Blog – August 2017

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Amanda has been with Deslaurier since 2006.   She began as a part-time receptionist and eventually transitioned, after a year, into the role of a Designer.  Amanda's focus has been retail renovations and new homes since her design inception in 2007.  She now works specifically with Inverness Homes, Glenview Homes, and many other Contractors, while still maintaining various retail work.


The 'Standard' Appliance


As a kitchen designer, one of the first questions we will ask is about the appliances a homeowner would like to incorporate into their new space.  Will you be reusing existing or purchasing new?  More often than not, we are told “oh, just standard appliances”

To which we will respond “there is no such thing as a standard appliance”.


Appliances clearly play a vital role in the kitchen; however the importance of them in the planning and design stage is often overlooked by the homeowner.  This should be one of the first items considered when starting to plan your kitchen. 


Do Your Homework

It is highly recommended to do some homework prior to meeting with your kitchen designer.  See what is on the market and determine what appliances work best for you and/or your family.  For example, would you benefit from a separate beverage or wine fridge?  Perhaps a built-in coffee maker? Or a steam oven?

It is not necessary to purchase the units at that time, but make a short list to discuss with your designer and come prepared with sizes.   Upon review of your space and requirements, we can make recommendations as to what will fit best.  Sometimes separating the cooktop and wall oven is not always a feasible option for a smaller space, or that fridge may be too large for the wall it is intended to go on.  These are the details your designer will work with you on.


Appliance Experts

As with any expert in a specific field, appliance reps are there to guide you in selecting the proper appliances for your needs and budget. 

More often than not, with many new appliances, there are different applications for installation.  You will often see these as you walk through their showrooms.  It is important to ask questions so that you fully understand the difference and how it impacts your space.

For example, let’s take a look at a fridge:

Standard depth – this means that the fridge is sticking out several inches beyond your countertop; the cabinetry and panels can be built out to cover the sides of the fridge, but the doors will protrude past.

Counter depth – the box of the fridge sits at counter depth, but the doors will protrude past the cabinet and panels; there is a common misconception that counter depth fridges will give you a flush look with the cabinetry – this is not the case

Built-in – the fridge sits flush with the adjacent deep cabinets or panels, still in appliance material (i.e. stainless steel)

Integrated – the appliance is ordered ‘panel ready’ to accommodate cabinet panels for a fully integrated look with the cabinetry.  This allows the appliance to seemingly disappear into the cabinetry.

This is just a quick glance at the many installation options that are available for just this one appliance.

Let your appliance rep know what kind of look you are trying to achieve so they can help you select the style of appliance you need, within your budget. 


Coming Prepared to Plan Your Kitchen

Step 1 –Have an idea of what appliances you would ideally like to incorporate into the space (size, configuration, installation).  This plays a vital role in designing your space.

Step 2 – Be flexible on the appliances as sometimes the space will dictate appliance sizes.  It’s a wish list that you have created but as good as your designer is sometimes the space won’t allow for all the wants while giving you a kitchen that functions and flows.

Step 3 – Have your appliance rep print off the installation instructions of each appliance to provide to your kitchen designer.   This will allow your designer to properly spec the cabinetry to accommodate the appliances purchased.


At the end of the day, appliances are a big part of the function of your kitchen space so a little research up front can make your kitchen planning go a lot smoother, giving you a better overall feel for the process.  There are a lot of decisions to be made, but your designer and appliance rep are both there to help you through it.


Blog – July 2017

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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.


CAMBRIA: FAMILY OWNED. AMERICAN MADE. But proudly represented in Canada. 🇺🇸🇨🇦


On June 20th, Deslaurier Custom Cabinets personnel, along with partners Urban Quarry, departed for Minnesota, USA to visit the Cambria headquarters and partake in The Cambria Experience.  Needless to say, the experience did not disappoint!  For those of you who may or may not be familiar with Cambria, they are a line of natural quartz countertops that we are very proud to carry in our showroom, supplied to us by our wonderful local partner Urban Quarry.

We arrived in Minnesota on the evening of June 20th.  With little time to prepare, we checked into our hotel rooms and readied ourselves for what would turn out to be a marvelous dinner at Murray’s steakhouse in the downtown core.

On the 21st, we arose bright and early and began our journey to the New Sweden Dairy.  “Why a dairy?” you may ask…  Because that’s where the Davis family, the founding family of Cambria, got their start.  It’s a pretty stunning operation to be honest…  They use rotary milking parlors to keep things moving. Every 7 seconds, a new cow steps on, and in 5–6 minutes is milked. Each cow has an RFID tag, so the computer knows which cow is in which stall, and how much milk she’s producing. They use this information to help make sure she’s healthy. Each cow is milked 3 times a day, producing about 7 gallons total.  Needless to say, the operation produces an exorbitant amount of milk on a daily basis.  What is also fascinating is that approximately 40 calves are birthed on the farm, each and every day.  While we didn’t see a full birth take place, we were witnesses to 4 heifers simultaneously in labour and close to calving.  The most incredible part of the tour was the fact that not one cow moo’d while we were there.  The cows are so happy and so comfortable, that you can hardly hear a pin drop; even from the ones giving birth.

From there, we went to Cambria’s state-of-the-art million square foot manufacturing facility.  The amazement did not stop there.  The facility is fascinating and could be one of the cleanest ‘factory’ like settings you’ll ever see.  We saw where the raw materials are brought in, where everything is processed, and even saw a slab of Cambria going down the line.  There are a lot of proprietary processes which take place at all of their facilities, so pictures were not allowed in most locations, understandably.  The Cambria fabrication process is like no other.  They use the finest, purest, quartz raw materials.  Their surfaces are basically maintenance free, as they are stain resistant and non-porous.  It was a treat to learn more about the product, but also to see it being made first hand.

After lunch we attended the Cambria Fab Shop down the road from their manufacturing facility.  We were treated to a very informative tour here as well and saw every step of the fabrication process from raw slab materials, to cutout, to finishing, to their extensive quality control processes and program, to final shipment of the product.  The Fab Shop services the state of Minnesota and four other adjacent states.

On the 22nd, we began our day by attending a Cambria gallery in another part of town.  Whilst there, we were given a wonderful presentation by a very charismatic member of the Cambria team, Mr. Mick Frank.  Mick talked to the team about a wide variety of topics with respect to the sales process and to say he was informative would be an understatement!

From there, we left the showroom en route to Target Field to take in a Twins MLB baseball game in the private Cambria suite, an experience like no other.  At the game, we met Mark & Mary Davis, the patriarch and matriarch of Davis Family Holdings, as well as their son Marty, the founder and current President & CEO of Cambria.  Probably the most refreshing part of the experience was not only meeting the founding members of the family holdings, but more so how down to earth, genuine, humble, and likeable the family was.  Cambria and the Davis family are a class act and it was truly a pleasure meeting them and getting to know them and their operation(s).

On behalf of Deslaurier, I’d like to thank our partners Urban Quarry (Laurent & Serge Bellavance, Chris Bjornestad), Cambria, and the Davis Family, for allowing us to intake The Cambria Experience.  Their hospitality was next to none.  We are very grateful for the opportunity we were given, to see the Cambria world up close and personal.  I also want to thank our guides for the week, Jim Shannon (Cambria District manager) and Melissa Wong (Eastern Canada Market Rep), for making sure we were always in the right place at the right time, informed, and had what we needed.  Without their guidance, the trip would not have been what is was, nor as informative as it was.  Thank you, kindly, on behalf of myself and the rest of the Deslaurier team.


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!


Blog – May 2017

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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.


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.


Blog – March 2017

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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!