Change. It’s the one constant in kitchen design. The “out with the old, in with the new” attitude has fueled a robust remodeling market for the better part of three decades and there appears to be no end in sight.
Appearance is the primary motivation for a new kitchen among consumers. Doing away with outdated colors, textures and finishes along with the desire to have a kitchen like one showcased on the makeover TV show du jour is keeping pros and manufacturers in the kitchen and bath industry on their toes.
Farmhouse sinks, commercial dual fuel ranges, hi-tech refrigeration, subway tile, and hand-scraped hardwood floor increasingly dominate the chatter at cocktail parties. As a design professional and kitchen makeover genie, your job is to give your client what they want — provided they have the budget. Right?
Well, sort of. In reality, if you really want to give your customer the best bang for his or her kitchen improvement buck you stay sensitive to their need for sizzle, but prevent them from ending up with the proverbial “pig in a poke.” In simple terms, give your client what they want so long as, at the end of the day, it will appeal to the masses. Why? Well, when it comes time to sell – and for some that time may come unexpectedly or sooner than later – your client will want top dollar and a quick sale. And you can help them achieve that with a sharp, well-design kitchen that has mass appeal.
Keep in mind that “appeal” isn’t skin deep. Safety, accessibility, comfort and convenience are the “steak” of design. A high bar top may be appealing for the occasional party, but it has become a huge obstacle for our aging society. More generous traffic spaces, easy to use faucets and appliances, easy access cabinet interiors, and maintenance free finishes are features that resonate with most buyers.
So, when your customer tries to talk you into designing that “makeover show” kitchen, remind them that you, as a design professional, will do your best to be a good steward of their precious resources by incorporating sound design principles such as those advocated by the National Kitchen Bath Industry and other leading industry trade associations. Assure them that you’ll work hard to design the kitchen of their dreams and, without denying them the appreciable return on investment that is the hallmark of a new kitchen.
Selling sensible design to younger buyers can be especially daunting. They don’t mind getting up on step stools or getting down on bended knee to search for the elusive pot, pan or plate. They aren’t as bothered by bruises from bumped hips due to narrow paths and good lighting isn’t as important as it will be someday. Your job is to remind them that mom or dad may commune with them some day. And, if they say that they would NEVER live under the same roof with their folks, mention that someday a good, qualified buyer who just happens to be a baby boomer with cash and a quick close may approach them.