What’s New:: Thermador and Wellborn Debut 2017 Lines at KBIS

What's New:: Thermador and Wellborn Debut 2017 Lines at KBIS

I recently had the opportunity to spend some time at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) getting to know #BlogTourKBIS sponsors Thermador and Wellborn a little better. I used appliances from one of Thermador’s sister brands in my last house, am keenly aware of Wellborn’s family owned “Made in the USA” status, and was eager to see what’s new from both companies.

Let’s start with a look at the latest introductions from appliance giant Thermador, because, to be honest, big, bold, and shiny always catches my eye. Ask any jewelry store security team in the world town and it’s likely they have video stills of me lingering too long over the gems inside their perfectly lit counters.

It’s like drawing a moth to a flame and my name is probably on a watch list titled “Looks, Never Buys.”

There is an art and science behind the lighting in jewelry cases and it’s all meant to throw out a line, catch you with a hook, and then reel you in. I may not always buy, but I do take the window shopping bait every time.

Beautiful appliances are like jewelry to me, so you can imagine being easily captivated by one of Thermador’s newest features, LED lamps illuminating the controls on its wide selection of ranges. The best thing about this innovation is that it’s a highly functional feature which also happens to make the pretty part even prettier:: Continue reading “What’s New:: Thermador and Wellborn Debut 2017 Lines at KBIS”

Nate Berkus:: 2017 Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville

AGShow2017-SocialGraphic-7 Nate Berkus - The Things That Matter - livethefinelife.com

I’ve had a couple of close encounters with Nate Berkus over the last few years an am about to have another one at the 2017 Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville, running February 3-5 at the sculptural wonder that is Music City Center. Nate is the keynote speaker in a lecture series filled with design powerhouses. I’ll give you more details in a minute.

Actually, make it five minutes and we’re good. I have a Nate story to tell first, heaven help you.

The first time our eyes met was in 2002. Nate was sitting on a stage in Chicago talking to directly to me about design, while I was sitting on my behind in Nashville, watching him on Oprah. I was smitten. It was easy to see how much of his heart he put into the designs he executed for her lucky fans, especially for those coming out of trying times or people in tough situations. The joy he received from transforming people’s homes was palpable and infectious.

The first time I actually saw Nate in person, the encounter had nothing to do with design…or Oprah. My husband and I were in Las Vegas for a business conference in Summer 2004. We had a little free time one evening and, since it was over 100º outside, decided to have dinner at one of our hotel’s indoor *outdoor patio* restaurants.

I swear, the architecture and design of Vegas’ casinos confounds me sometimes. 

I graduated from design school a few weeks before the trip and a getaway to anywhere was a welcome change. As we sat on sidewalk in Italy, enjoying our delicious Italian dinner under a beautiful, star filled Italian sky, an absolutely adorable couple strolling down the cobblestone street caught my eye. They were so full of light, I couldn’t help but stare at them.

Staring itself is unusual for me. Growing up in a city full of famous people, you learned not to stare or interrupt celebrities who were out just trying to enjoy their lives like everyone else. In Nashville, it’s considered inappropriate to fan girl Faith Hill at the mall or Keith Urban in the pizza line at Whole Foods. You learn to smile at them, like you would anyone else, and go on about your business. That’s why people with as much notoriety as Nicole Kidman feel so comfortable settling down here.

Anyway, it’s 2004 and I’m in Vegas, sitting in a fake Italian world, downing some pasta and staring like a crazy woman at two beautiful men, when one of the two looked back at me and smiled. It suddenly hit me I was staring at Nate Berkus. That dazzling smile snapped me out of my trance and I smiled back. He and his partner, photographer Fernando Bengoechea, laden with shopping bags, were having what appeared to be an animated and engaging conversation.

They radiated joy.

I remember telling my husband how nice it was to see two people so genuinely happy together. He had no clue who either of them were at the time but became painfully aware a few months later, when their Christmas vacation in Sri Lanka made the news after a 9.1 earthquake in the Indian Ocean caused the worst tsunami in modern history, sweeping Fernando and more than 250,000 other souls into the sea.

