Sunday, August 31, 2008

Dream Kitchen-An Employee Lunchroom Redesigned

Kitchen "Before" Picture-Here is the "before" photo of the employee lunchroom. Notice the large black door and small refrigerator.

Here is the "After" photo.

Several months ago, I shared with you a home that I staged for a client. The post was called, "Designed to Sell." The home, after my staging, sold in only 28 days, compared to the ten month average for homes in the area.

Since that time, I wanted to share an exciting project that I recently completed. I was contacted to consult with a client on an employee lunchroom. At the present time, the space was used strictly for employees to eat their lunch. The client indicated that she would like to have a stove in there since they frequently have clients at the corporate offices and after a few days, ordering in sandwiches can get a little old. From there, our project began.

I started the project off with a tour of the facilities to see what finishes were currently used throughout the corporate offices as well as colors and current design. I wanted the lunchroom to be modern yet reflect the traditional style used elsewhere in the company. I spent three hours on the consultation, finding out who uses the lunchroom currently, how many clients they will be cooking for, how many people will use the lunchroom during the peak summer times when the interns are there as well as how people actually use it-where do they sit, how are the tables grouped, etc. For me good design begins with a kitchen that functions well; once that is achieved, then I plan out the design aspect. The client also specified that we needed to keep the existing flooring and wallpaper.
For this kitchen, I made the space planning, organization and design decisions. I selected the kitchen cabinets, added an island to serve as a buffet for serving food to the clients, added overhead lighting on the island and under cabinet lighting for cooking. I selected a cherry cabinet to match the cabinetry used elsewhere in the corporate offices. My design scheme was brown (as in the cabinets and furniture), gold (countertops, tablecloths and lettering), orange as the accent color and brushed aluminum for all of the finishes. I worked with the client on the finishing touches and selected three rug options and gave her my first preference as the ones that are shown. I selected the picture frames to pull the design over to the lunchroom side and the flowers/vases for the center island. While fresh flowers are always preferred, fresh flowers for the lunchroom on a weekly basis were cost prohibitive so we went with silk to give it some punch. I guided the client’s design choices for the chairs. She wanted to add the chairs and I suggested a modern, graphic, circular design with the colors of the kitchen. She then sent me pictures of the chairs prior to ordering and I gave her the thumbs up. We also had to deal with the door in the center of the kitchen. I suggested painting it the same color as the wallpaper so it would blend and visually disapper. Instead, the client was able to have a piece of steel cut and placed over the door. I think that was the right decision.

One of the keys to this design for me, was customizing the lunchroom for this company. I did this by:

  • Adding a monogram to the kitchen island; this is the first initial of the company name. I felt leaving the kitchen island bare was a mistake. I thought about using the company logo, but that would have been too impersonal. This also keeps this kitchen from looking like every other kitchen. Instead, I suggested adding the letter “E” in gold to the island. I looked through the fonts on-line and decided on this Edwardian font.

  • Using the company slogan on the wall. I asked the client if they had a slogan that was used in their corporate materials or in their handouts. I suggested adding this to the wall. This kept the lunchroom feeling “corporate” as opposed to a restaurant area. She ordered and installed the slogan on the wall. This was no easy task and I think she did a beautiful job. (We are still waiting for the period to arrive to complete the sentence.)

  • The fruit bowls on the table. This company supplies fruit for their employees. We added new fruit bowls at every table to personalize the area.

  • Glass tops and tablecloths for the tables. The client wanted glass tops made for easy clean up. She wanted tablecloths that were washable but it was cost prohibitive to have them made. I suggested she use pinking shears and cut them to size, which she did.
Functional choices included:
  • Under cabinet lighting is not only beautiful but allows the employees to read the directions for cooking.

  • The towel bar was installed on the kitchen island as a place for them to dry after the kitchen has been cleaned up, let’s say after food has been cooked.

  • On the right side of the kitchen, near the refrigerator, is the coffee pot. Coffee accessories are located in the drawers below and paper plates and silverware are located there as well, so employees will have easy access to them when using the microwave.

  • Recycle bins located in the center island for easy clean up. The center island also houses pots and pans for use on the stove across from it.

  • Under cabinet lighting is not only beautiful but allows the employees to read the directions for cooking.
  • On the sink, there is a hot water dispenser on the left and a built in soap dispenser on the right side, to minimize countertop clutter.

This kitchen could not be done alone. By working together with the client, we were able to achieve a great kitchen. Some things were changed along with way. Initially, we didn’t think there would be enough room in the budget for the stainless steel appliances and thought we’d have to choose white. At that time, we had white subway tile for a backsplash. The client however was able to negotiate some great deals, and got all of the appliances for only $3,300. The client acted as the general contractor on this project, working with the cabinet maker, having the stainless steel backsplashes cut to size, installing the lettering on the walls and shopping on-line for the fruit bowls and chairs ( for the lunchroom. She also found the table and mirrors that were used with the upholstered chairs and swapped out the existing hardware for that to match the cabinets. She worked tirelessly on various aspects. The sink was donated from their manufacturer however the hot water dispenser had issues and it took several installs to get it right. The ice maker leaked and required service calls to fix that. The backsplash was installed and then re-installed when an additional outlet was required.

There were also some glitches along the way, the biggest one being the cabinets. I selected 42 inch cabinets for the kitchen and that’s what the client ordered. 36” cabinets were delivered however. Since they were custom cabinets, a decision was made to work with the 36” inch ones, and add crown molding to the top and over cabinet lighting on top. This solved the problem and it still looked great.

All in all, a great project. This is a $60k kitchen that was done for $22k excluding labor. Most of the discounts were on the cabinets, since the company manufactures them along with the sink. The steel that was used to make the sinks, was cut for the backsplashes and for the door. But the project is only a success if people use it. I suggested that they have a kick off party and cook for the employees using the new stove. Interestingly enough, the employees started using their laptops in there, are having meetings in there as well as eating in there. Most interesting, was the item that employees used the most, the ice maker. We did not identify this as a need so it was interesting to note how many employees use this feature. And a kitchen that is used, is the best kitchen of all.


HeatherK said...

The before pic shows such a cold, plain, office space, but WOW! you implemented some fabulous ideas! It looks professional, yet a relaxing 'away from work' space.

Lois Grebowski said...

WOW, taht is one heck of a tranformation! YOu mad eit homey, yet professional. I'll bet it's the favorite space fo everyone in that office. I know it would be mine!


Poppy Q said...

What a great job you did. I work at the hospital and our tea room is digusting and dreary and very impersonal. I would love to have lunch in this staffroom, just sitting there would make me feel valued.

It has been nice to have you back blogging again Dream Mom, I really missed you.


Poppy and mum Q

Anonymous said...

Wow. Gorgeous! You are amazing:)

Anonymous said...

Outstanding work.

If I ever win the lottery, I'm hiring you to decorate my home!

jeanie said...

You do great work, Dream Mom!!!!

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