About Me

My photo
I have 20+ years experience in Home Furnishings and Interior Design, specializing in Kitchen and Bath Design since '01. I work for Bilotta Kitchens in the A&D Building on East 58th Street in the Mid-town Manhattan. I have a passion for learning and love the opportunity to collaberate on projects of all sizes. My strengths in the field begin with my design background, use of color and texture to bring interest to a room, spatial relationships, organizational skills, innovation, decisiveness, and planning. I have had the thrilling experience of helping hundreds...?maybe thousands of people with their projects, and what I love is it never gets boring, and no two are ever the same. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Changing Kitchen Customer

Quality craftsmanship and professional remodeling have inherent value, you get tremendous benefit from a new kitchen when it is well designed and properly installed. Taking shortcuts in the process and product will only shortchange you and your investment in the end. After all, most homeowners look at their house as part of their future financial rewards, a nest egg.

As a
Kitchen Designer, sometimes my profession can be viewed as a "fat" that can be trimmed away in lean times. After all I am a leap of faith, and from the moment my client engages my services, I have to prove my worth. I quietly point out that I pay for myself many times over when I save you from making mistakes in your new kitchen, either costly to fix, or unsightly and inconvenient to live with.

Hiring a professional designer or a remodeling company that provides a designer you should expect:

  • detailed measurements for project planning
  • best use of space
  • innovative design ideas
  • current industry technology in your design
  • what you have ordered will work
  • you don't pay for excessive material that gets wasted
  • material is right and on time
  • open communication with the crew installing your kitchen
  • a direct line for help when you have a question
  • no "last minute" details that were forgotten
These are benefits the Home Centers can't pitch to you, because if you design your kitchen there, your project may changes hands as many as three or four times before your kitchen ever gets ordered.

Increasingly over the last few months I have received an influx of inquiries from homeowners shopping for design services as a first step in the remodeling process, prior to talking to any contractors. It comes as welcome news when I tell them of installation services we offer at The Kitchendeziner
, we recognize a trend towards design it, sell it, and install it, all in one place. I have been designing in the Millburn/Short Hills area of New Jersey now for over a year and half now, about thirty minutes south of Bergen County where I initially developed my reputation as a kitchen designer. Both areas are saturated with a variety of remodeling "shopportunites" from the entry level Home Center to the Ultra-Boutique experience.

A common complaint I hear from my clients when we first meet is, "No other designer would even talk to us without a retainer." And what I hear from colleagues is "People just aren't buying" and I believe once you take that view, no one will buy from you. I understand that time is money. I have been known to ask a "shopper" who becomes pushy for a copy of my actual design before committing to the project "what do you do that you get paid for, that today you want to do for free?" The truth today is, in this economic climate, if you hold people to money just to talk, you may find yourself very lonely in your showroom.

Less people are out spending money right now, and everyone knows it. And those who are out there shopping, know they can probably get a little more than they would six months ago. What I have also concluded is homeowners are enjoying the design process a little more than before, taking longer, asking more questions, and exploring their options. The current buying behavior is definitely more conservative. If I have to be more inventive, and entertaining to please my customer, then sobeit.

In an attempt to help folks over the buying hump and give them a place to shop for a kitchen that isn't high pressure or intimidating, we have redesigned our showroom with offerings that make sense to today's customer, more smaller displays, beautiful and real, but not over done, showing styles and finishes that range from Contemporary Dark Wenge to a Distressed Glazed Tuscany motif, and all else we have room for in between. The focus is definitely on added value, features like roll out trays, spice storage, base wastebasket pullouts, and customizable cutlery storage. The response has been great, and once they are in on the design, it's very short leap to purchasing our complete installation services.

Offering homeowners the complete service package has been the key to our success in these tougher times. Homeowners want to know what their project will cost when it's done, and they want to know before they begin. We have taken steps to help our clients avoid cost overruns. People are looking to hear that from us, especially with today's economy.

At Empire we take a project from inception to completion offering the client:

  • cabinetry
  • tile back splashes
  • counter top surfaces
  • flooring
  • project management
  • decorating advice
  • engineering/sealed plans
  • dedicated electricians and plumbers
  • in-house crews
  • a detailed project timeline

These are the features that we are offering to put our clients at ease and give them the assurances they are looking for. With as much HGTV as the average kitchen consumer has seen, they are more savvy than they were 5-10 yrs ago, many know what they want when they come in, others take a guidance. Either way the pace of sales has slowed a little for now, the time isn't wasted, we are using it to expand our offerings, improve our services, and get better at what we do best, taking care of our clients, and building great kitchens. Doing anything else now, just wouldn't make sense!