Kitchen Design Help

February 8, 2007

Do you seem to be having trouble deciding what to do with your kitchen? Maybe you have an idea but are just having a hard time explaining it. Maybe it would just be helpful to have a one stop resource to help in the kitchen design process.

To access some great ideas and some helpful tools to aid in the kitchen design process, go to http://www.kitchen-cabinets-design.com/freebies.html . There, you are going to find links for software, grid paper, etc – the best part… it is FREE

Looking for Design Ideas?

January 31, 2007

A great place to start is a home show. You can see the latest styles of cabinets from major manufacturers and installers in your area. If you’re to that point, you could even begin gathering info from prospective contractors to do the work. If you’re not quite ready for that, it’s still a great place to get ideas for layout, styles, finishes and much more for your kitchen. Here’s a few I found online, visit one that’s close to you:

Upper Marlboro, Maryland – Suburban Maryland Spring Home Show – Feb 2, 2007 – Feb 4, 2007

Brentwood, NY – Long Island Spring Home Show Feb 23, 2007 – Feb 25, 2007

Pensacola, FL – 14th Annual Pensacola Home and Garden Show – Feb 9, 2007 – Feb 11, 2007

 Scottsdale, AZ – Scottsdale Home & Garden Show – Feb 9, 2007 – Feb 11, 2007

 Marlborough, MA – Metrowest Home Show – Feb 10, 2007 – Feb 11, 2007

 St. Louis, MO – 30th Annual St. Louis Builders Home & Garden Show – Feb 22, 2007 – Feb 25, 2007

Looking for Discount Kitchen Cabinets?

January 17, 2007

Yes, discount kitchen cabinets can be a money saver. Want some info on finding them? Check out this article entitled Discount Kitchen Cabinets and find helpful information for your search. While your there, check out other great articles and Q&A’s for tips and information on kitchen design and remodeling. You’re sure to find some great tips and information there to help you on your search for a fabulous kitchen!

Countertops 101

January 3, 2007

So, you’ve got your cabinets picked out or maybe you love your existing ones. What’s next? Countertops. Your countertops are also a very important part of your kitchen and can either enhance or detract from your kitchen’s sense of style. So you want a countertop that works for you functionally and will look good too. There are a lot of different things to consider, and how it works for you is the most important. Don’t forget that when you’re picking out your countertop. A great looking countertop won’t look so good if it just doesn’t work. Do you need an integrated countertop and sink? Do you do a lot of baking and need a surface you can roll dough on? How about chopping, do you get tired of dragging out the cutting board all the time? Some people even find that no one surface can do everything they need. For them a combination of different countertop materials helps to solve all their kitchen needs. So, first decide what you need your countertop to do for you and then choose the material or materials that will work best for you and your kitchen.

Kitchen Redesign Ideas

December 21, 2006

Need some help figuring out what to do with your old kitchen. Not sure what needs to be done and how to do it? Don’t feel bad, kitchen remodeling is a daunting task for many. While all the great options for your kitchen are great, it can be a bit confusing trying to choose the right one. You want to be sure you make the right choice, because remodeling your kitchen can not only enhance your home’s value, it can make your time in the kitchen a much more enjoyable experience. So, here’s a great article called Ideas for Kitchen Remodeling that will help get you started.

Kitchen Cabinet Remodeling Ideas

December 14, 2006

Kitchen cabinet remodeling is a great way to spruce up one of the most used rooms in a home, the kitchen.  Sometimes deciding what to do with the space can be mind-boggling.  Found some great pictures to give some ideas on color of wood, design, etc.

www.directkitchencabinets.com

www.thefloorauthority.com

www.cabinetdoordepot.com

Intermission – time for a contractor quiz

November 30, 2006

O, so you think you know how to find the best contractor for your project, right?

Well… let’s just see about that.

Take a look at this great quiz I found –

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/edcams/homeimp/quiz1.htm

I have to admit – it’s right on target. Check it out!



Rule #3 – The Kitchen Cabinets Showroom Experience

November 30, 2006

So now you’re getting ready to go to their showroom. You’re probably wondering what will happen, what you’ll see, what to expect… and maybe even “How do I get out of there without signing a contract for something?”

