Design Firm Keeps It All in the Family

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Lifestyle Kitchen Studio is a family-owned and operated design firm, founded in 2002 by Susan Bloss, who had been working in the industry in the Grand Rapids, MI area since the mid-1980s. Since opening the doors, her daughter and son-in-law, Holly Marie and Tory Peterson, have joined her as designers and, most recently, daughter Kristina Sisk has been brought on board as director of operations. Even dad David, a retired lawyer, contributes to the business by writing a cooking blog posted on the Grand Rapids business’ Web site.
Being family owned is an important key to the company’s success, says Holly Marie. “Our clients really relate to it,” she says. “When we work on their kitchens, we are part of their daily lives for two to six months, depending on the project. Being a family business is comforting to them. They also seem to open up quickly when they meet my mother, my husband…even my dog! Being a family business also offers a different environment than other firms in our area that are larger, corporate companies. We stand out.”

From Concept to Completion
Lifestyle Kitchen Studio offers kitchen design from concept to completion, including layout, cabinetry, appliances, product selection, finish material and jobsite support. Susan and Holly Marie are also both Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) and, as such, the firm specializes in Universal Design.
“The philosophy of inclusiveness and personalized design are key elements of kitchen design,” says Holly Marie, who notes that she, Susan and Kristina are all very connected to a rehabilitation hospital in the area where they routinely volunteer with patients. “Aging in place is becoming much more of a concern for people of all ages and abilities. People are looking less for a place they will flip or move from in five years. Instead, they are looking for a place to stay long term, and they are looking for design that will be valuable to their home.”
Another specialty for the firm is that, in addition to full kitchen design services, it also provides hourly consultations for homeowners, builders and interior designers. For an hourly fee, a client will receive professional advice on layout, materials, paint color and space planning. It’s a service they started offering during the recession, and one that they have continued into the improved economy.
“It started because a former client wanted to do a small project on a different house she owned,” says Holly Marie. “It has grown since then and we’ve continued to offer it because it’s valuable for us. It’s a great option for someone who isn’t necessarily looking for a full kitchen redesign…someone who wants a partial renovation or a facelift, something that will change the look and feel of the space, without redoing everything. Maybe it’s re-
arranging cabinets, changing colors or doing a new backsplash. We also do a lot of work with different trades, such as cabinet makers, who may want a consultation.”
While consultation services helped during the recession, Holly Marie says that emphasizing education during that time was important as well. As such, both she and Susan are CKDs as well as CAPS certified, and Tory is AKBD certified.
“Unfortunately, we saw a lot of family businesses close during the recession,” she says. “We’ve kept our focus on continuing education, staying current on trends and maintaining our mission of excellent customer service. We have been able to maintain positive growth and we are looking at 2015 being one of our busiest years yet.”
Staying ahead of the curve also helped Holly Marie be part of the first class of NKBA’s 30 Under 30 Program. “It was a huge honor to be included in such a diverse and influential group,” she says. “It has been wonderful to see my fellow ‘30s Wolfpack’ grow and achieve since first meeting in New Orleans.”

Historic Showroom
Lifestyle Kitchen Studio recently relocated its showroom to a 100-year-old home in the Heritage Hill Historic District in Grand Rapids. “We have had incredible results since moving,” she continues. “We were able to maintain the historic elements of the building while showcasing our favorite designs.”
Its two most popular displays are actually quite different from one another. One is a modern display with Leicht cabinetry that features highly reflective white acrylic doors, a cascading quartz bar top, stainless steel countertop and Gaggenau appliances. It is contrasted with a traditional display featuring mahogany LKS signature design cabinets with granite countertops and Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances.
In addition, the showroom also showcases BlueStar, Miele, Smeg, Bertazzoni and Fisher & Paykel appliances and Cambria and Caesarstone countertops, in addition to stone, concrete, stainless steel and wood countertops.
A few years ago, the firm reassessed its cabinetry line, choosing to offer a broader product line with varied price points. Its current lineup includes Leicht, CraftMaid, UltraCraft and LKS custom cabinetry fabricated in Michigan.
“During the recession, we evaluated the lines we carried and started offering cabinets at lower price points than we had in the past,” she says. “We still applied our same design capabilities, but we wanted to broaden our range of products, selecting products with quality we could stand behind.”
Kristina also hopes to build on the interest generated from the relatively recent showroom move, and she has plans to more fully utilize the showroom, starting by offering kitchen demonstrations. The firm has also partnered with the Grand Rapids Symphony for a fundraiser, but much of its business comes through referrals. “We’ve been incredibly lucky to maintain relationships with many of our past clients who have brought us current business,” says Holly Marie. “We also have had a lot of interest through Houzz.”  

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