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Kitchen Secret #12How does a Kitchen Designer sell you ’empty space’?

A Breakfast Bar, a Towel Rail Space and a Bin Space have a lot in common – because they all take up ‘space’ in the kitchen without costing much.

All they require is enough worktop to hide the secret, perhaps some end panels or a leg or two for support and a towel rail.

It is very cheap to supply conventional laminated worktop for a kitchen. The average cost for a three metre (12 feet) length equates to less than the cost of an average single kitchen cupboard with door.

However, upon looking at the amount of space that these three mirages take up within the kitchen on the plan itself, it can be easily understood why a customer might be led to believe that it results in great value for money for the kitchen presented. It certainly is a superb way of diverting their attention from the lack of cupboard space. (refer to later on in Kitchen Secrets)Customer’s who haven’t had a breakfast bar fitted in their previous kitchen can be easily ‘suckered in’ by the designer in order to hit their budget. There are many selling points to a breakfast bar –
“A breakfast bar is superb – not just to have your dinner at if you want – it’s great to have a coffee at, to read a newspaper on in the morning and for a friend to sit at and join you when you’re cooking. Apart from that, it doubles up to offer a lot more worksurface.”

Of course… what the kitchen designer really meant to say was –

“Breakfast bars are great because they take up lots of room – and if I can get you to like it, then you won’t notice the lack of cupboards in your kitchen. If you don’t notice the lack of cupboards in your kitchen, then you’ll probably think what you’re getting is good value for money.

If you think it’s good value for money then I’ll probably get a sale without having to discount any extra so I’ll earn lots and lots of money. Yee Haa!”

A towel and tray space can be quite useful. An example can be found on figures 1 & 2 in Kitchen Secret 7. It does take up some space that might be put to better use though. Most people find that they can hang up their dishtowels in a better place. A gap created between units for a towel rail can start to look ugly after a while due to discolouring of end panels on either side. This happens because end panels tend to be made of an inferior material compared to doors. Another cheeky ‘addition’ a designer may sneak in is an extra 10cm (3 inches) to the width of a towel tray space. This does nothing apart from increasing the overall width of the kitchen by utilising bigger ‘gaps’.

A ‘bin storage space’ can even be ‘sold’ –

“In a lot of kitchens that I design now people ask me if I can include a roll-under bin storage space. It’s a lot handier under the food-prep worksurface to immediately get rid of waste.”

Bingo – the customer is happy with the extra ‘feature’ in his / her kitchen. The designer is happy that the extra ‘feature’ has perceived value – yet it was introduced to the design for virtually free.

However, there are other ways to increase ‘perceived value’. If a customer doesn’t wish to have a breakfast bar, a designer can still ‘sell’ the benefits of them keeping a small table in the kitchen. Even if they have a dining room. Imagine the amount of potential costly cupboard space that a designer could remove from the final cost with the introduction of a table into the design. Of course a successful ‘sales designer’ would draw the table into the design – and the best part of it from the designer’s perspective is that he doesn’t even have to supply the table after ‘selling’ it!

To summarise… By successfully selling ‘space’, a designer can vastly increase his opportunity of generating a sale. Whether it’s selling the ‘space’ on the wall to accentuate the ‘feature canopy’ in the design or disguising the ‘space’ at the base level of the kitchen via a breakfast bar and a bin space, its all just a different way of selling nothing for perceived value.

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