In a world where it sometimes seems like image is everything, it’s trendy to take a “form over function” approach to design. But Roger Shollmier knows better.
Owner and chief designer at Kitchen Ideas LLC and Metro Appliances and More, the Tulsa-based Shollmier believes that “If a kitchen doesn’t function for the family, it doesn’t’ matter if it costs $100K, it’s not a good kitchen.” For that reason, he notes, “We design with function being the most important element and the ‘look’ comes later in the process.”
Of course “function” can mean different things to different people. In years past, function was all about food preparation: cooking, clean up, storage. But the evolution of today’s households and the changing role of the kitchen in the home have created new demands for today’s kitchen spaces. It’s not just about cooking and eating anymore, Shollmier asserts; rather, it’s about living.
He explains, “By function, we mean this: The kitchen is the new family room. People spend time together in the kitchen. The kids are in there doing their homework on the island, Mom and Dad are cooking and checking their email on their laptops. There’s often a TV where the family can surf the ‘Net or pull up a recipe.”
On top of that, the economic challenges of recent years have led to a rise in entertaining at home instead of going out to restaurants. “So we design kitchens where people can prep and cook while interacting with family and friends instead of staring at a wall,” Shollmier says.
The firm’s clientele range from those with modes condos to upscale families with lavish estates, and Shollmier maintains, “We embrace every project with equal passion and enthusiasm.” Neither does he believe good design must, by definition, be expensive. In fact, he was named by Better Homes & Gardens as “The Frugal Kitchen Guru” numerous times, and he states, “A good kitchen isn’t defined by how much it costs. We believe it would be better to have a kitchen that functions great, with “big box store” cabinets, than to have a super-expensive kitchen that doesn’t function well.
The firm handles kitchens, baths, closets, utility rooms and outdoor kitchens. But just as the firm handles a diversity of both project types and clients, Shollmier also believes it’s important to offer an array of different services rather than taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach. “The way we operate is two-fold,” he explains. “We offer a design service only, which is to charge a design fee to give the client a complete design including floor plan, elevations, renderings and a line-by-line estimate sheet showing what we estimate the entire project will cost. They can then have any contractor perform the work. Or, we offer to manage their job for an additional ‘consulting and resource’ fee. We use our resources to complete the project for the client. That means we take them shopping to make all the selections, we give them our trade prices and the client pays for those items directly. We also recommend carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc. and schedule the labor for their project. The client pays them directly as well.”
While the firm carries very few products – just the Galley Sink and Ultra Craft and KraftMaid cabinetry – the firm does have two showrooms in Tulsa so clients can see a variety of products and get design ideas. He notes, “Our original location is in a store-front strip center; our newest location is in a large regional appliance store, where we have an in-house design center. We have over 3,000 square feet of space there, including whole kitchen displays for Viking, Gaggenau, Thermador, Miele and GE.”
Shollmier feels it’s important to show complete kitchens, and to have some that are live. He explains, “A vignette only displays a ‘look,’ while a whole kitchen displays ‘function,’ which is what we’re all about.”
Marketing can be a full-time job, Shollmier states, and he believes social media to be hugely important aspect of marketing in today’s high-tech world. For that reason, his firm has two staff persons just to support the company’s Facebook, Twitter, Blog and Web site functions. “We do very little print advertising,” he notes, explaining that he sees social media as a more vibrant medium for reaching clients.
Yet even as the firm keeps busy connecting with clients online, Shollmier doesn’t believe in foregoing live, in-person conversations and referrals. In fact, he notes that, “One of our best promotional tools is the use of yard signs at our current projects.”
Kitchen Ideas, LLC
At a Glance
Location: Tulsa, OK
Principals: Roger Shollmier, owner and chief designer
Showrooms: Two: Kitchen Ideas, LLC and Metro Appliances and More
Hours of Operation: Mon. - Fri., 9-5; Saturday at the Metro location only
Number of Employees: Eight staff employees and designers and one in-house architect
Major Product Lines: The Galley Sink, and KraftMaid and UltraCraft Cabinetry
Design Specialties: Kitchens, baths, closets, utility rooms and outdoor kitchens
Design Software: 20-20 and AutoCad 2011
Business Philosophy: “We as the professionals guide the client, instead of the client guiding us.”
This GE Monogram display, designed by Roger Shollmier, creates a dramatic impact through the use of color, texture and some high-tech elements.
Kitchen Ideas, LLC designed this project for a client who wanted a more open space. Part of a wall was removed to solve this challenge, while onyx countertops add visual appeal.