I vividly recall watching as Nate, speaking publicly about the devastating event for the first time, told Oprah what he saw and how it affected him in 2005. It was a gut wrenching interview. Here’s a short clip from the episode::


Fast forward to 2012. The hilarious Canadian duo Joy and Janet of Moggit Girls ran a contest to give away signed copies of Nate’s new book “The Things That Matter.” Mine was the first name they pulled out of their antique bin.

Winning! In few days, the book was in my hands and once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

The majority of design books are either about the designers, the elements of their style, or the spaces they transform. “The Things That Matter” is about the clients who inhabit the homes Nate designs and the things they surround themselves with.

Nate Berkus to Headline 2017 Antiques and Garden Show in Nashville via livethefinelife.com nate-berkus-things-that-matter
The Things That Matter  

He opens the book by telling his life’s journey and taking the reader on a tour of his home. He also shares how he continues to honor Fernando’s memory in his home’s design and in his life. Again I was moved to tears, recalling how joy-filled they were that night in Italy Vegas.

Some of his most interesting and eclectic clients open up and share their stories too, making for a very compelling read, well beyond a typical design book. The Things That Matter is actually more of a memoir about life, as seen through the lens of the things we choose to hold on to. It just happens to have some very beautiful photos and intimate stories about people and their homes.

The home of Chris Gardner, author of "The Pursuit of Happiness." nate-berkus-chris-gardner-things-that-matter via livethefinelife.com
The home of Chris Gardner, author of “The Pursuit of Happiness.” The Things That Matter
"The Things That Matter" nate-berkus-ruth-westheimer-things-that-matter via livethefinelife.com
The home of Dr. Ruth Westheimer. The Things That Matter

Fast forward again, this time to January 10, 2017. I was in Orlando with Modenus’ Blog Tour for the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS). We got to the convention center early that morning and I had a few minutes to kill before the Champagne and Cupcakes opening reception with industry newcomer Signature Kitchens, the luxury appliance division of LG. The majority of attendees hadn’t made their way to the show yet, so things were pretty quiet.

I love that bit of time, as it gives you a chance to photograph product before people start stepping into your shot filling up the booths.

The Orange County Convention Center is huge, so I knew I could only move within a limited area without getting separated from the rest of my group. As I walked around a corner, who should appear but Nate Berkus. He was filming a video for his collaborative venture with LG.

Nate Berkus - KBIS 2017- ©ksandler 1000px
Filming for LG Studio

I stood behind his press and camera crew for a few minutes, as they shot the spot. When they decided to do another take, I stepped forward a foot or two and raised my camera at exactly 8:01am EST (it’s not weird to know, it’s embedded in the photo’s info), right as Nate looked straight at me and gave me a second flash of his beautiful smile. I had once chance to get it right.

Nate Berkus - January 10 2017 - KBIS 2017- ©ksandler 1000px
I love this photo!

When I got the chance to see what I’d captured, my first thought involved hurling curse words aimed at the video crew’s lighting bouncing off the back wall of the booth. My second thought was how comforting – how remarkable, really – to know that someone who experienced tremendous loss, and witnessed horrendous tragedy on an enormous scale, eventually stepped back into his life and found a way to be happy again.

You can see it in his eyes.

Now married with a young daughter and a new television show debuting this fall, Nate is a shining–literally, because he’s one of those people who are lit from within–example that experiencing great loss doesn’t have to mean your life is over. You can choose your own path to healing. One read of his book and you know Mr. Berkus spent quite awhile regaining his footing after the tsunami, but he never gave up hope and now has an even richer life as a reward.

I look forward to hearing what he has to say on Friday morning and hearing from others in the afternoon, as well as the assuredly strong design opinions of a slew of megawatt design stars on Saturday and Sunday, and seeing loads of incredible antiques and beautiful gardens. I’ll be sharing straight from the show on my IG feed, in Instagram Stories, and will post here about my favorite finds soon.

In its 27th year, the Antiques and Garden Show is one of the largest in the country, drawing dealers, buyers, and lookers from coast to coast. If you’d like to attend – you won’t be sorry! – I put the requisite ticket and show info below.