Don’t worry, we’re going to get you prepared for your entry and your exit.

A visit to the showroom is typically for three purposes…

  1. To show you their selection of products and services available
  2. To highlight the benefits their company can provide you by choosing them for the job.
  3. To develop a gameplan and design concept.

Nothing is more frustrating to the company than an unprepared customer. Sure, it’s there job to win you over to go with them, but be fair. Don’t walk in without any idea of what you want, and waste their time looking at picture after picture after picture.

Before you step into the showroom… I would create a workbook. Nothing fancy. A folder to save ideas of designs that you like. Blueprints if you already have that. Perhaps color scheme ideas you’ve thought out, or specific appliances and requirements you have.

Another great idea is to have a list of questions prepared that you want to have answered. Most likely, the designer will be able to answer most of them before you ask them, but have them handy just in case.

There’s also another good reason to have this information prepared before your trip to the kitchen showroom…

TO MAKE SURE YOU GET WHAT YOU WANT, AND NOT WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO GET!

Most companies with a showroom will be running a legitimate business. Keep in mind though, that without sales, the showroom cannot stay open. The last thing you want is for the designer to persuade or build the kitchen on what they want you to take. With your stockpile of information handy, you can always reference back to it to make sure you’re staying close to your original plans (or understand why things have changed if that is the case).

Tomorrow, I’m going to finish this section by answering to questions for you “should I pay for the design service when others offer it free?” and “What should I base my final decision on?”

Happy Remodeling!

Rule #2 – When They Come into Your Home

November 24, 2006

So let’s review…

You’ve conducted a phone interview with a few potential companies to do your kitchen remodeling or kitchen design work. Some will require you to come to their showroom (which we’ll go over next), and some will come out to your home to provide information and an estimate.

Now, it’s time for another “tell”…

DID THEY SHOW UP ON TIME?

One thing I preach to contractors is showing up on time for the appt. Once again – it’s that first impression that means so much. If they can’t be there for the appt – what can you expect once they get your money?

Of course, there are legitimate reasons for not being on time. The sign of a professional is the one that calls BEFORE the appt and let’s you know approximately how far behind they will be. Calling at the appointment time and saying they are 45 minutes away is not acceptable. Obviously, something more important kept them away from you. Do you want to be second best when making a major investment into your home?

So, now the representative is at your home. It may be the owner, a sales rep, a designer, who knows. Regardless of their position, what matters is what they do at the appointment.

You’ll want to look for someone who asks LOTS of questions. When doing a major kitchen remodel, there are lots of “what-if’s” that can happen. For the company, they’ll want to make sure all of these are covered so nothing unexpected comes up.

There are thousands of different things that can happen during the appointment. So how do you know if the company is doing the right thing?

Once again, it usually depends on how the appointment ends.

You should expect them to do measurements, provide information on their company, show you pictures of other kitchens they’ve remodeled and kitchen cabinets they’ve installed… but does that mean they’re a good company to go with?

NO!

At the end of the appointment, there are typically five things that can happen. I’ll write them out in order of appeal for your satisfaction:

#1 – they schedule a time for you to come to their showroom. – This is the best scenario. This means the company was willing to invest their time to do research on your project first, gather data, and want you to come to their showroom so they can provide further details for your project, and show you what they can do. Two thumbs up if the company goes this route!

#2 – They want to schedule a second appointment to review what they can offer you –  once again this is a good scenario. They’ve invested their time into learning about your project,they want to do further homework, and come back to you with a plan for your kitchen remodel. Usually, this is an indicator that they do not have a showroom. This is not a bad thing. Many contractors I work with find a showroom as a huge overhead expense and they can perform better without the worry of paying that bill.

#3 – They want to mail you a proposal –  I give this the “half-ass” award. It’s good that they made the first step to come out to your home and evaluate your needs. It’s good that they plan to do research and provide you with a solution. But they’re follow-up methods are lousy. Why would they invest so much time and effort up front, just to send you a piece of mail? Usually, this is a sign that they are super-backed up and you’ll be on a waiting list… or they have no interest in the job and are “brushing you off”.

