Kitchen Confidential January 2014


Jerry and Vita Burdi are a husband and wife design and remodeling team with 42 years of combined experience in designing and building homes. As partners in their successful Long Island firm, DJs Home Improvements, Vita and Jerry work together to make sure their clients are happy throughout the entire process—from concept to execution. This has led to numerous awards, including regional and local Coty Awards from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Here, Vita answers a few questions about the design process and the future of her industry.

AD360: As a certified kitchen and bath designer, which (the kitchen or the bath) poses more challenges when designing?

VB: Kitchens! They are the “heart of the home.” This is where meals are prepared and shared but more importantly it is where everyone congregates and enjoys a home-cooked meal. It is where family meetings take place, schedules are kept, and is the hub of an efficient household. Because the kitchen is a multi-purpose room, it is very important that design accommodates all of the features this room needs to provide, so I believe that the kitchen is a more challenging design project.

In order to do our jobs effectively, Jerry and I have learned to listen, I mean,really listen to our clients’ wants and needs for the space they want to create. Making it beautiful, but more importantly, functional and safe for everyone to use. The challenge is to fit it all in one space and keep it flowing into the adjacent rooms as well as the great outdoors.

AD360: Do you think design in the Northeast differs from across the country? If so, how?

VB: Yes and no. It does differ in terms of the timing of a project life cycle. In the Northeast, it all has to be done quickly and efficiently because our lives are set at a very fast pace. When I have conversations with my designer friends in the south or on the west coast there is a much more laid back attitude toward designing and remodeling. Folks are willing to relax and enjoy the process.

I must mention that the Internet has brought the country together in style because of the access it provides. With products being viewed on the Internet, we are designing dream rooms. All areas across the country have access to a multitude of products via the web and it is a wonderful time to be designing, because we can make our clients’ dreams come true. There is always a supplier somewhere out on the net who has done or seen something we are looking for.

AD360: Please describe one of your most fulfilling design projects.

VB: A kitchen design we prepared did not get approved by the town, because it encroached into the attached garage. We were faced with redesigning within the existing floor plan of the kitchen yet providing all of the features the homeowners desired.

We created a floor plan to gain valuable kitchen space, which required angling the door to the garage from the kitchen, and encroaching into the garage just enough to get village approval.

A ceiling plan was created to box in pipes. We created a tray ceiling in the eating area and blended the 7-foot ceiling. We designed panels to box in all of the piping, and a soffit to the ceiling line to hide the pipes and also give height to cabinetry, allowing for continuity and one continuous line of crown moulding.

A two-piece bath was nestled at the end of the kitchen. We masked it with a bench and coat rack that complements the kitchen, which created a mudroom accessed by the garage door and back door of the kitchen.

We moved the basement stairway entrance to allow for a tall microwave cabinet and for an additional seat at the peninsula. We used functioning cabinetry at the base of the peninsula for added storage, and we widened the archway to allow clear space for additional seating at the peninsula.

We were able to deliver to the homeowner a beautiful kitchen and overcome their disappointment of the town’s initial rejection of the design.

AD360: What would be your dream design job?

VB: A dream design job would be to design a project with free reign on concept, budget and square footage with an unlimited amount of resources. Who wouldn’t love a blank canvas to do as you please?
With that said, in our business, we listen to our clients’ wants and needs. An excellent designer will use their talents to make the clients’ dreams come true. The most important thing to us is a satisfied client, eager and willing to recommend us to family, friends and colleagues.

AD360: What design trends in the kitchen and bath arena do you see for 2011?

VB: What I see emerging are shorter wall cabinets with an emphasis on the ceiling (tray, dome and ceiling effects as the new canvas). Also, “right-sizing,” here in the Northeast…the trend is toward making homes big enough, right-sized, so we again are seeing a trend toward segmenting rooms (i.e., a butler’s pantry separate from the kitchen instead of the kitchen being one open space, a coffee center being it’s own little room, and even the prep area being separate from the casual dining area.)

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