I also scattered affiliate links (I might earn a very small commission) to his book in this post, in case you want to take your own copy for him to sign after his Q & A on Friday. They will have books available for purchase on site, but, with an event as popular as the Antiques and Garden Show, there’s always a chance they’ll sell out.

Stranger things have happened.

If you see me there, please say hello!






American interior designer, author and television personality, Nate Berkus, will headline the Keynote Program at the 27th annual Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville at the Music City Center, 201 5th Ave S, February 3 – 5.

Each year, the Antiques and Garden Show presents more than 150 fine antiques and horticultural dealers, making it the largest show of its kind in the country. Proceeds from the show will benefit Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art and the charities of the Economic Club of Nashville (ECON).

Berkus, a renowned interior designer, who has transformed countless homes around the world through his design work, home collections, books, and television shows will present his take on the show’s theme this year – Cultivated Style – on Friday, February 3 at 11 a.m.

“Your home should tell the story of who you are. What you love most, collected and assembled in one place,” Berkus says. “Whether it’s a family heirloom, or a piece you found on your travels. Everywhere your eye goes in your home, it should land on something that resonates.”

Berkus will sign copies of his book, The Things That Matter, following his presentation.

Other notable participants at the show include:

  • Brooke and Steve Giannetti, California-based design duo and authors of Patina Style and Patina Farm
  • Mary McDonald, an LA-based award-winning interior designer and star of Bravo TV’s “Million Dollar Decorators” and “Property Envy”
  • Robert Leleux, author and founder of the Southern Style Now Festival
  • Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller, interior design power couple behind Carrier and Company Interiors in New York City and authors of Carrier and Company: Positively Chic Interiors
  • Nathan Turner, California-based interior designer and special projects editor at Architectural Digest
  • Tara Guérard, Charleston-based award winning wedding and event planner

General Chairmen Linda Graham and Mary Smith said the line-up of speakers was chosen because of the diversity of their design backgrounds.

“From traditional architecture, landscape and interior design to wedding and event planning, the speakers this year have such unique design styles.” Graham said. ” We want attendees to be entertained and take home a few tips from some of the top designers in the country.”

This year, the show will be larger than ever and celebrate Gil Schafer of G. P. Schafer Architect, PLLC as Honorary Chairman.

“Gil has served on our national advisory board for years and has always been a loyal patron of the show,” said Smith. “We are thrilled to honor him to say thank you for all of his contributions to the show.”

Tickets are now available at www.antiquesandgardenshow.com. For the latest show updates and speaker schedule, follow the Antiques & Garden Show of Nashville on Facebook, Twitter (@antiquesgarden) and Instagram (@antiquesandgardenshow).

About the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville

The Antiques & Garden Show of Nashville is an annual charity event whose purpose is to raise funds for Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art and the Economic Club of Nashville (ECON) charities, by exhibiting the highest quality antiques, landscaped gardens, and horticultural items and by offering a related educational outreach program. Learn more at antiquesandgardenshow.com.

Kitchen and Bath Innovations from DXV at KBIS 2017

Kitchen and Bath Innovations from DXV at KBIS 2017 via livethefinelife.com

Hello! I hope the New Year is treating you well. After a bit of a trade show hiatus, I popped into Orlando mid-January with the team from Modenus, Blog Tour sponsors DXV, Grohe, American Standard, Metrie, Mohawk, Thermador, Wellborn, Wilsonart, and 23 other designers, for Design and Construction Week (DCW) 2017.

DCW combines the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) with the International Builder Show (IBS), and offers designers, architects, builders, and trades the chance to see the latest innovations in everything from knobs and hinges, to sinks and tubs, to roofing and flooring all under one — scratch that thought, it was actually under three roofs.

#blogtourkbis 2017
This is less than half of our crew. They let my Food Baby come along for free, but I swear it’s not this big. Next time, will someone please remind me to stand up when wearing something both striped and flowy? Thanks.

Our mission on this trip was to explore the massive halls of the Orange County Convention Center to discover the latest and greatest product innovations at KBIS. You’d think after so many attending so many design trade shows, my choice of footwear would be a wise one. Having only one bone jarring day was a blessing — I came really close to getting it right this time — and must admit, having missed the last two shows, I seriously underestimated the amount of growth and the number of new suppliers in the home building industry.

