The Boulevard Show House : Ask The Experts Q&A with Kohler Co.

Interior Design

December has arrived but there is still a ton to accomplish before the holidays are upon us! It’s not just the festivities that are keeping us extra busy this month. We’re wrapping up some fabulous projects for our clients and, of course, working away on the Boulevard Show House. I can’t believe how much we’ve been able to accomplish over the past three months. It seems like just yesterday we were doing our walkthrough of the house with Newberry Architecture to get our initial concept together.

I’ll admit, I can’t wait to have doors again, but I’m keeping myself occupied with all the design boards for the house. As important as doors and windows are, there’s another crucial part of the remodel process – plumbing fixtures! Plumbing fixtures are a component of your home that must be addressed early on in the construction process. In today’s edition of “Ask the Experts”, we’re sitting down with Lori Smith, Senior Sales Executive at Kohler, to get all the details behind their products and find out what we will showcase at the Boulevard Show House.

Plumbing is Luxurious!

LU: Tell us about your role in the Boulevard Show House project and what Kohler is working on specifically?

LS: We are excited to be showcasing Kohler products throughout the entire home, in the kitchen and all bathrooms. We’ll be featuring Kallista, a luxury collection owned by Kohler Companies, in the master bath and using the other Kohler brand through the rest of the house.

LU: What will you be installing in the Boulevard Show House?

LS: We will be installing all of the kitchen and bathroom fixtures.

Our current Master Bathroom situation – Yikes right?

LU: Which products are you most excited to be including in the Boulevard Show House?

LS: Kohler has just launched a new line of thin-wall freestanding tubs. These beautiful tubs feature slotted overflows, 1-piece construction, material-matched drains and a combination of crushed stone and resin which retain heat naturally.  We’ll be featuring the transitional Chess and Ceric styles from the collection in the master bathroom and the girls’ bathroom. These tubs are gorgeous – they look like freestanding pieces of art!

This tub and I are about to become the best of friends! *heart eyes*

LU: What rooms will you be working on?

LS: Since we’re installing all of the fixtures, we’re getting the opportunity to work in the kitchen, master bath, secondary/guest baths and powder/pool baths. We will also be doing the fixtures in the laundry room and bar.

LU: How did the selection process work for our home? Did you need floor plans, dimensions or have to supply specs for each room?

LS: Laura has a great designer’s eye so she had a vision of what she wanted. Based on her ideas, I offered suggestions for some pieces from the new launches and we finalized the selections. We were on the same page from the beginning, which made it easy and so much fun!

LU: How did you get involved in this project?

LS: The timing was perfect! The discussions began during a lunch and learn at Laura U for the design team where we were sharing details on all the new products Kohler has launched this past year and will be showcasing at KBIS. Laura approached me with the opportunity to be a part of the Show House and the rest is history!

LU: Introduce us to the team members involved in this project, what are their roles?

LS: My role with Kohler is to manage our wholesale showroom programs in Houston and the surrounding areas, as well as work with the trades involved in residential projects – designers, remodelers and custom builders. I’ll be working alongside a few of Kohler’s product managers in Kohler, Wisconsin. Our goal is to ensure a timely delivery of the products and make Laura’s vision come to life. This project is an example of a beautiful remodel that I love to be a part of!

LU: What needs to happen first in order for you to install the new, modern plumbing fixtures throughout our home?

LS: During the construction process, there are details we need to consider. For example, we have to verify that the correct shower valves are installed, the space and plumbing are planned out for the freestanding tubs, that no special cabinet modifications need to be made and that electricity is provided where needed. The pool bath features a wall-mounted Veil toilet, which is a fantastic choice in a wet room because of the ease of cleaning. But the carrier has to be installed in between studs during construction, so upfront planning is important to ensure everything comes together when the products are installed.

LU: What is the process for selecting the right fixtures for each room?

