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Jun01

Blog – June 2017

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Vanessa has been designing in the Kitchen & Bath industry for over 16 years and is a new addition to the Deslaurier team. “I find every space has its challenges and that’s what I love about designing kitchens – finding that solution that will work for that client… It’s different every time!”

 

To Microwave, Or Not To Microwave? That, Is The Question.

 

What is that one appliance that either takes up prime countertop or cabinet space, or is staring you right in the face while you are cooking?  It’s that darn microwave!  How often do you really use it anymore?  Heating up the odd thing, melting some butter, defrosting some meat…

Let’s face it, when we do use our microwave to heat up leftovers – does it ever do the job that well?  We usually end up with third-degree burns, still have cold food, and a mess that needs a chisel to clean off!  Wasn’t the microwave supposed to replace our ovens, make life simpler, and be able to bake and cook these amazing meals?  After 30 years of complaining about this awkward appliance – that never does what we want, looks awful, and never allows us to feel safe when we stand in front of it – why do we keep it?

As designers, it’s always that one appliance that you are trying to hide.  As a homeowner myself, I got rid of it!  Stashed it away in the basement…  My mother-in-law would sneak down and plug it in to reheat her coffee, but it slowly made its way back upstairs once I had kids…  So close!  It’s so hard to let go…

Over the last year, I’ve noticed when I sit down with a client and we begin to discuss the different options for the placement of the microwave, that the client will sometimes make that jump and say “That’s it!  Let’s get rid of it!”  It’s a happy occasion and what a difference it makes in the design of the kitchen.  Now there is more prime upper cabinet space available, more space around the range, or imagine – more countertop space!  Sometimes, it’s making a few small adjustments in how we cook – using our range to heat up food or planning our meals better so we don’t have to defrost. 

It’s such a big step, but maybe not for all of us.  Life with children, work, cleaning and cooking, there just isn’t enough time!  That’s where this microwave was supposed to help us…  Now it just takes up space and inherently becomes another thing to clean!

Speaking with our wonderful friends at Universal Appliances in Ottawa, they have been seeing an increase in speed ovens and steam ovens as a replacement for the microwave.   We had a special evening at Universal Appliances, where they had several different appliance manufacturers on site to give demos and update us on what was new and exciting.  We enjoyed filet mignon, cooked to perfection, for 8 minutes in a speed oven!  The same oven can even bake a loaf of bread, defrost or pop popcorn, to name a few things.  Steam ovens are also a wonderful, healthy alternative to a microwave.  I couldn’t believe everything you can do with a steam oven, plus it keeps most of the nutrients in the food; imagine that!  These appliances are a great alternative to a microwave.  They are integrated into cabinetry to give a ‘built-in’ look and can be used as a second oven. 

There are appliances we need in our kitchen and there are those that we don’t; ones we should maybe give a little more thought to or do a little more research on.  When starting a kitchen renovation, there are so many details to think about and the microwave is often a last thought.  By putting a little more thought into how we work in our spaces and how we would like our spaces to work for us – that little detail, that little afterthought, could make a big difference in the end!

May01

Blog – May 2017

Posted In Blog

Gina is a 20 year veteran of the industry and has been with Deslaurier since 2002.  Gina is an Interior Designer by trade and offers full service design. She has won numerous awards with the GOHBA, the OCHBA and was previously a 2015 Best of Houzz – Service award winner.

 

Before And After

 

I recently attended an awards gala for the NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association) Kitchen and Bath Design Competition, an exciting event that recognizes leaders in the industry by showcasing all the beautiful work that we, as designers, undertake.

As part of the presentation, the MC of the awards did a segment on ‘before and after’ renovations. I found this segment particularly interesting. We, as designers and clients, often tend to get so busy and sidetracked that we forget to review the process that we undertook from start to finish. It is easy to lose track of how much of a change we can make in a person’s life and living environment.

A renovation can span two months to two years (or more) from start to finish! It is sometimes hard to believe that we are involved in the lives of our clients for that long. We start from an initial “wish list” and usually progress to a very detailed (and often extensive) planning process. Once the renovations are underway and the walls have been ripped down (when necessary), the new results slowly filter in and we often forget about where it all started. From the old stipple ceiling – yellowed and dusty, to the green and yellow vinyl flooring – finally being lifted, to the old and broken-down almond appliances – making way for gleaming new stainless steel (working) ones! Oh, and don’t forget when the walls come down! The walls that once housed the small, dark, cramped kitchen. The walls that blocked all the light and secluded the chef from the rest of the house. Suddenly, the space is alive, refreshed and you can feel the new energy radiating from not just the space, but the clients as well.