The kitchen, bath, and building scene is booming, y’all!

Upon hitting the convention floor (a beast that deserves its own comfort footwear line), it became clear why there were 24 designers on this trip. There are so many vendors vying for their share of the market, our job was to divide and conquer in order to report back as much as we could with our clients and readers.

I’m usually ready to head home after three days of exploring new product, but actually felt like I needed more time on this trip! There was so much to see, another two days would’ve done the trick. There was surprisingly little overwhelm and lots of oohs and awes, all duly noted for next year.

Design is How - ©Kathy Sandler livethefinelife.com 2017

I spent at least half of one day exploring the booth of tour sponsor DXV. It is the luxury division of LIXIL Americas:

LIXIL Americas is the business unit under which American Standard, DXV, and GROHE operate. LIXIL Americas is part of LIXIL, the most comprehensive and connected global company in the housing and building industry. Operating in 150 countries and employing 80,000 people, LIXIL’s mission is to bring together function, quality, and design to provide better living solutions to the world today and for future generations.

At LIXIL, we use the power of water to make things that matter for people and communities around the world. That’s why we embrace quality, design, engineering, function, and reliability – a maker’s mindset and common purpose shared across our brands and throughout our history.

It’s safe to say LIXIL knows water and the DXV brand knows luxury. They know how to build a buzz too.

In 2013, the geniuses of the North American marketing team decided to launch a social media program they named “#topsecret.” They kept it under wraps for months, after choosing six designers to create sets using DXV themed plumbing suites as inspiration, to be photographed and used during the brand’s showroom launch.

Obviously, it’s not a secret anymore so I can share what I was witness to in 2014.

In New York City with an international group of designers, we attended the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, Wanted, and NYCxDesign. Foot cramp. These fabulous events all coincide for a reason, to give designers the chance to see what’s new from the usual suspects and get the opportunity to meet up and coming makers without making three separate trips to the city.

The marketing team at DXV saw opportunity in syncing their grand opening with the other major design events going on that week. Their flagship showroom is in a boutique space on W. 20th Street, in the Flatiron District. On a humid evening in May, we made our way to the reception. By that time, #topsecret’s buzz was so loud, the crowd was SRO, unless you were smart enough to snag a bathtub.

DXV Grand Opening Party NYC 2014 via livethefinelife.com Photos: http://chasenwest.tumblr.com.
Veronica Miller, Mary Douglas Drysdale, Carole Poirot, and Toma (In the Tub) Clark Haines at the 2014 DXV Grand Opening Party

The launch was a smashing success and DXV just announced the Design Panel for 2017 at a reception held in the Social Lounge at KBIS. It was an SRO event too. After past designers were introduced, I stood in the back and teared up as two friends and two other designers were introduced to the crowd. Who’d believe kitchen and bath business would make you cry in a good way?

Kitchen and Bath Innovations from DXV at KBIS 2017 via livethefinelife.com
DXV announces its 2017 Design Panel during KBIS in Orlando. Congrats Michele Alfano!

Part of the excitement came from truly being overjoyed for the new Panelists, while the rest came from a new twist the company added this year.

The gurus behind the original launch of #topsecret made videos of the spaces for the flagship opening and for promoting the 2014/2015/2016 design teams and the products they used in their projects. The showroom was so crowded opening night, I’m not sure how many people got to see the videos that night. (They are beautiful and all online for viewing on DXV’s YouTube channel)

The 2016 team lucked up. Instead of just photographing and disassembling the photo sets, an expensive undertaking, DXV decided to keep parts of the sets to use during trade shows. It was a genius idea, as booth design is an important draw in such a crowded field.

The 2017 Design Panel definitely has its work cut out for it, with six months to execute from concept to completion, but there is also so much to look forward to, as the realized sets from 2016 were a big hit with the kitchen and bath crowd!

