For those of you who follow me, you know that I look at Kitchen Design from three view points.
The Art of Kitchen Design, The Science of Kitchen Design and The Business of Kitchen Design.
In Part 3 we will look at the Business of Kitchen Design & Appliances so you can combine all three and no longer have appliances driving you crazy!
To recap, the Art of Kitchen Design & Appliances starts with understanding the four categories of appliances: Free Standing, Built-in, Integrated and Pro Style.
With appliances being such a big part of Kitchen Design, Designers need to know how to successfully design Kitchens with each one of these categories.
Keeping updated with the variety of finishes available for Kitchen Appliances is also important for the Kitchen Designer.
The finish a Kitchen Designer specifies for their client can make the appliances a focal point or have them blend into the design.
The Science of Kitchen Design & Appliances focuses on appliance specifications.
Mastering how to locate, understand and integrate an appliance specification into your Kitchen Design is important for avoiding mistakes.
All of the above installation mistakes are due to not getting the specifications right.
Not only do mistakes like this hurt your reputation, the cost to fix the mistake can erode your bottom line!
For more information on the Science of Kitchen Design & Appliances, check out our FREE course TIPS, TRICKS & TRAPS FOR READING APPLIANCE SPECIFCAITONS
Now that you are familiar with the Art and the Science of Design & Appliances let’s look at the third area:
The Business of Kitchen Design & Appliances
The Business of Kitchen Design & Appliances revolves around two business relationships.
- The Designer/Client Relationship
- The Designer/Retailer, Distributor, Manufacturer Relationship
The Designer/Client Relationship
Ultimately your job as a Kitchen Designer is to mange your client’s expectations throughout the project.
Appliance integration is an important part of managing expectations.
All your Kitchen Design projects need to begin with an interview with your client to determine their needs and wants.
Understanding how your client cooks, the types of appliances they would like, their budget for appliances and how they see appliances integrating into their design is important information to have at the beginning of the design process.
Even though most Kitchen Designers do not sell appliances, the impact of them on the final design makes it imperative that the Designer be involved with the appliances at many points in the design.
For some Kitchen Designers that may mean accompanying your client to the appliance retailer to select appliances. (More about this in a minute)
Once the appliances are chosen it will be the responsibility of the Kitchen Designer to ensure they fit within the design.
The Science of Kitchen Design & Appliances covers the basics of this but there is still some work on your part.
The most important thing you can do for your client is to draw the appliance accurately onto your plans.
If the range protrudes 4″ from the countertop front, indicate that on your drawings.
Also, do not draw in a “counter depth” refrigerator flush with the counter if in reality the doors & handle stick out deeper than the countertop.
The last thing you want to do is misrepresent an appliance on your drawings!
Another way to manage client expectations is to include the appliance specification dimensions with your design, highlighting the clearances you will be using.
This can easily be accomplished by printing the manufacture’s specification sheet and highlighting the clearances you will be using.
Most homeowners do not realize that many appliances need “air space” around them and this document will let them know there will be clearances in their final design.
If they have purchased built-in or integrated appliances you can highlight on the specification any special requirements for electrical or plumbing locations.
To supplement the specification sheet, I recommend you include images of the chosen appliance representing the desired final look.
With the infinite amount of images available online you want to make sure your client is not disappointed with the final look.
They may have purchased a free standing refrigerator but in their minds they have been picturing a built-in one. It is better to find this out now rather than later!
The Designer Relationship with the Appliance Retailer, Distributor and Manufacturer
The Kitchen Designer is seldom selling appliances to the homeowner but that does not lessen the responsibility they have for them.
The best strategy for the Kitchen Designer is to develop business relationships with the Appliance Retailer, Distributor and Manufacturer.
The Appliance Retailer
The Appliance Retailer is a person the Kitchen Designer needs to work closely with during the project.
This is the Allied Professional the Kitchen Designer will reach out to when they need clarification on a specification or when the designer needs options for their client.
I have always identified 3 to 4 Appliance Sales Associates from different retailers in my trading area to work with.
By referring my clients to them and informing them of my clients needs prior to the first visit, it makes for a very productive meeting with the clients.
Often I would accompany my client to the Appliance Retailer to help guide the appliance choices.
It has been my experience that the time spent doing this saves a lot of time in the end.
The Appliance Associate knows I am there to help guide the customer to the perfect solution for their dream kitchen.
Building a relationship with an Appliance Associate will also come in handy when you need help with locating and understanding appliance specifications.
The Appliance Distributor
It is important for the Kitchen Designer to identify the Appliance Distributors in their trading area.
Local Appliance Distributors can be a wealth of information and education on the product lines they represent.
Since the distributor also needs to set up after purchase service for their products they are the people to go to for the tough questions.
Sometimes you need a measurement that is not on the specification sheet and they will be the ones to help you find it.
Some distributors will have local showrooms for training and demonstrating. These are great places to bring clients to for a ‘no pressure to purchase experience’.
The Appliance Manufacturer
Many Kitchen Designers will have some favorite appliance brands that they like to include in their Kitchen Designs.
When you identify your favorite brands you should begin building a relationship with that brand.
This can be done by following them on social media, subscribing to their newsletter, and visiting their booth at Industry Trade Shows.
The advantage of doing this is that you will be kept up to date with new product releases that you can suggest to your clients.
This is another way to show your clients your expertise in all things Kitchens!
A bonus of developing a relationship with a manufacturer is that you could be invited to their facility as part of a Designer Training Event.
I have been fortunate to have been invited to several of these events and there is nothing like getting trained by the manufacturer. These trips are truly special!
These last three VESTA Blog posts devoted to answering “Why Appliances Drive Kitchen Designers Crazy” is the tip of the iceberg on what Kitchen Designers need to learn about Appliances.
I will be offering a workshop in the coming months that will take you deeper into the world of appliances.
If you would like to be notified on dates and times for our FREE Appliance Workshop, please subscribe to our list below.
Jan Rutgers has been designing kitchens and products for over 25 years and is a recipient of Kitchen & Bath Design News’ Top Innovators in 2020 for the Kitchen & Bath Industry. She has designed more than 1000 kitchens learning valuable skills with each one! Her experience in Kitchen Design, Millwork Manufacturing and Product Development has led her to create VESTABUL SCHOOL OF DESIGN where she educates and mentors people passionate about the Kitchen Design Industry.