We are excited to bring you the fourth installment in a series featuring interviews with our talented Sawhill staff about remodel and design topics they are passionate about. The interviews offer a unique opportunity to get to know our team and gain insight into their expertise on home design topics.
Translating an Idea: A Great Kitchen & Bath Design Plan – Meet Lacey Ahlbrecht
In our fourth installment of the Interview with Sawhill series, we sit down with Sawhill employee, Lacey Ahlbrecht, about the importance of space planning and her role behind the scenes, translating ideas to detailed designs.
Interviewer: Working behind the scenes, people may not be aware of what you do at Sawhill. Tell us a little bit about the space planning magic you make happen when translating ideas to detailed designs.
Lacey: In the initial planning stages of a project, our kitchen designers will have a layout in mind after meeting with a client. My primary role is to take these initial design layouts and ‘fill in the blanks’. Using AutoCAD, I put to paper a detailed and comprehensive layout of the space and the components within it. I love space planning because it’s almost like putting a puzzle together. Especially when working on a remodel project, my role really pushes me to be creative with (often limited!) use of space to ensure the design is meeting the needs of the client while providing a functional and aesthetic design. After the initial layout of the space is complete, I will work with the designer to further refine the plan and prepare the drawings for pricing, continuing this process until the order is placed. It’s all about taking a vision and helping the designer translate it into the reality of the space.
Lacey: I would absolutely consider myself a detail-oriented person and it is one of the most important skills required to do this job. We often work with sixteenths of an inch, so accurate measurements are incredibly important. A solid understanding of design concepts and requirements is also critical. For example, appliances and plumbing fixtures require certain clearances. Knowing these clearances is important and once those are in place, it’s down to making sure you have enough storage for the things you use most in the kitchen – waste, dinnerware, silverware and utensils, pots and pans, food storage, and of course, the food itself. All of this also requires time management and strong communication skills when working with both the designers and Tim, our cabinet expert, to adjust plans as needed!
Interviewer: You might assume that once a design is done, that’s it, but this is not the case? What some of the typical adjustments that you might make to a design?
Lacey: At Sawhill, we pride ourselves in paying attention to the details that transform a kitchen from good to great. We work closely with our homeowners to make sure the design is perfectly tailored to their lifestyle, their needs and their aesthetic. Because of this, there is always some fine tuning that happens to an initial design. Some of the most common revisions I make are dictated by changes in fixtures or appliances and budget requirements. The first usually involves changes to the height, width or depth of cabinets and the latter most often means finished ends in lieu of applied decorative end panels on cabinets or simplification and/or reduction in the size of an island.
Lacey: The single most important thing homeowners should understand is also the biggest challenge I face in my role! A thorough and detailed plan is critical to a successful design/build/remodel project. My challenge is conveying a design for a 3-dimensional space with a 2-dimensional drawing that allows the designer to share their vision with the client, and later, that allows the project to be completed exactly to plan by contractors and cabinetry installers.
Here at Sawhill, a typical kitchen project will have 6-8 pages of plans including existing and proposed plans, as well as elevations (front view) of each wall and the island (if there is one) showing cabinetry. There will also likely be installation details of components such as crown and under cabinet molding, end panels, or furniture base on an island or vanity. Details are important!
Homeowners should take note that the company they work with are providing plans that are consistently updated, accurate and detailed enough to ensure that from design to installation, everyone is on the same page.
Interviewer: Okay, now that we understand what you do within Sawhill, tell us a little about yourself! What is your professional background and how did you come to work at Sawhill?
Lacey: I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Interior Design from The Art Institutes International-Minnesota in 2007. I also earned a certificate in Kitchen & Bath Design through Century College in 2011. I have quite a diverse background in a few areas related to the interior design world. Right out of college I worked with a fabricator selling tile and countertops and later spent a couple years working with a natural stone supplier. From there I joined a local high-end interior design firm as a design assistant. Throughout my experience over the years, I’ve been able to utilize and maintain my working knowledge of AutoCAD in various ways and I love that it is now the main part of my job here at Sawhill. Over the past year, I have also gotten more involved in the selection of tile, countertops, light fixtures, hardware, and more. This has allowed me to tap I into my other skillsets as well which is exciting!
Interviewer: What is one of your favorite projects you have worked on at Sawhill?
Lacey: I was presented the opportunity to design a new kitchen display that is going to be installed in our showroom in the next few weeks. I came up with a few options and worked closely with our designers to refine the layout, as well as incorporate different types of cabinets and products our team felt would be the most beneficial to show. It has been fun being back in a designer role and I can’t wait to see the result! I encourage everyone to come in and see it!
Interviewer: One last question. When you are not at work, how do you like to spend your time?
Lacey: I love my job but when I’m not in the office, I enjoy going to the gym, spending time with friends and family, watching movies, listening to podcasts and music, and traveling.
At Sawhill Custom Kitchens & Design, our job is to alleviate concerns, deliver beautiful and functional interiors using quality materials, and ensure your comfort during every stage of a project. We offer the flexibility to use our entire array of services and products, from design to project completion, delivering stunning results that help you live more comfortably, beautifully and efficiently.