DXV Design Panel 2017

You’ll find snaps of my favorite elements from DXV’s booth in my Instagram feed. I took a ton of photos, but there were things from the original photo and video shoots that didn’t make their way to Orlando. (It’s beg and borrow for styling sometimes, y’all.) I really want you to see and appreciate the full concept and understand each designers design and intent, so my images won’t suffice.

Take a quick tour of all four spaces with the 2016 Design Panelists themselves, all inspired by cities with a unique flair, then meet me in the comments to share your favorite space or ask me any sourcing questions.

Here we go!

Inspired by Miami:: Genevieve Ghaleb for XYContemporary

Genevieve-Ghaleb-XYContemporary-DXV-2016-Design-Panel via livethefinelife.com

Inspired by Palm Springs:: Beth Dotolo and Carolina Gentry for Pulp Design Studios

Beth Dotolo and Carolina Gentry, Pulp Studios for DXV 2016

New York, New York:: Richard Anuszkiewicz for Richar Living

Kitchen and Bath Innovations from DXV at KBIS 2017 via livethefinelife.com

Inspired by Charleston:: Susan Jamieson for Bridget Beari Designs

Susan Jamieson, ASID of Bridget Beari Designs for DXV 2016

So tell me, do you have a favorite style or did any particular elements strike a chord with you? Maybe you’re like me and love a little bit of this, and a whole lotta that. It doesn’t make us crazy, because the designs are so well thought out, it’s pretty hard to choose. Let’s say we are eclectic and call it a draw. Or, we could go draw something.

Your choice. Either way, it’s January and that means we all flex our muscles for a few weeks, so let’s work it out in the comment section.

Wishing you a beautifully designed New Year,






Disclosure:: DXV/LIXIL was a sponsor of BlogTourKBIS 2017. No products or favors were exchanged for this blog post. As always, all opinions are my own and long winded.

Kitchen and Bath Innovations from DXV at KBIS 2017 via livethefinelife.com
Susan Jamieson, ASID of Bridget Beari Designs for DXV 2016

Life = Style:: Apply a Contemporary Mindset to Your Home’s Design

Progress on the SDG Cottage is slow. As I continue to search for the best builder and products for our little project, the universe keeps interjecting its opinion on budgets and timing. I’m learning to roll with it and trust that we’re headed in the right direction at the right time. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but keeping an attitude of gratitude helps.

Today, I’m grateful to Jay Libby, the Creative Services Manager for Andersen Windows. Finding the right windows at the best price has been a challenge, as the ones in our 76 year-old cottage aren’t energy-efficient, are either warped or rotting, and don’t let in nearly enough light.

Today’s manufacturing processes give us access to leak free, energy-saving, light emitting options. Jay agreed to step in and share his tips on how to choose the right windows for your home and lifestyle::

As the world shrinks, the line dividing our home life from the rest of our lives also blurs. There’s a trend shifting from reserving the home for a single set of functions to expanding its utility to encompass work, play, and nurturing family connections. Contemporary home design principles have evolved over the past century to reflect this – rather than taking its cues from historic procedures or precedent, contemporary home design is rooted in the belief that a home should be a “machine for the living.”

No opportunity for functionality is overlooked with a contemporary design, and that includes windows. Every aspect of the building materials is considered for how its raw form contributes to a design that – rather than dictating how you live in the space – can shift to support how you want to live in your home and the lifestyle you desire.

Visible from both inside & out, the size, placement and function of each window is a critical factor in defining a home for its inhabitants, guests and the community. It also contributes to the evolving functionality of spaces within a structure. Some guidelines for any new build or remodel that bring contemporary sensibility to your home’s overall style include:

1. Deliver light as far into the space as possible: when utilized correctly, the constantly changing light that flows through windows can transform an interior. Balancing the placement of windows to deliver natural light as far into a built structure accomplishes one of the primary principles of contemporary design: serve a utilitarian purpose, not a decorative one.

