Some Thoughts on Kitchen Design
I have had the privilege of being involved in the kitchen cabinet business since 1976 when I first apprenticed as a cabinet maker. My career has taken me down a rather twisted road - from cabinet maker to kitchen designer to regional sales management to design training and back again. Through those years I watched the industry mature and the effects of computerization on both the industry and our society in general.
Computerization has taken the cabinet industry from a limited mass production process to an industry that can offer a huge array of custom products on a very limited time schedule - all made to order. It's kind of like McDonald's except people order something different every time but it is still made quickly (some companies knock out custom cabinets in 2 weeks which, believe me, is fast!)
When I first started selling cabinets back in 1980 I had 3 door styles to offer in any wood (as long as it was oak) and 3 stains. Life was simple. Today, even with my most "limited" line (Mid Continent Cabinetry) I offer over 650 different ways your kitchen can look. Starmark and Ultracraft increase my offering to over 10,000 ways! It has become confusing for both my clients and myself.
This is why I conduct a consumer class called "The 3 F's of Kitchen Design" to help people get a feel for the process. The principles and issues I deal with are:
- Feeling - Aesthetics is all about how it makes you feel. So, when trying to choose a style and design focus on the feeling it gives you, not how it looks visually.
- Function - Form follows function - this is a basic rule of designing anything. First, you have to make sure it is functional. Then you make it look and feel good. When confronted with a choice of good function or good form, most often you'll be best served voting for the function.
- Finances - You can spend as little (almost) or as much as you want. Ask yourself just what you are trying to achieve. Set a budget and then knock off 15% to cover contingencies (the national average overage is 15%!). Things tend to get more expensive than planned and then there are the "while-we-are-at-it" add ons that always show up.
Finally, (and pardon me if I sound like I am preaching) remember cabinets, boiled down, are simply boxes we put things in and countertops are simply places we work on top of. I can cook one heck of a meal over a camp fire with very primitive tools and almost any kitchen gives us better tools than that. I have had clients get ulcers over their project but these boxes aren't worth your health! So, relax and enjoy the process, even when it gets messy. After all, at least we have the privilege, freedom and wherewithal to go ahead with the project. Many less fortunate people in the world would love to have the problems associated with remodeling or building a new home. We have much to be thankful for and in light of that even the problems we encounter in this process are what I like to call "high-class problems. :)