Business: When the kitchen is too small

2013-07-14T05:00:00Z Business: When the kitchen is too smallCECILE LeBLANC Sun Staff Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
July 14, 2013 5:00 am  • 

Michelle Mallett is an interior designer, but with a specialty: kitchens and bathrooms.

And to prove it, Mallett has been certified through the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).

“We’re tested rigorously that we have the knowledge to design kitchens and baths while keeping in mind the local codes and the welfare of the people using the rooms,” said Mallet, owner of Mallet Design Works. “Can we move the plumbing and what would that entail for my clients?”

Currently, hers is the only firm with NKBA certification in Flagstaff.

Mallett started her company four years ago after graduating from Northern Arizona University with a degree in interior design. She has an administrative assistant. She clarifies the difference between interior decorators and interior designers.

“There are a lot more interior decorators than designers,” Mallett said. “The designer has a degree from an accredited university and has to pass a test. The decorator picks colors, window treatments and furniture, the ‘icing on the cake.’ The designer does that, too, but also much, much more. The designer starts from the beginning and looks at the functionality of a space.”

Mallett explains designers consider a client’s needs, building codes and how much space is needed for different activities when taking on projects. Designers might help with building construction or a remodeling project.

She has noticed an increase in clients since she has started focusing on kitchen and bath design.

Clients hear about her through referrals, advertisements or on the Internet.

“I have several projects in various stages,” Mallett said.


She provided statistics showing kitchen and bath remodeling was good for clients as well. Mallett said that, in today’s market, the National Association of Realtors estimates kitchen remodels retain 68.9 percent of their value and bathrooms 65.2 percent of their value at resale

“By narrowing my focus on kitchen and bath, it allows me to be an expert for my clients,” Mallett said. “What that translates into is more functional and innovative design with fewer headaches and surprises for my clients.”

And just what is “innovative” when it comes to a kitchen sink or a bathtub?

“It’s specific to their needs — if they are interested in baking, for instance. I want to help them come up with a design they never thought was possible.”

Her work starts with a conversation with her client. Mallett then measures the space and returns to her office to draw area plans. Mallett explains she might end up completing four different plans after visiting with the client to discuss their needs and wants. The final plan is put into AutoCAD to create a construction document the contractor can work with.

“Some clients want only that,” Mallett said. “Other clients say, ‘I just want to walk in my space and be able to cook or take a bath.’ So I am there from conception to completion.”

She mainly works on homes in Flagstaff but has worked on projects statewide.

“I do projects of all shapes and sizes,” Mallett said. “Some people want help choosing hardware. Some people want to gut their kitchen.”


Although kitchen and bath remodels are good return on investment compared with some other home renovation projects, she warns people to look at their budget and also not to price themselves out of their neighborhood. She quotes NKBA statistics that homeowners shouldn’t spend more than 15 percent of a home’s value on a kitchen renovation or 5 to 10 percent on a bathroom renovation.

She hesitates to name her favorite project.

“Each project is unique and individual,” Mallett said. “I just like helping people in their design journey get a space they enjoy.”

Cecile LeBlanc can be reached at 556-2261 or

Mallett Design Works

5680 Tyson Trail, Flagstaff

(928) 699-1405

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. AaronGum
    Report Abuse
    AaronGum - August 28, 2013 3:23 am
    Small kitchen is a problem for many people. This post has solved the problem very easily. No one can think this way about it. Great work!!
    sell property quickly
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick