In a new feature here at the Bynon Design blog, we’re going to be bringing you various design projects from both the perspective of the designee as well as from the designer. I figure it’s only fair to let you see what design clients experience, and how the interaction shapes my approach to the project.

The first blog post is from the client’s perspective:

In this economy, getting stuff done sometimes requires a creative approach. People all over the place are starting to recognize the marketing value of having a blog/facebook/twitter/etc. presence. What most of them don’t like is the fact that achieving this presence and building a following takes serious work.  Now, me? I like to blog. I’m active enough on Facebook, and there are days when I live by my Twitter feed. And I love, love LOVE Google Wave. I am bitter that Google pulled the plug on this wonderful idea.  But I digress.
One of my husband’s clients is an interior designer. In the past, rather than exchanging invoices, they exchanged services. One identity package in exchange for an office re-org and redo. That sort of thing. So when Beth decided that she wanted to jump firmly into this century and try out that web 2.0 marketing (in the name of setting her services apart from other local designers) she contacted my husband to see if he knew of anyone who could help her. Particularly with the writing bit.

Which is how my kitchen improvement idea got hatched.

Will blog for design services. Yeah, that’s me. 🙂

Nobody told me that at a minimum, the initial portion of design work means all work for the designee. I might have gone with a project slightly smaller. Like, say, my coat closet. (Which is part of the kitchen redesign, by the way.)

It’s hard work being a design client!

The first part was easy and fun – walking through the kitchen and explaining what worked for me and what didn’t. And what I’d really love to have.

My biggest want? A bigger kitchen. Granted, it’s not a tiny apartment-sized galley kitchen, but space is a big issue. And see, this is where kismet comes into play – Beth is phenomenal at making small spaces do double and triple duty. In fact, this is what she specializes in. I’m so excited!

My second biggest (and more realistic) want? A better place to keep my workhorses: my stand mixer and food processor. Yeah, I could keep them on the counter, but countertop clutter makes me twitchy. Beyond this, counter space is valuable real-estate when it comes to food prep – having to move stuff around so that I can cook will make me cranky. And really? Let’s extrapolate this one out: Me cranky, and playing with knives? Probably not the best idea. Frankly, there’s a Darwin Award story in there begging to be told.

So my stand mixer and food processor live on the bottom shelf of my pantry, which is the ONLY place in the kitchen with adequate shelf height clearance. And about as far away from my prep space as you can get and still be in the same room. My back LOVES getting that stand mixer out several times a week. Anyway, that part was fun. The first part. Talking potential colors and cabinet treatments and so on. Fun! Exciting, even. I couldn’t wait to get started.
Then Beth gave me my homework.


First, I had to take before pictures of the kitchen. And it had to be my kitchen in its natural state, not my kitchen TOTALLY clean, which is about the only way I’ll usually let it be recorded for posterity. So in the middle of making challah for my neighbor, I took these. (I’m going to be seeking therapy soon for the trauma of not only having taken these photos, but then posting them on the freaking internet. If my mom sees this, I just know I’m going to be grounded!)

Aren’t those cords pretty? I love my under-counter lighting, but need to do better with making the cords go away. That area in general is a catchall for junk - which irks my need for clutter free. This will change (the catchall thing; my twitchy side won’t be denied!) with the redo.

The pantry is so not working for me. As with my laundry, the messes in there multiply like bunnies. As do the empty boxes, which seem to spring up in pairs overnight. Beyond that, it’s not the most conveniently located spot to keep my baking stuff.

Thus the repurposing of the closet above - no real idea of what we’ll do there yet, but it’s coming! (Closet is next to the refrigerator. Cookbooks WILL be moving!)

Then the really NOT FUN stuff started. Purging. But, as Beth explained to me, it’s probably the most important part of the process – even more important in many ways than starting out with an initial design idea. For me, it was the revelation that my smallish kitchen was suddenly flippin’ HUGE! The purge process took two days. And given the number of large trash cans I filled (2 – which brings me to the conclusion that timing this to start after the garbage men came on trash day goes high on the List of Things To Rethink), it was obviously about ten years past time to do this. Or more.

Case in point. I threw away a boatload of baby bottles and formula.
Um, yeah…. I have one child. Who turns 13 in 3 weeks.

Cleaning out the cabinet above my refrigerator was like going shopping in a new store specializing in bad taste. I didn’t know I had most of that stuff. Clearly, the cabinet above the refrigerator is where White Elephant gifts went to die.

The coat closet, which is going to be repurposed – Horrifying Mess (With Spiders!). Another notch on my “needs therapy” belt. Spiders! What the heck do they think they’re going to catch in there, anyway? Oh, and the closet was obviously a refugee camp for the army of dust bunnies which were previously plotting a home takeover from underneath my sofa. I thought I’d eradicated those suckers. Obviously, I was pathetically deluded. They had simply relocated to continue their evil plotting.
Even in the face of militant dust bunnies and arachnid invasions, I persevered. Because improving this kitchen is huge for me.
So here are pictures of the purge in action. Part one (please note the trepidatious feline):

Part two:

So now, that’s (mostly) done. I have my freecycle pile on my dining room table. And I have my “Needs Another Home That’s Not in the Kitchen” pile, um, on my kitchen table.

Look, baby steps, okay?

NOW the fun part of my homework is beginning – I get to do research for stuff I like. And I am NOT ALLOWED to limit myself. If I like it, it goes into the “Show Beth” file.

Because she’s the expert – the one with the vision. I might see something that I adore but if I was being typically me, I’d not consider it because it costs $5,000. Beth, being the brilliant woman that she is, has the experience, training, and (most importantly) vision to look at the idea and come up with ways to do it for less and in such a way that it’ll fit with what we want to do. Such are the benefits of working with a professional! I’ve seen her work with my husband’s office, so I already know she’s good. And she’s been coming up with ideas that I NEVER would have thought of. At this point, there’s going to be an entire blog entry about how creative she was with my pot rack and my island, even though it’ll make me feel very not-creative. Though when it comes to interior design, I might know what I like – but most of the time I need a guide to get there.

Back to my research….While I’m doing this, I’m also to be detailing what I want as far as functionality in the kitchen. Essentially, my dream list – the reality check will be done later. Double ovens are SO on that dream list! From this research and forays into fantasy-land, Beth will be able to glean what she needs to divine up a plan of attack. (I personally think her voices tell her what to do, since that’s about the only way I’d be able to get there, but she insists that the process is more meditative and peaceful.)
Anyway, the adventure begins. As it progresses, the revolution will be blogged. And Facebooked. And Tweeted. 🙂