Here at Kitchen Distributors, we strive for excellence in several areas of the luxury kitchen space, but if we were to summarize them quickly they are:
- Delivering timeless, high-quality, custom products and design, along with a custom and hands-on process, to everyone that chooses us as their kitchen designer.
- Making our clients feel at home and comfortable when working with us and even long after the job is complete.
Although all of the items above are equally important in our eyes, we tend to put an emphasis on the term “timeless”. It is always our goal to create spaces that will stand the test of time, both in design and functionality. To fully understand the concept of timeless design and its importance we tapped Elisabeth Aiello, a 25-year Kitchen Distributor’s design veteran, to give her expert opinion on the design elements that will stand the test of time, what to avoid when trying to achieve a timeless look and more.
Keep reading for a raw look at our conversation with Elisabeth, a consummate designer with the experience to back her claims and insight.
You’ve been with Kd for 25 years – what led you here and what do you enjoy most about representing Kd. as a designer?
Passion for design is what brought me to Kitchen Distributors. I started at a much smaller company 27 years ago and always knew that Kd. was where I wanted to end up. The quality and level of detail provided to each client and project translated to this being my dream job. I walked in one day, spoke with Esther (one of the original Kd. Founders), and the rest was history.
That leads me to one of the reasons I love it here – the family-oriented aspect. We are all very passionate, and our approach is also very different as it is truly full-service. We take projects from the very beginning to the very end and stay involved in every aspect along the way. This gives us the ability to ensure every step of the design is carried through without missing a detail. Our clients aren’t just buying cabinets – they’re buying a headache-free experience and all of the Kd family-aspect ideals and values. I can confidently say every designer and team member here thinks “how would I feel going through this process?” and strives to ease any worries the client may have.
When working with a client on designing their kitchen, what are the most common must-haves you receive? How have the must-haves changed over the years?
Many people don’t actually know what they want. In many cases, they look at their kitchen and say “there’s probably nothing you can do”. In most cases, there is ALWAYS something we can do, and my mind can’t help but shift into creative mode whenever I see a space for the first time. I go beyond thinking about what they may want and lean on my experience to also think about how the kitchen will function and what problems it needs to solve.
How we think about a kitchen as a whole has changed over the years. It used to be one sink, one cooktop, and one refrigerator. We’ve come a long way… there are now multiple cooks in the kitchen and many different types of cooking technology. There are now zones being created based on use cases, which we determine by diving into the needs of the family/kitchen and designing accordingly.
Everybody says they want a prettier kitchen. Function is often an afterthought for clients, but I strive for a functional kitchen first because the “pretty” is always a given.
How do you stay on top of kitchen trends or changes to ensure you’re always delivering high-quality, exceptional design?
I’m always doing seminars and looking up different blogs. I went to Italy two years ago with stone partners to see the quarrying process. Much of my “staying on top of it” though comes from my passion for the space. It keeps me driven, curious and creative. It also comes from experience which comes in handy when anticipating hurdles or finding solutions to unique problems – I love a challenge as a test of my mindset and perspective. Kitchen design is a very creative endeavor, and art is a combination of improvisation, skill, and experience. I view each space I design as an individual piece or art that uses all of my knowledge to come to fruition.
Out of all the qualities of Kd kitchens, “timeless” seems to stand out the most. What does “timeless” mean to you?
I’m always trying to achieve a timeless kitchen. I don’t want the client to walk into their kitchen in 20 years and have to rip it all out. Timeless to me means high-quality materials and knowing how to use them. Timeless design requires a number of different textures, especially natural materials that give you substance such as wood and stone.
Quality has been and always will be a timeless attribute. My advice: keep with the basics and nice quality – use the real stone, use the wood, use products that are earthy. Incorporating quality into the kitchen will always ensure it is viewed well. So will designing for the space and for the home from a functional standpoint.
What are three design elements that define a timeless kitchen/will stand the test of time?
Natural elements and incorporating textures make a space timeless. Some of my favorites are:
- Stone and wood
- Satin or forged/raw metal hardware
- Textured tile
- Leathered stone
This remodel project in Cherry Hills is a great example. It’s a contemporary kitchen with amazing traditional features. The backsplash is a raw textured stone with sleek appliances and there is also wood incorporated. When you can’t say that the design is one particular style, that often means it is timeless.
On the flip side, are there design elements you consider to be “not timeless” that designers should avoid if their goal is timeless design?
I believe some of the more inexpensive, engineered products will show a lack of quality over time. Outrageous colors oftentimes don’t stand the test of time, which is why I prefer earthy tones. I also think too much glam can appear as not timeless.
Timelessness lies in a space of restraint and subtlety with details. If clients want color, that is okay, you just have to incorporate them with restraint and approach the project with a balanced perspective.
How do you make sure a timeless design still seems current? What is your take on trends — is it possible to make something that is on-trend now, timeless?
This is tricky because you never know how your design is going to be perceived, but I’d say timeless design can incorporate trends very easily. Trends and timelessness can go hand in hand. Take our showroom displays as an example, one of them has metal inlay accents and polished nickel hardware that are more timeless than trendy. This same display also has mosaic tile that can appear more on the trendy side. It’s about striking a balance of mixed materials to achieve a current and timeless end result.
Taking into account your 25 years of experience, what is your biggest takeaway or #1 kitchen design rule/tip?
Hire a designer. People are often lost when it comes to kitchen design and that’s what we’re here for. We take the headache and worry out of it. We make it a fun experience and can provide as much service as you need. Without a really good kitchen designer, the project is very difficult – there are millions of details and issues that arise. We’re a team of qualified people that care about what we do and truly want to make the process seamless. We have years of history with trades, installers, and so on. This is priceless. Why go through the headache on your own?
Does this take on timeless design have you dreaming of a new kitchen?
Make sure to check out our Kitchen Design Checklist to help plan your project from start to finish. After you download the checklist, browse our gallery for some visual inspiration.