KBB Collective | The Designers' Corner

Jun 22 2010

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In praise of the imperfect showroom

For those of you with kitchen and bath showrooms, I want to propose something radical: Don’t make it perfect.

No, let me amend that. If you’re on the upper end of the market where your clients are architects and designers for clients who rarely see their kitchens but want a showcase anyway—you’re exempt.

For the rest of us who deal with enthusiastic DIYers and clients who enjoy major input into their projects, having a showroom that is as much of an educational center as showroom not only establishes us as the go-to professionals, it cuts explanations (and arm-waving) in half.

By educational, I mean provide concrete examples of common design mistakes. Don’t install the filler next to the wall, or hinge a door the wrong way. Consider designing something that’s wrong.


A double-hinged door next to a bumpout. The screw for the knob wasn’t countersunk, so the screw head scrapes along the fluted filler. The faint white on the filler is the damage mark. Also, it’s not easy to reach into the corner, so we killed two explanations with one “mistake”— and we don’t design too many bumpouts next to corners.

I know—radical concept. Okay, I’ll add another amendment. It doesn’t have to be poor design; it can also be as simple as mixing oil-rubbed bronze fixtures at a main sink and stainless on the island prep sink. (A good way to discover a potential client’s eye for detail.)

Or install undercabinet lighting on either side of the hood with warm white on one side and cool white on the other. Sure, it’s not a pretty sight when viewing the entire display, but it is perfect for showing the difference the color of light can make.


Sometimes unintentional design errors work in your favor: We had to order cabinets before we had the range top. When the shallower one above arrived, we added a riser and the 2x2 tile to match the backsplash. It’s turned out to be a nice example for showing how we solve on-the-spot issues.

You don’t want to riddle your showroom with errors so that an unattended client leaves with the wrong impression. In fact, you’ll probably need to oversee the traffic in your showroom more, but you’ll spend less time doing so. A display is worth a thousand words (or something like that.)

It also establishes that: a) there’s more to design than pretty and b) you know what you’re talking about. Not a bad thing when you’re trying to persuade a client to work with you.

Until next time~


This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 at 6:00 AM and is filed under Business. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1.  Becky / ecomod |

    I love the way you think, Kelly!

    I’m having an Open Kitchen event this weekend in my own imperfect kitchen. I left our hardwood floors unfinished under the old kitchen so people could see how small it was.

    It really is a great way to convey lessons learned & what to think about in their own projects.

    I’ve found doing Open kitchens to be a relaxed, non-threatening way for people to ask questions about the whole remodeling process without being devoured on a sales floor.

    Thanks for shedding light, as always.

  2.  Ann Porter |

    I once worked in a showroom with a working black kitchen sink. It was perfect for showing clients water spots.

    I also don’t like when sample doors come in too perfect. Somewhere in a new kitchen there is bound to be a door that has a mineral spot or a variation in the graining.