Ellen Cheever, Pivotal Industry Figure for Decades, Dies

authors Eliot Sefrin | February 13, 2021

WILMINGTON, DE — Ellen Cheever, CMKBD, ASID, CAPS, whose prodigious contributions to the kitchen and bath industry touched the lives of countless designers, colleagues, students, corporate officials, and homeowners, died Friday at her home in Wilmington, DE.

A Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer, Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Cheever – who began her career after graduating with a B.A. degree in home economics from California State University – forged a matchless legacy across nearly five decades as an independent designer, educator, author, showroom consultant, manufacturer’s rep, and executive in the cabinet-manufacturing sector.

A member of the National Kitchen & Bath Association’s Hall of Fame, and widely recognized as the industry’s leading design expert, Cheever was the author of more than 20 textbooks that are considered the basis of kitchen and bathroom design education. Under her leadership as the NKBA’s director of Educational Services, the association’s Kitchen and Bathroom Industry Technical Manuals were first published.

In addition to heading her award-winning Wilmington, DE-based residential design firm, Ellen Cheever & Associates, Cheever produced and presented CEU programs, seminars and symposiums on kitchen/bath design, business management, sales, showroom design and related topics to audiences throughout North America, as well as New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Japan, South America, Canada and other countries.

She also combined her talents and expertise to design showrooms, develop products, build dealer networks, produce training and marketing programs, and create trade show exhibits and editorial sets for major corporate clients.

Cheever, in addition, was a prolific, longtime contributor to Kitchen & Bath Design News, serving both as a columnist and educator who created and taught a successful series of seminars that focused on enhancing the profit-generating operations of residential kitchen and retail design studios.

Among her most recent achievements:

  • She was named in 2017 as one of Delaware’s Top Women in Business and named the same year as one of the Top 50 Industry Influencers by KBDN.
  • In 2017, KBDN included her in its inaugural list of Top 50 Innovators, a designation that honors industry professionals whose contributions have shaped the kitchen and bath trade.
  • A newly renovated “Cheever Design Library,” housing a broad collection of Cheever’s writings, was opened in 2018 at Virginia Tech’s Real Life Design Lab, in Blacksburg, VA.
  • The Ellen Cheever Student Certification Scholarship program was established in 2019 by the NKBA.
  • In 2020, she led a design team in re-imagining the family kitchen centers at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, while complementing her industry involvement with her residential practice.

At the time of her death, Cheever, in semi-retirement, continued to write, consult, design and present live and online programs on space planning, project management, product specification and related topics. She also collaborated on both new-home and remodeling projects with the team at the Wilmington, DE-based Giorgi Kitchens & Designs, an award-winning, family-owned design firm.

Cheever is survived by her husband and business partner Pete Giorgi, Sr., CMKBD, a principal for many years at Giorgi Kitchens & Designs.

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