During the process of my daughter Kelly's kitchen remodel, I juggled a number of roles: mom, professional kitchen designer, experienced contractor, friend and grandmother. It's been important that I be hyper-aware of what my roles are, what these roles should ideally look like, and when (and most important, why) each role should emerge. My role as design professional kicked in first and foremost—as I do with all of my clients, I laid out pros and cons for Kelly and her husband to mull over, talk through and ultimately decide on together.
That means Kelly deserved the choices any of my clients would receive—choices in design, products, color, texture and finish. She also deserved a designer's objectivity on pros and cons of those potential choices—such as whether an induction cooktop would be better than a gas one as we picked out appliances. As her designer (and mom and friend), I had her back throughout the process. She listened to me, I listened to her, and when she felt she agonized a bit too much or worried about how this or that nuance would affect the overall design, she would snap back to attention and say, "OK, these are first world problems!"
Day four (maybe?) at Kravet's Long Island showroom searching
through endless fabrics. Photo by: Susan Serra
One tricky area to navigate through was the issue of trends. Kelly, like many who are new to the world of kitchen remodeling, wanted an apron sink, subway tile and nearly maxed-out cabinets. As a designer, I knew she needed to see comparisons to really understand the choices and make the best one for her. (It's similar to color—one sees color most easily when two or more colors are compared.) So, Kelly viewed elevation and perspective drawings of her kitchen with and without wall cabinets, open shelving and other design details, which enabled her to experience the feeling (and function) of the kitchen. The realistic photo renderings that Miguel Merida of autokitchen created for us proved invaluable in helping Kelly visualize design options such as the right height and thickness of the long shelf on the refrigerator wall.
One of the autokitchen renderings of the design.
That is how the process works best: select, provide choices, see choices in context, mull over, repeat! Over time, Kelly and Dave forged their own path toward a design that worked best for them. I often played a neutral role, but sometimes struck preemptively with stronger opinions. We took the concept of choices to new heights. While Kelly had selected the cabinet finish and countertop color fairly easily, we went back and forth on the sink finish for an entire week, putting material samples together and looking at them in different lighting conditions.
The light floors evoke a Scandinavian style and provide
a lovely backdrop for the other finishes. Photo by: Susan Serra
Kelly was close, at one point, to selecting a fabulous gold finish for the faucet. We felt we could tie in a gold decorative layer around the kitchen—I suggested adding oil paintings with antique gold frames set against an otherwise modern kitchen, and she visualized other gold-toned accessories to tie in. Soon, black entered into her consciousness, and the march toward black accents began. Once she had selected the Kohler Karbon faucet, there was no turning back! (Although I heartily endorsed the black, part of me does wish we went with that gold finish.) A trip to Kravet's Long Island showroom proved to be an exercise in "how many choices are too many?" I believe we were there five days in a row, combing through a million different concepts in color, texture and pattern.
This vintage Swedish rug from our store influenced
colors and artwork, and added texture to the kitchen.
Early on, Kelly expressed a desire to put her own personal design stamp on the kitchen, which included a foundation of Scandinavian design. But Kelly, like most of us, admires multiple styles! She also likes the urban/industrial look, bold color, pastels, whimsical and formal design...and a touch of farmhouse for good measure, given her home's history as a century-old strawberry farm.
Tune in next week to find out how we were able to pull of this mix of styles—it's the secret sauce to a kitchen with the ultimate in design flexibility!