Designer & Trade Collaboration Series – Part One

Customers often ask us if we’re willing to work with their architect or interior designer. The answer is always, “Of course!” Collaboration is the name of our game.  Even if we’re not working with other design professionals, our number one collaborator is always the client. Then there are the trades that we work with: contractors, countertop fabricators, tile and stone suppliers, custom vent hood manufacturers, appliance dealers, and so on.  For this five-part blog series, we thought we’d highlight some of the more spectacular collaborations between Bilotta designers and other design professionals.

Senior designer Randy O’Kane met designer Jessica Jacobson at one of Bilotta’s “Lunch and Learn” events featuring a representative from Benjamin Moore. They hit it off and have worked on multiple projects together. The way they work together incorporates a division of responsibilities: macro design, which includes overall design vision and aesthetics, is handled by Jessica; micro design, which incorporates practicality and all its accompanying details, falls to Randy. Jessica decides on fabrics and finishes. Randy’s philosophy is “I’m only as good as the people I rely on”. She points out the many advantages to working with another design professional: they share resources; there is mutual respect between them; and they bring different areas of expertise to the project. It all adds up to a more encompassing experience that actually makes jobs easier and, with two pairs of eyes on the project, helps avoid errors.

Living room features Bilotta natural walnut mid-century inspired bar.

For this stunning wet bar project, the client’s vision was walnut with no hardware, and a seamless look. The final result makes a huge statement in the limited space of the family room niche. The natural inclination would have been to blend the bar inconspicuously into the relaxed space featuring a rugged fieldstone fireplace with a reclaimed wood mantle. Instead, the bar stands out in bold contrast as a “look at me” design moment.

Mid-Century custom wet bar features backsplash with Lagos Azul honed limestone countertop and Bilotta natural walnut cabinetry.

Flat paneled doors in beautifully-figured natural walnut add a modern richness. The entire niche enrobed in the same veneer panels, giving the alcove a snug, warm appeal. To maintain clean lines, cabinet hardware was eliminated: wall units have touch latches; bases employ a channel with integrated recesses on the backs of the doors. The beverage fridge is discreetly hidden behind a matching panel.

Mid-Century custom wet bar features Bilotta natural walnut cabinetry and backsplash with Lagos Azul honed limestone countertop.

To complement the cabinets without upstaging them, a honed limestone countertop and a hammered nickel sink contribute quiet texture.

If collaboration were a physical activity, then Randy’s next project would definitely qualify as the design equivalent of an extreme sport. This was done during Covid, with the participation of four different professionals based in three different states and an owner in New Jersey. Randy had worked successfully with the owners on several NJ projects, so they contacted her for their new home in Boca Raton, Florida.

Stunning poolside patio features modern furniture and fire table, custom bar and custom eating area.
Photography by Nat Rea

The builder was NMB Homes in Boca; the architect was Judd Brown of JBD JGA Design & Architecture in Rhode Island; Nat Rea was the photographer, also based in Rhode Island; and Randy, though based in our Mamaroneck showroom, was at that time working mostly remotely from her suburban NY home. The logistics on this job were mindboggling. The team would “meet” one or more times weekly on Zoom, with endless emails in between. Judd gave Randy the initial plans with his hand-colored renderings. Randy had door and color samples made for the kitchen, several baths, a bar and the laundry and had them shipped to the client. Judd would drive down to NJ to review the plans with the client, either for their approval or for another round of revisions. Meanwhile John Slevin, in our drafting department, was engineering the drawings for Judd and NMB to red line them for further adjustments. An efficient division of responsibilities was essential to the success of this job.

Dramatic white classic kitchen features custom Bilotta cabinets and range, expansive marble custom island, integrated appliances, and gold accents.
Photography by Nat Rea

Randy worked with the client to pick the perfect appliances, hardware, and location of the storage options, since this was a kosher kitchen, and everything had to be doubled. Judd and NMB worked on the tops, tile, hardware, the hood, and the metal trims, which were all fabricated in Florida. Some of the hardware was approved online, while the owners wanted to see some in person; this meant either shipping to Florida, or meeting in New Jersey.

In the case of one bathroom, where the hardware was brass channels routed into the drawers, those pieces were shipped to the cabinet manufacturer so they could machine the drawers and install the channels at the factory.

Luxury custom vanity features blue Bilotta cabinetry, high-end gold accents, and double lighted mirrors.
Photography by Nat Rea

The stepped detail on the stone island ends was another exercise in careful collaboration. Randy actually saw a photo of this detail and loved it, so she sent the photo to Judd and he was equally enamored.

Stunning white classic kitchen features custom Bilotta cabinets and range, white and gray marble custom island and gold pendant lights.
Photography by Nat Rea

They were beautifully fabricated in a local Florida shop. Behind the scenes, NMB was working on all the electrical and structural details.

Randy flew to Florida three times: once to field measure all the rooms; once to check the cabinetry when it was delivered to the site; then one more time for the final installation. Everything else was handled through daily Facetime meetings and progress pictures with the installer. These consultations were vitally crucial to everything fitting like a glove; and everything did. Moreover, there was no need for any extra parts or remakes, which is almost unheard of for such a large project.

Open-concept living space features light wood beams, modern white sofas and adjacent custom white kitchen.
Photography by Nat Rea

Even photographing the job required collaboration. Over Facetime, Nat and Kristin Ohnmacht (our Director of Marketing & Advertising) met to plan out the props and desired views. Then during the day of the shoot, Nat Facetimed Kristin and texted photos to make sure she was happy with the pics.

If you subscribe to the old adage that “Too many cooks spoil the broth”, then this kitchen will give you an entirely different perspective. The contributions of the whole team resulted in a richly detailed mix of materials and finishes.

Custom Bilotta kitchen features marble island, gold pendant lights and accessories, and custom white and gold hoodvent.
Photography by Nat Rea

Slab cabinet doors with a narrow raised perimeter trim are rendered in both rift cut white oak and “Super White” paint that balances earthy with bright. Appliances are paneled for continuity. Dramatic LED lighting illuminates the toe kicks and island overhang. Countertops are engineered “Unique Statuario” by Compac, which was also used for the carved panels at the ends of the island. White marble chevron mosaics lend texture and depth to the backsplash. The showstopper is the divider between the secondary sink and the living room.

Classic kitchen features white custom cabinetry and dramatic mirrored bar with gold contemporary design.
Photography by Nat Rea

Fashioned from brushed gold square metal stock, its rectangle motif references the home’s entry door. Wavy glass obstructs kitchen mess, yet still admits light. Brushed gold straps on the white hood tie in with the divider. Gold hardware, faucets, and globe pendants add glamour.

Other trade sources include Artistic Tile; Tom Dixon for decorative lighting; Harmony Contract for island stools; and Top Knobs for decorative hardware.


Paulette Gambacorta, Senior Designer at Bilotta Kitchens

This post was written by Paulette Gambacorta. Paulette designed kitchens with Bilotta for over 28 years.