It is a very rewarding feeling to see the end result of a project, but even more so once you go back and look at where it all started. Below are a few projects I have worked on, that were transformed from what we may consider an eyesore and an annoyance – to a beautiful and functional space that has changed the way a family lives. ‘Before’ pictures on top, ‘After’ pictures below. Take a peek.

Apr01

Blog – April 2017

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Denis attended McMaster University where he obtained an Honours Bachelor of Commerce in 1993. In 1999, Denis graduated from Queen’s University with an Executive MBA. Denis joined DCC in 2001 as the Marketing Manager, before becoming a part owner and President in 2005. Denis was chosen to participate in the prestigiuous QuantumShift Program at the University of Western Ontario. He completed the program in 2010 and is now a Fellow of QuantumShift.

 

It's What's On The Inside That Counts

 

Don’t judge a book by its cover. All that glitters is not gold. Beauty is only skin deep. Diamond in the rough. Most of us have heard these clichés before. Essentially, they all talk about not looking just on the exterior of someone or something but also looking or focusing on the inside.

Unfortunately, in the cabinetry business most people do the exact opposite.  Consumers typically focus (and apportion their money) on the look of their cabinetry: the door specie, the door style, the finish, the countertop, etc. And often this is done at the exclusion of the inside or the functionality of their cabinetry. If this is you, then please don’t despair, you’re not alone. In fact, this is very typical, especially in North America. Because housing is still quite affordable in North America, it is not imperative for us to focus on good design, we just add more space and more cabinets and voila the problem is solved.  

However, it’s a very different story in Europe. The cost of housing is so high in Europe that many people are limited in the amount of space they can afford. As such, the average kitchen in Europe is much smaller than in North America and consumers have no choice but to use every square inch (or centimeter) of space. You’ll notice that many European kitchens feature a high gloss, flat slab door which often gives the kitchen a clean, uniform and symmetrical look. What we North Americans don’t necessarily realize is just how well designed and organized these kitchens are. Everything is done to minimize movement and maximize storage space.

Good old fashioned research is at the heart of European kitchen design. One of our hardware suppliers, BLUM, who is based in Austria has commissioned and participated in many such studies. One study asked several European families to inventory all the items found in their kitchen. From this comprehensive list of items, BLUM engineers grouped these items into five categories or zones: consumables, non-consumables, cleaning, preparation and cooking. What the BLUM engineers discovered was that organizing these zones in a specific fashion, which they called dynamic space, reduced the amount of movement required while working in the kitchen.

By now you’re probably asking yourself ‘what does this mean for me?’ Well, the point I’m trying to make is that good design is much more complex than determining what your cabinetry will look like. In fact, it’s just as important to think about how your kitchen will be laid out (which cabinets go where), whether you should use drawers or doors (drawers are often better), whether you should use pull outs (yes) and what accessories should you have inside your cabinets. These are things that will help you be more efficient (take less steps), be better organized (spend less time looking for things) and have more storage (need less cabinets). These are the things that will have the biggest impact on how you use your kitchen and your overall level of enjoyment of your kitchen. And while I appreciate the importance of having a kitchen with the wow factor, the wow factor won’t matter much to you if you don’t like working in your new space.

And this will be the hard part for many people; you don’t just need to spend more time thinking about the inside of your cabinets, you need to think about investing in the space within your cabinets.  By accessorizing you can achieve maximum efficiency, storage and organization, without band-aiding by simply adding more cabinetry or space. This is where your designer can really make a difference in the design process. They can work with you to determine where it makes sense to spend money and where it makes sense not to spend money. They can help you achieve the look that you want without compromising the integrity of the design. As the old saying goes, it’s important to measure twice and cut once.

Mar01

Blog – March 2017

Posted In Blog

With both a Computer Security background and experience in the construction industry, Brooks was a great fit with Deslaurier when he came on board in 2007. He has been with Deslaurier for 10 years and has been active in many facets of the business. Brooks currently looks after Deslaurier's Social Media platforms while providing IT and technical support concurrently.

 

Social Media, With Which Comes Challenges & Rewards

 

Deslaurier decided, corporately, to jump into social media late in 2013 and I’ve been lucky enough to be at the forefront of that plunge. Social media isn’t for every business, and whether or not to have a presence on social media really depends on a number of things: the value to your business, your overall marketing strategy, where you are now and where you want to be in the future, the appetite for your content and the ROI that your presence will yield, amongst many other things. For Deslaurier, it was an easy decision. I’m a firm believer of consistency through social media – you’re either in or you’re out. Be regular, be concise, be accurate, respect the brand you represent, and find the proper balance of content and timing thereof.

