Design Firm rebrands itself to deliver more

Stamford, CT — Tucked into the heart of New England, Deane, Inc. (formerly Kitchens by Deane) basks in the midst of tradition…everything from home design to its 50-plus year history that has spanned three generations, with brother and sister duo Pete Deane and Carrie Deane Corcoran currently at the helm.

Yet the firm doesn’t let tradition pigeonhole itself, or its clients. As such, the company is celebrating its first full year as Deane, Inc., launching its new name in April, 2011 to better reflect its capabilities in custom cabinetry in all areas of the home.

“We have always designed rooms outside of the kitchen,” says Pete Deane, principal. “But we haven’t done a very good job of marketing that fact. Our former name somewhat got in the way. By rebranding, we feel we can bring in clients who may be looking for rooms beyond just kitchens.”

Deane notes the transition has been a four-year process, starting with subtle changes such as minimizing, before eliminating, the “Kitchens by” in its logo. The company also purchased an 1888 Victorian home in New Canaan to open as a second showroom.

“It feels like you’re walking into someone’s home,” he says. “There’s a banquette, a bar, a live kitchen, a library, closets and built-ins. It really communicates what our rebranding is all about.”

The original Stamford showroom also boasts an array of displays, including two live kitchens, a functioning bar and a host of vignettes that showcase an array of cabinetry.

Both showrooms serve as places to hold events, including those for the community and for fundraisers, as well as a cooking school hosted by Deane’s wife, Julia.

Behind the design

With a 10-member design team, including two CKDs, four CMKBDs and one ASID, the staff completes about 125 to 150 projects each year. “We have highly credentialed designers who are trained in all different styles,” notes Deane. “While we are based in New England where we have a lot of traditional homes, we’re only about 45 minutes from metro-politan New York City, so we see a lot of its influence.”

In the past three to four years, design elements and styling have become more transitional, even in traditional homes, he notes. “People are more willing to explore other styles that might not be supportive of the home’s existing architectural design,” he says. “We’re seeing people build shingle-style homes where millwork is more transitional to contemporary because that’s what they like. And we can handle it all, everything from modern to antique reproduction. Our design team isn’t limited to a certain style.”

Paying attention to design is very important to the company. “We really focus our attention on design, not just selling product,” he says. “There are a lot of good products out there, but functionality is important. We go through an extensive consultation process with our clients to understand their needs, their lifestyles and what they want the outcome to be within the specific room we’re working in.”

Deane also focuses on surrounding clients with a team, which consists of a designer, a project design manager (who creates AutoCAD designs and does all order processing) and a field supervisor (who checks field conditions to ensure site conditions and drawings are in sync). “The industry and our designs have become very complicated,” he says. “To have a designer take full responsibility for all aspects of a job is unrealistic. We have found it necessary to put together a team that can support the level of design and creativity we deliver. Designers are creative, so we let them create. Let the engineer, engineer. When you put someone in a position to play both roles to an expectation that we set, it just can’t be accomplished consistently.”

This philosophy helps the company achieve its design philosophy: “Give our clients more than they expect.”

Moving forward

With a plan in place for moving forward, Deane and his staff look forward to a good year. “We are a strong brand, a safe brand,” he says. “People are familiar with us. We’re involved in the community and we support a lot of organizations. At the end of the day, it comes down to people. We pulled together and took on the challenges of the recession. It was a challenging time, but we’re still standing, are able to talk about it and are proud of what we’ve accomplished. Last year was a good year, and 2012 is off to a good start. We’re not where we were in 2007, but the trend is our friend and we’re moving in the right direction.”