Oct 31, 2010

What's in a name?

Is it worth paying for a name brand when there are so many options available today? Should you shop for designer fabric instead of visiting your local discount store?  Are mid-priced appliances as good as top-of-the-line?   Can a home improvement store brand faucet deliver the same function and aesthetic as a famous name faucet?

Yes and no to all of the above....and many more.  Let's use fabrics as our first example. You find a pretty upholstery fabric at local discount store, yet you've also hired a designer to help with re-covering your sofa. Which do you select; the former  (Eva) is $20 per yard, the latter (Mist) is $85 per yard?  Style, hand, dimensional stability and durability are KEY to selecting the right one.  Both may be chenille, but is there a rating for durability on the "Eva"? What is the fiber content? Can you tell the difference in the hand? Is the weave apparent and some idea of stability visible? "Mist" offers a tighter weave and has a high durability rating.  How much yardage will you need based on the width? Finally, is the texture, color and overall appearance right for you? There IS a difference between low cost and designer fabrics in all of the above elements.  The use guides the selection of fabrics. From years of experience, the value in selecting the best quality and best durability, including the right style leads me to the designer fabric 95% of the time; using with the right fabric does save time and money. Check out  fabulous fabrics with great value at Kravet.

Appliances have multiple elements to consider; function, style, energy consumption, size, warranty, and cost.  I have recommended mid-priced appliance suites with features that meet a client's needs and budget perfectly, rather than have them place all branded appliances in their kitchen. Function and style are often tied to cost; high-end appliances do offer wonderful features and do cost more. If you are using panels to cover some of your appliances, brand name may be less of a factor since function and not style will be your primary concern. If a manufacturer offers a short warranty, it may reflect their confidence in that appliance.  While I love high-end appliances for the specific features and style they provide, I do recommend other brands based on how they work in individual kitchens, baths and laundry rooms. Don't forget that you can mix suites and brands.  If the design of the appliance and how it looks in your space drives your decision, then absolutely get that La Cornue range!

Faucets and sinks are offered by brand name manufacturers and privately labeled ones. Function and longevity are very important since these items are used multiple times daily.  What is the finish and how durable is it?  How easy is it to maintain the finish? Does the spout have the reach you need? Does the style offer function for you (single or double handle style, levers, pull-out sprayers)? Where and how is the product made?  Body construction and internal construction (cast or tubular brass base material, and compression, ball, cartridge or ceramic disk valves, lead free interior, etc..) should all be examined.  A good valve will ensure that water temperature will be consistent during use, and scald guard will be critical in baths and showers. Does the faucet meet 2.5 gallon/minute mandated flow rates? Style and design are very important elements. Consider your counters and sinks, since the faucet should be paired with both to work well. For example, a 4" deck mounted faucet is not appropriate for a 36" under-mounted kitchen sink, but could be ideal for a powder room sink. From ultra-modern stainless to traditional oil-rubbed finishes, there is a tremendous variety in faucetry for every room and you can purchase a high-style faucet and not pay top dollar.