LS: It’s really matching up the pre-planning process with the looks that work well with the overall design. Every once in a while, we let the plumbing provide the “wow” factor with unique finishes and the latest technology, and styles. For example, in the kitchen, we needed a sink that would make a statement and complement the appliances, so the natural choice was stainless steel. The 35″ Vault Apron Front sink was a perfect choice! It combines the classic farmhouse style with modern stainless appeal and is one of Kohler’s most popular kitchen sinks. Due to its shortened apron, this sink doesn’t require a special apron-front cabinet, making it easy to install with most new or existing 36-inch cabinetry. The Self-Trimming® design only requires a simple rough cut, overlapping the cabinet face for beautiful results.  It’ll be paired with the Tournant semi-pro faucet in polished nickel, which adds both style and function!

LU: Has there been any challenges so far?

LS: It really helps to work with professionals like Laura because she is so proactive. We had everything ordered in plenty of time, valves in the walls, etc. I do wish we had been able to show Laura the new “Real Rain” 19×19 overhead shower panel with deluge… unfortunately, it hadn’t been released until after the project was well underway. It’s an incredible experience and I encourage everyone to check it out online at!

LU: Will it be difficult to install these modern fixtures in a historic home?

LS: Most of the products we selected are transitional and classic with clean lines that will blend well into the overall design. All of the products selected will complement the special history of the home while also bringing it up to date! Each room has a slightly different feel, but we wanted the plumbing fixtures to be the jewelry in the bathroom. The girls’ rooms are going to be feminine and sweet. So we’re using gold faucets with the newly launched Sartorial Paisley sink – a pretty, subtle paisley transfer on an under mount white vitreous sink. In contrast, the master bedroom uses elegant, classic Kallista polished nickel fixtures and stronger styles.  Laura also liked the shimmery Shagreen Artist Edition’s sink paired with gold.  We even brought some technology in with a high-tech toilet! It will all come together beautifully.

What’s a high-tech toilet, you may ask? It has complete bidet functionality, a heated seat, is remote controlled and has a seat that lifts and closes automatically! Bidets are historically popular in other parts of the world, but as people experience these on their travels they’re really catching on in the U.S.

Remote controlled AND a heated seat – How cool!

LU: Tell us about Kohler. What is your specialty and the background behind your products?

LS: People are often surprised to learn that many Kohler products are manufactured in the charming village of Kohler, Wisconsin. It’s a family-owned business model with a commitment to sustainability and providing a gracious living experience to all who use the products. The company began with an idea of adding legs to an enameled horse trough to create the first bathtub in the industry.  A lot has happened since then in the world of plumbing design. Kohler has become the #1 plumbing brand among consumers.

LU: How can people get in contact Kohler?

LS: I always steer people to the Kohler website. It’s easy to use and offers a lot more than just products. You can find a list of preferred showrooms in each area of town, remodeler and installer partners,  and of course lots of design ideas. The consumer number for specific questions is 1-800-4-KOHLER and is staffed with very knowledgeable customer service representatives Monday-Friday from 8-5.

LU: Do you have any advice for people wanting to install and replace their plumbing fixtures within their home?  

LS: The selection process can be overwhelming, but browsing sites like Pinterest or Houzz and gathering images of projects that speak to you can make it easier. The Kohler website also provides a great Idea Gallery with photos of completed projects you can browse. Make sure to order the products in plenty of time to avoid the stress of an unrealistic timeline. And if the budget allows, consider using a designer. A designer adds value to any remodel by providing a vision and direction for the entire project. Kohler also offers a design service through our website for a kitchen or bath remodel for $399, which includes drawings and a product list that the consumer can then take to a wholesale distributor for purchase. Be sure to choose a reputable contractor for your project that has experience with kitchen and bath remodels. Talk to wholesale showrooms, designers or sales representatives for their contractor suggestions because this person is going to be your lifeline to a successful project execution! But at the end of the day, just remember to have fun with the remodel!

Kohler is luxury! I can’t wait to install my gorgeous new plumbing. 

Wow, thank you so much, Lori for sharing your expertise about all things plumbing! Kohler products are innovative, high-quality and classic, so I can see why they’re the #1 brand among consumers. I can’t wait to have them as my very own! I’ll be ready to show these beauties off in the Spring when the Boulevard Show House opens up for tours. In the meantime, for all the latest on what’s happening with the Show House, be sure to check out the website and follow us on Pinterest for more design tips and inspiration. XO|LU