When homeowners are considering embracing a new kitchen or bath design, they often look to Web sites and magazines for ideas. However, when it comes to true inspiration, they often leave their comfort zones and venture into the showroom.
What they experience in the showroom will ultimately determine the final decision. While knowledgeable, talented designers, courteous staff and even home-baked cookies all help the process along, it is often the atmosphere and special amenities that the showroom has to offer that push the homeowner to give the final approval.
The six firms featured in this look at innovative showrooms all take a different approach – one that sets them apart from their competition and keeps customers coming back for more.
For husband-and-wife design team Ronald Purcio, CKD and Debbie Harte, a change in direction was a boon for business. The couple’s daughter Carrie Harte, who now works with them and a team of designers and support staff in the family-owned company, suggested opening a retail showroom where clients could find everything they were looking for.
While the planning and opening of Styles Kitchen and Bath in Basalt, CO in 2010 coincided with the decline in the economy, the strategy has paid off for the firm, which caters to the affluent Aspen community.
“Shopping in our area is limited, and most people want to enjoy their time here doing other things like skiing or hiking,” notes Harte, CFO and office manager for the company. “So, we created a complete home design center with virtually everything they will need to create their new or remodeled home.”
“We feature everything – from cabinetry, wine rooms, countertops, appliances, tile, lighting, kitchen and bath fixtures, faucets, hardware and much, much more,” she adds. Names such as Bentwood, Ronbow, Sub-Zero, Viking, Silestone, CaesarStone and Grothouse Lumber are found throughout the 6,000-sq.ft. showroom. Plumbing lines include products from Toto, Graff, AquaBrass and MTI Whirlpools.
Almost everything in the showroom is live, from the kitchens to the showerheads and tubs. Two working kitchens – the Modern Kitchen and the French Country – often act as sets for cooking demonstrations and other events.
Designed by Purcio, the showroom features an open mezzanine that “gives it a ‘wow’ effect from the entrance,” says Harte. Special attention was given to every space or display, she adds, citing the 300-year-old beams in the French Country Kitchen.
an artistic touch
At Ispiri, good design is in the details. So believes owner Jason Fabio, CR, and the rest of the showroom staff.
Based in the east metro area of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, the 2,500-sq.-ft. “inspiration center” invites visitors to touch products before they buy.
“Our showroom is meant to provide our clients a place to create ideas for their homes,” notes Fabio. “They will be allowed to touch and operate the products; the refrigerators work, the dishwasher drawers operate, as does an oven and range.”
The most unique aspect of this space, according to Fabio, is a fully functioning operating kitchen. “Here we can host instructional demos, cooking classes or industry-related seminars,” he reports.
Surrounding the working kitchen are a number of vignettes – complete with attention to detail and artistic touches – featuring a range of products. Ispiri is a Dura Supreme cabinet dealer, and also has 13 different countertop manufacturers on display including Cambria, Eco-stone, Heritage Wood, Paper Stone and Rinato. Plumbing brands include Toto, Kohler, Delta and Rohl. Five different appliances brands are on hand, as well.
In the end, “we want our clients to feel special and appreciated. Remodeling does not have to be stressful and hectic,” says Fabio.
Walk into the Keener Kitchen showroom in Timonium, MD, and there is no mistaking its location. The showroom, a second location tied to the custom cabinet manufacturer’s spot in Pennsylvania, was designed to make the locals feel at home.
“Being a company from another state, we strove to be included with the clients we serve,” comments Steve Keener, president of the firm. “To that extent, we have artwork from local artists, artifacts from Baltimore city and ‘things’ that are related to Maryland or Baltimore positioned throughout the showroom.”
The decision to open in Maryland after 38 years in business was due, in part, to changes in the economy. “With gas prices increasing and folks’ time decreasing, it became harder to get people to make the trek to our main showroom,” offers Keener. So, the company partnered with an appliance retailer and stone fabricator to develop the 3,000-sq.-ft. site.
Each of the company’s designers was given a space and a theme, and the result is a homespun spot that includes four kitchen displays, two bath displays, a traditional bookcase/fireplace surround, a contemporary media center with “green” cabinetry and a teak outdoor kitchen. Manufacturer lines include countertops from Cambria, Zodiaq and Ice Stone; appliances from Sub-Zero, Wolf, Jenn-Air and Viking; and Keener Kitchen’s custom and semi-custom cabinetry.
