Reader Sees Design for Disabled a Challenge

Reader Sees Design for Disabled a Challenge

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to Barbara Capella Loehr’s Kitchen & Bath Confidential blog entry on your Web site,, which addressed Drue Lawlor’s recent Kitchen/Bath Industry Show seminar. The seminar was entitled “Kitchens & Baths for All Ages,” and looked at various concepts in Universal Design.

Gently aging Boomers are certainly a growing market for implementing Universal Design precepts. And most kitchen and bath designers are well prepared to deal with clients’ eventual and possible disabilities in their designs. But it takes a special designer to deal with disabilities of clients who are disabled now.

Most such clients never enjoy the opportunity to hire a kitchen and bath designer, or anyone else for that matter, because they can’t afford remodeling in the first place. But those who can afford our services deserve designers who are committed to putting aside all assumptions they might have, and designing to the strengths and abilities these clients have in the here and now, knowing, too, that they will inevitably decline with age.

A designer must gain the client’s complete trust and learn to assess abilities very carefully. The designer should also draw on the expertise of others, such as family members, physical therapists and physicians, when needed.

Creating designs that enable the physically challenged to live better lives – whether this work is done for profit or pro bono – is both a challenging and rewarding way to stretch our minds and abilities as designers.

Peggy Deras, CKD, CID
Kitchen Artworks
South San Francisco, CA

Reader Addresses Custom Versus Factory Cabinets

Dear Editor:

I’m writing about the frequently cited comparison between the use of custom vs. factory cabinets. I think that, too often, this implies a false choice. The real choice, in my opinion, is between locally made shop cabinets and factory cabinets. 
There are quite a few factory-made cabinets that are built custom to whatever is specified in terms of size, finish and case construction methods.

So, which are better, local shop cabinets or custom factory cabinets? It depends on the application and the quality of shops being compared.

Some shops purchase the doors and farm out the finishing. This simplifies things substantially and results in a very economical cabinet source. Other shops are more elaborate, cutting their own hardwoods, and finishing the woods and veneers in house. Some of these shops are very expensive. 

Generally, higher-end factory cabinetmakers will make the doors and do custom finishes. We work with a factory in Salt Lake City that will build anything. It sources the highest quality hardwoods and produces exquisite custom finishes. The casework is very good. The price is higher than that of local shops, but more competitive than true custom local shops.

If I were designing a large area of cabinetry that had to be cut to the existing surfaces, such as a barrel-vaulted, raised-panel wood ceiling, I would go to a high-end local shop. For most applications, however, we find that the custom factory cabinetry is a better value.

Steve Mohr, CKD
Kitchens and Mohr
San Carlos, CA

Reader Believes Middle Class Clientele Key to Kitchen & Bath Dealers

Dear Janice:

First off, I would like to commend you on the very informative publication you put out to our industry every month. Many business owners and designers can greatly expand upon their knowledge by reading the pages of Kitchen & Bath Design News. However, the focus of the writing, in my opinion, is most often on the higher-end design, the upscale sale, or the upper-echelon product.

All of us – kitchen and bath dealers and designers alike – enjoy the higher-ticket sales but I do not think this is an industry-wide reality.

As a high-volume dealer with a 20-year track record, my experience with friends in the industry is that the majority of sales are still going to the “middle class” customer. This is the kind of customer who does not need to show off the 50K in appliances just purchased, or the trophy amenities.

Rather, this is the customer who actually wants to use the kitchen to prepare food. For these families, both parents often work to provide for the two kids, the dog and the white picket fence. Their dream kitchen must be beautiful, but it also must be functional for real life.

As an industry leader, perhaps your publication can put a little more emphasis on these “middle-of-the-road” customers, as well as the dealers who service them.

Jimmy Gavalas
Atlantis Kitchens
Flushing, NY

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