By: Lucy Morrissey

Kerri White, a student in the kitchen and bath design program, drafts during class. Fourteen in the program are preparing for a design contest.

Kerri White isn’t the best cook, she’ll admit, and so she doesn’t find designing a functioning kitchen an easy feat – especially not when it must be done within three hours.

Fourteen students from the one-year kitchen and bath design program will contend in the GE-sponsored National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) Design Charette on Dec. 6 for the first time, a contest requiring they review a client questionnaire and draft a kitchen in just three hours.

Programs either NKBA-supported or accredited have a chance at winning the Charette scholarships, ranging from $1,000 for honourable mentions and $5,000 for first place. Also, three Algonquin students will each walk away with a $50 gift card and an NKBA certificate of achievement.

The students have been preparing for the Charette, bearing in mind the act of prioritizing, which can help them come out on top.

“I’m not a very good cook to begin with, so it’s challenging to find good work flow (creating layouts),” said White, a competing kitchen and design student. Before enrolling in the program, she took cabinet-making at Algonquin.

Subsequently, White said she’s more comfortable building rather than designing kitchens.

“Don’t panic,” said Lorin Russell, kitchen design professor, displaying a 19-page package in front of his students, similar to what they will be eyeing on Dec. 6. Since they’ll be crunched for time, Russell urged students to focus what they think are the most important parts.

“Sometimes you can’t get everything you need all in one,” said Kayla Beharriell, also a competing kitchen and bath design student, regarding the importance of prioritizing.

It’s crucial too, to comprehend what the client wants, said White, in order to reflect those wishes in the draft.

In this case, students must not solely consider the client’s requests but they must consider who the client is. The competition is sponsored by GE appliances. Consequently, Russell said the students should bear in mind how favourably they’re featuring appliances.

Meeting the NKBA’s standards is also a priority. The students have studied the NKBA rules weeks prior to the competition, however, they won’t be given the task at hand until the day of the challenge.

“With our assignments, our projects, I’ve been kind of thinking about what I would like to do in the Charette. I’ve also been looking at past competitions, just trying to see what it was asking for,” said Julie Dinnissen, another competing student.

Soon after the competition wraps, the projects will be shipped to and viewed at head office by industry professionals. They’ll judge whether the students have met the NKBA’s standards – an accomplishment that will aid the program in moving from a supported program to a NKBA-certified program, said Sandra Gibbons, the program coordinator.

“I think they’ll be nervous, but I think they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment,” said Gibbons, adding the students won’t necessarily have only three hours to draft, working in the industry, but there is a sense of urgency working with clients.