LEMONT, IL—Attention to detail is a critical factor when designing kitchens and baths. From maintaining the proper aesthetics to taking the right measurements to planning the finishing touches, the overall impressions of a room’s design are reflected through its details.
When planning the redesign of Lemont Kitchen & Bath’s showroom, owner Gary Lichlyter and lead designer Christopher Fleming used that same attention to detail that they take into every design project. The two collaborated on the redesign of the 1,300-sq.-ft. showroom, which is located on Stephen Street in the historic district of Lemont, IL, 35 miles outside of Chicago.
Tiffany Lichlyter, co-owner and business manager of the firm, highlights the location as one of the elements that sets Lemont apart: “The showroom is located in a building that is over 100 years old,” she says. “The redesign highlights this by accenting the expansive ceilings with large-scale displays, and we build on the character of our space through the use of wainscoting and other period moldings.”
The showroom hadn’t had a complete renovation since 1994. Over the years, the firm constructed, switched out and replaced several displays to keep up with the ever-changing styles. “After 19 years in the business, the level of design work we now do has changed so much from when we began,” says Lichlyter, “that we felt we needed to reflect that in our showroom. It’s our main selling tool, and if it doesn’t accurately reflect the type of work we do, then it isn’t really going to help.”
Comfort was the order of the day. “We tried very hard to make the space feel like a great, old restored home,” she adds.
Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony with members of the Lemont Chamber of Commerce and local government officials, the firm hosted an open house-style party to celebrate its newest achievement: a fully updated and redesigned showroom. In attendance were past and current clients, architects, interior designers, builders and tradespeople as well as family, friends and well-wishers. Lemont Kitchen & Bath used the reopening to not only thank its various clients, business partners and supporters, but also as a way to build new partnerships and professional relationships, inviting area designers, builders and contractors to attend and get a feel for the firm’s design sense.
Start By Listening
According to the staff at Lemont, the design process for them begins with really listening to the customer.
Each project is managed by a team of designers, and after getting to know the client’s lifestyles and preferences and having the client compile a wish list, the design process can begin.
“We’ve seen many changes in the industry over the 19 years we’ve been in business. Today’s clients are much more educated and usually have a very good idea of their wants and needs,” notes Lichlyter. “Our designs have become more detailed and, as our business has matured, our project type has become more refined to meet the needs of the evolving client.”
Although most of Lemont’s projects are completed within a 20-mile radius, the team has completed projects as far away as Oklahoma and New York and has a number of projects yearly in Chicago. The firm also works on a number of summer residences in Wisconsin and Michigan.
In addition to its kitchen and bath designs, Lemont has also designed many complete home projects, and specializes in a range of “other room” designs including entertainment rooms, laundry facilities, mud/spa rooms, libraries, wet bars and fireplace mantels.
“We’ve even designed bedroom furniture and armoires,” Lichlyter interjects.
The firm has taken on projects that required accessible design, and Lichlyter says Lemont’s design team keeps current on updates and developments in that area.
In the showroom, there are seven displays, one of which is working. During the renovation, the space was divided into several design settings, such as a kitchen with the feel of a city loft, one with a European estate aesthetic and another inspired by the breezy summer living in the Hamptons.
“We definitely encourage customers to use the displays,” says Lichlyter. There is a working television in one kitchen, equipped with an external hard drive to assist with seminars. It also displays a continuous loop of projects the firm has completed.
Lemont Kitchen & Bath features cabinetry by Jay Rambo Co., Shamrock Cabinets, Inc., Holiday Kitchens and Christiana Cabinetry, along with plumbing products from Elkay, Danze, Bristol & Bath, appliances from Bosch, Sub-Zero, fixtures from Harrington Brass Works, and various architectural elements by Enkeboll Designs.
There are currently four employees on-site. In addition to the co-owners, there is a lead designer, a project manager, a project coordinator and a design assistant. One designer also works remotely.
It is strictly a design firm; the construction end is contracted out, as well as drywall, plumbing, electrical, flooring, etc. Lemont provides its clients with a complete set of blueprints, elevations and mechanicals. The house standard is NNA’s VectorWorks CAD software, but hand drawings are still utilized when “we feel it’s a better representation of the work,” says Lichlyter.
In addition to maintaining a design-focused Website to aid potential clients in their redesign process, Lemont is seeking out alternative ways to expand the business. Targeting consumers, architects and interior designers, the firm is reaching out through ongoing marketing efforts including making “house calls” to local architects and interior designers, advertising in local publications and submitting press releases detailing its current events and accomplishments to news agencies. Later this spring, the showroom will host a series of consumer seminars to bring the community into the showroom.
All of these efforts have garnered the firm some positive attention. Several years ago, Gary Lichlyter won an NKBA/Chicago Chapter award for large kitchen design. More reccently, he was named Businessperson of the Year by SEN Design Group, which was presented at SEN’s national spring conference in 2006. He is also the recipient of several NKBA Design Visions 2006 awards.
So what is it that sets Lemont Kitchen & Bath apart? “No question, our attention to detail,” Lichlyter concludes. “Our awareness of even the smallest of details allows our clients to relax and know their project is as much a priority as if it were part of our own home.”