KITCHEN TALK | Communicating with Your Kitchen Designer

Great kitchens begin with excellent materials, superior workmanship, and savvy design. But above all, the most important component is communication, says Clay Cox, owner of Kitchens by Clay in Naples, Florida. “Everyone wants to talk about handles and knobs and the colors of cabinets, but when you get down to it, you can find those things in your local big box stores and the most expensive kitchen showroom in the world. What differentiates better kitchen design is the relationship between the customer and the supplier,” he says.


This homeowner wanted an ‘over-the-top’ design, which translated into floor to ceiling cabinetry with lots of glass and integrated appliances,” Cox says.

At Kitchens By Clay’s two locations, Clay and his wife Kelly invite customers to come in and discuss their culinary dream spaces, opening up the dialogue from square one. “You hear it all the time but the customer has to be treated as number one, from the moment they walk into the showroom. The job of the supplier is to instantly create a rapport with people to let them know that we’re listening and we care. Whatever their dreams and whatever their budget, we want to hear everything.”


The homeowner told me the drawers are a great change from traditional cabinets with doors,” Cox says. “She is able to use all her gadgets and get to them easily.”

By the same token, a successful dynamic also means that the customer has to do her homework, too, Cox says. Arriving with images culled from magazines or the internet can help the customer convey their vision to the designer, so that all parties are on the same page from the outset. The better articulated that vision, the more quickly the designer can create the agreed-upon plan for the kitchen.


Light and bright was the order of the day for this kitchen,” Cox says.

“If we just dropped off the blueprints, it wouldn’t work. I can do a twenty by twenty kitchen for a budget of $10,000 or $90,000—what’s essential is that I know how to modify the plan to the customer’s goals and desires,” Cox says. “If the same plans need to be redesigned time and time again over a course of months then there wasn’t proper communication the first time around.”

An informed, actively engaged customer is an ideal customer, and that process starts even before the contractor has been selected. “We encourage people to check with neighbors and friends who have had kitchen work done recently to solicit recommendations and references”.


This model home kitchen design was a true collaboration between the interior designer and the kitchen designer, Cox says. “We were looking for a more traditional look and feel to the kitchen. The large hearth-like hood with the dark stained cabinets and more formal door style accomplished this nicely. Notice how the ceiling brings it all together.”

The bottom line? Communication is a two-way street. Your kitchen designer aims to please—help him get the job done right by making your wishes known.

Written by Elisa Ludwig

Photography provided by Kitchens by Clay

Kitchens by Clay

7935 Airport Rd., Suite 5, Naples, Florida


Kitchens by Clay on Fifth

300 Fifth Ave. South, Suite 113, Naples, Florida


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