Form Follows Function for DC-Based Design Firm

When it comes to kitchen and bath design, the goal is to make a room both beautiful and functional. Room designs need to fit the personality of the homeowner and the home, but should also work well for the client today and in the future.

That is the belief of Cindy Grossmueller McClure, ASID, MCR, CKD, GCP, founder and owner of Grossmueller’s Design Consultants, located in Washington, DC. “The thing that makes Grossmueller’s unique is that, from our practical knowledge of residential construction, we design beautiful and functional spaces that become timeless,” she reports. “We take into account the functionality of today while incorporating how life in those spaces might evolve.”

Originally established in 1995 to serve smaller contractors who wanted to offer design services but did not have the capability or the desire to have a design staff, Grossmueller’s has grown over the years to not only successfully serve contractors but work directly with homeowners as well.

“The end users of our designs are homeowners who have lived in their homes for a bit of time, and who are looking to rework the existing spaces or create additional spaces,” offers McClure. She adds that while the firm does not limit the type of project it works on in a home, Grossmueller’s is most recognized for its detail work and work on kitchens and baths.

McClure credits the firm’s success to the staff’s commitment to learning the craft and honing their skills. “I typically want to get my hands ‘dirty’ and want to understand how and why things go together in a certain way,” she states. “I think this makes many of my designs work because I follow the motto of ‘Form follows function.’”

A VIEW FROM BOTH SIDES

Getting to know the homeowners and how they live in the space is paramount to a successful design, believes McClure. She notes that she and her two designers spend a great deal of time with each client, trying to understand their needs and what solutions work for them.

“We create the best designs to suit them, without letting our egos get in the way,” she stresses.

One such design was a bathroom that was part of a complete conversion of the third floor of a row house. The floor was to be an entire master suite, and the master bath included a freestanding tub and open two-person shower. “The unique thing about it was that there were many elements of nature found in the bathroom – a stone wall, wood sinks, metal faucets and, of course, water,” she offers. The finished design was an ideal match for the homeowner.

The staff also understands and pays close attention to the challenges of remodeling from a contractor’s point of view and many of the typical problems that can arise on a job. “We help set realistic expectations and are there to provide solutions for either side when the unexpected arises,” McClure says.

And the unexpected happened in one kitchen design in a home in Georgetown, which McClure notes was one of the company’s most challenging – and fun – projects in terms of both design and construction. The house was originally a converted stable or garage, and the first floor was divided into sections with 18"-thick stone walls. The home originally had a small galley kitchen in one bay and all of the utilities in the second.

“The project involved removing that wall and creating a more open-space kitchen with the utilities made more compact and efficient,” she explains. “The result was a startlingly open space with ‘fake’ skylights and volume to the ceiling, ample counter space and entertainment space for the owners.”

Because the firm is heavily involved in the interior design, remodeling and kitchen and bath worlds, McClure believes the staff’s knowledge of each segment helps them bridge the various industries. “I believe that these are factors that have made us successful. I also believe that asking a lot of questions and truly listening to the clients are major factors in designing kitchens and baths,” she stresses.

Gathering information plays a key role when creating spaces such as kosher kitchens, some of the firm’s more daunting designs. “These provide unique challenges in that you need to ensure the layout includes multiples of most of the appliances, and a multitude of storage options for meat, dairy and pareve,” she states.

As years have passed, McClure notes that the company has had to get smarter about how it looks at projects. Grossmueller’s has invested in different computer programs, such as Adobe Sketchup, that help the staff communicate their designs more easily and in less time. “We have also taken a step to help educate consumers by posting a weekly blog and using social media to keep in touch with existing and potential clients,” she reports.

Because Grossmueller’s is a design consulting firm, it does not represent or carry specific lines. McClure notes, however, that the company does specify all of the items necessary to complete a remodeling project – from cabinetry to countertops to appliances to sinks and so much more.

“Our philosophy is to handle both complex and simple design projects with equal care, while providing the highest quality work at competitive rates,” she states.

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