Durocher Letter

February 18, 2005

To: Peter and Mary Schmelzer, Vivus Architecture & Design

From Karen Cherewatuk & Rich DuRocher

Re: Kitchen Remodeling Project

Now that the kitchen overhaul is complete, we want to express our appreciation and gratitude for all the work you both did to make our project turn out beautifully. We’ve been cooking in the kitchen for about three weeks, and there is nothing we would change about its design or looks—from the sleek countertops and cabinets and space-saving “C” Peter originally envisioned to the red wall and counter-stools which were Mary’s final touches. Our complete satisfaction speaks volumes about the quality and integrity of your business.

As you know, when we began talking to VIVUS we really had little idea of what we were getting into. You educated us on the big issues, like cost, design options, and hiring a construction company, as well as on a thousand small “details,” like finding the perfect venting system. Early on, it helped us enormously that we immediately saw the over-arching ideas on Peter’s computer program and could respond immediately with our likes and dislikes. (That powerpoint presentation, incidentally was emailed to both sides of our family). It was fun to be able to move walls around easily.

Thereafter, although we felt ready to go, you two proceeded cautiously, questioning us on our needs. In this phase of the design stage, we thought, “Why is this project going so slowly?” We came to understand the reason for your thorough investigation of our desires this February when we met with Northfield Construction to write the check for our final payment. There we learned that the kitchen had come in several thousand dollars under NCC’s estimate. In shock, Karen queried how a kitchen could come in under budget. NCC’s Phil Olson replied, “I have never seen a kitchen renovation with no change orders. You had one good architect, and he did one good design.” Peter, you know, that Phil does not speak in hyperbole and that he has seen 20+ years of remodeling work. We think Phil’s statement is the highest praise NCC can give VIVUS. We so appreciate how effectively you and Mary communicated with NCC as well as their subcontractors. Adding a weekly “communication chat” to your dealings with us also calmed our sometimes frayed nerves.

In renovating a 50+-year-old house, unexpected problems inevitably cropped up, such as the microwave that wouldn’t fit or the ceiling that was no longer lying straight. Peter and Mary listened to all our concerns—never belittled them—and attended to every single, little detail. Often, as soon as Karen would call with a fussy detail, Peter would be over to take a look. Mary’s sense of design and appreciation for our budget also saved us hours of looking in stores and hunting by ourselves on the internet. And Mary, everyone who walks in comments on your choice of linoleum floor!

Last weekend we hosted a large birthday party, during which we received literally dozens of compliments. For example, one woman, herself a designer, admired the way the cabinets blended in with the existing woodwork: “It looks old!” she kept repeating, which we took to mean, “It fits perfectly!” Husbands kept on sticking their heads under the shelf separating the dining room and the kitchen and questioning, “How did he do this with the lights?” Many friends who knew our old galley kitchen said, “Why did you wait so long? This looks great!” Four friends sat at the granite peninsula and said they weren’t leaving until we served breakfast the next morning. We find ourselves increasingly doing our bills and homework in the new kitchen, just because it is such a beautiful space.

We have already recommended VIVUS to friends and would be happy to make our kitchen available to your prospective clients. We really think the kitchen belongs in House Beautiful. We are extremely pleased and extremely grateful.

See more photos of this project in our Gallery.