“We wanted to create a very relaxed, homey atmosphere where we could interact with our clients,” remarks Keener.
For those looking for special pieces, Still Waters Kitchen & Bath has positioned itself as the destination. The showroom, located in Aurora, Ontario, carries a range of high-end products, and is the exclusive Canadian distributor for La Toscana by Paini and Murano House.
“The products on display here are distinctive in design,” offers Darlene Hareguy, manager, marketing and communications, Still Waters Kitchen & Bath.
The 2,200-sq.-ft. showroom, which opened in December 2010, is comprised of two floors, with kitchen sinks and faucets on the main floor and bathroom products on the upper level. “The owners – Alanna and Sam DeCristoforo – had a vision for their showroom,” offers Hareguy. “They wanted open space, with curves and not a lot of square or a box feeling. They also wanted a modern look and feel, and a staircase that would be a focal point leading to the second floor showroom.”
Kitchen displays on the first floor include items from Blanco, Grohe, Kohler, Elkay and Franke. Custom countertops and cabinetry are also part of the offering.
Bath products on the second level include faucets, fixtures, vanities, shower systems and mirrored televisions. Brands include Hansgrohe, Mr.Steam, Perrin & Rowe, Brizo, Toto and Duravit.
“We want customers to think about their projects as creating a space that includes products that are truly art in their own right,” states Hareguy.
While all showrooms aspire to create a comfortable setting, Lakeville Kitchen & Bath wanted to create a space that felt more like home. As a sister showroom to its Lindenhurst, NY location, Lakeville’s Smithtown, NY site is designed to be a warm and inviting space, with vignettes that reflect styles that would make a smooth transition from the showroom to the house.
“It’s not an intimidating showroom,” comments kitchen designer Kathleen Fredrich, who designed the space. “When clients come in, they don’t have the feeling that they can’t afford it. It’s comfortable – not intimidating. The rooms are really true to life.”
The location of the 3,500-sq.-ft. showroom was chosen to put the firm in a better position to attract and service customers from Long Island’s East End. To that end, the showroom includes a true traditional Hamptons kitchen. “We also have a very typical New York City kitchen, so we really encompassed both ends [of the Island],” explains Fredrich.
“Every other display is a true mix of standard stains, glazes, paints,” she adds. “I tried to incorporate a mix of every different color and wood specie that you can find into the showroom.”
Lakeville Kitchen & Bath carries three main cabinet manufacturers – Medallion Cabinetry, Crystal Cabinetry and Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry – in both showrooms. It also shows the UltraCraft line in the Lindenhurst showroom.
The showroom has several bath vignettes, showcasing Fairfield vanities and pieces from each of the three cabinet companies.
History plays a major role for the Atlanta-based Schuon Kitchen & Bath showroom, but it is only part of the firm’s story.
Located near the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic District in a late-1800s cotton mill warehouse, the showroom is the city location that works with the firm’s Roswell, GA site. Emily Robbins, co-owner of the company and herself a designer, focuses on creating rooms that fit the period and design of the historic homes of Atlanta. She came up with the idea of using the space as a live/work loft.
According to co-owner Hans Schuon, Robbins proposed living in 50 percent of the 1,600-sq.-ft. space and using the other half as an Atlanta-based showroom, an idea that proved to be too good to pass up.
Robbins kept many of the charms of the cotton mill warehouse in her showroom design, including exposing its concrete pillars, floors and ceilings.
“When our clients come into the showroom, I think they see a very unique space in a very cool building,” says co-owner Hans Schuon. “It’s cool because we tried to keep it unique to the character of the building.”
The showroom is laid out with vignettes showcasing products the company sells, including cabinets from Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinets, Shiloh Cabinetry, Mid Continent Cabinetry and contemporary lines Artcraft and UltraCraft. Countertops include CaesarStone and J. Aaron, as well as wood, concrete and glass.
The one working kitchen is traditional – “kind of a 20s/30s bungalow, a style we do quite a bit. It has painted wall cabinets with painted espresso base cabinets,” comments Schuon. “We also have a vignette with distressed oak – and it really does look like something you would have taken out of the house in the late 1800s or early 1900s.” KBDN