The Burning Issue
“What’s the next big thing in kitchen design?”
The burning issue… at cocktail parties, at fundraisers, in the dentist’s waiting room. When people find out I’m a kitchen designer, this is often the first question they ask.
I understand there’s an element of just making conversation with a new acquaintance. But I also sense that folks really want to know, “Is my current kitchen out of style? Should I pull the trigger on my long-awaited remodel? Will the ‘kitchen of my dreams’ be dated before I get a chance to build it?”
Trust me, I feel the pain. I’ve been through plenty of my own remodels and new construction projects. I understand how psyche-busting and budget-inflating a full-fledged kitchen overhaul can be. Even though I’m a seasoned professional, when it comes to spending my time and money I suffer from my own middle of the night revelations and plenty of pencil sharpening on the financial budget sheets. Certainly, after decades in the business, I’ve helped untold numbers of clients wrestle with the mighty weight of spearheading a once in a lifetime remodel or new build. And in the end, I’ve learned a thing or two about jumping into the deep end of the Humongous Project Pool.
Without exception, my most successful clients achieve their hopes and dreams by following this simple rule: They do their homework.
At our very first meeting, successful clients arrive with a stack of tear sheets. Or, oftentimes, their own Pinterest page of inspiration photos. Honestly, this is never a beautifully curated presentation of their fully actualized human selves, but it’s the first communication of what they like. What catches their eye. What keeps coming up time after time.
A good example of this was the client who tossed me (in utter disgust) a photo of a contemporary red kitchen, then a photo of a traditional white kitchen, then a photo of a hodge-podge of reclaimed stained cabinetry from an architectural salvage yard. The client exclaimed, “See! I told you I have no idea what I like! These are all wonderful!”
As a designer, it’s my job to recognize the common thread in these pictures. Sometimes it’s the quality of the light or the spare countertops or every surface loaded with treasured mementos. In this case, it was as simple as pointing out that every single example features inset cabinetry. “What? I don’t even know what that is! What are you talking about?” the client asked. I explained then we launched into the subtleties of kitchen design. Details were sussed out, trust was established, and a team was born. The next stop was the kitchen of their dreams.
The moral of the story? Help me help you. Give me a budget figure, share your biggest fear. Above all, tell me the thing you’re most desperate for that your partner thinks is silly. Communication is key, followed closely by the ability to build a trustworthy and competent team around your project.
There’s an old saying that goes, “I’m only as strong as the friends I have, the cocktails I drink, and the hairspray I use.” When it comes to completing a satisfying kitchen project, think “I’m only as successful as the team I build.” As luck would have it, the cocktail and hairspray part still applies.
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