My Story

Judith A. Neary, CMKBD

Judith A. Neary, CMKBD

Principal Designer

Judith is a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD). Her career began at the age of four, designing block furniture and clothing for her troll dolls.

She eventually grew up. After graduating design school, she focused her career in medical, hospitality and commercial design. Thanks to the troll dolls she discovered a passion for custom woodworking, cabinetry and furniture design.

She found a new creative challenge working with a national retailer in merchandising, design and training. Her responsibilities included development and implementation of business processes, installation programs, showroom space planning and design. She then took advantage of a career change and moved to the manufacturing side of the business, reigniting her first passion for custom woodworking, cabinetry and furniture design.

As one of the professional instructors for the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), she offered a comprehensive learning experience to international markets. She is an honorary member of the Jenn-Air Design Advisory Council. In service for eight years, she and other noted design professionals provided feedback from a designer perspective on the Jenn-Air appliance brand as well as other Whirlpool Corporation brands.

Judith contributes to trade publications for the industry by writing on a variety of topics of interest for both the design professional and homeowner. She frequently co-lectures across North America with Corey Klassen about the business side of interior design to other like-minded industry professionals. Judith and Corey are regularly featured guests of LuAnn Nigara on her podcasts “A Well-Designed Business”.

Her design practice celebrates the eclectic arts and food-avore culture of the Vashon Island community where her studio and home is located. Judith is known for doing “weird” really well.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Should I hire a design professional to help me with my project even though I know what I want because I saw it on Houzz?

Consider a professional designer as the third leg of the stool; you have the contractor, homeowner and designer. A professional designer can interpret the vision you have for your home. Contractors are going to ask for details. A professional designer can provide those details and help streamline the process.

How do I find the right designer?

It’s just like trying to find the right contractor. Every designer will have their particular “zone of genius”.  Some may be good at interior furnishings, others may specialize in kitchen and bath design, some may be architects focusing on interiors. Because you will be working with them over an extended period of time it’s important to find the right fit for your personality and your project. A seasoned professional designer will make the project about you and not about them. In other words, they should be helping you with your vision - not imposing their personal vision of what they think you should have.

How much do you charge?

Here is my philosophy; every project is as unique as the homeowner and their expectations. So, my services should adapt to the project requirements and the homeowners needs. I use a “Menu of Services” for each project customizing my skills for the homeowners and contractors expectations.  I offer a complementary initial consultation, this is best when the conversation is in the home. From that meeting I develop a proposal on how we can work together. 

Why Should I Hire A Licensed Contractor When I Can Do It Myself?

The perception is that if you do it yourself you save money. In some instances, this has a positive other instances, not so much.  Every project has innumerable variables that contribute to a positive outcome. Hiring a licensed trade professional is one of those variables. Think of it as a surgical procedure – do you want to hire the person that has “some power tools” or do you want a qualified surgeon with a team?

How Do I Identify The Right Contractor For My Project?

Every contractor has a “zone of genius”. An example would be one contractor might be specialized in new construction, another contractor might be a handyman and only handle minor repairs. Another contractor might focus on remodels that include kitchen and baths. Some factors to consider in finding the right contractor; the overall project and your personality. They’re going to be in your home for a long time because some projects take a while. Make sure that it’s a good match professionally and personally.

What Should Do Before I Hire The Contractor?

There are many things but here are a few that are important. In today’s world many people rely on a handshake or a text message that says, “let’s go ahead”. Always have a contract in place even if it’s a Letter of Agreement or a fully disclosed Contract. Always ask for referrals, both good and bad. Every project is going to go in a ditch or hit a bump in the road. It’s about how they navigate out of the ditch or over the that bump and finish the project. Ask the contractor for a project calendar with a start date and a possible end date. This is important because you’ll know what to expect over the course of the project. New construction has a different calendar than a remodel. Expect that the calendar is always going to change because of unforeseen circumstances.

Why Does It Cost So Much?

Consider where we live, the cost of materials and goods, the shortage of labor and housing and a very busy remodeling economy.

As A Homeowner, I Don’t Understand Why It’s So Complicated And It Should Take So Long?

The number one delay in any project are unexpected issues with the site. Number two is the homeowner’s ability to make decisions; decisions must be made in order for the project to proceed. Changing your mind changes the outcome. Another factor is the availability of subcontractors at key points in the project – they may be on another project that has been delayed.