NL: Wait, are we on the air? I only wear my sunglasses inside at the airport. Wait... are we at the airport?
NL: I absolutely remember. The folks at AT&T remember, too. They say glitternaise or not, we actually talked that many minutes. Just between you and me, I think that only preteen girls talked as much as we did. If I didn't pay the bill myself, I'd be waiting for an angry parent to scold me and ground me from my phone.
I'm glad that your kitchen is in though... it's been a rough Spring for our area. I'm thankful that your home and ours were spared.
MS: Yes we are both very lucky, praise the White Witch. And OMG LOL!! We totes talked a lot!!!! But hey, that's what you get for telling me you had an open phone policy. But at least I had the common decency to not call during the Super Bowl. You're welcome.
NL: I'm just glad that AT&T isn't charging me for this interview. I'd have to send you another bill. Super Bowl? Have we been working on this for that long? Boy, how time flies when we're having fun?!
MS: Don't even front. You know AT&T doesn't have service in your area. Do I need to get Donald Trump in here to verify our real contract date because I think we both know this project started in 1973... I'm very thorough. Also a time traveler. But yeah, this was actually a LOT of fun. Possibly illegal amounts of fun unless you live in Bangkok or something...
NL: I think I'm out of witty comments so soon in to the interview. Next question, Oprah.
MS: Keep drinking... I think the first thing we should discuss is how I came to work with you. I had already made some poor girl in an orange apron cry blood tears when she saw my pentagram floorplan but we were going to muscle through. That seemed like the cheapest option for me because I don't know if you've read my bio up there to the right but I'm cheap and there's no way in hell I could afford cabinets from a fancy kitchen showroom like the fine establishment that employs you. Do y'all install cabinets with your pinkie finger up? After some blog comments/tweets we exchanged it was clear I was wrong though. Tell us, oh Wise Cabinet Daddy, why other cheap-asses like me can afford to buy cabinets that don't come from a big box retailer.
NL: Well dear, you're certainly not the first (or sadly, the last) person to incorrectly assume that the orange/blue or other colored box would be the least expensive option. Now with that being said, you CAN go buy cabinets at a home center for less than what you paid, but you'll be getting those awesome unfinished cabinets that are made from firewood and pallets by Kathy Lee's sweatshop children. All kidding aside, what most homeowners fail to realize is that they NEED a good designer. It may cost more up front than buying something that seems more "off the shelf", but the end result likely will save money. A fancy kitchen showroom shouldn't be intimidating... shop them, find someone that fits your personality and then start the process.
Most reputable kitchen designers are competant and capable enough of working inside a budget. You were fortunate for a couple of reasons: you had a budget in mind (most don't) and you ended up stuck with me. I love working within a budget!
MS: Fancy kitchen showrooms ARE intimidating (listen up fancy kitchen showroom people) since they don't seem too excited to slum/work with us non-corbel-mocha-glazed-lovin consumers. So I was skeptical you could meet my budget (I don't know how people DON'T have numbers beforehand...) so the first thing I said was "me want cabinets for X" and you said 'done.' And then you said you like to operate in a 'no bullshit zone' and my heart burst with unfathomable joy because I have ocean front property there. And we had zero bullshit. I thought the whole process was actually easy. (At least the part dealing with you...) Is that normal or is the No Bullshit Zone a magical place like Narnia that only few are privileged enough to visit?
NL: I like to think that my Narnia space is rare but it's how we roll. There are many designers that don't like to work within the restrictions of a budget or even a customer that has ideas of their own. Ultimately, my goal when approaching a project is determining whether or not that I can make a homeowner happy- not just with fitting in budget, but also allowing them to have the kitchen they wanted in the first place.
With that said, it's not always that easy. Had you approached me with a kitchen that was triple the size of yours loaded with luxe appliances with the same budget, we would have had a couple of issues(don't laugh, it's happened). I think the bulk of the reason that you had so little resistance(real or imaginary) was because you brought realistic expectations to the table. That's not saying that because you felt beat down by the fancy kitchen people made it easy for us to work together. You knew up-front the scope of the project. That is 99ish% more than what most homeowners prepare.
AND, if fancy kitchen showrooms want to stay in business... they need to recognize that there are still homeowners that want to spend money. If they're okay with turning down business, we'll happily do the work.
