Group and his local synagogue. In addition, he’s president of the Baltimore, MD-based 5013c charity, Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids, that helps children who face food insecurity. In all these roles, Dettelbach said, the public speaking and leadership skills he learned through his involvement in NKBA are “being put to good use.”

The Future of the K&B Industry

When answering a question about the future of the kitchen and bath industry, Dettelbach first provided some context by looking to the past. “I was NKBA President from 1994 to 1995,” he said, “and in those nearly-30 years [since then], the U.S. has experienced multiple recessions and a pandemic. Yet, the kitchen and bath industry always rebounds. Consumers who hibernated during the pandemic must have been dreaming of new kitchens and baths, since the industry is booming.”

Dettelbach went on to say that when he sees NKBA’s Thirty Under 30 class every year, along with their skills, he feels optimistic about the future of the industry.  

Advice From the Past President

At the end of the interview, Dettelbach shared the best advice he received during his K&B career: “Have fun.” He also said it was important for designers to understand that they played the role of “agents of change” who made improvements in the lives of their clients. 


5 Questions With… Sarah Robertson, AKBD

Best Overall Kitchen designed by Sarah Robertson, AKBD.

The 2023 Best Overall Kitchen winner talks about expanding beyond her East Coast base, the “nostalgia” trend and more.

As the submissions season for the 2024 NKBA Design Awards comes to a close — with the deadline extended to July 23 — we revisit a conversation we had with one of the previous winners, Sarah Robertson, AKBD, Founder and Principal of NY-based Studio Dearborn.

Robertson clinched both the Best Small Kitchen and Best Overall Kitchen prizes at NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Design + Industry Awards at KBIS 2023 in Las Vegas, for her “Creek Lane” kitchen design — which the judges called “a case study in how to mix materials.” Sarah took on a long-distance new build on the outskirts of Nashville for clients who wanted a kitchen with lots of natural light and special amenities for their five pets. Pale oak floors, rich blue-black cabinetry, soapstone countertops, and light-hued reclaimed brick from the clients’ hometown in Wisconsin effortlessly mixed both modern and farmhouse aesthetics.

However, the celebration didn’t end there for Robertson. Since founding the boutique design firm in 2008, the MBA-educated former McKinsey management consultant has earned AKBD certification. Her designs have been featured in House Beautiful, Traditional Home and HGTV Magazine, to name only a few — helping her to develop a global social media following.

Sarah took time post-KBIS to talk to us about her approach to design and her outlook for home improvement.

NKBA: What are you most excited about in regard to your upcoming projects and/or products for 2023 and beyond? Are you looking to expand into other areas of the industry or your business?  

Sarah Robertson: I’m excited to be expanding geographically. It’s really fun to work on projects beyond the East Coast into areas where tastes and styles are a little different from here. I’m also thrilled that my Steppe Sink will be launching this year with Nantucket Sinks. We used it in our winning kitchen, but we will now have access to national distribution and the quality of fabrication that Nantucket is known for.

NKBA: What trends are you seeing emerge in the Kitchen + Bath spaces and the home as a whole? What are you loving? 

SR: I’m really excited to see that nostalgia is coming back as a “trend,” although it’s really an “anti-trend!” Comfort, familiarity and coziness have been creeping their way back into our spaces for several years now and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m looking forward to using more old-world-inspired materials, millwork styles, hardware and lighting.

NKBA: Is your business being impacted by the economy?  Any tips for how to navigate the current uncertainty in the market?

SR: So far I’m not seeing any change in demand for my services. We’ve made drastic changes in the last three years in how we live and how we use our homes. Our homes have become our sanctuaries, our workplaces, our gyms and the hub of our family life. Social media has also brought increased visibility for interior design, and it’s a topic of conversation like never before. I expect that we will see an extended uptick in spending on home improvement due to these lifestyle changes and this refocus of priorities.  

NKBA: What constitutes good design to you personally and what design strategies have you found to be the most effective?

SR: Good design needs to function well, inspire us and help get us through our day. I love asking clients to imagine themselves walking through their new space, interacting with it and using it. I then listen to their own feedback on what feels good and what isn’t working. I think 3D walk-throughs are good, too, but sometimes it’s more informative to use one’s imagination to avoid the distractions of a visual presentation.

NKBA: What has been your biggest design challenge and how did you overcome it? 

SR: I think almost every day brings a new “biggest design challenge.” I overcome challenges by remaining calm, reminding myself of my priorities and then getting to work on what needs to be done.

Want To Win Big, Too?

Do you want the chance to win cash prizes, gain national exposure and make more connections at KBIS 2024 in Las Vegas? Enter our Kitchen & Bath Design + Industry Awards today. Due to an overwhelming response, we have extended the deadline for NKBA’s Design Awards to July 23. Don’t miss the opportunity to become tomorrow’s K&B star, by entering this enhanced competition that includes cash prizes totaling $100,000, streamlined categories and more. Enter today!


