Design Firm Grows Closer to the Wright Stuff
By John Filippelli
His design firm, which opened its doors in September of 2002, was born from remodeling projects that Goldstein had undertaken when he and his wife first moved to Oak Park in 1996. Owner of The Baronger Group, as well, a home-renovation company and builder of custom homes, Goldstein's expansion into a design showroom was a natural extension.
"We worked on our house and started doing remodeling and new homes here, as well as in North Shore. We got very busy. I had so many people calling about remodeling that for a couple of years, I couldn't do it."
The Wright Stuff
But, added motivation, he notes, came from Oak Park itself. You see, Oak Park served as the home and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright as well as various other famous architects. And, while the city was rich in architectural history, it lacked one thing. "We looked around Oak Park and there were no showrooms. So when a space became available, it took about a year and a half, but we succeeded [in purchasing it]."
Goldstein cites the firm's location (less than nine miles from Chicago and set at the corner of two busy in-town streets) and advertising as key factors in its success, and notes, "We handle kitchens from $20,000 to $100,000. It depends if we're doing a facelift or a complete overhaul."
Not losing the sense of history the city provides, Goldstein adds, "We try to install a kitchen or bathroom that would fit the time period of the home, [without sacrificing the] modern conveniences."
He continues, "It's easy to design a functional space when you
completely gut a kitchen or bathroom. However, to keep the
plumbing, gas and electrical in its existing location and still
have a functional space is a source of pride for us."
Aiding in his success, he says, are both the product lines that he carries (the firm's main cabinet lines are Wood-Mode, Inc. and Brookhaven Cabinetry), and the efficiency with which he receives them. "We are a very schedule-driven company and it's vital to know when the cabinets will arrive on the job site," he offers.
Oak Park Kitchen and Bath also displays a full range of kitchen and plumbing fixtures including: Grohe, TOTO USA, Porcher, Bertch Cabinet Mfg., Inc., Kohler Co., Soho Corp., Lacava, Robern, Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath, Ultra Baths, Inc., Rohl, Bates & Bates, Sub-Zero, U-Line Corp., BSH Home Appliances, Elkay Mfg. Co. and Barclay Products, Ltd.
Additionally, he notes, "We carry a wide variety of limestone, tumbled marble, granite, ceramic, porcelain and marble," and the company will install concrete, soapstone and Corian, as well as other solid surface tops.
The showroom opened in November, 2002, and the firm celebrated the grand opening of its new 4,400-sq. ft. showroom with 250 friends. "The showroom has been very well received. Visitors are impressed with the variety of displays and products we showcase from 50 different faucets to the latest countertops, consoles, pedestals and medicine cabinets to whirlpool tubs," he explains. In fact, the showroom has garnered so much traffic, he notes, that the firm recently began offering cooking classes for its customers.
He also believes that the showroom's open layout and easy traffic flow help to set his showroom apart from others. "We put a lot of thought and planning into designing our showroom. We spread out our displays to open up the showroom floor space and create vibrant, attractive and realistically sized kitchen and bath vignettes," he says.
But, while the aesthetics of the space are important, the main
goal of the showroom and firm Goldstein notes, "is to give
customers ideas and get them interested in a fresh look that fits
within the scheme of their living space."
Attention to Detail
Another key selling point, he explains, is the firm's attention to detail. With every customer that comes to Oak Park Bath and Kitchen, Goldstein and his staff (which includes designer Heidi Gehrke, showroom consultant, Lorraine Coppitas and partners Dan and Bob Urbain) give a detailed schedule of the design process from the start to the finish of their project.
"Once we start a job we are very efficient. Getting a proper design and having the homeowner have time to look at the drawings is key to the design process. So, I'll give the client homework to do [about their project]. When they see how serious we are about it, they get serious too. It's a nice change."
In fact, the one thing that has not changed for Goldstein is the
philosophy he has carried from when he first moved to Oak
"Our philosophy is simple: [We strive for] controlled, consistent growth. As our clientele grows, we're only going to take on jobs we can do well. [In the end] we want to make sure that every client no matter how big or small is taken care of. If you grow too quickly, you can lose control of that."
Oak Park Kitchen and Bath
Location: 132 N. Ridgeland Ave., Oak Park, IL
Principals: Mitch Goldstein, owner and president of Baronger Group; Robert Urbain, owner and operator of Allied Plumbing; Daniel Urbain, owner and operator of Allied Plumbing; Heidi Gehrke, kitchen designer and showroom consultant and Lorraine Coppitas, showroom consultant
Hours of Operation:
10 a.m. 6 p.m., Tues.-Sat.
Employees: Three for the showroom; six for construction.
Major Product Lines: Wood-Mode, Inc., Brookhaven, Grohe, TOTO USA, Porcher, Bertch Cabinet Mfg., Inc., Kohler Co., Soho Corp., Lacava, Robern, Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath, Ultra Baths, Inc., Rohl, Bates & Bates, Sub-Zero, U-Line Corp., BSH Home Appliances, Elkay Mfg. Co., Barclay Products, Ltd.
20/20 design software
"We believe in controlled, consistent growth."