#4 – They try to “close the deal” right then –  This is a big turn-off for me. Sure, everything in his world is sold to someone by someone, and your kitchen remodeling project will be no different. But it’s just to early in the process to go for a sale. If this occurs – I would be hesitant to consider this company. To ask for the sale, they have to provide you with a pricetag, and the complete solution. There simply is no way to package everything up this easily. Of course, if you’re just looking for a new countertop it’s a possibility, but much more than that and you cannot ask for the sale yet.

    #5 – They decline your job –  strike three for you. But count your blessings. At least they had the professional courtesy to turn your job down than to take on a project that would be a headache for them and you. Thank them for their help, and ask them what a good job for them normally is. This way, you can send them a referral if one comes up. Cross them off of your list and hope the next company can provide a solution.

OK – so next we’ll go over Rule #3 – going to their showroom.

So Let’s Avoid Getting Screwed By The Kitchen Contractor

November 24, 2006

With the previous posts showing all the negativity that can happen with a kitchen remodel… why not give some super-powerful ways to prevent these nightmares from happening to you.

I’ll probably do this in a series of posts. I could just write down a few things ti give you the ideas, but I think you’ll want a decent explanation for added protection.

So let’s start with Rule #1…
RULE #1 – How Do They Handle Your Inquiry
First impressions make a difference in EVERY aspect of your life. Keep this in mind when you first contact the contractor or designer. Did they answer the phone? If so – how was it answered? Did they just say “hello”? This is a dead give-away you are working with a small time guy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be a “tell” when other factors are looked at.

If the phone was not answered… what happened? Did it go to a cell phone voicemail? Ick – so unprofessional. Guess where your calls will go when there are problems? Yup… the same voicemail.

Even worse is a home voicemail. This is another dead giveaway that you are dealing with an amateur. Most likely, they do the design or remodeling work on the side. If you were referred to this person through a trusted friend it may be OK, but I would hang up and move on to someone else. If things go wrong – what do you think they’ll do? Lose their “REAL” job trying to make you happy? Probably not.

With so many simple technologies available today, the initial call is usually a dead giveaway to how they handle customer service (which will be a big consideration in your remodel). I consult with many remodeling companies and have introduced simple methods to give customers a “warm and fuzzy” feeling – which goes a long way. Simple things such as a professional sounding voicemail, including your website URL so customers can further research your company, using an 24-7 answering service to take the call and forward the message to you in whatever way necessary. These are simple marketing procedures that any business should have in place.

Finally – listen to how they handle the call. Are they asking you questions, or are they telling you about themselves?

If they are telling you about themselves – it is usually another sign of dealing with a small-timer. The small guys HAVE to “sell” you on why you should be going with them instead of someone else. Contractors that understand the business know that fulfilling the needs of the customer is what gets the deal.

If they are asking you questions about your project – this is likely a good sign. Unless the first question is “what is your budget”, or “how much money you gonna gimme for doing it?”. When you hear this at the beginning if the conversation, politely end the call and move on. You’re talking to someone who sees you as a mortgage payment, not a lifelong client that can potentially bring in thousands of dollars of revenue from this project, future projects, referrals, etc.

Hopefully, the questions they ask are regarding the project. A good intro conversation should include a few questions about what your plans are… where you are in the project process, what are your biggest concerns, have you established a budget for the project yet (this question is perfectly fine when combined with other fact-finding questions), etc.

Finally – the ending of the conversation. Hopefully all has went well with your initial contact. How the call is ended is another great sign of what you can expect from this contractor/designer/company.

If they say something along the lines of “I’m really busy right now… I’ll call you back sometime and schedule an appointment” – you’re most likely dealing with an unorganized company/person. If they are able to schedule an appointment with you right then… or set a specific time to call you back to schedule the appointment – these are good signs. If they can at least get this part of their business organized… hopefully the rest will be the same.

Stay tuned for the next rule – when they come to your home for the estimate.