A Conversation with Paco Cosentino

The NKBA Hall of Fame inductee shares memories, insights and lessons learned from his time in the kitchen and bath industry.

by Elisa Fernández-Arias

Francisco “Paco” Martínez-Cosentino, President of Cosentino Group and NKBA Hall of Fame inductee, has been in the kitchen and bath industry for over 30 years. Cosentino was inducted into the NKBA Hall of Fame in 2016.

Cosentino joined his family’s small marble and stone processing business and transformed the company into a global leader in surface materials for architecture and interior design. In 1990, he introduced Silestone Natural Quartz, developing more than 120 colors and with this innovative, high-performance surface. Cosentino led the group’s development of Dekton, the first ultra-compact, ultra-resilient surfacing material suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications.

NKBA sat down with Cosentino recently to ask him about the work and projects he’s undertaken since his induction and what he sees as the future of the kitchen and bath industry.

What is your favorite memory or most memorable NKBA moment?

I remember with great fondness and emotion that day in 2015 when, as part of the KBIS trade show, I delivered my speech on the state of the industry as the first entrepreneur of Latino origin to have that honor.

What is the biggest change you have seen in NKBA since you were inducted into the Hall of Fame?

My perception is that the organization has grown immensely and today has a much greater capacity to gather insight and knowledge from the entire kitchen and bath industry. This makes it, without a doubt, the most important industry reference in the world. 

Since being inducted into the NKBA Hall of Fame, what have you been focused on?

I continue to be intensely focused on evolving Cosentino while always staying true to our commitment to bettering our products for the greater good of the industry and the planet. We’ve invested greatly in research and development to achieve innovations such as HybriQ® Technology, which transforms the composition and manufacturing method of Silestone that uses 99 percent reused water, 100 percent renewable electric energy and produces no particle emissions or water discharge. It is one of the most sustainable surface options available, and we are not afraid to be the leaders by pushing the envelope to grow and evolve. I’m also incredibly proud of how the company was able to persevere during the challenges we saw in March 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. We had to make critical decisions for the betterment of the future of the company, which is an important responsibility as the CEO.

Where do you see the kitchen and bath industry going in the future? What are you feeling optimistic or excited about?

I am very optimistic about the future of the kitchen and bath segment, specifically about furniture and all the accessories involved in both spaces. I believe that we are heading towards a direction where more priority will be given to the areas of comfort in the home, and therefore the bath will increase in importance, attracting more space and more investment. On the other hand, the kitchen space, both indoors and outdoors, is recognized as a preferential place for people. We will see how technology is becoming more and more integrated in both spaces, together with materials of a sustainable nature and of great beauty. 

Throughout your career, what is the best advice you have received?

That in life the values of honesty, sincerity, tenacity, as well as working and surrounding yourself with people smarter than you, is always the best way to be happy and for those around you to be happy. This generates great possibilities of success.


Catching Up With K&B Rising Star, Beatriz Hernandez Padron

Rendering provided by Chief Architect.

Padron, NKBA member and past first place winner of NKBA’s student design competition, talks about her career journey and how the association has helped along the way.

By Elisa Fernandez-Arias
Image courtesy of Krista Hermanson Design.

Beatriz Hernandez Padron, current NKBA member, past NKBA student member and first place winner of NKBA’s 2021-2022 Student Design Competition, is making a splash in the K&B industry only months after graduating from Bow Valley College, where she completed the Kitchen and Bath Design program.

As first place winner of 2022’s competition, Padron has received much recognition in the industry. Shortly after graduation, Hygge Home Design, of Calgary, Alberta, an NKBA Member, was thrilled to hire her. Padron has also been celebrated locally, and is now the face of Bow Valley College, appearing in advertisements and billboards for the school throughout the area.

NKBA sat with Padron to learn more about her recent successes, her professional trajectory and how the association has made a difference in her education and career.

How has being an NKBA student member been beneficial to your educational pursuits?

At Bow Valley College, they taught me all of the NKBA’s guidelines, which made a huge difference in my education as a designer. These guidelines require even more knowledge and ability than the industry standard guidelines, so they provide you with a great foundation you can use both in your education and your career.

Being an NKBA student member also provided me with a great community — which was a resource in itself. There are so many industry professionals with varied backgrounds who work with so many different design styles. You can really get an insight into how the minds of these designers work. And they’re also a resource. You can learn from your community all about different design styles, and so much of what you can do when it comes to using technology or making spaces more sustainable. And you can learn about the trades, too.

“Being an NKBA student member also provided me with a great community — which was a resource in itself.” — Beatriz Hernandez Padron

I see that you studied architecture as an undergraduate, then migrated to design. What led you to focus more on design as opposed to architecture?

I really love architecture — that’s really my passion, it’s really my love. But when I was studying architecture, I found I was challenged by much of what interior designers did, like selecting furniture, for example. I wanted to learn more. So it made sense, after studying architecture, to move forward with my education so I could build up my interior design knowledge.

