The Kitchen Designer

Gray Kitchens For A Gray Day

This must be the most gray day in history! We're having a nor'easter, and it seems as if everything is gray. Well, not everything. The backdrop of the day is surely gray, but I happen to like this type of day, at this time of year. You have gray skies, then, especially now, there are still trees with beautiful, bright, brown, leaves, peppering the gray skies, that have not fallen yet, the brown tree trunks, some white snow, and green ivy as a ground cover. All this from my window. Gray, brown, white, green. It works for me. Another beautiful color palette by Mother Nature.

So, perfect inspiration for, what else, gray kitchens! Neutral, cozy (some), simple, elegant, charming. Lots of different looks in a gray color scheme. What are cold, gray, skies, to some, may be a cozy backdrop to others. Sort of like these kitchens, I presume. Most images have been collected from Desire To Inspire, a favorite blog with endless, absolutely endless, interior design ideas and inspiration. Each day, a new collection of perfectly themed images. Enjoy!

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Green Planet, Green Kitchens

Nobel.jpgYesterday was the ceremony for the award of the Nobel Peace Prize. Of course, since Al Gore is the recipient, it is especially interesting to hear his speech on our planet's climate crisis, including his philosophy, ideas, and solutions. Just as interesting, and compelling, is the speech given by R. K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Most likely, one does not hear about this second speech, only Al Gore's, so take a look.

I am not a scientist. I am also not a full fledged treehugger, nor do I have an expanse of knowledge in this area. I'd say that I am increasingly making real efforts to become aware of this issue, especially as it relates to my work. This is a very broad issue to sort through. It will take time and it will take a commitment to continually seek out knowledge and learn to apply that knowledge in my work. Take a look at the speeches given yesterday.  

It did occur to me yesterday, when I put the tv on, that CNN, and other channels gave an incredible amount of time on some murder and celebrity stories and just a moment on this year's Nobel Peace Prize awards. The planet is sick, and they are covering a murder mystery. What can I say?

On a lighter note, my daughter was in the audience at this year's ceremony in Oslo, yesterday. She said it was an incredibly moving experience and called my attention to both speeches. Tonight is the spectacular concert which will highlight Al Gore's and his colleague's contributions as well as showcase great musical acts. I was in attendance at the concert last year, and spent 5 days in Oslo, surrounding the Peace Prize award. It was a very exciting time to be in Oslo, the city was electric (no pun intended!) I'll try to update this post with youtube or other video links of the concert tomorrow.

It is so clear to me how I felt last year. I felt as it the whole world was assembling at Oslo's town hall in peace, as one car after another arrived with flags blowing in the wind. That was the feeling. It was a big feeling, coupled with what appeared to be low security (in the U.S., the entrance into the City Hall would be blocked off for a mile all around!) We stood right at the entrance and watched the dignitaries arrive, complete with a band at the entrance. Life changing.

As we speak, my daughter has my repetitive voice in her head to scoop up all the Scandinavian magazines she can get her hands on!! I should get my hands on them tomorrow. A fresh batch of Scandinavian kitchens!! Life is good!

Here's an update, a song by Kylie Minogue. This stage is probably the largest I've ever seen. It's a fantastic venue. And, the concert has musical artists from around the world, the top musical artists on the planet. In between is a short speech from the recipient (not included in this video) calling attention to the issue at hand for that particular year. It is a concert which should have very widespread attention for its global feeling, fantastic and varied musical content, as well as featuring the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in a more informal setting, just "talking" to the audience. It's perfect.

Oh, by the way, the hosts this year were Uma Thurman and Kevin Spacey.

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Is Your Kitchen Designer "Too Bu...

I'm busy these days. I feel it.

My guess is that design pros sort of get that "busy feeling" when business is, let's say, better than normal, obviously. Multiple deadlines is also an obvious giveaway.  For me, it's here. The thing is, my business is a roller coaster, and one where you don't necessarily see the ups and downs from a distance...the roller coaster is enclosed in a dark tunnel! It all has to do with construction schedules, town approvals, architects' schedules, all of which is beyond my control. "It" has a life of its own and the big rolling ball sort of scoops me up when just barely in sight!

For those of you who are looking to do a kitchen renovation, you may want to ask the kitchen designer of your choice what her/his schedule looks like down the road and what it is like now. If they can predict, and to a certain point, a short distance, a designer can. Until that schedule goes to the dogs by the a) architect b) town c) contractor d) other delays, including busy clients where life intervenes!

This past year plus, I've worked on no less than five projects (and I don't do all that many beyond that in one year, maybe double that) where the schedule has been delayed by between 6 (not bad-but only one project) to 18 months.

What do you think is happening now? Well, of course, I could not have planned it better myself, I have the perfect storm! Four of those five, and one of them is the equivalent of three projects, are all moving like molasses suddenly heated with a blow torch!

Their plans have just been approved by the town, schedules have loosened or accellerated, machinery is in the dirt. framing is happening or is soon to happen, which means that the equivalent of seven (most, big, and highly detailed) cabinet orders need to be made very soon. And, very accurate perfect!

In my situation, I'm lucky that:

  • I don't have child obligations (they're grown)
  • I only need 5-6 hours of sleep so I can fit in other things besides work, like needed exercise
  • I work long hours when I need to
  • I have a supremely supportive spouse (we're talking cooking, laundry, and a happy face...good stuff)
  • I have really great clients!
  • I know what needs to be done "when", I have an intrinsically positive attitude
  • I LOVE my work and love working with my clients! I love the collaborative design process.
  • I can manage stress and pressure very well. The candle burning at 7 am near my monitor is one little method.

