For more than 20 years, president and owner of Kitchen Concepts, Inc. Marilyn Terlouw has been doing what she does best — designing.
She has helped residents update their homes, and takes great pride in her work. In January, she was awarded the Houzz “Best of Houzz” award for customer satisfaction and design.
Terlouw was honored to receive the award, because her business is mainly based off recommendations by word of mouth. She won the award through an online survey, and hopes that her success will continue for many years to come.
“A lot of people do not know about Houzz yet,” Terlouw said. “It’s just beginning to be more and more popular. I am having fun — I use it instead of a website now. I strictly use that site, and it’s a good way to show my work.”
The website offers other designs, that Terlouw has not designed but she still likes them. She wants to provide her customers with the best service options possible.
“They (customers) can go through it, and make their own idea boards,” Terlouw said.
Although some clients have exact designs in mind, most of her customers ask for her opinion.
“They give me things they like, elements they like,” Terlouw said. “They talk about their lifestyle, cooking style (and) family size. Then we look at the existing space, because we want it to compliment and blend in with that. Then I go from there and present several scenarios of products, and the price range that they are looking for.”
She had a few customers who brought an exact idea in mind, but more often than not the budget for their dream kitchen is too far out of reach, which she partly blames on television.
“Everything is underestimated (on HGTV),” Terlouw said. “They aren’t realistic. I know people that have been involved. They want everything donated, and the labor is free and they still use that pricing. Even when they do things in magazines, they don’t put labor because labor can make such extreme difference. They don’t add any labor on.”
Terlouw has a dedicated team that helps her out to ensure her clients that the price range they discussed is accurate.
“After I design it, I take in all the experts that will be doing all the installations, Terlouw said. Randy (her husband) goes. He will look at the structure, and make sure that everything I drew and designed is going to work.The electrician will go and look at all the elements with electricity to see if we need to add more to the (electrical) box. Then the plumber goes along, and he looks at all the heat, cooling, and plumbing aspects.”
She also has a flooring expert and a painter survey the location.
Terlouw experienced many changes over the years.
“I started off in my home and then moved into a different home where I had my own showroom attached to the house,” Terlouw said. “I have been in this location, in downtown Newton, for 13 years.”
Terlouw and her husband fell into a problem, like many residents in Newton, when Maytag left. She often did designs for them, and the loss hurt her business, but she never gave it up. Last year, they decided to make their home at their business. Their location has an upstairs with a marvelous view, which Terlouw loves.
“The recession really hurt us,” Terlouw said. “I designed their (Maytag’s) sets for photography, for brochures and for literature. They were a good client. When they shut down, it was a huge impact on my business. Paying a mortgage was also not fun, so we decided to move upstairs and downsize.”
Maytag recognized her skill sets because of her certification through the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
She had her work published in the various publications, and she is very proud to have her designs showcased.
“It is kind of fun to be able to see your work in a national level,” Terlouw said. “I think it was for three years, I had my own ‘ask the expert column’ for Century 21 Magazine. The magazine went to homeowners that purchased a certain level home within their company. That was a lot of fun to do.”
Designing, however, was not Terlouw’s first career choice.
“I started off teaching preschool at Head Start in Ames,” Terlouw said. “The part I loved teaching was the creative part — the art , the storytelling and the puppetry. Every opportunity I had, I redecorated my apartment and I made things. People kept encouraging me that I should do that for a living.”
Kitchen Concepts, Inc. is located on the north side of the square in downtown Newton at 110 N. Second Ave. W. The company also includes work in custom bathrooms, home office, laundry areas, fireplace surrounds or any other area in the home that needs cabinets or hard surface design work. Interested customers can schedule an appointment by calling (641)-792-7205.