About Me

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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, April 15, 2009

Kitchen Appliances, How Much is Too Much?

As the Kitchen Remodeling industry is beginning to show signs of life after the long winter, I am faced with the age old question: How much should I spend on new appliances?

This is a very personal decision, and the answers to this potential dilemma are simple: "whatever you like" or as the NKBA suggests 15 percent of your overall budget, or yet again somewhere in between. A quick check of retail appliance prices will confirm that it's easy to spend $15,000 on the essential appliances. See specific examples in this quick reference Kitchen Remodeling Guide.

I can tell you that the major league appliance players in the all-star lineup, are doing a bang up job whetting the appetites of consumers for their top shelf wares. I almost never leave a preliminary design appointment without having heard the names:

  • Viking
  • Wolf
  • AGA
  • Gaggenau
  • Blue star
  • Sub-Zero
  • Bertazzoni
  • Perlick
  • Thermador
  • Heartland

    I love these brands, for the features and the look, the colors and the versatility. Hearing my client wants to have the 30" Viking self cleaning oven as their kitchen centerpiece is like music to my ears. But if their total budget is $30,000 for the entire kitchen, and they have to replace their flooring, upgrade their electrical panel, add new lighting, solid surface counter tops, and new cabinets, the math won't work.

    How we as professionals handle this moment of realization is critical, these artfully designed appliances our clients want are unceremoniously plunked in the kitchens of "average" TV sitcom families, tucked into photo layouts in home fashion magazines, and featured daily on HGTV.

    If you deliver this information with a thud, you may never hear from your prospective client again. They may buy a kitchen, and they may downsize their appliance budget, and take your advice, but if you aren't gentle and dont offer creative and helpful alternative solutions they won't buy from you.This is where tact and good planning become crucial.

    I recommend the following:

  • have pre-specified and priced appliance packages at various price points available to show your clients. Don't make them wait, offer it up.
  • Make sure you photograph kitchens where your clients have used reasonably priced alternatives such as:
    Electrolux, Kitchen Aid, or GE Cafe series
  • Feature these kitchen photos prominently in your showroom. When the kitchen is admired, you can point out that the appliance were at a considerable savings allowing for other upgrades.
  • If you don't offer appliances, an appliance retailer near your showroom will undoubtedly partner with you and provide marketing materials to assist with your clients.
  • Use this retailer (he/she is now your good friend a.k.a.:Appliance Guru) to refer your clientele to, and always give them time to prepare with advance notice that you are sending someone over.
  • Advise them of the reasonable spend limit so your Appliance Guru can safeguard your plan for your client, making sure the expectations substantially met, or better yet exceeded.
  • Best practice:go with your client, but let the appliance people be the experts.

    If the NKBA suggests 15 percent of the budget be set aside for appliances, that means that on a $45,000 kitchen you have approximately $6800 to spend. Why do I say approximately, because 15% is a suggestion, not a law, and we can trim down some other expenses in favor of a Sub-Zero refrigerator if it's been wanted forever and it makes the dream kitchen come true. What we don't want to do is drain the well so dry that we have to use the refrigerator box as a pantry when we're done!