When I bought my house in Buffalo fourteen years ago, the kitchen was already fairly dated, which was no big deal because I rarely cooked. It was only when I got married, to someone who really appreciates a functional kitchen, that I began to think about looking around for local businesses that could get me started on the project – from flooring companies to kitchen outfitters. As I began to ask around, I was told over and over, “Head to the big box stores – they have everything that you’ll need, all in one stop.” The problem was, I was looking to source everything that I needed in the city, hopefully from smaller, independently-owned businesses with one-on-one customer service. Where to start?
It was while I was speaking with developer Rocco Termini that the company Artisan Kitchen and Baths (AKB) came up. Rocco had worked with the business on some of his projects, and recommended that I check them out. Also, I was aware that developer Karl Frizlen was working with AKB on his residential Horsefeathers project. Of course I was somewhat familiar with AKB, as I knew that the Nickel City Chef competitions were held at their building on Amherst Street in Black Rock. I had also picked a couple of their products to feature in our holiday gift guide (such as their Big Green Egg). But I had never taken a look at the broader picture – the crux of their business, which was, of course, outfitting homes with custom kitchens and baths. That’s when I decided to pay them a visit.
AKB is located in a historic brick warehouse that was once the home of Buffalo Cooperative Stove Company. It’s a beautiful building, both inside and out, and uses its turn of the century architectural charm to showcase its product lines. When I first walked into the first floor showroom, I told the receptionist that I was in the market to update our kitchen. Within minutes I was greeted by Derek Maloney, a designer with eight years of experience (who also happens to be a talented home-brewer).
Derek sat me down to discuss my outdated kitchen, and I described to him the cabinet doors that had fallen off years earlier, the chewed up linoleum floor, the dishwasher with the broken hinge, the ceiling light fixture that had fried during a party, and the refrigerator that had one temperature setting (the control knob had jammed years ago). Basically, the kitchen was an outdated mess.
Then Derek told me that the best thing to do would be for him to come take a look at my kitchen, but before that he wanted to show me around the 8000 sq.’ showroom. A trip through the two floors of showroom space is an eye-opener into the world of kitchen and bath design (and then some). There are fridge units, dishwashers, kegerators, outdoor grills, wine chillers… with brand names ranging from Miele and Sub Zero to Wolf and Viking. As I poked around, Derek assured me that there was a kitchen make-over to fit every budget, and that the real trick was how to best optimize the space (I have a relatively small kitchen).
Owner of AKB, Kevin Telaak, has amassed a collection of brand name merchandise that is jaw-dropping, and he’s arranged it in a manner that is broken up into vignettes, much the way Ikea is know for. “This is the fourth generation that our family has owned and operated the business,” Kevin told me as he joined us for the tour. “Buying a kitchen is one of the few times that you won’t know exactly what your investment will look like until the project is completed. We try to show you examples of kitchen layouts, different product lines, color palettes, countertop materials, backsplash options, right down to the faucets and the lighting choices. By the time you leave the showroom, you should have plenty of ideas to go on, and once we see your kitchen, we can input the specs into our 20/20 program and then add the layout of the cabinets, the appliances, etc. and give you a pretty good idea what your new kitchen will look like. Of course, as I mentioned before, it’s not like buying a car and driving it off the lot… your kitchen comes together once all of the materials are ordered, delivered and installed, and only then can you stand back and see the finished product.”
Artisan Kitchen and Baths | 200 Amherst St Buffalo, NY 14226 | (716) 873-4100
If you would like to make an appointment at AKB, email Derek. Or just stop on in and take a look around.
Coming up: Part 2 – Designing the kitchen, finding a contractor, sourcing a floor at G&L Flooring on Grant Street, choosing a plumber with Hertel Hardware and Plumbing, and working with additional small businesses to deconstruct and rebuild a space, from CooCoo U to ReUSe Action.