Designing in a Middle of a Pandemic

What happens when License Real Estate Broker – Owner and designer, Carmelo Ginés gets a client with a cramped, not so efficient small kitchen, to build in a pandemic? He does what he does best, try to come through for his clients and do it right for them. 

 

How to plan the most efficient kitchen, whether you're building a new kitchen or just looking to renovate the space you've got, in the most difficult time to get assistance and still stay safe.

 

As an avid and active business owner, who finds me like many other business owners struggling through a pandemic but refuses to give up by abandoning my clients and or my business, I had to temporarily move my personal office to my home, and continue to do my business either through Zoom and when needs to be a social meet with all guidelines and rules in place. I now use my home kitchen as my workspace when it comes to drawing, the biggest thing I find that I am not lacking in my kitchen is lots of countertop space and good storage space. So, when I find a client that needs help with any room in their home, I make it my primary point in any of my designs to find a way to create space.

In my Real Estate Brokerage office, one of my Realtors® started to show properties to a newly referred client, because of the pandemic he had to take all necessary precautions and recommended guidelines by our Governor of NY but most importantly by our Association of Realtors®. So, as he tells me it became challenging but interesting. As the days go by and showing continues, they narrowed it down to 2 homes. My Realtor® decided to give her a day to make her mind up between both homes, the next day comes along and the client couldn’t make her mind up in either house. 

Because one was in the perfect area, was the right size of the home, and price correctly for her, but the kitchen was outdated and a bit cramped, The other, although it was a bit bigger, the price wasn’t much of difference, the kitchen was updated but she did not like colors on it nor countertops. So, my Realtor® had a bright idea, since we have a design department in which we use the 3D systems, he offers her to sit down with one of us for a consultation.  In which she does and hires me, makes her mind in the home to buy, while the client closes the deal I went to work in my design.

Here’s a view of my new client's outdated and cramped kitchen. If you notice the dishwasher is one of those with wheels that you move around.

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A decade ago, was remodeled as you can see. So, for me, it was very imperative for my client to understand that she had to be an involved participant in the design process, as only you (the client) know what you really want. 

 

Sketch or Draw a Plan

 

One of the very first things I do is to sketch original kitchen layout, then I start to figure out what would be stored and where I follow by making sure that moving around the kitchen and cooking would be as affluent as possible. 

 

                                                 

 

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Use the Same Layout Kitchen to Guide You

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I started with cabinetry design, indicating where all the cabinets and drawers would be, because the size of the kitchen and where the windows were located, (as well as budget) we decided to keep the sink where it was located, and by doing so there was no need to change the layout of cabinetry just to update the style of them, and perhaps adding a small island that the client much desired with wheels on it to be able to move it as they entertain so that they can move it from the center to the front left or right corner as you come from the living room area into the kitchen to create separation and space between the kitchen and Livingroom when client needs and will like to entertain other than in the middle of the kitchen or living room, they can also move it against the wall (where you see the small heating vent), as the stools still can be used as entertainment in any way they choose to use it. I think you get the idea.

Now after adding the island into my sketch, I bring it or send it to my cabinet makers if the budget allows to, if not I go to cabinets companies maker, with my design sketch and they give it back to me with specifics as pictures shows, here is when I do the details of my final if I need to add or delete anything. Then I move to the wall for backsplash. 

 

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I sketch with sizes and indicating where the tiles as a backsplash will be located as my plans were to combine two different designs tiles to create a unique backsplash design with them.

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Don't Be Afraid to Try this and that….

 

When you are sketching don’t be afraid to try many different ways. This is the time as it is in pencil and you can erase anything and add again, and try this and that, till you are comfortable with what you have a sketch and before meeting with the clients, to present them the layouts for approval. I always suggest to anyone who is designing, renovating or building, if you don’t like what you see, or if you wouldn’t live in it, one hundred percent of the time your client won’t like it either or live in it. Be a proactive designer, an involved participant in the design process, again, only you (the client) know what you really want. 

Time to Meet with clients for approvals…. 

 

So, I finished my design and it was time to meet with the clients again for approvals of the kitchen layout before we could move forward with the project and with the choice of tiles, sink, stools, lamp, pendants, colors, etc... Now the hard decision comes for me to make whether meeting them in person for approvals or just do a Zoom meeting. I like a one on one in-person meeting, but let’s be honest as the days go by and we continuing to watch the news I become more and more afraid to meet anyone in person, with face mask, 6 feet apart and all is a tuff decision to make, but it had to be made and finally, it was done in person. They love the design I show them in my system and was approved, so time to move forward.

 

The Crew

 

We typically work with a group of professionals such as contractors, electricians, plumbers, etc.… that we contract to do some of the work. At the time I was designing this kitchen none of them couldn’t work because once again we were in a pandemic, but I was able to book some of them for the work as the State of NY was getting ready to start opening up by phases. Phase one was construction, Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and hunting, Retail (limited to curbside or in-store pickup or drop off), Manufacturing, Wholesale Trade, as many of us know that follow the media. For both essential businesses and non-essential businesses were allowed to reopen, but to be directed to review industry-specific public health and safety guidelines and be directed to complete a business safety plan to outline in how our workplaces will prevent the spread of COVID-19, either by direct link from this wizard or, where industry-specific guidelines apply, as linked to after you submit the affirmation form. So, as you can see it wasn’t just as simple as to just opening doors. 

When everything was approved by the clients, and the time came to call on my professional contractor's group that commit to me, the excuses begin and days of commitments to our project started to change to a later time, now I find myself in a dilemma should I wait on them or should I look for others to get the project done on time for our clients? The decision was simple to make, I had clients to show up for and datelines to meet so, I went to my family that does the same work but in other states, and for some of the work that needed to be completed I brought them from Pennsylvania, and Virginia and went to work at it and finalize the project with an extra week that was not planned but it was done and the clients were very happy.

While this was the best solution for me to get the work done during a pandemic, I do not wish what I just experienced with anyone in the business, although it happens a lot. We just need to grow a thick skin and find solutions as quickly as the problems arise. Looking forward… The best satisfaction of it all is to know how easy cooking, eating, and entertaining will be to my clients when they start using their dream kitchen. 

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