30 December 2012
Posted by Paul Anater at 10:44 PM
I used to write for Houzz. I'll be forever grateful for the exposure and dealing with the editorial side of that site was nothing but a pleasure. Would that all online forums were as well-run as Houzz. That's due almost exclusively to the hard work of editor Sheila Schmitz by the way.
There are few editors I've worked with who've made real assignments, appraised delivered work and provided much needed direction as well as she did. All hail Sheila Schmitz!
Houzz.com started out just a couple of years ago and has since grown into one of the go to places on the internet for designers and Architects to show their work. At the same time, it's become a place for homeowners and potential customers to interact.
This is great.
However, it's been nearly two years since I stopped writing for Houzz. Yet every day I get at least one e-mail from a Houzz reader who's asking a question about something he or she saw in one of my Houzz posts.
When I have time I answer those e-mails but as often as not I ignore them because they're moronic questions.
As I repeated constantly on my blog and on Houzz, there are no standard names for granite slabs. What's Uba Tuba in Florida is called Labrador in New York. Natural stone is a natural product and even stones that come from the same quarry change radically over time. You cannot order a natural stone counter out of a catalog and you have to pick the slabs your counters will be made from in person. Deal with it.
If you want a stone that's gray-ish brown with little movement or if you want a schizophrenic blue, just describe what you're looking for to your salesperson. He or she will set you up with the stone you're looking for.
Contrary to what you may believe, sales people in kitchen and bath showrooms don't exist to extort money from you. It may sound counter intuitive, but these people will actually save you money. The budget you have set for yourself shouldn't be a secret. Walk up to someone in a showroom and say something along the lines of "I have $25,000 to re-do my kitchen, go!" That's a much better use of your time and their time than leaving them to guess how much money you have to spend.
The idea of getting three bids is crap too. Find someone you trust and who can work with your budget. If he or she has a good reputation you're done. Except for writing checks of course. Be sure that anybody you hire is licensed in the state where you live.
If you're concerned about staining, don't get counters made from natural stone. Granite will stain and marble much more so. In my mind those stains are like the wrinkles around my eyes. Stained counters and my wrinkled face show the world that we've lived a full life. One of my favorite stories about marble involves a wonderful, former client named Margaret. Margaret had triplets who were ten when we re-did her kitchen. I designed a bar at the end of her counter so her kids could do their homework as she put dinner together,
I went to see her a year after we re-did her kitchen I saw that her bar was covered with crayon and smudge marks. When I mentioned it she said "For the rest of our lives, my kids will always be ten when I see the marks they left in my kitchen."
That's why people get natural stone counters. If you're not prepared for your kids' crayons or your own dough kneading to leave a mark, than don't get a natural stone counter.
Beware the yahoos who claim that they can put a granite counter in your kitchen for $20/ sq.ft. That's an impossibility and it guarantees you a miserable experience.
When a cabinet's billed as "cherry-stained" it's not cherry. The people who make wood stains use the colors and tones of natural wood as model when they formulate their stains. Oak called "walnut" isn't walnut and heaven protect anybody who puts a stain on actual walnut. Maple is naturally blond, cherry runs between blond and brown, hickory has nearly black streaks on a blond background, birch is an iridescent gold and oak is oak.
Finally, colors on your computer screen aren't real. Between the distortion of your non-calibrated monitor and the non-calibrated camera of the source, nothing looks the same as the photo you see on the web. Don't ask what the wall color of a photo you see on Houzz or Pinterest is. Whatever color it is for real won't look anything like what you see on a website.
The smart thing to ask for (preferably from a designer) is a color that approximates what you see in an internet photo.
I enjoyed my experiences at Houzz.com and working with Sheila was a treat, but many of the questions I field could be answered by a) thinking and b) clicking on the "more information" tag on every one of Houzz's photos.
Think people, think!