2. Promote indoor air quality: Proper ventilation for a home goes beyond opening a window or two. Stacked ventilation, for example, utilizes roof windows in combination with wall windows, creating updrafts that funnel warm air outdoors and away from living areas. Interior window openings can help channel fresh air to a home’s more remote locations.

anderson windows via livethefinelife.com
400 Series Gliding Windows and Picture Windows:: Modern Home Style

3. Minimize ornamentation to maximize impact: With the right positioning, spectacular scenery can become the focus of a room, even the focus of a home. Whether as a huge picture window or a perfectly aligned group of smaller windows, this reinforces a home’s connection to its surroundings and is commonly referred to as managing the view.

4. Erase the divide between interior and exterior: Walls of windows or patio doors can help connect the interior of a home with the immediate surroundings. Thresholds are minimized, roof lines blend into tree lines, and outdoor spaces become your expanded living space.

5. Knowing which windows match a contemporary style is key to achieving that contemporary look. To that end, this free site connects home styles and the proper windows based on architectural need: https://www.andersenwindows.com/home-styles/#industrial-modern

anderson windows via livethefinelife.com
Andersen Architectural Collection E-Series Awning and Picture windows with Pine Interiors.
New Residential Constructions
Home Style Modern

It’s easy to appreciate the simple elegance of contemporary design principles, as well as the brilliance of the premise: rather than dictating how you live, a contemporary home’s open spaces & clean lines are really a blank canvas ready to bloom with the colors of the life you live. A contemporary home can grow with you from integrating work life connections to expanding for family members young and old, and even simplifying life in later years. This evolving definition is what helps keep contemporary design contemporary, and relevant for any lifestyle.

– Jay Libby

With more than 30 years of experience in product design and design research, Jay Libby knows windows. I’m grateful he took the time to share his insights. I learned a little something and hope you did too!

True Story:: I’m feeling a little envious of those mountain views seen through Andersen’s windows at the moment and hoping the homeowners know how blessed they are. Right now, I’m looking at a brick wall. Seriously. It’s the side of the building across from our rental apartment. It blocks the sun and is the one thing that makes me miss my old house and look forward to the new one at the same time.

Tell me about your view. Is it mountain, beach, rooftop, alley, or backyard? What makes your view special? If, like mine, your view isn’t up to snuff, what do you need change in order to make it the view of your dreams?

Do me a solid and say a little prayer that things start to fall into view at the cottage? I need all the help I can get!

With gratitude,






Author’s Note: I was not compensated for this post in way, shape, or form. No money or product was exchanged or offered. The information presented was written and photography distributed by Andersen Windows.

Ambiente 2016:: Celebrating the Makers

Ambiente 2016:: Celebrating the Makers

I recently had the pleasure of attending Ambiente, the world’s largest trade show for all things Dining, Living, and Giving, held annually in Frankfurt, Germany.

All of the big players gather at Ambiente––I had the honor of meeting Crown Prince Carl Phillipe of Sweden and boy, cue the sarcasm, was he hard to look at!––but I chose to focus the guest post on the independent makers. The innovators featured are all self-starters risking everything to bring their dreams to life, and their courage and determination is admirable.

Before I send you over to their website to see my top picks, take a look at this extraordinary, museum quality, handmade tablecloth, commissioned by Donatella Versace for the launch of Versace’s newest tabletop collection.

Ambiente 2016:: Celebrating the Makers #designhounds #ambiente2016

Covered in hand sewn shells, pearls, beads, sequins, and metallic embroidery, it is a work of art. A very large cloth, it covered the table and puddled heavily on the floor.

I wanted to roll in it.

10 people spent 2 months applying every incredible detail by hand. Lightly scattered on the top of the cloth, the decorative elements gradually gain in density on the drape, giving the work a lush ombre effect.

It is simply stunning::

Ambiente 2016:: Celebrating the Makers #designhounds

I heard the final cost was over $150,000, but don’t quote me on that. Let’s just call it an educated guesstimate.

After a tour of the major European trade shows, it was returned to the Versace family.

No doubt, it will become a featured piece in their archives and I hope they used it for at least one celebratory dinner before packing it up for safe keeping.

I’d be grateful if you pop over to Ambiente’s blog to see the work of three up and coming innovators. They are but a few of the incredibly talented creatives getting ready to make their mark in the world. You really don’t want to miss The Cube. It’s a mechanical and design marvel!

Sequins and beads forever,