Mix of Influences Shapes New Showroom

Orland Park, IL— If those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it, then one Chicagoland showroom has nothing to worry about. When Gulio Giometti, designer and president of Catalina Kitchen Studio, was planning the move to a new showroom, he drew upon his visit to an exhibition of the effects of King Tutankhamun, ancient Egypt’s legendary boy Pharaoh.

The thrill of wandering the labyrinthine exhibit captivated him and influenced the design of Catalina’s new showroom. “The design inspiration [for the showroom] was that of many museum special exhibits, which create a journey of discovery on every turn. That’s what we wanted to do, and I think we accomplished a subtle separation of each display so that they have their own identity” but remain cohesive, notes Giometti. The self-styled “jack-of-all-trades” for the showroom cites discovery as the most singular thing about the Catalina experience.

“Our showroom is designed to show that quality design and construction can be accomplished at many price points,” he says.

Upon entering the showroom, clients wander through the vignettes and are encouraged to use the live displays. Giometti believes they discover for themselves the quality of the product, which leads to a richer design experience.

“There is no substitute for the ability to touch, feel and see quality first hand,” he says.

The cloistered displays also work in tandem with the designer’s wish to create a warm, more personal experience. “I despise the thought of an open-air showroom, or a ‘shoebox.’ They just seem cold and impersonal,” he says.

Moving Up

The move to the new Orland Park showroom location was prompted by the size of the business outpacing its old space.
“Our old showroom was on the second floor of a commercial office building that was owned by a local builder,” Giometti explains. “It had two small displays and a cabinet that stored samples.”

Lack of space was the deal breaker. The firm needed the ability to show, in three dimensions, all of the design possibilities it has to offer, “as opposed to just displaying a group of doors and asking a client to visualize how their home would look based on that type of clutter,” says the designer.

Even if the size of the space had not been an issue, Giometti notes the location of the original showroom was far from ideal.
“We needed better accessibility to a major area of commerce,” he remarks.

Giometti identified Orland Park and the southwest suburbs of Chicago as a community where high-end kitchen and bath dealers had not really ventured. He secured a 1,300-sq.-ft. space on 159th Street, in the heart of Orland Park’s commercial center.

The Catalina team had learned from the mistakes of the previous showroom and visited showrooms of competitors to gain further insight moving forward.

“I had seen a number of other showrooms and learned more of what not to do, as opposed to having a clear road map to designing ours successfully,” says Giometti.

With that in mind, he, his principle designer and the local Wood-Mode representative undertook the task of completing the design.

Function & Style

“Besides efficient use of space, we needed to feature a diverse offering of products. We also needed to demonstrate the craftsmanship that has become synonymous with our name,” the designer comments. “I think that we were able to accomplish this as well as show products that address different price points in the market.”

There are six displays, all of which are “live.” Although the layout was based on museum-like qualities, the showroom’s displays aren’t as untouchable.

“Our intent is to have folks touch and feel the quality,” Giometti notes, adding that customers are encouraged to try out the various functioning displays for themselves to get a better feel of what they can expect when the product is in their own home.

The firm displays Wood-Mode and Brookhaven cabinetry as well as Cambria quartz surfaces. Appliances featured include Sub-Zero, Wolf and KitchenAid, with fixtures by Hansgrohe, Franke, Kindred and Kohler.

Catalina has partnered with a local stone supplier/fabricator to be able to offer rare and exotic marbles, granites, quartzite and onyx. The staff believes that superior quality materials set the firm apart.

As for adaptability trends change like the wind, and Catalina is prepared.

“When we started designing kitchens we found most of our clients taking natural to medium stained clear maple and clear cherry cabinetry with a moderate amount of internal cabinetry function,” says Giometti. “Over the last year or so we have seen a dramatic increase of both rustic finishes and species, such as heartwood maple and knotty cherry coupled with patina finishes that are reminiscent of old world pieces.”

When speaking of trend changes, Giometti reflects a desire to offer a consistency of design within the showroom, while displaying a wide variety of styles and finishes.

“We didn’t want to go over the edge on either side of the design spectrum, so it was important to stay in the middle of the road,” the designer says.

People are looking for more than the wood boxes of yesteryear, says the designer, noting that “pull-outs, racks and drawers within cabinetry are on the upswing, too, with cabinetry overall trending toward higher functionality.”

Here to Serve

In business since 2001, the firm offers design services and straight product supply. It also allows independent designers into the showroom to show clients around.

“We are a one-stop shop for consultation, design, product selection and follow-up services,” Giometti says. There are two full-time employees on hand for design consultations and guidance on product selection.

“We continue to advertise in local media,” remarks Giometti, “as well as make direct contact with area developers.”

Catalina Kitchen Studio serves a principally consumer-based clientele, but has lately partnered with area builders and developers in a series of local projects. The firm hopes to build an increased network to facilitate such joint projects in the future.

The firm is a wholly owned subsidiary of Catalina Construction & Remodeling Corp. It is this builder background that influences the Kitchen Studio’s use of CAD for structural designs.

For kitchen designs, the firm stresses drawing by hand. “Hand drawings are one of the ways that we separate ourselves from other local kitchen and bath dealers,” says Giometti, adding that the technique adds a more personalized touch. “We provide our clients with custom-tailored drawings to meet their expectations. It’s similar to buying a tailor-made piece of clothing as opposed to something off the rack.”

The firm has done a number of “other” room designs including entertainment areas, great rooms, intricate fireplace surrounds, laundry rooms and master suites, though the business’ focus remains primarily on Catalina’s bread-and-butter kitchen and bath designs.

“We think that when clients have us back for ‘other rooms’ it is because they love what we did for them initially,” notes Giometti.

“We feature special or multipurpose spaces in the showroom. One of our displays, in a black-glazed, natural heartwood maple, could serve either as a nice, rustic kitchen, or as a lower-level bar area in a home where a client might seek to include it as a casual entertainment area. The space also features a Vittoria Regina quartzite top and sink,” he adds.

Grand Opening

Catalina Kitchen Studio plans to host a grand opening event in conjunction with its major partners in late summer or early fall, when the final finishing touches have been added. One of those finishing touches includes a custom mural that complements the thematic elements of the display where it appears.

“It’s an abstract of one of the Wood-Mode themes – Grand Villa,” says Giometti, who commissioned the mural for the showroom.

Post-opening plans for the firm include hosting cooking demonstrations to get the word out, as well as regular seminar series in what Giometti hopes will be an educational experience for local current and potential clients.

The firm has also been invited by area colleges to host small seminars where kitchen design is explained from a practical, design-oriented standpoint. “We plan to do this with small groups in the future,” notes the designer.

Recognized by Wood-Mode several times, the firm has been recognized by the cabinetmaker with its BISTRO award for growth in 2005, and by Brookhaven in 2006 with a Certificate of Merit for growth.