Q. If you were a customer, what do you wish you knew about your trade? Any inside secrets to share?
A. The Design Process in Kitchen and Bath Renovations
1. How would you describe the role of the interior designer in renovation projects?
Being a former real estate agent, I have been told countless times that the quality of the kitchen often makes or breaks a sale. I have read surveys by the real estate industry indicating that the kitchen is one of the most important features with potential buyers. I think most developers and experts agree that when a property is sold, a kitchen renovation will return nearly one hundred percent of the original investment.
The interior designers’ role is to guide the client in making aesthetic choices regarding the materials to be used in the renovation project; which include color choices, door styles and patterns, wood species, stains and finishes, etc. In addition, to point out any unique opportunities to enhance the continuity of the residence with their overall vision of what the renovation will look like when completed.
2. What does the role entail in kitchen and bath renovation projects?
Aesthetics only, the interior designer should leave the actual kitchen design process to the professionals that only design kitchens and baths. The interior designer should rely on the kitchen and bath designer to describe the interaction between the materials used, including the benefits and disadvantages of the materials.
3. What are the challenges in these types of renovation projects?
There are numerous challenges in the renovation process. Here are just a few:
Time. One of the biggest challenges in any renovation is the grand orchestration of time management. There are numerous individuals working on a renovation at the same time. Keeping track of everything that is going on is a very delicate task that is usually ruled with a heavy hand.
Staying on budget. Need I say more?
Keeping the completion deadlines for each phase of the project.
Coordinating delivery and pick up of all materials in the renovation process with all of the vendors involved.
Dealing with waste and debris while clients are in the residence.
Co-op boards, building permits and all legal aspects of keeping the project covered by the correct codes and insurance.
4. What are important steps for the designer to take?
Understand the client’s needs. Kitchen and bath designs are based on only two things, function and aesthetics. One is usually more important to the client than the other. Know which one. Know what the client’s budget constraints are. Know the date of construction, and aesthetics of the building that the renovation is taking place in. If the client’s apartment is in a pre-war building, it is possible the client would like to maintain the continuity of the building, as opposed to create some ultra contemporary setting. This does not always hold true, but it is good to know.
Think of your project in terms of components and start with the largest component first. Example; A kitchen renovation should start with the cabinets, then the appliances, countertop material, tile work, sink and faucet and so on. The cabinets are the most expensive component of the kitchen.
Sit down with the client and go through numerous kitchen and bathroom catalogs and magazines to pre-select components and materials. When you visit kitchen and bath showrooms, you will have an idea of what you are looking at, and what to look for. Do your homework.
Create a list of questions for the professionals to answer. Take notes.
Contact a reputable kitchen and bath design company like MCKB. Visit their showroom more than once to see how things operate.
Schedule an appointment to obtain an estimate on your renovation project. Things to bring with you to the meeting: 1. Clients floor plan. 2. No more than two or three tear sheets or magazine clippings on kitchens that you like or dislike, so you can convey your ideas to the kitchen and bath designer. Any material samples such as textiles or stone tile work that you may need to match colors to. Ask for references.
The estimate is just that, an estimate. Price is not everything, it is more important to retain a reputable company that will see your job through from start to finish than underpay for poor workmanship.
Cabinetry is roughly estimated by the linear foot and typically, the estimate is within 10 to 20% of the final price of the project.
Expect to pay a retainer fee before the kitchen and bath designer and project manager visit the residence. The retainer fee is standard. It is applied back to the cost of the kitchen cabinetry, so technically, there is no design fee. It is almost impossible for a busy design firm to go and measure every single job without some level of commitment from the client; this shows the client’s good faith in moving forward.
Expect a separate estimate for the construction/installation of the cabinets. Usually installation is more involved than the homeowner realizes. Construction is more expensive in Manhattan, partly, because it is more difficult to get around in the city and there are more problems with access to buildings, as well as the age of some of the buildings. Your estimate should be for each component of the project and a separate estimate for installation. Be wary of the company that gives you one price for everything, chances are that in the end, there will be many ad-ons that were unexpected, which will bump up your estimate beyond the 20%.
5. What are the crucial/key moments in the process?
Establishing the correct budget after researching the renovation project.
Selecting the right company or companies for building key components such as cabinetry, countertops, appliances etc.
Selecting the right contractor to do the installation.
Finalizing the drawings or plan for the kitchen cabinets before it is sent off to the cabinet maker.
Maintaining all necessary legal documentation for building codes, board approval and insurance.
Installation of the cabinets.
Final inspection after the installation, don’t wait six months to discuss a problem.
6. Describe the working relationship between the designer and the architect in the renovation process.
Unfortunately, the lines are been blurred with regard to the roles of the interior designer and the architect. I have seen architects act like interior designers and vice versa. The best way for the parties to cooperate on a renovation project is to separate duties.
