A Look Beyond The Glamour of The Parade of Homes

How to Appreciate the Beauty Without Overlooking the Quality

By Shad D. Johnsen, CKD


With this article, I am venturing into sensitive territory.  Let me make it clear that my objective in writing this article is in no way a slander toward the builders, the parade of homes, or any other particular related professional.  The purpose, instead, is to identify the real value of a product, regardless of its appearance.

About four years ago, a friend of mine and his wife built and new home in Ivins.  Upon making the selection of products for the home, they came to the decision of a kitchen faucet.  The plumber, though well intended, suggested they “upgrade” to a low quality faucet.  No, they didn’t demote their choice, but instead the plumber thought that because this faucet looked nice, and was a new introduction, then it was the cream of the crop.

After three years of this faucet, they found that the base of the faucet was leaking, and that the moving parts had less mobility than before.  Needless to say, they were very disappointed in their “upgrade”.  I received a phone call from them in regards to the situation.  After I discussed the options available to them, we settled on a faucet that was more than twice the cost of their current faucet.  However, in this case, the faucet will last three to four times the life of the previous, if not longer.  They still lover their faucet.


How is a Homeowner to Know The Real Quality of a Product?

Many of the clients, that I work, with will constantly come to me for recommendations on product choices.  They appreciate a candid, thorough, and non-biased consideration of a product.  Though quality is most certainly the real preference, many find it out of their investment range.  And, indeed this may be the case sometimes.  However, for the most part, I can find a decent quality product as an appropriate price.

I believe that a homeowner should be able to find a designer or other building professional, such as a builder, who is very well educated in the building industry.  It is always helpful to have someone who is licensed, certified, and regularly educated in the field.  The marketplace changes too quickly to recommend a product just because everyone else uses it.

This brings me to my next point; the Joneses.  Purchasing products for a home should always be an individual process, one where the homeowner has to cater what is available to their particular needs.  So, without further due, let’s review a few suggestions on how to understand the real quality, while appreciating the beauty.


  1. Touch and Feel: Reach out and touch the products.  Open the cabinet drawers, turn on the faucet, or swipe your hand across the surface of the countertop.


  1. Common Sense: Many times a product’s features will be boasted by literature or a representative.  Consider the actual implementation of the benefits of this feature.  For instance:  Turned legs or arched toe kick on a raised vanity cabinet may be beautiful, but cleaning under the cabinet may be very difficult.


  1. It’s The Real Thing: Real wood usually performs better in most conditions than an imitation.  Concrete countertops are a good example of this.  My suggestion to clients to purchase concrete because of the characteristics of concrete, and not because they are trying to imitate granite or some other product.


  1. Reference to An Owner: Many times you will be able to find someone who already owns and uses the product to call for their opinion.  I have one client who tells me to have any client who is considering a particular dishwasher unit, to contact her for her comments.


  1. Point and Click: After finding a product that you consider researching, you can compare with other products, read consumers input, and study consumer product comparisons, all on the internet.


  1. Warranted Warranty: For the most part a manufacturer will place a healthy warranty on a product that they feel confident will perform for an extended period of time.  Sometimes, a manufacturer will use a warranty as a way to make the product appear better than it is.  So, I wouldn’t recommend this as the only determining factor.


When it comes down to it, the best way to confirm that a product is best suited for your application, is to identify your real needs and expectations from such a product, and see if the presented products benefits matches up.  One gentleman called our company recently and asked me about my suggestion for which of three different sink products would be best for him.  I first had to ask some questions about how he uses sinks, and what he expected from them before I could make a recommendation.  Upon doing so, he was then anxious to retrieve more information.

Now, go to the Parade of Homes armed with knowledge of ways to understand the quality of the product while appreciating the beauty.

Selecting Kitchen Materials From Such Small Samples

By Shad D. Johnsen, CKD

Are you overwhelmed when you consider all the decisions that need to be made? Does your brain spin as you realize that just for the cabinetry, you need to choose the wood, stain or paint color, the style, the finish sheen, and perhaps a glaze, sand through, distressing or other specialty feature to the finish. Once you have decided this, you then move onto flooring with about 20 different materials to choose from, not to mention color, pattern, texture, and more.

Let’s make this simple! There are enough decisions on any new construction or remodel project, let alone samples of materials for the surfaces in your new kitchen. Here are a few suggestions for your consideration:

One Bite at a Time
First of all, find one material that you keep coming back to when looking at pictures or other projects. If this color is a paint color, then that is a great start. Start with one color as a starting point. After that, you can put your color palette together using that as the foundation color. Sure you may need to change it down the stretch if it is not quite the right tint, shade, or hue to lock up the final color selection. But, at least you are on your way!

Take Charge
Remember that every room should have a dominant color. This could also be called the primary color. Usually you will then have a secondary and tertiary colors. You will also have some accent or highlight colors. Simply speaking though, allow one color to dominate the space, with others to support it.

Balancing Act
This is referring to colors and contrast. Stripes versus polka dots, right? Not necessarily. This balancing act is more focused on your sensitivity to wood grains, granules of color, surface texture, gloss versus matte, etc. Contrast in colors from horizontal to vertical surfaces creates good balance and long term comfort. If you look at the colors and texture combinations in your selections of samples, the sample which is most visible should be the one you want to be most visible.

Keep Your Distance
Each time you are making a decision on a sample, look at it from at least six feet away, or as far away as you will typically see it in its final destination. This helps texture, color, pattern, light reflection, and more to be more realistic perceptions.

Run With It
Don’t take the samples and run. Test how the samples hold up to daily life and living. On flooring, take your shoes off, if you don’t wear shoes in your home, and walk on it. Test countertop surfaces for scratch resistance to typical kitchen items, with the approval of your dealer of course.

Live With It First
Take your samples home for a field trip. Put them in the room where they will be. In new construction applications, put them in the same room in the house you are living in, as they will be in the new house, with lighting as close as possible to the planned lighting. Look at your selection for a couple of days during sunshine and clouds, morning, midday, and evening, when you are in a good mood, and when you are not.

Now that you have your plan of attack on compiling the best samples possible, go forward assertively and with excitement knowing that you will be making the best choices for your situation. If you need a second opinion, find a professional. So, go swiftly seeking surface samples for your situation.