MS: I like to keep it real! And I don't like surprises so I'm a bit of a control freak but I'm insecure about it so I did end up calling you a lot to verify that yes indeed it WAS the most beautiful tile you'd ever seen on the planet of all time ever. Sorry about that. And sorry about that time I called after the sink fuck up where I threatened to slice my wrists with the butcher block scraps but I think we both know that was just a cry for help. Designers who can't deal with budgets and half-hearted suicide attempts are just lazy.
So now that you saw the space IN PERSON (!) how does it feel? Different from only looking at the floorplans? How much did you want to dry hump that sink? What are your thoughts on pancakes with bacon?
NL: Lazy is right.
Calling a lot will never bother me. Again, it all goes back to expectations. I made myself available to you as a resource, but also explained that I'm a real person that doesn't live under my desk in the showroom and that you might call me at a time when I'm just not going to answer. No need for unrealistic expectations.
I was quite happy to be a reassuring sounding board- I knew after our initial conversations that you would do a good job on choices of which I wouldn't be a part(any designer that can't let go of choosing some of the details needs to get a grip). I guess this is the appropriate time to apologize for sometimes just telling you to put on your big girl panties and deal with it (I'm really not sorry, you just needed some temporary empowerment).
The kitchen really felt like I knew it would. I think that some industry professionals have the ability to put themselves in the space without actually being there and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of it. It's a learned ability, in my opinion, and I honed mine as a child while looking at house plans with my parents(we didn't have comic books). Mom always said that she couldn't look at a house plan without first going through the front door, just as she would in real life. I can do that in my head... pretty cool, huh?
But back to the kitchen... I was quite happy to see the finished product. I wish I could have seen the hellgate, just for perspective. The sink rocks my socks in all sorts of ways. I'm surprised that you've been able to fight of the real estate listing agents who have been likely peering through the windows at it.
Uhmm pancakes and bacon?! Nothing short of stunning!
MS: I didn't choose you for your shallow niceties, I chose you for your stunning good looks, your saucy Julia Sugarbaker attitude and our mutual appreciation of pork. AND your magical mind's eye for creeping around floorplans. That did come in handy because I have just enough of a design background to be dangerous but I could tell that you knew your shit. Have we had enough of the long distance lovefest?
Any other thing you might wish homeowners would realize about the process or tips for working with a designer (other than be like me - duh)?! This is your chance to shout it from the rooftops! No one can see you over here - it's like we're invisible on this blog. Unless someone searches for 'Julia Sugarbaker sauce porn kitchen' and the chances of that are pretty slim.
NL: I have had a few ladies comment on my legs... I don't really like wearing long pants.
My only tip for homeowners is to just try and forget ALL the fluff and muck you've heard from Home and DIY tv. Talk to a good designer and be forthright. Secrets won't get you a good deal or a fun project. Don't be afraid to ask questions, question designs, etc. A good designer will be able to explain reasoning and give you options to best utilize your space.
It's like I told you Madame: I'm good, but I'm not magic. Understanding the potential roadblocks is a necessary evil, but cooperating with your designer may help ease/eliminate them.
MS: Who would win in a fight: Charlemagne or MC Skat Cat?
NL: Charley for sure... Skat is too busy trying to be a Paula Abdul backup dancer.
MS: I'm sorry - I meant who would win in a fight between the White Witch Candice Olsen and David Bromstad? And I'm not sure what you have against inspirational and crafty advice the likes of which you see on tv shows featuring Moroccan living rooms decorated for under $50... Are you some kind of hater of good taste, you good taste hater?!!
Charlemagne will scratch your eyes out for calling her that, btw.
NL: Well, David could distract Candice by painting a picture of a southwestern sunset(shirtless, of course) and one of his tacky assistants could beat her down while she's under his spell... I'll go with David.
And it was a compliment to Charlemagne. Tell her to watch Long Kiss Goodnight... if someone compared me to Geena Davis, I'd be thrilled!
I guess I'm a good taste hater. Oh well. HGTV be damned.
MS: You just blew my mind with that Long Kiss Goodnight reference - I squee for it. Yet another reason why we were a match made in Southern-friend heaven.
I don't really know how to end this except to tell you that I'm planning on doing my bathroom remodel in a Moroccan theme with magenta and orange sponge-painted walls with lights made from used cans with holes punched in them in the shape of non-threatening Islamic patterns so you better get used to it. Julia Sugarbaker would agree, I'm sure.
You get a twofer today! Go check out Cupboards where I talk to HIS readers about the design process.
You get a twofer today! Go check out Cupboards where I talk to HIS readers about the design process.