Judy Whalen believes in a soulful approach to modern dream kitchen design. This was always the way she worked, and she says that Covid-19 has made her and the team at the Design Studio re-evaluate why they have been in the business of residential design for more than two decades. “We are so blessed to provide personal spaces where our clients live every day of their lives,” she shares in a voice that exudes authenticity.
Closing a showroom due to COVID-19 was not a problem, because the Design Studio hadn’t opened one yet. Whalen and her two partners had just gotten their legs under them after the sudden and unexpected closing of their previous employer. They had spent the latter part of 2019 making sure their clients were whole. “We weren’t focused on making money,” she explained. “We were just trying to do the right thing for our clients, to make sure their designs were completed and installed.” So, when the world turned to Zoom calls and Amazon shipments in March, it didn’t matter that they didn’t have a showroom or a conference room. They took a deep breath and pivoted to a more soulful way of doing business and their clients have responded with gratitude and collaboration.
“We wanted our clients to be excited about their projects, so we started dropping off a Design Box on their doorstep with an invitation to a Zoom meeting to review,” she explained. The Design Studio’s Design Boxes are more than just a three-dimensional dream board with swatches, layouts, and material samples. These deliveries included all of those design elements, to share how they wanted to approach this personalized modern dream kitchen, but also included two wine glasses and a bottle of wine to share while they perused the concepts, or sandwiches that they could enjoy while on the Zoom collaboration session they set up with the Design Studio team. They want their clients – whether in person or in quarantine – to know they will work with them in a very personal way to achieve their vision of home.
Judy’s Modern Dream Kitchen Vision Showcased at Clarke
After designing literally hundreds of dream kitchens and baths, Judy says her proudest accomplishment was being trusted to create four designs for Clarke, New England’s Official Sub-Zero, Wolf & Cove Showrooms in Milford, MA, Boston Seaport and South Norwalk, CT. “I knew I was considered a top echelon designer when Clarke asked me to showcase my work in their showroom. It felt like getting a huge kudo from one of our industry leaders.”
In Clarke’s Milford Showroom, her jewel box of a kitchen shows how functional and elegant a kitchen can be in a small space. In Clarke’s 7 Tide showroom in Boston Seaport, Judy created what she calls “The Nantucket Kitchen,” with a crisp New England feel (see Judy in this kitchen at the top of this blogpost). In addition, Clarke’s spectacular bar area is Judy’s design, a project she refers to as “Gothic Barn,” which has become the entertainment hub for the many events the company holds in the showroom. A fourth design is “on the drawing board” for Clarke’s Fairfield County showroom.
Her Sub-Zero Wish and Wolf Testimony
While Judy has designed just about every kitchen style imaginable, she is still looking for the client who would like to include a Sub-Zero Pro Series Refrigerator with a glass front. While it comes in a stunning 48” model, she envisions a beautiful kitchen with the Sub-Zero Pro 36 with glass front. “It doesn’t require as much space as the Pro 48, however it is still stunning. I think it really sets a kitchen apart and I would love to find the right design and client to enjoy it.” Her favorite cooking appliance? Her own Wolf E Series wall oven. “When I leave my home, this oven will come with me,” she declared. “I can fill all three racks and cook so much food at once. I recently made two chickens, roasted potatoes and roasted carrots all at one time to deliver to a friend. It’s not Wolf’s most high-tech oven, but it performs great and the capacity saves me a ton of time cooking.”
New Horizons in Modern Dream Kitchens
Inspired by her Gothic Barn design at Clarke, Judy says she is “on a metal kick right now.” While she’s known for her light, airy, open concept kitchens, she also loves materials with a worn look that give a casual and cozy feeling to a space. She loves using black or classic oil-rubbed finishes on interesting hardware, incorporating different textures and types of stone and unique leg designs for kitchen islands. And when asked what project she would still like to design, she answers quickly, “A mountain retreat kitchen, out west where the light is so different than it is in New England.” Judy Whalen is known for her many beautiful and comfortable New England seaside designs, so a kitchen overlooking the Rockies would surely be an exciting challenge for this award-winning designer.
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