Allow the architect to create the floor plan and generally structure the layout of the project. The architect knows the pitfalls and benefits of using various building materials and structural codes, which govern the design.
The interior designer should be able to make aesthetic choices with regard to color, shape, patterns, and suggestions regarding material combinations. (While deferring the final say on building materials to the architect.)
The kitchen and bath designer knows the correct placement of the appliances with relevancy to other appliances and to building codes. They also know the latest in kitchen space saving features and innovative design.
The interior designer should not dictate where the appliances are placed in the kitchen.
7. Describe best practices for good communication between the designer and architect in the renovation process.
Have patience with all parties.
Do your home work, be prepared with the right questions, it is difficult to bring all of the parties together for meetings, so take advantage of it when you have the time.
Take notes to reflect on the key points made during the meeting.
Allow each party to follow through with their expert knowledge. After all, that is why the client hires an interior designer, architect, and a kitchen and bath designer.
8. Describe the working relationship between the designer and the contractor in the renovation process.
During the orchestration of any renovation, there should be one point person for the entire project. Typically, this person is a project manager. Imagine how confusing it would be if the architect, the interior designer and the kitchen and bath designer were all giving separate instructions to the contractor. The designer’s main concern is the client, and the clients needs. The client is paying the interior designer fee to bring their grand dream to fruition. If the client has concerns, they discuss it with the designer and that info is passed on to the project manager to obtain the results from the contractor.
9. What “smart design” (technology) features are being incorporated in kitchen and bath renovation projects?
Induction stoves that emit high-frequency magnetic fields. When metal or magnetic-based pans are heated, the molecules in the cookware start to move so quickly that only the pan, not the stove top, gets hot.
Ultra-sanitary soap dispensers that have a built-in motion detector to sense when your hands are in front of them.
A microwave that cooks your food perfectly and evenly every time just by scanning the barcode on your food package.
Kitchen multimedia center that utilizes Apple’s Ipad technology that controls lighting, entertainment, email, recipes, etc.
Smart range hoods that disappear into the cabinetry to give the appearance of more space.
Countertop materials with built-in antimicrobial product protection, to safely fight the growth of odor-causing bacteria for the life of the product.
Recycled materials, glass, wood etc.
10. What are the challenges of incorporating these features?
Every new technology, manmade material, or process requires some type of new training or installation technique. The construction trade is constantly changing to keep pace with the imagination of the companies that dream up this stuff.
11. What are the benefits of incorporating these features?
To enhance the quality and simplicity of life while beautifying your surroundings and hiding the processes that make them smart technology.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. With more than 30 years of combined experience, we are the leader in design, installation of custom kitchen cabinetry in New York City. Because of our location, and access to the design community, we have met and worked with some very unique people.
New York is a real melting pot of personalities and nationalities that share ideas, creativity and ingenuity. The best part of this job is working with insteresting people.
Q. What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A. Who are you? Manhattan Center for Kitchen and Bath, established in 2000. We have more than 30 years of experience in design, cabinet making, custom kitchen installation and apartment renovation. Our designers have an average of 10 years experience. We set the standard for kitchen design in New York City.
What is MCKB? Manhattan Center for Kitchen and Bath is a self-contained design center that showcases the finest in American Cabinetry in New York City. We design and install full custom kitchens, both residential and commercial. As a leader in the home renovation industry we also offer the most beautiful Bathrooms, Sinks, Faucets, Vanities, Bath Fixtures, Door Pulls, Accessories, Closet Systems, Tile, Countertops, Home Theatre Systems, and state of the art appliances supplied by Drimmers, and much more to a distinguished clientele.
What style of cabinetry do you carry? Manhattan Center for Kitchen and Bath carries premier cabinet makers from the USA and Canada. Our showroom displays the latest in Contemporary, Transitional and Traditional styling available on the market today.
Where are you located? Our success in New York City has established our business in the Union Square community, and in the industry as a leader.
Why should I use MCKB? How do you measure success? By our clients satisfaction. Our client list reads like a Hollywood red carpet event. Here are just a few that you might recognize. The White House, Dr. OZ, Mary Tyler Moore, Adrian Grenier, Piper Perabo, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Alan Rickman, and the list goes on...
Will your company be around after I purchase my kitchen? With our knowledgeable team of experts, our professionalism and passion for success, Manhattan Center for Kitchen and Bath will break records in 2011 and beyond. We have an aggressive marketing plan and city wide advertising media that reaches our intended customers and the trade. We utilize state of the art demographic technology that tracks our process from inception to completion to insure reliability, accuracy and customer satisfaction.