I started by taking an interior design course in the Dominican Republic, where I’m from. But I still wanted to do more. Learn more specific skills. And I wanted to study something that would combine the technical skills I already used in architecture —  where you focus a lot on the electrical, HVAC, and construction —  while also learning more about interior design. And K&B does just that, combining interior design with the technical, since you’re making decisions about appliances, finishes, space planning, plumbing and more. So it was the right fit for me.

What was your experience like, entering for  —  and winning  —  NKBA’s student design competition?

I had a lot of fun working on my design, I was playing a lot with the fashion aspect of it. So I wasn’t focusing on winning  —  I was focusing on having fun! When I entered the competition, I wasn’t expecting to win, so when I did, I couldn’t believe it!

Winning has been great for my career. I’ve gotten a lot of media attention because of it here in Canada. And at the interior design company where I work now, most of the clients know who I am from my interview I did with Bow Valley College. It all happened so fast, it’s been a whirlwind of success!

How has the NKBA helped your career?

The NKBA has taught me a lot of what I use now in my career. I learned how to make great kitchen and bath designs, using techniques such as space planning and following NKBA guidelines. I use all this foundational knowledge, put it into practice, in my current job. It’s part of me, I would say.

NKBA’s Student Memberships are open to students from any postsecondary school, and are free thanks to the generosity of Sub-Zero, Wolf and Cove. NKBA’s Student Design Competition is sponsored by Fisher & Paykel. To learn more about NKBA’s Student Membership and NKBA’s Student Design Competition, which opens for 2023/2024 on July 10, visit here.


A Conversation With Gary West, CMKBD

The NKBA Past President shares his insights about the past, present and future of the association and the K&B industry.

By Elisa Fernández-Arias

Gary West, CMKBD, President of Great Kitchens & Baths and former NKBA President, has been involved in the kitchen and bath industry for more than 50 years. He served on the National Board of Directors, Executive Committee and was President of the NKBA in 2001. He has also been involved with the association in myriad other ways, including serving on the Hall of Fame Committee and the Kitchen & Bath Guidelines Committee. He was also President of the Indiana State Chapter in 1981,1982 and in the early 1990s.

NKBA recently sat down with West to ask him about his time at NKBA, the work and projects he’s undertaken post-NKBA presidency, and what he sees as the future of the kitchen and bath industry.

What was it like being President of the NKBA?

It hardly seems like it has been 22 years since my Presidency. But on the days I’m around our six grandsons, it seems an eternity ago. I fondly remember writing my last column for an NKBA publication and I think my last sentence was something to the effect of “the last ten or so years working alongside our dedicated volunteers and staff were some of the most memorable years of my professional career and I would do it again in a heartbeat.” However, as I’ve gotten older, or really lost my energy to undertake such a responsibility again, I’m not sure whether I would be able to do it now.

What is your most memorable moment during your NKBA Presidency?

When thinking back, the memory that strikes me the most, to this day, is September 11, 2001.  I was in the air that morning, flying to a Chapter meeting, I believe, in Texas. I had a plane change in Minneapolis, and as I got off that plane, I could see a television in one of the bars, showing a skyscraper in flames, hearing the commentator saying that a plane had hit one of the towers. My first thought was the twin towers in Malaysia… but a few minutes later I realized it was one of the New York City World Trade Center towers. And then the next moment, a picture I still see today of  the other tower being hit by the second plane. Ironically, NKBA had a board meeting in one of the towers three years earlier. I sat in a hotel room for four days waiting to be able to rent a car to get back to Indiana, as flights all over the world were canceled for the next week or longer. That day changed my life and I believe the lives of the citizens of the United States forever. No longer were we on the outside of what had been taking place throughout the world for the last number of years.  

What is the biggest change you have seen in NKBA?

The biggest change I have seen is the growth of our association, both nationally and internationally — as well as the consolidation of our industry and associations within the building and remodeling sectors.

Since being President of NKBA, what have you been doing?

Since my “retirement” from NKBA, I have continued to work in our now 62-year-old family business, turning over the major responsibilities to one of our sons, now the third generation.  He has led us through the recession, moved us to a more modern facility, and grown our client base and maintained our hallmark of trust that we have built over more than 60 years.

Where do you see the kitchen and bath industry going in the future? What are you feeling optimistic or excited about?

I believe the K&B industry is in the midst of a revolutionary change. Global products, global ideas in design and business structure are the future. We will not be dominated by the “mom and pop” manufacturers and K&B dealers. There will still be the “niche” markets and clientele for the entrepreneurs who choose to enter our industry, but with artificial intelligence on the horizon, the design community will change forever.

Throughout your career, what is the best advice you have received?

The best advice I have ever received was to do what is right. It sounds cliché, but we are individuals and have a responsibility to help our clients improve their lives and living environments through our work.