One of the best highlights of this past year was having the opportunity to be a judge for this years, NKBA 2016 design competition. I was so impressed with the talent I saw and as a past participant, for many years, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being on the other side of the competition. Lori Carrol, of Lori Carrol & Associates in Tucson, Arizona, received the honor of the BEST Kitchen and I couldn’t wait to hear all about her inspirations for this beautiful project.

What was the main challenge with this space and how did you solve the problem?
The main challenge was the client wanted the feel of an open layout with the benefit of a transitional element between the kitchen and dining room to define each space. Creating a pass-thru with a wide sightline visually expands both areas. Custom, metal framed upper cabinets, glass shelves and textured glass door inserts add character and definition; unifying yet separating the rooms.


What is your favorite element in this design? 
Connected spaces, increased storage and convenient work areas are what inspired an ingenious alternative to the typical walk-in pantry access. Instead of carrying smaller items and appliances around the corner time after time, concealed behind a textured glass panel in the kitchen is a passageway between the kitchen and pantry, accessed through a guillotine lift mechanism installed in the cabinet.

Lori Carroll and Associates winner of NKBA competition kitchen design winner . Contemporary kitchen and dining

Did the client have to compromise on anything?
Of course the homeowners knew what they wanted and they had worked decades to build their dream home. Fortunately, they had confidence in me as a professional interior designer to guide them through the process. Working together, we confidently agreed on all of the details that would make this kitchen function best for them.


How do you feel about winning the NKBA kitchen of the year?

Striving for excellence has always motivated me to create beautiful and functional spaces at the highest level possible. There are few things more gratifying than being rewarded for the hard-work and dedication you devote to your profession. However, the NKBA Kitchen of the Year honor isn’t just mine. I proudly share this award with the client, architect, builder, and craftsmen, as well as my entire design team.


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About the Author: Patricia Davis Brown

Patricia, like her blog, is not a one-dimensional designer, which is evident in her accolades of 17 national design awards. Over a 38-year career in the industry, she has carved a niche in several areas of design. Licensed in interior design and certified in kitchen and bath design, she offers a full menu of design services ranging from whole house interior design, kitchen and bath design, lighting design, full remodels, commercial design and universal (ADA) design. Patricia is a sought-after speaker in the industry and has been published in many publications as seen on her interior design firm’s website, She writes for such publications as QuinStreetinc, Relaxed Remodeler, and talent offering design tips.