By Francie Healy
Lori Di Saverio, Sandra McLaurin, and Peter Summers have worked together in the kitchen and bath business for more than 25 years. And they say there’s never a dull moment.
They are the owners of Spectrum Kitchen and Bath Design, which includes a 2,000 sq. ft. showroom in Kanata.
A member of the RenoMark™ program, Spectrum works with professional contractors to provide kitchens and bathrooms for new construction and renovations.
For some customers, the showroom is a first step just to see what’s possible. They can look at finishes, hardware, and all the interesting features of a 2017 kitchen or bath. It’s a place for ideas and inspiration. Spectrum then guides them through the process of custom design, products and finishes to installation.
Lori and Sandra are designers who handle all the accounts. Peter, with a background as a professional cabinet installer, is the hands-on person who oversees scheduling, deliveries, installation and follow-up. There are about 12 on staff including qualified and experienced designers as well as cabinet and countertop installers, many of whom have worked with the owners for many years.
After working together at a company that went out of business, Lori, Sandra and Peter started their own company in 2008. Five years later they opened the showroom in Kanata. It’s in a busy retail location, open on Saturdays as well as weekdays.
The work challenges and energizes the owners, even after many years of being in the business.
“It’s never the same thing twice,” says Sandra. “Every kitchen we do is different.”
Lori and Sandra like to put on their construction boots, get out of the showroom, and go to the sites. This is the heart of the process, where they connect with renovators, builders, and installers, and where they can see their designs (and their customers’ wishes) become reality.
The kitchen and bath business is always busy, they say; but Spring to Fall is the busiest. In winter, “everyone’s planning”, so that tends to be a time for designing and ordering. Throughout all seasons, however, Lori and Sandra are on the lookout for the latest in colours, designs, materials, and products.
Spectrum’s designers enjoy going to the location of a renovation-to-be, taking measurements of the proposed new area, and finding out what the homeowner wants. Unless there is a pressing deadline for some reason (for instance, if the house is to go up for sale), this process can take time. Homeowners might need guidance about the best approach for their kitchen or bathroom, depending on budget and space.
And there’s longevity to think about, too. Not so much the longevity of the physical room – Lori and Sandra say a good kitchen or bathroom should last decades if it is constructed professionally and with good materials – but about how soon a room will become dated because of its style.
Sometimes customers see kitchens in magazines that are stunning, modern and unique, with bright, trendy colours. They’re beautiful, but unless they expect to update their kitchen every three or four years, Lori and Sandra advise them to think about something that is perhaps more neutral.
“If you choose cabinet colours, finishes, and styles that are too trendy,” says Lori, “your kitchen is going to look dated very quickly.” She suggests, instead, “choosing ‘risky’ colours for the wall paint and accessories, which can be changed more often.”
Space can be one of the challenges of creating a new kitchen. The designers say the perfect situation is hard to come by unless you design your kitchen and then build your house around it. Lori says that doesn’t happen often – but it has happened.
Either way, it’s a major undertaking. Sandra and Lori know this all too well, and it’s why they spend a good amount of time in the early stages of conception and design.
Customers often need guidance about what will fit their budget.
“Budget is where we start,” says Sandra, “so we know where we can go.”
“Sometimes there’s some compromising to be done,” adds Lori.
“Or it can go the other way,” says Sandra. “Sometimes it can be a nice surprise, to see what you can get for your money.”