Seems like the consumer is a little leery lately. Everyone’s radar is on high alert looking to avoid the big RIPOFF. I can only speak for myself but I’m confident that I am in the majority. All we kitchen and bath industry professionals want is to make you happy. Do we have to eat? Yes, and so do all the hard working people that make your life possible. That said, I do understand where you’re coming from. After all, I am a consumer too. With that in mind I have come up with a cheat sheet for you. Run through these 5 tips as a prelude to your decision making and you should be able to trust once again. Oh and remember there is a difference between cheap and value for the money. I know cheap is tempting but it isn’t cheap anymore if you have to replace a product that doesn’t make the cut.
1. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER– Today there is no excuse not to educate yourself before you go shopping. There is a wide array of media at your disposal. Use the internet and talk to people! Yes, people, in person (ok can be online too). Talk to the experts. Read blogs. Ask questions and talk to other consumers. One of the best ways to feel good about your choices is to know other people who have made them before you and been happy. No, you can never know for sure but the more knowledge you have the more equipped you are to make the right selection for yourself.
2. RESEARCH-This goes hand in hand with #1 but it is really the next step. Once you have defined the scope of your project you will be ready to select specific products such as appliances, counter tops, cabinets etc. that fit into the big picture. Research the choices. What are other people saying? How long has a company been in business? The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) Consumer Reports and the Better Business Bureau are good national and local resources and can indicate if you’re headed in the right direction.
3. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE– Take a little time to find out what your style is. Who wants to spend a butt-load of money on something they’re going to hate looking at? The best way to find what floats your boat is to do something I call “kitchen scrap booking”. Time to have fun. Collect images from magazines, catalogs and the internet. These don’t even have to be photos of kitchens. They should be anything that appeals to you, a style, product or just a general ambiance. In this way you will begin to see the patterns and perhaps even discover some things you never consciously knew! For example you may find that 7 of 10 photos contain white cabinetry but maybe you never considered that. Getting what you love is good value. It just takes a little vision.
4. LET THE PROFESSIONALS DO THEIR JOB- A WORD OF CAUTION: Don’t get carried away here. You’ve all heard “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. It’s true. Never succumb to thinking you know it ALL. That’s why there are people who have studied and spend a large part of their waking lives becoming certified experts so they can get paid to help you. Use them.
5. COMMUNICATE FOR GOD SAKES! Once you’ve got some semblance of a plan in your head it’s time to take it (along with your scrapbook) to the magician professional who can make it happen for you. This is not about money. You have to buy your products somewhere and that place should have a professional on hand to take your vision and translate it into your dream. That’s all we do folks. It is my experience that the best projects are really good collaborations between client and designer. Getting what you want equates to good value for money invested. The NKBA is a good source for qualified professionals in your area. Many of us are also willing to work on a consultation basis, so ask!