As we’ve recently announced on our various social media platforms, exciting news around the office is that our President, Denis Staples, was recently chosen to speak at The Woodworking Machinery & Supply Conference and Expo in November 2017 on the subject of social media. WMS is the largest event for the secondary wood manufacturing market in Canada and takes place November 2-4, 2017 at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. We expect that he will have quite the crowd to address and we are all very excited for the opportunity this presents Deslaurier.

I could talk all day about social media, but I really don’t want to jeopardize the integrity of Denis’ presentation in popping the cork on some of its subject matter. Denis’ presentation will be made available once it has been delivered at the conference. Until then, I’ll leave you with two insights of mine – our biggest challenge and our biggest reward. Social media isn’t easy; it’s not merely a hastily typed tweet or a picture posted on Facebook. There is thought and purpose behind every message we convey and with that, come both challenges and rewards…

Our biggest challenge with regards to social media is followership and engagement thereof. It’s not necessarily the accrual of likes or followers that proves to be difficult, but rather the retention of said followers. In our industry, the biggest thing I see is new customers of ours who are eager to follow us on our platforms. They want to get to know us and know what we stand for, they want to see the quality of our work first hand, they want to see the latest and greatest products we’re bringing to market, and above all else – they want to be assured that they’ve made the right decision in partnering with us for their cabinetry needs. Rarely do we disappoint, but what comes next is something that we must be ever cognizant of. The customer gets their cabinetry, is happy with it, and moves on. They’re not invested in the message anymore; the likes/double taps/swipe rights decrease, and eventually they unfollow. They’ve got what they want from us and then they move on. That’s why it’s important for us to foster our social media relationship not only with our customer base, but also with our many industry partners as well, such as our trades, our suppliers, our builder and dealer clientele, and our adversaries, to name a few. Those are the entities whose followership will remain steadfast and long-term. How we foster those relationships is important, whether it’s by cross marketing, reciprocation, recognition of accomplishments, transparency, or perhaps most importantly above all else – by providing unique and exciting content of a broad variety. This is but one of several challenges, but knowing your challenges and being familiar with them puts you one step further to conquering them.

Our biggest reward in regards to social media, I’d say, is being able to see the tangible dividends or the ROI that our hard work and upkeep yields. Our biggest advertising initiatives, besides word of mouth, are our social media platforms. As such, it’s imperative that those platforms are working for us, which is correlative to what we put into them. It’s the age old ‘garbage in / garbage out’ or ‘you get what you give’ adages. The ROI is commensurate with the amount of time, effort, and qualities thereof that you put into your social media.

There is great reward when a customer comes into the showroom and indicates that they saw our latest product addition on our social media channels. There is reward likewise when our industry partners grab ahold of the same product and repost/retweet/regram/share our message because they believe in it equally.

There is nothing better than being at a partner’s golf tournament, a GOHBA or an NKBA event, or even in our own showroom and receiving accolades with respect to the quality and value of our social media.

It is also rewarding sifting through the metrics and analytics only to conclude that our platforms are working for us, that we have an audience and that they’re engaged, that interest is not waning, and that we’re not only getting new views but that our loyal followers are coming back on a recurring basis for our content.

Our social media is finally at a place where it is driving leads for us – ‘working for us’ as I eluded to earlier. We’ve gotten leads through Facebook and Houzz. We’ve gotten walk-ins that have come through the door because they’re impressed with what they’ve seen on our channels. And we’ve gotten social media driven leads that we’re none the wiser to. In the end, it is having a positive impact on our day to day operations.

Lastly, there mightn’t be anything better than when the company you represent gets recognized and your President gets asked to present some of your own internal insight and social media strategies to the masses at such a renowned event like WMS. For that we are excited and for that you should stay tuned to our channels, not only for a WMS recap when the time comes, but for the same great content we strive to bring you day after day!

Jan02

Blog – January 2017

Posted In Blog

Chris is a former customer turned employee. He has been with Deslaurier for over 13 years. He is the current Purchasing Manager and is active in countless facets of the business, from purchasing and sourcing, to information technologies, to implementations, to R&D, and beyond. Chris is a wealth of knowledge and is a great asset to the Deslaurier team. Chris is also a Maple Leafs fan, but please don't let that preclude you from reading his piece.

