Lots of kitchen designers are well-trained, highly experienced and have a loyal following, and you can usually identify pretty quickly those whose services you can afford. So what do you look for to ensure a stress-free major renovation—and get your family into a new kitchen that fulfills your vision now and for years to come?
Bobbie and Scott Addis of Bryn Mawr and Bridget and Mike Subak of Wayne both worked with highly respected McKenna Building Group in Newtown Square as their general contractor for their whole-house renovations. And lucky for everyone, the Addises and Subaks also followed Pete McKenna’s recommendation to consider the design team at Bluebell Kitchens for their new “family command center.”
Now happily ensconced in their beautiful homes and after a few years of living with their Bluebell Kitchens results, Bobbie and Bridget recently reflected on their experiences. From that we’ve gleaned seven pointers to share with other homeowners who are about to take that big leap into kitchen renovation.
1. ARE THEY LIKABLE FOLKS?
“I think you need to be matched up correctly with the people you’re working with,” says Bobbie. “You’re in close contact for months, and you want to like each other.”
It’s important that you feel comfortable expressing your wishes and making decisions with the people on your design team.
2. DO THEY LISTEN?
When Bridget met Peter Cardamone, Bluebell Kitchens’ principal designer, to talk about their new kitchen, “Pete just pulled out a piece of paper and started sketching ideas. I could tell right away that he heard what we were asking for. He’s a good listener!”
This handsome cabinetry piece almost wasn’t because of budget constraints, but Bluebell Kitchens found a way.
3. ARE THEY ‘YOU-FOCUSED’?
Bluebell Kitchens respects the client’s vision and gives the project the time it needs and deserves—sometimes demonstrating that in surprising ways.
Lori Kurnitsky, the Addises’ project’s lead designer, came to the home where they were still living to calculate the precise storage needed in the baths and kitchen and then make design recommendations for the new kitchen based on her data.
“Lori made sure I had room for everything we’d be taking with us,” Bobbie says. “She’d put plans up on the monitor at the showroom to explain ‘and your cookie sheets go here.’ Then they’d send me home with the paperwork to review.
“I’ve talked to others with new kitchens and they didn’t get that!”
4. DO THEY ‘GET’ YOUR STYLE?
Bobbie is also impressed by how the designers went about discovering and understanding her style. “Bluebell’s team also went through our old home to see what my aesthetic is, to learn what style we were coming from. And they asked what pieces we’d be taking with us.”
At the same time, a good designer, knowing your style, will come up with concepts you’d never considered. One of Bobbie’s favorite features is the oversized island with a sink in the granite top and a perfect section of butcher block at the end. “Pete suggested butcher block.”
“Our kitchen is definitely the most-used room in the house,” says Bridget. “It’s been four years, and it’s still such a treat.”
5. DO THEY HAVE A SHOWROOM?
“A showroom is helpful,” says Bridget. “I went into the Bluebell showroom [in Spring House] with one idea in my head, but being able to see and touch it all changed a lot of my thinking.”
Bluebell moved to the new larger showroom and design studio in Wayne in 2018, after the Addis and Subak projects were complete. On a recent visit Bridget was amazed to find so many features, finishes, appliances and cabinetry on display in its four fully-equipped kitchens.
Opening up the home’s floor plan meant a better flow and more light.
6. DO THEY RESPECT YOUR BUDGET?
A good designer respects your budget without judgment and readily offers other ways to still give you what you envisioned.
“They have to understand your budget needs and be willing to give you options to stay within that,” says Bobbie. “The cabinetry prices came in higher than we were expecting, so one large section of cabinetry we’d planned for didn’t fit our budget. But Lori and Pete offered a very nice alternative—and no one would ever notice that the room divider is from a different cabinetmaker. It’s beautiful.”
7. ARE THEY TEAM PLAYERS?
“We had a great team with Pete and Lori,” says Bobbie, for whom Bluebell also designed and installed two baths, a master bath and powder room for the newly opened floor plan. “I didn’t have to be involved in the day-to-day, because Pete was often there, staying on top of things.
“They really put a lot into this, including making valuable suggestions to our architect and builder, like ‘this doorway doesn’t line up’ or ‘this closet doesn’t work…let’s move it.’”
When considering a kitchen design firm, use your intuition during the initial interview, ask a respected contractor about the design firm’s reputation and follow up on those homeowner referrals before you finalize your choice. You want to be thrilled with your new kitchen when you first move into it and for many years down the road.
Bluebell Kitchens has represented the standard for quality and innovation in kitchen design since 1985, creating classic designs that span the spectrum from traditional to modern for both period and newly constructed homes. Its team of fine designers, often in collaboration with leading residential architects, interior designers and builders, streamlines the design process with a comprehensive understanding of design programs and delivers the best possible outcome for every client. BBK covers the Mid-Atlantic region—specifically the Main Line, Center City Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties and the Jersey shore. Call 215.646.5442, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit BluebellKitchens.com or drop by Bluebell’s fully appointed showroom at 200 West Lancaster Avenue, Wayne PA 19087.
This content is made possible by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the attitude, views, or opinions of the Main Line Today editorial staff.