The Benefits of Splurging
authors Janice Costa
A designer friend once told me, “In its purest form, the act of designing is as close as you’ll ever get to perfection.” At its best, design is exciting, challenging, exhilarating, magical and sometimes terrifying, she maintains. It’s about creating a whole that becomes so much more than the sum of its parts – a living, breathing space that, in being transformed, also transforms the lives of those who inhabit it.
But too often, this designer laments, clients don’t want design at its best. They want safe, good enough…in short, boring. That’s why she believes one of the best things about the post-recession kitchen and bath industry is the return of the splurge. After years of safe, neutral, budget-friendly and resale-aware design choices, consumers are finally reclaiming their homes, looking for kitchens and baths that speak to them on a very personal level. That means more color, more drama, more customized touches, more wow appeal – and a greater willingness to invest to make these spaces special and unique.
While clients’ splurges are often creatively appealing and financially advantageous for designers, they also have an added benefit: They tend to be emotional decisions. And emotion is an essential part of great design. Not only do these splurges exemplify the homeowners’ passions, they also tend to have resonance long after the “new kitchen” smell has worn off.
This month, KBDN asked designers to share some of their favorite “splurge projects,” from colorful cabinetry and statement-making appliances to unique tile treatments, custom hardware and more (see related story, Page 48).
Of course not every client has the budget for big splurges. But great designers can help them find the little splurges that will allow them to connect with their kitchen or bath on a purely visceral level, imbuing the space with the kind of emotional resonance that ultimately makes a house a home. Perhaps that’s why these elements are the ones that consumers get most excited about.
Of course, splurges are fun for designers, too. Who doesn’t like to have the creative freedom – and budget – to go out on a limb sometimes? It’s wonderful to be able to let loose creatively, and, indeed, this is often what draws people to the field in the first place.
But encouraging client splurges is more than a lovely indulgence; it’s also good for business. Design splurges help kitchen and bath professionals showcase their talents to the fullest. Those splurges are often the projects that win design competitions, end up on magazine covers and gain exposure – and referrals – through social media shares.
Nor is splurging just for clients’ designs. Designers also need to splurge in other ways to grow professionally, and to advance their businesses.
Are you falling short on inspiration? Perhaps splurging on a trip to attend a European design show might help you discover a fresh new take on today’s hottest trends.
Don’t have the time or budget to jet off to Europe? What about taking a day to visit an art exhibit, or wander through a neighborhood whose architecture appeals to you?
Are you more low-tech than you’d like to admit? Maybe you should splurge on a home automation system. After all, your clients are going to be increasingly looking to integrate automation into their projects in the coming years, and what better way to be able to help them than to discover the pros and cons of these systems through personal experience?
Is your showroom feeling same old, same old? Perhaps it’s time to splurge by upgrading your showroom, adding some new displays or even moving to a new location (see related story, Page 28).
Are your designs humming along nicely, but your bottom line remains stagnant? It might be time to splurge on some business training. Whether signing up for a webinar, attending a business conference, joining a buying group or going to an in-person learning event like KBDN’s “Inspiring Clients: The Very Latest Design, Product and Marketing Trends” seminars (see related story, Page 14), knowledge is the ultimate splurge to help you advance your skills, your creativity and your business. ▪