With the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show on in Vegas right now I've got kitchens on the brain. Having just recently designed my own kitchen I can attest the end result is so worth all the effort of the many steps it takes to get a kitchen from concept to installation. 

I worked with Aya Kitchens on my super small space kitchen. There are a multitude of kitchen cabinet companies on the market- and of course I wanted to make the best decision for my family and my budget. Here are a couple of the things I considered and why Aya ended up being the best choice for me:

I needed design help: Even though I am capable of designing a kitchen on my own, I knew I needed reinforcements. It is a very small space square footage wise, and I have a staircase header that basically eats up a ton of cabinetry room. So every inch had to count. I am also super busy- so I knew I would not be able to get this accomplished successfully without the assistance of someone 1) well-trained in kitchen design, 2) objective and not as emotionally involved in all the decisions like me 3) with an amazingly stylish eye and an awareness of trends, and 4) the ability to understand my esthetic and what I was trying to accomplish in my space for my family. Cue Amy Dillon- who is all this and more and bonus, she's like sunshine- which is super helpful because designing a kitchen and writing big cheques can be super stressful. 

I wanted a showroom: I really wanted to touch and feel all the components of my space. I wanted to feel my wenge doors, see the exact colours of my cabinets, see the interior fittings and hardware- and I wanted to do this all conveniently in one visit. For clients I have done the homework and traveled around the city at various vendors sourcing all details- but for me (and my husband, who was essentially the client) I really wanted a streamlined experience. The newly renovated Toronto West location is my favourite- as it boasts a really good diversity of example kitchens (at least 10 if memory serves) and you can physically touch and try everything- you aren't just looking at a photo.  

I needed customized design: Aya's kitchens are customized- you get the personalization of a custom kitchen with the value and quality that comes from a 150,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art production facility. And similar to my last point- I actually liked the fact that I had to choose from a curated number of options- it really helped to focus my design direction and make me make decisions faster. And with the number of options and the ability to customize you're pretty much guaranteed your kitchen is going to be unique to you- even if someone else picks the exact same colour and door profile, with how customized each kitchen is your space will look super unique. 

I wanted detailed drawings: So this is standard at most reputable custom cabinet companies. But let's keep it real- not all retailers / vendors / trades are created equal. If you ever do a kitchen- even from a big box store- YOU NEED DRAWINGS. Don't just make a list of how many upper cabinets you need. You need to take the time to plot out how many, where they will go, how high they will be hung, etc. SO YOU CAN PLAN for everything else (counters, other furniture in the room distance wise from the kitchen, hardware, etc). A reputable company should also make you sign off on each drawing to ensure you are approving every detail. Never commission anything custom without something in writing. Also- this might sound intuitive but I'm writing it anyways- the person who measures your space (ideally the people making your kitchen) SHOULD DO THESE DRAWINGS. This way they are responsible for the measurements and there is no discrepancy if something goes wrong at time of installation.  

For my clients, when we design custom kitchens I create concept drawings- which means I show what I want the kitchen to look like, colours, finishes, etc. but then I always let the kitchen company create the technical drawings for production of the the cabinets.

I wanted quality and customer service: I was looking to invest not only in the product, but in the entire experience from concept to install. Because a kitchen is such an investment, and something I will NOT be changing again in this house, I really wanted it to be as turn-key and as stress-free as possible. And truthfully, it was. There was no going back to the store to deal with a broken product, no hours on the phone dealing with customer service, no returns because of a miscalculation on the measurement, no large unnecessary filler strips between cabinets. There were a few minor deficiencies (little dings on a door, some variance in the finish consistency on another) but they were dealt with swiftly and I did not have to leave my house to deal with them- new doors and installation came to me. 

Referring back to a previous post I did on purchasing your appliances, you need to decide where cabinets fall in your priority list. For some people a out of the box kitchen is totally appropriate. For my kitchen, with its space challenges and specific modern look I wanted, I knew the investment in a customized kitchen was the best option. 

Thanks to Aya Kitchens for partnering with me on my #canningreno. All images taken on location at their Toronto West showroom

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