What the renovation industry can learn from our 16 year olds…

December 13, 2014

“Our homes are filled with 16 year old teenage strangers and we don’t know what to do about it!”

The 16 year old of today is certainly not the same as when we were 16 year olds. No way, times sure have changed! That glazed look that used to be so cool, the weathered or distressed look that used to fill hearts of cabinet shoppers with joy and experienced cabinet makers with dread, ( you want me to do WHAT to the Cherry Kitchen cabinets I just made for you…) are up for discussion and sometimes heated debate! The dark oak, then the light oak, then the brass knobs….You get the picture, trends in renovation, in particular, kitchens, are changing faster than 16 year old teenaged kids are dropping off Facebook and many designers and cabinet makers are way past curfew and in for a good grounding! I am speaking of course of the new “classic,” that questionable, what do we do with this, albeit functional but strange being in our homes….the 16 year old kitchen!

Trying to keep up with the changes in renovation, especially cabinetry in kitchens and entertainment units is getting more and more like trying to keep up with a the trends of the common 16 year old in our North American society. Changing or evolving, depending on how you choose to view it, at a dizzying pace, the society around us spins and spins. Social media, trends in fashion and even in television are driving an industry steam engine that is more in need of a nuclear retrofit than another lump of coal. When, once upon a time, cabinets and kitchens ran lifespans of 15 – 30 years in a home, we are now meeting with clients that view their once “gorgeous” glazed or antiqued kitchen or library as now old and outdated and, in some cases just plain unsightly after 6-8 years!

Alas, we all have different experiences with these 16 year old teenage wonders. Some of us were there at their “births” when everything was new and exciting and worked right. Some of us inherited the honeyed oak wonders with the brass handles and the country kitchen dents. Some of us love the look still, some are ready for a new experience. Do not despair, as any 16 year old will attest to , change can be good and with the right guidance can last a very long time.

With a little guidance, it is easy to steer clients away from trends that they will need to change every few years or towards designs that stand the tests of time. What we try to impart to our “new parents” that are looking to add a library or a custom kitchen to their renovation or new home is that by creating something dramatic, we likely lessen the life span of its appeal. By creating something transitional or traditional we likely extend the life of the project in mind. As any 16 year old teenager will admit, keeping up with trends and friends can be as depleting to the pocketbook as it is to the soul, so choosing what works for you personally and going your own way can be rewarding in more ways than one. One can generate a considerable amount of meaningful dialogue by simply asking, “how long do you want your cabinets to look THIS way?” As a result we have detailed discussion about choosing the very best materials and setting up design layouts that will work long term, while having options open to change door and hardware style, and even colour, down the road. In essence, selling a long term solution to, what really is, a shorter term challenge, has been the path we have chosen at JWS Woodworking and Design Inc.

Working with change rather than against it, acknowledging we are all going to have changes in design and fashion tastes, and setting our designs up for that transition is key to successful long term design. Considering the long term use of our project areas allows for the easy feeling of evolution rather than the upheaval of revolution every time there is a need for change. In this way, working with a custom cabinet maker that handles design in house, leads to an ongoing relationship that results in return on an investment and leads homeowners down a smooth path of living in their home as it evolves into adulthood, keeping in mind the things we can learn from our 16 year olds along the way!

Certainly then, the 16 year old Kitchen, like the 16 year old human, share several similarities. Both can be a wonderful old friend and a difficult phenomena to live with at the same time, both can be a source of great pride and humbling puzzlement. Both remind us of where we have been and help us see where we might want to go in the future. This list goes on but one thing is for sure. BOTH are ready for change, ready for growth and improvement and with the right guidance and planning are ready to take on new chapters in their respective lives!