Designer Offers Ideas for Learning How to Design 'Outside the Box'

Designer Offers Ideas for Learning How to Design 'Outside the Box'

Do you feel that your designs are starting to look stale or the same? Is that fair to your customers? Probably not. So, you need to get customers to start thinking outside the box to start having fun.

So said Sandra Luttchens, CKD, of Waterloo, IA-based Omega Cabinetry, in her seminar at this year's Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Chicago titled Designing Outside the Box.

According to Luttchens, design gives us the tools to make the world a more beautiful and humane place to be one that reflects intelligence and imagination, dreams and designs, and recognizes the power of design to evoke the human spirit. That's what it's all about: Creating spaces for customers to love,
places where they can feel extremely comfortable.

However, Luttchens says before you can begin the outside the box design aspect of being fun and different, you must actually be fun and different.

Some of her suggestions include:

  • Make it fun. Be playful.
  • Choose your attitude. Even if a frustrated customer drives you crazy, think, "This one person is not going to ruin my day for the rest of the customers."
  • Make their day. If you don't make customers feel good about being there with you, are they going to come back?
  • Narrow down their choices. Instead of showing them 50 door assorted styles, you only have to show them three. You don't want to confuse them.
  • Find out about your customers' styles. Find out about their hobbies, and how you can coordinate those things into the kitchen.

    Once the pre-design part has been accomplished, Luttchens suggests different ways to create a unique design. Each one has its own style and feel, she notes.
  • Arts and Crafts Style. This style can be created using the concept of simplicity, with horizontal, straight lines.

    Earth-tone colors give it a very neutral feel. You can take one cabinet and put three doors on it, designing it in a unique way. Leaded glass, possibly put on the end of the island, adds a crafty touch. Take a look at the family and see what can work. If there are small children, leaded glass may not be suitable.
  • English Design. English feels totally different because it's very formal. Also very prevalent in English design is the beaded inset. It's the most traditional part of the style, but you can still have fun without making it busy.
  • Contemporary Design. Customers are usually scared of this style because they're afraid of resale. The next person may not like it, and it could take longer to sell the house. One thing to do is make it cozy; warm it up a bit with interesting wall colors.
  • Rustic Lodge. This goes back to the thought of making it fun. Rustic lodge design can be cozy, fun, warm and comfortable. Use exposed logs or hang a rope swing in the kitchen. An open cooking grill, a twig chair, a butcher block table and canoe for shelves with an oar for a curtain rod are all examples of thinking outside the box and creating an unusual, yet original, design.
  • Traditional Design. This style is a combination of different styles. Traditional design is classic, timeless. Varied heights and depths, square or arched raised panel and wood tones combine a creative look.
    Luttchens advises designers to use inspirations, such as magazines or books. Don't rip it off and duplicate it exactly, she says; rather, replicate with your touch.