Remodeling your kitchen can be one of the most daunting and intimidating home-improvement decisions you’ll make, and in this economy, the pressure is even greater. How do you find your way through the sea of seemingly unlimited cabinets and countertops options? Where should you spend your money to reap the best return on your investment? How do you get the best value for your money without sacrificing quality and workmanship? What if you were planning on selling your home but now find yourself staying put while you wait for the market to rebound? Which improvements will give you the most bang for your remodel buck and add the most value to your home? I sat down with Dave Warren, owner of Kitchen Concepts NW, to talk about what sets him and his company apart from the competition, and what advice he would offer budget-minded customers in the current economic situation.


How do you provide such excellent customer service? We make it all about the customer. Customer satisfaction is our top priority. When a customer enters our showroom, our goal is to form a personal relationship in order to create a design to meet the customer’s highest expectations. We want to ensure the customer has no questions or confusion about the project. We work hard to make certain the customer knows exactly what will be built. Paying special attention to each customer’s needs is essential. I review every order to make sure all the “kinks” are worked out before the first cabinet or countertop is ever ordered! The advantage of our family-owned company is we are personally involved with every customer. They are not just a number, but precious to us! We have stayed in business for twenty years because we take care of our customers. My first job at Pay and Pack taught me the importance of great customer service and systems. If you have good systems in place, mistakes should not be repeated. My belief is the customers are the innocents and our job is to inform, educate, and instill confidence. Our results must meet their expectations! If the customer does not know exactly what to expect or something goes wrong with job, it is never the customer’s fault. It is our fault. We are the experts, and we will do what ever it takes to repair the problem. I don’t sell anything I wouldn’t buy and I stand behind everything I sell. You won’t get that kind of dedication at any of the “big box” retailers and we see to it that our prices are competitive. I see my customers everywhere around town and I want to be able to face them! Just last week, we replaced some painted cabinets that were out of warranty because we wanted to take care of our customer. I lose sleep if I don’t have happy customers!


How has the downturn in the economy affected your business? Well, we continue to work hard and take care of our customers like always, but it’s been a rough two years. I’m lucky I’ve got such good people around me. The key to helping customers is to take away their fear. We don’t sell, we educate. Still, people have more fear right now because of the economy and they’re not buying—they’re hunkering down to ride out the storm. They’ve put a hold on all their remodeling projects. So what advice would you give those people who are worried about the economy and have decided to stay in their homes instead of selling? What improvements could they make to get the best return on their investment? Kitchen remodels do cost a lot of money, but we try and tell folks, invest money in the kitchen and you get the best payback and increase the value of your home. You can also do a “minor remodel” where you don’t mess with the kitchen layout or exterior walls, but you change cupboards, countertops and floors. Right now, lots of people are just doing countertops and cabinets. They can really update the look of a kitchen without the full kitchen remodel price tag. We also do cabinet refacing which is another good way to save some money and refresh the look of your kitchen without changing the basic layout. You don’t get the benefit of new cabinets, but it’s another cost-minded way to update the look. The real key is there’s a huge price range for cabinets. There are so many options; we can find a good fit for any budget. With the less expensive cabinets, you’ll have fewer choices, but you can still get a great look. The mid-priced lines have lots of custom choices and the top-priced lines have all the bells and whistles, whether you want them or not. My advice to the cost-conscious consumer is to pick a less expensive, stock cabinet. You get the benefit and overall impact of new cabinets without spending a fortune. There really are so many options out there, and if you have a good guide like us to help you make those decisions, you can live in your dream home now, instead of just waiting for the market to recover. The greatest advantage Kitchen Concepts can give our customers is the high quality craftsmanship that you won’t find in “mass produced” cabinetry and the innovative and unique professional designs created by our skilled and experienced design team.


What staging advice would you offer homeowners who have no choice but to sell their homes right now? You really have to put your best foot forward. Kitchens and bathrooms make the biggest impressions. The family tends to center around the kitchen so people really pay close attention to that room. Keep it clean and bright. You can do small things like sprucing up the lighting or updating knobs and drawer pulls, but you’ll get the most out of the bigger improvements like countertops and cabinets. A new countertop in the bathroom is a great selling feature and doesn’t cost much. Keep the counters uncluttered and non-personal so the potential buyers can really imagine themselves there. Show off your kitchen and bathroom to their best advantage. LEAVE IT TO THE PROS These days being careful with your money is more important than ever, but if you’re making the wise decision to add value to your home and remodel your kitchen or bath, why would you leave it to the impersonal big businesses? Dave is into details, offers personalized service, will see your project through start to finish, and most importantly will take responsibility for his work and stand behind his product. You don’t see that kind of loyalty and dedication much these days. That’s what I call real value. As for my kitchen, I’ll leave it to Dave Warren and Kitchen Concepts, NW. Kitchen Concepts NW is located at 400 NE Division Street in Gresham, and is open Monday through Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-4, and closed on Sunday. They have a second showroom at 12518 NE Airport Way in Portland, open Monday through Saturday 9-6, and Sunday 12-5.