The Kitchen Designer

Thanks for stopping by! I'm Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer, and my mission is to take kitchen design style, function and analysis to a higher level. Here's why the kitchen has the most honored place in the home - all five senses reside in the kitchen.  Best...Susan  Contact: susan@susanserraassociates.com

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Notes on a Kitchen Design Career

I received this email yesterday and thought it interesting to respond here...

I live in Canada and am looking for a direction to get into a specific field like kitchen and house design. I have always wanted to get into design/arts, something obviously more creative. Can you tell me what you like, dislike, would do differently....I need some words of wisdom for my future direction.  I am over 50 but do not see that as a roadblock, in fact I am looking at how to create an exciting future for myself by making good decisions now.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,  D

Hi D! Of course, your age is not a roadblock, but I'd also want you to set out a clear plan. First, I'd like you to think about this: what does an "exciting future" as you note, look like to you? What does success look like? Please visualize what that truly means and that will be one important piece, a guide to your future and to the path you might want to take. How much time are you willing to take for education? How much control over your destiny do you want (work for yourself or someone else?) Do you want to focus on a particular segment of design? You say "house and kitchen design." It is unlikely that you can be an expert in both of these disciplines. You must go to nkba.org or asid.org to start your path if you are interested in design, as becoming affiliated with a national association will give you many benefits, including, directing you toward various types of educational institutions, their own, included. These are questions to ask/answer yourself, you need not answer them here. This is meant as a brief overview. 

What do I like? I LOVE, absolutely love, the kitchen and bath industry. This is an industry that merges analytics as well as aesthetics, which is the number one reason why it attracts me. I'm an analytical sort (kitchens to the 1/8 of an inch)...and love to explore design and aesthetics as well. Is that you too? In addition, there are so many smart and talented people in the kitchen and bath industry as well as manufacturers who are constantly innovating. For me, it's all good, every day. 

What do I dislike? I dislike those "designers" who are production oriented and are only interested in doing the minimum, with speed, executing the same signature/tired designs over and over and taking along unsuspecting clients with them. That annoys me. Every kitchen should be taken seriously, doing one's best work for each situation. When a homeowner does a kitchen once, maybe twice in their life, I think we designers need to remember that and design accordingly-with enthusiasm and care.

What would I do differently? I have diverse experience in low end builders' volume kitchens, middle end kitchens, the very high end luxury market, kitchens of every size from tiny to huge, urban/suburban/rural kitchens, kitchens for those physically challenged and spec kitchens. It's been a privilege to have had experience in designing so many different types of kitchens and I would not change that. I recommend that. I honestly like the track my career has taken for its diversity, don't think I'd change a thing!

I hope the answers to this very preliminary question have helped you and others considering this path!

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Reader Comments (2)

Excellent response Susan. Whenever someone asks me about starting a business, my first recommendation is to read the book, "The E-Myth Revisited" by Michael Gerber. The first section is all about developing a Master Plan for your life, as is your suggestion to D. I agree, in order to create the life of your dreams, you need to plan your dreams first.

December 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMark R. LePage, AIA, LEED AP

Ah, the road not taken! What I really wanted to do with my life is write novels. I did write two, neither of which were ever published, and some seventeen years ago when we got our home, I put that part of my life to one side. Since then I have taken up woodworking, having remodeled half the rooms in our home and made an elaborate back yard. And now I have a blog site that comments mostly on bathrooms and kitchens and am looking to start up a picture framing business.

I bring all that up because what I really wanted to do with my writing was to create, and I stuck with it for as long as I did, over twenty-five years, because I didn’t think anything else could satisfy that urge. Well, as it turns out, there are all kinds of ways to create. I think I could have gone into architecture very easily, or been the bang-up furniture maker of all time. Or even gotten into interior design or kitchen designs. This last is an area that I never would have thought about, had I not spent so much of my time these last two years with a blog site that is forever seeking out new items for kitchens and baths. As it turns out, it is a most stimulating field.

Finally, I will say that I was almost fifty when I started taking woodworking classes, and next year at age 65, I hope to make a success with a business. Maybe not, but I will definitely have fun trying, because at my age, you really do need a reason to get up in the morning! Some people think age is a number, but to me, truly, it’s a frame of mind. I have the same aches and pains every other person my age has, but what I am blessed with is an endless enthusiasm for life. So, I would say, if you want to be a designer, go for it!

December 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

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