Schedules happen! Or, maybe, more to the point, scheduling roller coasters happen. They're unpredictable, they are fraught with delays, with stops and starts, and each schedule does whatever it's going to do. Being busy does not necessarily mean the designer took on too much work. It's the nature of our business with unforseen scheduling issues. We don't want this situation either, trust us! Like you, we want the luxury of time to do our work. I've been held up, but I've never held a job up. Another reason why I'm feeling busy...gotta get the work done! In fact, I'm ready to schedule new projects for 08, as this wave will be over in the next couple of months (yes, they last this long!)

I'll get through it, and they will all be perfectly ordered projects, I'm not concerned. Somehow, after doing this for 20 years, I know that the law of averages will continue to be on my side...and that is, that NO cabinet will arrive to a client's home wrongly ordered amidst all of these projects. It just doesn't happen to me.

So, another reason I can find a little serenity at 7:22 am before the business day begins. Writing this post was a good, temporary detour from my work, which I need to do from time to time.

I was going to look for a dramatic before and after image...can't take the time, have to stop here!

OK, I and the next few posts....gorgeous kitchens (I have so many to show you!!) They're coming!


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Will Your Kitchen Be Finished Fo...

Every year, in the summer, I look toward the end of the year and wonder, what will the last quarter look like? Will it be a frenzy to get my clients ready for Thanksgiving and then the Holidays beyond? Are there clients who must be completely done by Christmas....or else they will self destruct? If so, then I go along for the ride!

Already, the memories are flooding back. Memories, in particular, of an installer who promised me that he would finish a few items in a client's home (moldings are everything, the finished look) on Christmas Eve, no less, yet called to cancel a day or so prior, setting the client into a tail spin. Or, the client, where there really was no chance of getting done what she wanted anyway, due to her other tradesperson, so instead, I faux painted some 6'' x 54" x 3/4" pieces of wood and put them into place in those empty spots in her kitchen (which looked great!)

And, then there are the countertop deliveries! I can't remember any countertop delivery horror stories, but I may well be blocking those out. I will say, in those last few months, the countertop fabricators and installers are much busier than usual, as, of course, everyone wants their kitchen done, whether it's feasible or not, they just want it! Of course, how can I blame them, I'd want it done too!

And, then, there are those who yawn through the holidays and tell me, whenever, whatever, "I'm not going to drive myself crazy around the holidays." Some of those clients tell me that it gives them an "out" on entertaining responsibilities.

This year, I'm thankful and looking upward (and sideways) that I don't have any clients who are racing against the clock to get their kitchens done by New Year's Eve or earlier. I hit it real lucky this year, I can relax this month, just a bit. While I am busier than usual, it's for future work, not buttoning up present work in the month of December. Yay!

If you're in a frenzy right about now, wondering if you'll get your kitchen done by your deadline, I don't have any words of wisdom for you, unfortunately, There are so many steps, people, and suppliers involved in any one kitchen, that, take your pick, something can go wrong when you least expect it, and it can be legitimately, VERY frustrating for the homeowner. It's a tough one. I actually recommend getting your cabinets delivered by October the latest, if you want your kitchen for the holidays.

So, hang in there, and, Happy Holidays! I hope you all get your kitchens done BEFORE your deadlines!! Here's to that hope!

Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago

Drilling for Kitchens

So, I'm at the dentist this morning (a whole hour appointment) and I'm happily under the sweet air, and what do I start thinking about, but this blog. First off, I'm very busy these days, so that's the reason for the less frequent posts.

So, I'm hearing drilling in my head (mind you, all different whirring sounds, not just one type, the high pitch AND the low pitch) and after that I'm hearing beeping, like a truck backing up, yet, I'm relaxed and focusing on details of the blog and what I want to talk about today. Then, I had to concentrate on acting totally normal after I get up from the chair, as if I feel no lingering effects of the sweet air and am in total control! I'll tell you, this is one, painless, dental practice.

But, back to lying down in the chair and thinking of the blog...

What came to mind was just a small detail of the dynamics of the remodeling process and the client/designer relationship, or client and builder/contractor/whatever relationship.

framing.jpgI was emailing back and forth with a client this morning, around 5 am or so, about doing a framing change in the scullery and, of course, the framing is happening now and for this next week (it's a new home.)  Yesterday, I suggested that we increase the width of the scullery by one foot, to not feel confined, when one spends time there. I'm also two states away and it's a new home being built.

The client asked if we could even do this at this point, said maybe we shouldn't, I said, sure, no problem, it will be better, no biggie, and then I heard nothing from the client. Turned out he had left for work earlier than usual. All we had to do was get the blessing from the builder and architect to support this decision.

Here's the point...I think sometimes, with the immediacy and fast pace of building, things like this can be quite stressful for homeowners, where, conversely, us pros are very casual about it...perhaps to the point where the client reads a casual demeanor as either being apathetic, unconcerned, unengaged, however you want to put it.

I'm not sure that's the case here with this client, but I did reassure them that if they want me, I'd drive up tomorrow. I know I've sensed annoyance before when I've acted, perhaps a bit too casual for my clients' tastes. But, homeowners, when we do this year after year, it would be a bad thing if we were to let a little quick pace get us all freaked out, now wouldn't it? A casual demeanor is a good thing, it means steadiness and control, and clear thinking, not apathy.

Just a little fyi...can you relate, pro or homeowner?


Posted by Susan serra, ckd
over 11 years ago
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