Q&A With The Kitchen Specialists Association (KSA)
Setting the bar high when it comes to kitchen design in South Africa, The Kitchen Specialists Association (KSA) are on the top of their game. We asked National Manager, Stephanie Forbes, for advice, tips and more when it comes to redesigning your kitchen.
With over 10 years of experience at KSA, Stephanie leads a dynamic team who are adding huge value to the industry. Here’s what she had to share…
How would you define a good kitchen company?
Being a good kitchen company isn’t all about the kitchen design. A good company has well trained staff. Staff who are knowledgeable about materials and hardware and who can guide you on where your budget should be spent. A good kitchen company has staff that can advise you on how to get a kitchen you love even on a restricted budget because they know how to adapt a design and materials to work to a budget. A good kitchen company knows when to say no, when to tell you, you are making a bad choice or asking for the ill advised. A good kitchen company has good teamwork – where the designers, factory workers and installers work as one team because a quality kitchen is only possible when it is well designed, well made and well installed. A good kitchen company communicates. They make sure you understand what is being offered and what needs to be done to reduce the chance of issues on site. A good kitchen company cares for its industry by realising it has to give back with training and by speaking out for what is right for those working in the industry. A good kitchen company also protects its customers giving them a easy path to recourse and assistance should a dispute arise (like a KSA member does). And finally a good kitchen company makes a quality product ensuring that no matter your budget you get value for money and a kitchen that will last.
How has the design of kitchens changed over the years?
I think the biggest change has been the kitchen becoming an integral part of the home living space. Over the past 30 years kitchens have moved from being a room that got locked away behind a closed door, to a celebrated family and entertainment space. Designers now need to think about how the kitchen will flow and interact with the rest of the home as most kitchens are now open plan. Contemporary kitchen design almost has to look like furniture with a focus on materials and design. While functionality is vital it can’t look like it was designed for function first.
Tell us more about the KSA?
I can hardly believe that the KSA is now over thirty years old. What started as a Gauteng-based way for the old boys in the industry to define themselves against their competitors is now a national industry organisation. We work hard to make sure our members get the best opportunities for networking, ongoing training and that they are fully apprised on new legislation and best practice. We also offer a dispute resolution service to assist if a dispute arises between a KSA member and their client. Our team are registered mediators and will look into any reasonable dispute within the guarantee period of the product. The KSA has grown and developed to be a real value-add, professional association with a dynamic team and dedicated executive committees. It makes me very proud to see how far the Association has come.
What advice do you have for first time homeowners when planning a dream kitchen?
Do your homework: set a budget (the designer cannot do their job if they don’t know how much they have to play with). Write a brief of what you are trying to achieve and the ‘must haves’ in the new kitchen. Pair this up with a mood board / book of kitchen images and ideas that inspire you. Go and see a few companies. Don’t just rely on word of mouth or a fancy web site. Visit their premises. Ask to see physical examples of their work and check references. We hear too many horror stories of people paired up with companies based on price, the word of a friend or fancy social media. You have a responsibility to do your research and ensure the company you pick is capable of delivering the quality you want and experienced at working with the materials you choose. Don’t expect a kitchen company that specialises in mid or low cost kitchens to be able to delivery you the same quality and refinement as a company that specialises in R700 000 kitchens. If you base your decision on price alone you will be disappointed. Lastly, you are going to work with the people in this kitchen company and have them in our home for some time. Make sure you see eye to eye and that you can work well and communicate well together.
Colours in kitchens what are we seeing more of in the year 2020? We are still very much on a celebration of all things natural so natural and neutral colours that combine well with timber, stone and steel are still king. There has been a move to celebrating dark matt shades – dark greys and blues and even black. People are using natural colour and pattern found in woodgrain, marble veining and rust to bring in some colour. For those that enjoy a bit of bling metallics have made a come back as a feature. For a real splash of colour this is usually done through the appliances or a feature wall or splash back. This allows for bolder colours.
If you have one must have appliance in your kitchen what would it be?
A large 6 burner gas range cooker with electric oven. When I cook I really like to cook so I am never going to cope with 4 burners or a 600 oven. I have all 6 burners going at one time and at least 2-3 things in the oven. You would think we were a huge family rather than just three of us.
How does the KSA help the general homeowner?
Most people know us for our dispute mediation service which is free of charge to any customer of a KSA member providing it is a legitimate complaint made within the guarantee period of the kitchen or product. This is an important service as it means that should things not go according to plan there is a viable way to resolve the issue without the massive cost of litigation. What many consumers don’t know is that we are readily available to give hands on and knowledgeable advice to help consumers who may want assistance in finding the right company, picking a finish or planning a budget. Our website is also a great tool to anyone planning a kitchen. The kitchen info page has reems of useful hints and tips for planning a kitchen and the Gallery page has images of work done by our members to help you find some inspiration.
When selecting the right counter top for your kitchen, which one would you recommend?
A countertop choice is a very personal one. Granite was, a few years ago the only way to go but now it has given way in popularity to quartz surfacing or engineered stone. There are a lot of brands of quartz surfacing coming into SA now and my main advice would be to look into what you are buying. You may be told that all quartz material is the same but it isn’t. We put an advisory article about this in our 2020 Consumer Guide which can be found via a link on our website homepage. Sintered or porcelain surfacing has also become very popular. Aesthetically it allows for that ultra slimline look which is in fashion in surfacing at the moment. Solid surfacing is something the SA market is still finding its way with as a kitchen surface choice but it is used as one of the post popular options in countries like Australia. There has been a huge return to laminate worksurfaces overseas – most consumers would relate this type of top to Formica. Technology has come on so much in the manufacturing of laminates that they make a fairly cost effective and durable option for surfacing and the SA consumer needs to stop thinking of laminate tops as dated.
Why should home owners hire a kitchen designer?
Many people think that they don’t need a kitchen professional to do their design for them. For me, it’s a bit like asking if you need an architect to design your house. The kitchen is one of the most expensive rooms in your home. It adds more value to the home and the potential sale of your home than any other room bar the bathrooms. Designing a kitchen is not just about aesthetics. Its about ergonomics, storage, functionality, flow and durability. To ensure you get this you need to work with someone whose sole focus is in taking your brief and delivering it in a way that works functionally, looks great and has longevity. While an interior designer and architect can design a kitchen they don’t do it every day. They won’t be aware of the pitfalls and trade secrets and they won’t know the material options as well. Yes, a handy homeowner can make their own kitchen with the help of a DIY department but it will never have the solution driven attention to detail that a professional can provide.
For more visit KSA.