 

Behind The Scenes – Where Products Come To Life

 

At Deslaurier, we have seen our product catalogue grow immensely over the years. At this point we are over 50,000 SKUs and that product offering is constantly growing. What one does not see, are the efforts behind the scenes to ensure that we continue to provide exceptional quality products and design solutions tailored to the individual needs of our customers. The strength of our product offering comes from our connection to our supply base; we do not look at the supply base as ‘suppliers’, but rather as strategic business partners.

I have been at Deslaurier for over 13 years and have worked in both small and large businesses previously. In the field of purchasing, the concept of being ‘sole sourced’ was a concept that was not foreign to me, but was a practice that my education would tell me was very risky. When I first started at Deslaurier, this was a great concern to me; but in a very short time I found that our strategic business partners were aligned with our needs and that not only were they working for us, but with us as well. By embracing our supply base, we have been able to move our relationships forward to the point where we collaborate with them on product development and to the point where they come to us for input and feedback prior to bringing their new products to market. 

One of the biggest concerns when we look at a new product is: how do we add it to our product offering without limiting its use and application. Given the complexity of our offerings, we have to make sure that any new functional hardware accessory that we are considering will work in both our traditional and modern product lines. The latter is typically not the issue, as 99% of our accessories come from high quality European suppliers; the issue is in our traditional line. In Europe, they tend to use only slab doors so they don’t think about the reality of the North American market, which is, for the most part, a five piece stile and rail construction (which can cause limitations or issues with applications).

One of the keys to our success are well planned, fully embedded, accessories in cabinets which are designed around the accessory product to create highly functional cabinet solutions. These come as a result of collaboration with strategic business partners and investigation of all technical elements. That said, we may not always be the first to market with a solution, but when we do come to market with a product, we have typically put it through a battery of considerations to ensure that it is the right product for Deslaurier and something that is needed to create well planned spaces – be it the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry rooms or closets. Regardless of the room or solution, the same approach is taken.

When it comes to the selection of materials for the finished product or the finish we apply, we have created Deslaurier specific veneer grades and chemicals to ensure that we are creating exceptional quality products at the end of the day.  We will not settle for anything but the best and our relationship with our supply base allows us to ensure that this happens.

So know that in the background, there is a team of people that work on a daily basis to ensure that we are arming our design community with the tools to help bring your dreams to life with well-planned product selections that meet the needs of today’s consumer.

Dec01

Blog – December 2016

Posted In Blog

Holly is one of Deslaurier's retail designers and has been with the company for almost two years. She has over 8 years of experience working for award winning firms in the interior design, advertising, and architecture industry. Holly is a registered Interior Designer with ARIDO (Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario) and offers a variety of knowledge to create complete design solutions.

 

The Powder Room: A Small Space To Make A Big Statement

 

A mentor once said: design every space like it’s a jewel box. This philosophy applies most to the small spaces often overlooked in favour of the more dominant rooms of the house. The kitchen, dining room, and living room are often focused upon not only for your family to enjoy, but are also the rooms that your company will see. The powder room is a public space too! If you have a closer look, you may find it’s lacking the attention it deserves.

At Deslaurier, we pride ourselves as having one of the most beautiful showrooms in the area.  As such, we update our displays regularly to show new products, ideas, and layouts to help spur the imagination of our customers. One of the many projects we have underway, is renovating our showroom’s powder room.

First, we examine every aspect of the space to determine how it can be made more functional and aesthetically pleasing. There are so many elements that need to come together in order to create a gorgeous powder room; it can be overwhelming!

Here is a list of design considerations for our new powder room, hopefully they will inspire your diamond in the rough:

  • Floating cabinetry to keep the space feeling light and contemporary.
  • All drawers, even under the sink where it will be u-shaped around the plumbing.
  • Horizontal handles, utilize handle below sink as an informal hand towel bar.
  • Quartz countertop with an unusual edge profile. Thin? Angled?
  • No backsplash or side splash, bring the mirror to the countertop.
  • Create a feature wall behind the vanity which will be visible when the door is open. Wood paneling? Wallpaper? Tile?
  • Wall sconces on either side of the mirror for more even lighting across the face for makeup touch-ups.
  • Update flooring to tile with a unique pattern or texture.
  • Locate the toilet out of sight-lines when door is left open. Add a panel or half wall if seeing the toilet is unavoidable in your floor plan.
  • Wall-mounted toilet for more open floor space.
  • Recessed accessories, toilet paper holders into walls, and garbage/soap dispensers into the countertop.
  • Warm wood tones to add a natural element to a sometimes cold palette.


Don't forget to check out our bathroom gallery for more inspiration images!