Thurston Kitchen & Bath’s new Aspen showroom sets the stage for the design possibilities of a new, remodeled or updated kitchen and bath, and the showroom doors open to community groups to say thank you for 35 years.
In the recent era of belt-tightening, Thurston Kitchen and Bath decided to go the other direction and to completely revamp its Aspen showroom. “It is a statement,” says owner “Mac” (Stephen) McDonald. “We have been in Aspen for 35 years, and we intend to stay and be an even greater resource to the community. Also, it is a way to say thank you.”
“It’s a contemporary showroom where we can change the scenes to show just what is possible and our latest and greatest,” explains Mark Schmidt, Vice President, “and it is space for our community presence. For a long while we have been a sponsor for the Zach Burn Foundation and many other community groups, and now we have an open airy space for community events.”
Cindy Hellgren manages the showroom, and couldn’t be more pleased with the results of the update. One of her favorite new spaces is the conference room and the technical equipment that enables the designers to project drawings and schematics so that the clients really understand them and can make strong, informed decisions. “It is in use constantly and our clients absolutely love it.”
One-on-One Service with Behind the Scenes Strength
Mac McDonald established Thurston Kitchen and Bath 35 years ago when he moved to Aspen. Mac describes his vision for the business, “I wanted clients to have a singular point of contact with the designers, and the designers would make certain that the project met the clients needs, looked and functioned as they envisioned it, and installation was trouble-free.” The idea caught on, Mac opened new stores, and now the company has showrooms and designers throughout Colorado under different banners with different focuses and price points. In fact, it is one of the largest independently owned kitchen and bath stores in the nation.
“Our model is that each is a small business and provides service in a very personal, responsible manner like a small business, but we have big buying power because of the combination of our locations,” explains Mac. “This means we are able to pass through savings to our customers and we are able to represent many, many lines of cabinetry and appliances.”
True to this vision, the experience is personal and attentive. The cabinetry and appliance brand names range from the expected tried and true to hand-made custom high-end lines. Kitchens of Colorado’s website (KitchensofColorado.com) is one of the few indications of the company’s breadth and scope, as it is an umbrella website for all the stores.
Cindy Hellgren, as Operations Manager, has the unique perspective of overseeing operations elsewhere in Colorado. “We have the product lines and resources to hit every budget and address every client’s price point, which is probably a surprise to people who are familiar with only our Aspen work. Our buying power not only extends to the price savings we pass through, but also to the expansive number of suppliers we do business with. In fact, we are sole suppliers for many of our vendors.”
Designers are Key to Service
Thurston Kitchen and Bath designs each room to fit those who live there. “Like the stars on a clear Colorado night, no two Thurston kitchens are the same,” sums up Mac. He continues, “Great design is the result of reflecting your unique preferences and personality, while leveraging our years of experience. From an unlimited range of possibilities, the perfect blend of color, texture, form and function will yield a living space of uncompromising beauty that transcends convention.”
Mark Schmidt sees Thurston’s designers similar to travel agents. “In this journey, clients want someone with a long career and expertise who will get them where they want to go. If a designer has made the journey before, or many times before, clients can have confidence their journey will be successful. Once the process of creating your new kitchen or bath begins, you’ll appreciate the great communication we maintain with you before, during and after its completion. Watching your project come to life will be a pleasure, because the journey is just as important as the destination.”
Aspen’s lead designers, Michael Thomas and Mike Scott exemplify the Thurston model for experienced designers. Michael Thomas is a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD), and he sees his job as “making our clients thoughts and dreams a reality.” He outlines the steps for this accomplishment. First, he takes the time to deeply understand the client’s (or the client’s design team’s) wishes and needs driving the design. Then, he draws the specifications and determines the selections in a process where he is the singular point of contact. The client (or team) reviews his interpretation and tells him to proceed. The detailed drawings go to the shop or manufacturer, to Thurston’s installer, and to the other trades to coordinate requisite connections. Mike Scott comes from a technical manufacturing background. He says his training gives him “an understanding of how parts come together as a whole, and it enables systems to fit within a sixteenth of an inch.”
Designers not only bring dreams to drawings, but at Thurston the designers also serve as project managers to ensure installation, budget, and schedule, and to maintain communications with the client. “Our designers have been with us a long time, and have earned reputations for being steady, reliable, and great creative designers,” says Cindy.
Home design is ever-changing as new ideas and materials drive it new directions. “The level of sophistication has mushroomed because there is so much talent in this Valley,” observes designer Michael Thomas, “and we are seeing more remodels. Also, while there is still an interest in Rocky Mountain Rustic, there is also a shift to what we call ‘soft contemporary.’ Soft contemporary differs from the high-gloss primary colors seen in metropolitan areas. Here it is sleek with more natural wood and organic elements. It can be eclectic with soft earth- tone colors or extend to 1970’s retro. There is quite a creative range to the look.” He also adds that Thurston handles designs that range from affordable housing, locals with 9–5 jobs, and higher-end luxury homes. “It keeps the job interesting.”
Mike Scott notes that the variety in materials and installations keep him constantly challenged. “Laundry rooms, kitchens, wet bars, bathrooms, built-in desks, TV armoires, media centers, or bookcases—wherever there is a need for cabinets, we get involved.”
According to Mac, there is always something new. “Our clients come first, and then our talented designers. It’s the role of the products to make first the clients and second the designers happy, so I am always looking to expand and improve the product lines.”
Thurston Kitchen & Bath maintains an open invitation to come in and say hello, to look around the new showroom, and to participate in the community events they sponsor.