Voting on emotionally intense and career-determining shows such as American Idol seems to have become a favorite pasttime of many Americans, in part because we love to have input on the action right as it is happening. In essence, their success can be our success.
Determining the turning point in one person’s career is even more thrilling when that person lives or works in your own neighborhood.
So get your trigger fingers ready because Patch is very excited to announce that the Belmont Shore and Naples community has our own sort of "Kitchen Design Idol" here in our midst (link to vote further down).
Gabi Sperry is one of those successful Naples businesswomen who brings her passion into her work. She is the manager of Kitchen Studio Naples, right in the heart of Naples Island between Tivoli and Ravenna, and has been designing top of the line kitchens for about eleven years.
During her time at Kitchen Studio Naples, Sperry has worked either individually or with owner Steve Kennedy to design between 80 and 90 kitchens on Naples Island, so some of you may already be intimately familiar with her work.
One of her kitchens, what she calls her "career kitchen," has been chosen to be an entry in the People's Choice Award design contest for the National Kitchen and Bath Association, a 50-year old annual competition that is featured in one of the industry's top magazines, Kitchen Trends.
From rearranging her mother's furniture as a kid to being one of 23 contestants in a national design competition, she has come a long way and can barely contain her excitement at letting the community in on her journey, and what seems like just the beginning.
There are two categories in the competition, Kitchen and Bath, allowing one vote for each, and the subcategories of each are Contemporary and Modern, and Large and Small. Gabi's kitchen is in the Large Contemporary Kitchen category, measuring in at 432 square feet, designed specifically for her clients, Joseph and Lynn Bosch.
So take a look at the entries at the People’s Choice Awards website and cast your vote.
Patch took a moment for Q and A with the glowing contestant, who is so excited to have her work featured in the contest for the first time.
So Gabi, what does it mean for you to be in this competition?
It means so much to me. I can't stop talking about it and I dream about it every night. It's not only an honor to be nominated, but it's great to have my work exposed in this way. I keep thinking, "Oh my gosh, I'm actually in this competition!" I hope to win. I don’t know how to describe it other than as the highlight of my career. All the hard work has paid off just to be here.
When designing the kitchen for the client, halfway through I just knew automatically this would be the one to enter. It's exactly what the client wanted, and it's a good size, it's a huge kitchen. The client is the Vice President and Chief of Resources of Direct TV, they had exceptional taste and we doubled the size of the original kitchen.
There are two different categories of the competition, one where the judges choose the best design and the People's Choice Award. That is more important to me because there may be potential clients.
How and when did you start designing kitchens? What brought you to it?
I've always been interested in it. My mom would always tell me I'd rearrange the furniture in the living room (laughs). In the last two years of high school, I took night classes for interior design and architecture. Immediately after graduating, I went into college for interior design at the Fashion Institute in Los Angeles. Then I went into kitchen and bath design beause it is more challenging, and I've been doing it since 1999.
What makes it more challenging?
There are more details, different components like cabinetry and countertops. It's not just choosing a color pallete, it's a lot more complicated than that, like drawing floor plans and being more involved in the process. I like being involved in each choice in the space.
The kitchen is sometimes the most vital room in the house – it’s where we eat, study, chat, relax. When designing a kitchen, what kind of style do you tend towards, or what kind of consumer do you have in mind?
I don’t really have a preference. I'm excited to talk to anybody about any style. In my own kitchen, I lean toward contemporary, but traditional is fun to work with, too.
Did you design your own kitchen, and if so, what is that like?
No. I'm leasing to save up to buy, but when I do, I will design it myself. I'm thinking an Asian contemporary theme.
What are the kitchen trends now? What are people looking for and what’s popular?
I come across a lot more contemporary kitchens in this area, and in Redondo a lot of more traditonal. Why that is I don’t know, I can’t figure it out. It varies in styles at both locations.
Over the years, enlarging the space has become more popular. Rather than working within the existing walls, people are tearing the walls down and enlarging the space, making it more of a great family room.
If someone were in the market for a new kitchen right now, how would you advise them?
To get the process going, have us come out and walk the space with you, just to talk about ideas and all the wonderful possibilites. You don’t have to make a commitment, but at least talking about it you get a better idea of what you can and cannot do. We also present concepts, what your protential kitchen could look like. We really specialize in designing the entire concept, but we also offer individual components, like only cabinetry. We generally try and just guide the customer to figure out what they want, and keep it from becoming overwhelming.
And for people who aren’t looking for a kitchen designer right now, why might they be interested in this competition?
Just to see the recent projects out there, and it's interesting to know something that's going on in the community. For example, when I first signed up in Patch, I signed on every day just to see what's happening. I think it's exciting that an ordinary company like us was chosen to be a part of an extraordinary competition. And if you do happen to come across the Kitchen Trends magazine, you'll think to yourself, "Oh that’s right, it's that competition I voted in."
Whatever happens now, it definitely can't bring me down. I'm just happy to be in [the contest]. It doesn’t matter if I win or not. At least I can say, I was one of the about 20 designers chosen out of 40,000 NKBA members. That’s pretty big. I feel great. I feel wonderful. It's the peak of my career. I can only see wonderful things ahead.
I plan to purchase Kitchen Studio of Naples when my boss retires. So I’ll be here for the next 60 years, and in 30 years I'll look back on this competition and feel good about it (laughs). I'm proud of myself, so I give myself a big pat on the back. And now I'm just working hard to get it exposed.
To visit the Trends magazine website, click here.
For the NKBA website, go here.
Vote here for your favorite design.
Visit Kitchen Studio Naples's website here, or call (562) 433-6393 for more information.