It is summer and the time of new beginnings. The long awaited remodeling projects suddenly have a sense of urgency. You want a fresh new look in your home. The kitchen has been due for an update for some time and you are ready to take the plunge. But where do you start?

There are those big box retail stores that have been advertising discounts on cabinetry and free designs and they seem to have a lot of options. What about those remodeling companies that to do the work maybe they can help with the design and sourcing of products-do contractors do the design? It all seems so overwhelming and you don’t want to spend more than you need to on this project but you want something beautiful.

Large companies lure us in with their full page advertisements in the Sunday paper and the business commercials on the television, “SALE, DISCOUNT, BUY NOW PAY LATER, SAME AS CASH”. You may walk in and find a talented individual who is willing to take the time to sort out your individual needs in your new space or may walk in to find the plumbing specialist just started doing kitchen designs.

The chain stores count on a certain volume of sales so it is all business for them. It’s about getting a design done quickly, signed off on and paid for on one of their credit cards. These transactions can happen in a day if you have your measurements handy. High volume sales and individual customer service simply do not mix. A good design can take weeks to arrive at with careful planning so that each item fits correctly and serves your needs to create a work flow that fits your way of doing things.

A friend of mine had an experience that is all too common when working with one of these large stores. She knew exactly what look she wanted and she found a very nice woman to work with in the kitchen department. While she was working through the project, she would often need to speak with this individual but she had an irregular schedule and was often not available. She spent many frustrating hours trying to pull everything together and get her many questions answered. Once the cabinets were ordered she was told they would be delivered 4 weeks later. But, mid project, she was told it would be 8 weeks and the kitchen was already torn out!

When the cabinets finally arrived there were several issues with the finish and it took 6 months to get someone out to look at them. When they finally scheduled a service call the manufacturing company decided not to fix everything-even though there was a warranty. The big box store said it was out of their hands. A few years later, the paint was peeling off of some of the cabinets, the hardware was failing, and the cabinet manufacturer never returned her calls to deal with the warranty issues. The person who she worked with at the big box store was long gone and there was no record of her purchase so they said they could not help her-it was a warranty issue.

Now how about contractors as designers? As a designer, I have worked with many different contractors over the years and they are very good at what they do which includes things like plumbing, drywall work, finish carpentry, and electrical work. Contractors vary drastically in their skills with design. Many tell me that they don’t want to do the design because it is too time consuming for them and they struggle with it. Honing design skills for kitchens and baths takes years of time, hard work, understanding of the customer needs and desires, and a laser focus on design. Having a passion and commitment to this part of the process makes a big difference in the outcome. There is a need for understanding the client’s needs in the space, the way they live, and how they use the space. Then this information is taken and applied to the thousands of options available on the market for organizing and streamlining a kitchen for ease of use as well as styling.

An independently designed kitchen is a work of art and is an investment. Independent designers need to take the time to build relationships with their clients so they can discover what the client needs and how to design for their lifestyle. This relationship is built by getting to know their clients and families and understanding how the space is used and more importantly, how it will be used in the future. I have the opportunity to influence the ease of use, flow and quality of materials that are best for your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences. I offer a personal touch and as the design director at Angela Bonfante Kitchen Designs, I make sure we explore all the options for your space. This often starts with two or three options that may work in the room so that we can explore more deeply your desires. The look should reflect my client’s vision and the functionality should match what my client needs. The highest quality materials should be used for the long term investment in your home.

As an independent designer, I am hands on with the installation and work closely with the various trades that are involved in the process. If there is an issue, we handle it together and there is no blaming this person or that person. We all work together seamlessly as a team to give you what you deserve; a product that is nothing less than perfection. It is worth the investment because you are worth the investment.