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e + l = s is our very own success formula fit for a Queen

Posted on October 7th, by Michael Menn in Architecture, Kitchens. Comments Off on e + l = s is our very own success formula fit for a Queen

Readers of this blog know our special capabilities as a design-build firm allow us to consistently delight clients. And it’s not a matter of chance: it’s having the ability to follow a timeless equation: expertise + listening = success. We demonstrated this in a recent Kitchen remodel project.


When we first met clients “Sue” and “Jim”, they had good reason to be nervous — they had already met with a few non-architect contractors and were disappointed with their proposals. They wanted to talk vision, but the contractors only wanted to talk price. They wanted to see know-how, but the contractors only gave them unrealistic budgets and promises to deliver things they really didn’t want.


It was clear that these contractors did not have the expertise to discuss anything other than price. By contrast, our design-build firm is staffed with architects who eat, breathe and sleep design. Even more important, these contractors did not have the smarts to listen.


That’s why we immediately focused on listening to what Sue and Jim wanted. We heard they live for spending time with their family, and wanted a Kitchen they could enjoy when their children and grandchildren visited. Sue wanted to be the “Queen of the Kitchen” and take the lead role in preparing meals, but at the same time she wanted to be involved in the conversations in the Dining Room. She felt an island would solve the problem and told us this was her main “gotta have.”


However, unlike the contractors, we didn’t simply quote a price for an island. Using our best architectural judgment, we determined we could open the Kitchen to the Dining Area and Four-Season Room — but that an island would not work as well as a peninsula. We presented Sue and Jim with several design schemes, and chose a solution that was well within their budget parameters.


Our design situated the peninsula to form a “cockpit” for Sue to manage the cooking. We opened up the entire wall behind the Kitchen and Dining area, and built a new half-height 8” wide ledge to provide a visual barrier so people sitting at the Dining Room table would not see the Kitchen activity. People could also set their drinks on the ledge, stand and talk to Sue while she cooks. We also extended the wood flooring currently in the Living and Dining rooms into the Kitchen for a seamless transition.

Design-Build Kitchen

So what have we learned?


expertise – listening ≠ success

listening – expertise ≠ success

expertise + listening = success


Plus the corollary that only an architect-led design-build firm like Michael Menn Ltd. can demonstrate why architecture + construction = excellence.



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